The Canterbury tales

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Title
The Canterbury tales
Author
Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400
Publication
Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin
1957
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Available at URL http://www.hti.umich.edu/c/cme/

This text has been made available through the Oxford Text Archive for personal scholarly use only. OTA number: U-1678-C

Cite this Item
"The Canterbury tales." In the digital collection Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse. https://name.umdl.umich.edu/CT. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 19, 2024.

Pages

The Miller's Tale

Whilom ther was dwellynge at oxenford Line 3187 A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord, Line 3188 And of his craft he was a carpenter. Line 3189 With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler, Line 3190 Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye Line 3191 Was turned for to lerne astrologye, Line 3192 And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns, Line 3193 To demen by interrogaciouns, Line 3194 If that men asked hym in certein houres Line 3195 Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures, Line 3196 Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle Line 3197 Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle. Line 3198 This clerk was cleped hende nicholas. Line 3199 Of deerne love he koude and of solas; Line 3200 And therto he was sleigh and ful privee, Line 3201 And lyk a mayden meke for to see. Line 3202 A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye Line 3203 Allone, withouten any compaignye, Line 3204 Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote; Line 3205 And he hymself as sweete as is the roote Line 3206 Of lycorys, or any cetewale. Line 3207 His almageste, and bookes grete and smale, Line 3208 His astrelabie, longynge for his art, Line 3209 His augrym stones layen faire apart, Line 3210 On shelves couched at his beddes heed; Line 3211 His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed; Line 3212 And al above ther lay a gay sautrie, Line 3213 On which he made a-nyghtes melodie Line 3214 So swetely that all the chambre rong; Line 3215 And angelus ad virginem he song; Line 3216 And after that he song the kynges noote. Line 3217 Ful often blessed was his myrie throte. Line 3218 And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente Line 3219 After his freendes fyndyng and his rente. Line 3220 This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf, Line 3221 Which that he lovede moore than his lyf; Line 3222 Of eighteteene yeer she was of age. Line 3223 Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage, Line 3224 For she was wylde and yong, and he was old, Line 3225

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Line 3225 And demed hymself been lik a cokewold. Line 3226 He knew nat catoun, for his wit was rude, Line 3227 That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude. Line 3228 Men sholde wedden after hire estaat, Line 3229 For youthe and elde is often at debaat. Line 3230 But sith that he was fallen in the snare, Line 3231 He moste endure, as oother folk, his care. Line 3232 Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal Line 3233 As any wezele hir body gent and smal. Line 3234 A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk, Line 3235 A barmclooth eek as whit as morne milk Line 3236 Upon hir lendes, ful of many a goore. Line 3237 Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore Line 3238 And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute, Line 3239 Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute. Line 3240 The tapes of hir white voluper Line 3241 Were of the same suyte of hir coler; Line 3242 Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye. Line 3243 And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye; Line 3244 Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two, Line 3245 And tho were bent and blake as any sloo. Line 3246 She was ful moore blisful on to see Line 3247 Than is the newe pere-jonette tree, Line 3248 And softer than the wolle is of a wether. Line 3249 And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether, Line 3250 Tasseled with silk, and perled with latoun. Line 3251 In al this world, to seken up and doun, Line 3252 There nys no man so wys that koude thenche Line 3253 So gay a popelote or swich a wenche. Line 3254 Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe Line 3255 Than in the tour the noble yforged newe. Line 3256 But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne Line 3257 As any swalwe sittynge on a berne. Line 3258 Therto she koude skippe and make game, Line 3259 As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame. Line 3260 Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth, Line 3261 Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth. Line 3262 Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt, Line 3263 Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt. Line 3264 A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler, Line 3265 As brood as is the boos of a bokeler. Line 3266 Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye. Line 3267 She was a prymerole, a piggesnye, Line 3268 For any lord to leggen in his bedde, Line 3269 Or yet for any good yeman to wedde. Line 3270 Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas, Line 3271 That on a day this hende nicholas Line 3272 Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye, Line 3273 Whil that hir housbonde was at oseneye, Line 3274 As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte; Line 3275 And prively he caughte hire by the queynte, Line 3276 And seyde, ywis, but if ich have my wille, Line 3277 For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille. Line 3278 And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones, Line 3279 And seyde, lemman, love me al atones, Line 3280 Or I wol dyen, also God me save! Line 3281 And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave, Line 3282 And with hir heed she wryed faste awey, Line 3283 And seyde, I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey! Line 3284 Why, lat be, quod she, lat be, nicholas, Line 3285 Or I wol crie -- out, harrow -- and -- allas! -- Line 3286 Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye! Line 3287 This nicholas gan mercy for to crye, Line 3288 And spak so faire, and profred him so faste, Line 3289 That she hir love hym graunted atte laste, Line 3290 And swoor hir ooth, by seint thomas of kent, Line 3291 That she wol been at his comandement, Line 3292 Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie. Line 3293 Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie Line 3294 That but ye wayte wel and been privee, Line 3295 I woot right wel I nam but deed, quod she. Line 3296 Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas. Line 3297 Nay, therof care thee noght, quod nicholas. Line 3298 A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle, Line 3299 But if he koude a carpenter bigyle. Line 3300 And thus they been accorded and ysworn Line 3301 To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn. Line 3302 Whan nicholas had doon thus everideel, Line 3303 And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel, Line 3304 He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie, Line 3305 And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie. Line 3306 Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche, Line 3307 Cristes owene werkes for to wirche, Line 3308 This goode wyf went on an haliday. Line 3309 Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day, Line 3310 So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk. Line 3311 Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk, Line 3312 The which that was ycleped absolon. Line 3313 Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon, Line 3314 And strouted as a fanne large and brode; Line 3315 Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode. Line 3316 His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos. Line 3317 With poules wyndow corven on his shoos, Line 3318 In hoses rede he wente fetisly. Line 3319 Yclad he was ful smal and proprely Line 3320 Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget; Line 3321 Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set. Line 3322 And therupon he hadde a gay surplys Line 3323 As whit as is the blosme upon the rys. Line 3324 A myrie child he was, so God me save. Line 3325 Wel koude he laten blood and clippe and shave, Line 3326 And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce. Line 3327 In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce Line 3328 After the scole of oxenforde tho, Line 3329 And with his legges casten to and fro, Line 3330 And pleyen songes on a smal rubible; Line 3331 Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble; Line 3332

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Line 3332 And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne. Line 3333 In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne Line 3334 That he ne visited with his solas, Line 3335 Ther any gaylard tappestere was. Line 3336 But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous Line 3337 Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous. Line 3338 This absolon, that jolif was and gay, Line 3339 Gooth with a sencer on the haliday, Line 3340 Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste; Line 3341 And many a lovely look on hem he caste, Line 3342 And namely on this carpenteris wyf. Line 3343 To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf, Line 3344 She was so propre and sweete and likerous. Line 3345 I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous, Line 3346 And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon. Line 3347 This parissh clerk, this joly absolon, Line 3348 Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge Line 3349 That of no wyf took he noon offrynge; Line 3350 For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon. Line 3351 The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon, Line 3352 And absolon his gyterne hath ytake, Line 3353 For paramours he thoghte for to wake. Line 3354 And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous, Line 3355 Til he cam to the carpenteres hous Line 3356 A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe, Line 3357 And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe Line 3358 That was upon the carpenteris wal. Line 3359 He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal, Line 3360 Now, deere lady, if thy wille be, Line 3361 I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me, Line 3362 Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge. Line 3363 This carpenter awook, and herde him synge, Line 3364 And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon, Line 3365 What! alison! herestow nat absolon, Line 3366 That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal? Line 3367 And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal, Line 3368 Yis, God woot, john, I heere it every deel. Line 3369 This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel? Line 3370 Fro day to day this joly absolon Line 3371 So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon. Line 3372 He waketh al the nyght and al the day; Line 3373 He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay; Line 3374 He woweth hire by meenes and brocage, Line 3375 And swoor he wolde been hir owene page; Line 3376 He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale; Line 3377 He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale, Line 3378 And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede; Line 3379 And, for she was of town, he profred meede. Line 3380 For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse, Line 3381 And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse. Line 3382 Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye, Line 3383 He pleyeth herodes upon a scaffold hye. Line 3384 But what availleth hym as in this cas? Line 3385 She loveth so this hende nicholas Line 3386 That absolon may blowe the bukkes horn; Line 3387 He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn. Line 3388 And thus she maketh absolon hire ape, Line 3389 And al his ernest turneth til a jape. Line 3390 Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye, Line 3391 Men seyn right thus, alwey the nye slye Line 3392 Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth. Line 3393 For though that absolon be wood or wrooth, Line 3394 By cause that he fer was from hire sight, Line 3395 This nye nicholas stood in his light. Line 3396 Now ber thee wel, thou hende nicholas, Line 3397 For absolon may waille and synge allas. Line 3398 And so bifel it on a saterday, Line 3399 This carpenter was goon til osenay; Line 3400 And hende nicholas and alisoun Line 3401 Acorded been to this conclusioun, Line 3402 That nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle Line 3403 This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle; Line 3404 And if so be the game wente aright, Line 3405 She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght, Line 3406 For this was his desir and hire also. Line 3407 And right anon, withouten wordes mo, Line 3408 This nicholas no lenger wolde tarie, Line 3409 But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie Line 3410 Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye, Line 3411 And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye, Line 3412 If that he axed after nicholas, Line 3413 She sholde seye she nyste where he was, Line 3414 Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye; Line 3415 She trowed that he was in maladye, Line 3416 For for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle, Line 3417 He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle. Line 3418 This passeth forth al thilke saterday, Line 3419 That nicholas stille in his chambre lay, Line 3420 And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste, Line 3421 Til sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste. Line 3422 This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle Line 3423 Of nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle, Line 3424 And seyde, I am adrad, by seint thomas, Line 3425 It stondeth nat aright with nicholas. Line 3426 God shilde that he deyde sodeynly! Line 3427 This world is now ful tikel, sikerly. Line 3428 I saugh to-day a cors yborn to chirche Line 3429 That now, on monday last, I saugh hym wirche. Line 3430 Go up, quod he unto his knave anoon, Line 3431 Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon. Line 3432 Looke how it is, and tel me boldely. Line 3433 This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily, Line 3434

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Line 3434 And at the chambre dore whil that he stood, Line 3435 He cride and knokked as that he were wood, Line 3436 What! how! what do ye, maister nicholay? Line 3437 How may ye slepen al the longe day? Line 3438 But al for noght, he herde nat a word. Line 3439 An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord, Line 3440 Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe, Line 3441 And at that hole he looked in ful depe, Line 3442 And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight. Line 3443 This nicholas sat evere capyng upright, Line 3444 As he had kiked on the newe moone. Line 3445 Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone Line 3446 In what array he saugh this ilke man. Line 3447 This carpenter to blessen hym bigan, Line 3448 And seyde, help us, seinte frydeswyde! Line 3449 A man woot litel what hym shal bityde. Line 3450 This man is falle, with his astromye, Line 3451 In some woodnesse or in som agonye. Line 3452 I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be! Line 3453 Men sholde nat knowe of goddes pryvetee. Line 3454 Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man Line 3455 That noght but oonly his bileve kan! Line 3456 So ferde another clerk with astromye; Line 3457 He walked in the feeldes, for to prye Line 3458 Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle, Line 3459 Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle; Line 3460 He saugh nat that. But yet, by seint thomas, Line 3461 Me reweth soore of hende nicholas. Line 3462 He shal be rated of his studiyng, Line 3463 If that I may, by jhesus, hevene kyng! Line 3464 Get me a staf, that I may underspore, Line 3465 Whil that thou, robyn, hevest up the dore. Line 3466 He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse -- Line 3467 And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse. Line 3468 His knave was a strong carl for the nones, Line 3469 And by the haspe he haaf it of atones; Line 3470 Into the floor the dore fil anon. Line 3471 This nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon, Line 3472 And evere caped upward into the eir. Line 3473 This carpenter wende he were in despeir, Line 3474 And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily, Line 3475 And shook hym harde, and cride spitously, Line 3476 What! nicholay! what, how! what, looke adoun! Line 3477 Awak, and thenk on cristes passioun! Line 3478 I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes. Line 3479 Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes Line 3480 On foure halves of the hous aboute, Line 3481 And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute: Line 3482 Jhesu crist and seinte benedight, Line 3483 Blesse this hous from every wikked wight, Line 3484 For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster! Line 3485 Where wentestow, seinte petres soster? Line 3486 And atte laste this hende nicholas Line 3487 Gan for to sik soore, and seyde, allas! Line 3488 Shal al the world be lost aftsoones now? Line 3489 This carpenter answerde, what seystow? Line 3490 What! thynk on god, as we doon, men that swynke. Line 3491 This nicholas answerde, fecche me drynke, Line 3492 And after wol I speke in pryvetee Line 3493 Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee. Line 3494 I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn. Line 3495 This carpenter goth doun, and comth ageyn, Line 3496 And broghte of myghty ale a large quart; Line 3497 And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part, Line 3498 This nicholas his dore faste shette, Line 3499 And doun the carpenter by hym he sette. Line 3500 He seyde john, myn hooste, lief and deere, Line 3501 Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere Line 3502 That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye; Line 3503 For it is cristes conseil that I seye, Line 3504 And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore; Line 3505 For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore, Line 3506 That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood. Line 3507 Nay, crist forbede it, for his hooly blood! Line 3508 Quod tho this sely man, I nam no labbe; Line 3509 Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe. Line 3510 Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle Line 3511 To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle! Line 3512 Now john, quod nicholas, I wol nat lye; Line 3513 I have yfounde in myn astrologye, Line 3514 As I have looked in the moone bright, Line 3515 That now a monday next, at quarter nyght, Line 3516 Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood, Line 3517 That half so greet was nevere noes flood. Line 3518 This world, he seyde, in lasse than an hour Line 3519 Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour. Line 3520 Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf. Line 3521 This carpenter answerde, allas, my wyf! Line 3522 And shal she drenche? allas, myn alisoun! Line 3523 For sorwe of this he fil almoost adoun, Line 3524 And seyde, is ther no remedie in this cas? Line 3525 Why, yis, for gode, quod hende nicholas, Line 3526 If thou wolt werken after loore and reed. Line 3527 Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed; Line 3528 For thus seith salomon, that was ful trewe, Line 3529 Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe. -- Line 3530 And if thou werken wolt by good conseil, Line 3531 I undertake, withouten mast and seyl, Line 3532 Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me. Line 3533 Hastow nat herd hou saved was noe, Line 3534 Whan that oure lord hadde warned hym biforn Line 3535 That al the world with water sholde be lorn? Line 3536 Yis, quod this carpenter, ful yoore ago. Line 3537 Hastou nat herd, quod nicholas, also Line 3538 The sorwe of noe with his felaweshipe, Line 3539

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Line 3539 Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe? Line 3540 Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake Line 3541 At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake Line 3542 That she hadde had a ship hirself allone. Line 3543 And therfore, woostou what is best to doone? Line 3544 This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng Line 3545 Men may nat preche or maken tariyng. Line 3546 Anon go gete us faste into this in Line 3547 A knedyng trogh, or ellis a kymelyn, Line 3548 For ech of us, but looke that they be large, Line 3549 In which we mowe swymme as in a barge, Line 3550 And han therinne vitaille suffisant Line 3551 But for a day, -- fy on the remenant! Line 3552 The water shal aslake and goon away Line 3553 Aboute pryme upon the nexte day. Line 3554 But robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave, Line 3555 Ne eek thy mayde gille I may nat save; Line 3556 Axe nat why, for though thou aske me, Line 3557 I wol nat tellen goddes pryvetee. Line 3558 Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde, Line 3559 To han as greet a grace as noe hadde. Line 3560 Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute. Line 3561 Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute. Line 3562 But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me, Line 3563 Ygeten us thise knedyng tubbes thre, Line 3564 Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye, Line 3565 That no man of oure purveiaunce spye. Line 3566 And whan thou thus hast doon, as I have seyd, Line 3567 And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd, Line 3568 And eek an ax, to smyte the corde atwo, Line 3569 Whan that the water comth, that we may go, Line 3570 And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable, Line 3571 Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable, Line 3572 That we may frely passen forth oure way, Line 3573 Whan that the grete shour is goon away, Line 3574 Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake, Line 3575 As dooth the white doke after hire drake. Line 3576 Thanne wol I clepe, -- how, alison! how, john! Line 3577 Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon. -- Line 3578 And thou wolt seyn, -- hayl, maister nicholay! Line 3579 Good morwe, I se thee wel, for it is day. -- Line 3580 And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf Line 3581 Of al the world, as noe and his wyf. Line 3582 But of o thyng I warne thee ful right: Line 3583 Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght Line 3584 That we ben entred into shippes bord, Line 3585 That noon of us ne speke nat a word, Line 3586 Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere; Line 3587 For it is goddes owene heeste deere. Line 3588 Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne; Line 3589 For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne, Line 3590 Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede, Line 3591 This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede! Line 3592 Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe, Line 3593 Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe, Line 3594 And sitten there, abidyng goddes grace. Line 3595 Go now thy wey, I have no lenger space Line 3596 To make of this no lenger sermonyng. Line 3597 Men seyn thus, -- sende the wise, and sey no thyng: -- Line 3598 Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche. Line 3599 Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche. Line 3600 This sely carpenter goth forth his wey. Line 3601 Ful ofte he seide allas and weylawey, Line 3602 And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee, Line 3603 And she was war, and knew it bet than he, Line 3604 What al this queynte cast was for to seye. Line 3605 But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye, Line 3606 And seyde, allas! go forth thy wey anon, Line 3607 Help us to scape, or we been dede echon! Line 3608 I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf; Line 3609 Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf. Line 3610 Lo, which a greet thyng is affeccioun! Line 3611 Men may dyen of ymaginacioun, Line 3612 So depe may impressioun be take. Line 3613 This sely carpenter bigynneth quake; Line 3614 Hym thynketh verraily that he may see Line 3615 Noees flood come walwynge as the see Line 3616 To drenchen alisoun, his hony deere. Line 3617 He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere; Line 3618 He siketh with ful many a sory swogh; Line 3619 He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng trogh, Line 3620 And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn, Line 3621 And pryvely he sente hem to his in, Line 3622 And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee. Line 3623 His owene hand he made laddres thre, Line 3624 To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes Line 3625 Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes, Line 3626 And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe, Line 3627 With breed and chese, and good ale in a jubbe, Line 3628 Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day. Line 3629 But er that he hadde maad al this array, Line 3630 He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also, Line 3631 Upon his nede to london for to go. Line 3632 And on the monday, whan it drow to nyght, Line 3633 He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght, Line 3634 And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be. Line 3635 And shortly, up they clomben alle thre; Line 3636 They seten stille wel a furlong way. Line 3637 Now, pater-noster, clom! seyde nicholay, Line 3638 And clom, quod john, and clom, seyde alisoun. Line 3639 This carpenter seyde his devocioun, Line 3640 And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere, Line 3641 Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere. Line 3642 The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse, Line 3643 Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse, Line 3644

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Line 3644 Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore; Line 3645 For travaille of his goost he groneth soore, Line 3646 And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay. Line 3647 Doun of the laddre stalketh nicholay, Line 3648 And alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde; Line 3649 Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde, Line 3650 Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye. Line 3651 Ther was the revel and the melodye; Line 3652 And thus lith alison and nicholas, Line 3653 In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas, Line 3654 Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge, Line 3655 And freres in the chaunsel gonne synge. Line 3656 This parissh clerk, this amorous absolon, Line 3657 That is for love alwey so wo bigon, Line 3658 Upon the monday was at oseneye Line 3659 With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye, Line 3660 And axed upon cas a cloisterer Line 3661 Ful prively after john the carpenter; Line 3662 And he drough hym apart out of the chirche, Line 3663 And seyde, I noot, I saugh hym heere nat wirche Line 3664 Syn saterday; I trowe that he be went Line 3665 For tymber, ther oure abbot hath hym sent; Line 3666 For he is wont for tymber for to go, Line 3667 And dwellen at the grange a day or two; Line 3668 Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn. Line 3669 Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn. Line 3670 This absolon ful joly was and light, Line 3671 And thoghte, now is tyme to wake al nyght; Line 3672 For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge Line 3673 Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge. Line 3674 So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe, Line 3675 Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe Line 3676 That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal. Line 3677 To alison now wol I tellen al Line 3678 My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse Line 3679 That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse. Line 3680 Som maner confort shal I have, parfay. Line 3681 My mouth hath icched al this longe day; Line 3682 That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste. Line 3683 Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste. Line 3684 Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye, Line 3685 And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye. Line 3686 Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon Line 3687 Up rist this joly lovere absolon Line 3688 And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys. Line 3689 But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys, Line 3690 To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer. Line 3691 Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer, Line 3692 For therby wende he to ben gracious. Line 3693 He rometh to the carpenteres hous, Line 3694 And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe -- Line 3695 Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe -- Line 3696 And softe he cougheth with a semy soun -- Line 3697 What do ye, hony-comb, sweete alisoun, Line 3698 My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome? Line 3699 Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me! Line 3700 Wel litel thynken ye upon my wo, Line 3701 That for youre love I swete ther I go. Line 3702 No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete; Line 3703 I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete. Line 3704 Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge, Line 3705 That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge. Line 3706 I may nat ete na moore than a mayde. Line 3707 "Go fro the wyndow, jakke fool," she sayde; Line 3708 As help me god, it wol nat be 'com pa me.' Line 3709 I love another -- and elles I were to blame -- Line 3710 Wel bet than thee, by jhesu, absolon. Line 3711 Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston, Line 3712 And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey! Line 3713 "Allas," quod absolon, "and weylawey, Line 3714 That trewe love was evere so yvel biset! Line 3715 Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet, Line 3716 For jhesus love, and for the love of me." Line 3717 Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith? quod she. Line 3718 Ye, certes, lemman, quod this absolon. Line 3719 Thanne make thee redy, quod she, I come anon. Line 3720 And unto nicholas she seyde stille, Line 3721 Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille. Line 3722 This absolon doun sette hym on his knees Line 3723 And seyde, I am a lord at alle degrees; Line 3724 For after this I hope ther cometh moore. Line 3725 Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore! Line 3726 The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste. Line 3727 Have do, quod she, com of, and speed the faste, Line 3728 Lest that oure neighebores thee espie. Line 3729 This absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie. Line 3730 Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole, Line 3731 And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole, Line 3732 And absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers, Line 3733 But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers Line 3734 Ful savourly, er he were war of this. Line 3735 Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys, Line 3736 For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd. Line 3737 He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd, Line 3738 And seyde, fy! allas! what have I do? Line 3739 Tehee! quod she, and clapte the wyndow to, Line 3740 And absolon gooth forth a sory pas. Line 3741 A berd! a berd! quod hende nicholas, Line 3742 By goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel. Line 3743 This sely absolon herde every deel, Line 3744 And on his lippe he gan for anger byte, Line 3745

Page 54

Line 3745 And to hymself he seyde, I shal thee quyte. Line 3746 Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes Line 3747 With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes, Line 3748 But absolon, that seith ful ofte, allas! Line 3749 My soule bitake I unto sathanas, Line 3750 But me were levere than al this toun, quod he, Line 3751 Of this despit awroken for to be. Line 3752 Allas, quod he, allas, I ne hadde ybleynt! Line 3753 His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt; Line 3754 For fro that tyme that he hadde kist hir ers, Line 3755 Of paramours he sette nat a kers; Line 3756 For he was heeled of his maladie. Line 3757 Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie, Line 3758 And weep as dooth a child that is ybete. Line 3759 A softe paas he wente over the strete Line 3760 Until a smyth men cleped daun gerveys, Line 3761 That in his forge smythed plough harneys; Line 3762 He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily. Line 3763 This absolon knokketh al esily, Line 3764 And seyde, undo, gerveys, and that anon. Line 3765 What, who artow? it am I, absalon. Line 3766 What, absolon! for cristes sweete tree, Line 3767 Why rise ye so rathe? ey, benedicitee! Line 3768 What eyleth yow? som gay gerl, God it woot, Line 3769 Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot. Line 3770 By seinte note, ye woot wel what I mene. Line 3771 This absolon ne roghte nat a bene Line 3772 Of al his pley; no word agayn he yaf; Line 3773 He hadde moore tow on his distaf Line 3774 Than gerveys knew, and seyde, freend so deere, Line 3775 That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere, Line 3776 As lene it me, I have therwith to doone, Line 3777 And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone. Line 3778 Gerveys answerde, certes, were it gold, Line 3779 Or in a poke nobles alle untold, Line 3780 Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth. Line 3781 Ey, cristes foo! what wol ye do therwith? Line 3782 Therof, quod absolon, be as be may. Line 3783 I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day -- Line 3784 And caughte the kultour by the colde stele. Line 3785 Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele, Line 3786 And wente unto the carpenteris wal. Line 3787 He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal Line 3788 Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er. Line 3789 This alison answerde, who is ther Line 3790 That knokketh so? I warante it a theef. Line 3791 Why, nay, quod he, God woot, my sweete leef, Line 3792 I am thyn absolon, my deerelyng. Line 3793 Of gold, quod he, I have thee broght a ryng. Line 3794 My mooder yaf it me, so God me save; Line 3795 Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave. Line 3796 This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse. Line 3797 This nicholas was risen for to pisse, Line 3798 And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape; Line 3799 He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape. Line 3800 And up the wyndowe dide he hastily, Line 3801 And out his ers he putteth pryvely Line 3802 Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon; Line 3803 And therwith spak this clerk, this absolon, Line 3804 Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art. Line 3805 This nicholas anon leet fle a fart, Line 3806 As greet as it had been a thonder-dent, Line 3807 That with the strook he was almoost yblent; Line 3808 And he was redy with his iren hoot, Line 3809 And nicholas amydde the ers he smoot. Line 3810 Of gooth the skyn an hande-brede aboute, Line 3811 The hoote kultour brende so his toute, Line 3812 And for the smert he wende for to dye. Line 3813 As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye, Line 3814 Help! water! water! water! help, for goddes herte! Line 3815 This carpenter out of his slomber sterte, Line 3816 And herde oon crien water as he were wood, Line 3817 And thoughte, allas, now comth nowelis flood! Line 3818 He sit hym up withouten wordes mo, Line 3819 And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo, Line 3820 And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle, Line 3821 Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle Line 3822 Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay. Line 3823 Up stirte hire alison and nicholay, Line 3824 And criden out and harrow in the strete. Line 3825 The neighebores, bothe smale and grete, Line 3826 In ronnen for to gauren on this man, Line 3827 That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan, Line 3828 For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm. Line 3829 But stonde he moste unto his owene harm; Line 3830 For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun Line 3831 With hende nicholas and alisoun. Line 3832 They tolden every man that he was wood, Line 3833 He was agast so of nowelis flood Line 3834 Thurgh fantasie, that of his vanytee Line 3835 He hadde yboght hym knedyng tubbes thre, Line 3836 And hadde hem hanged in the roof above; Line 3837 And that he preyed hem, for goddes love, Line 3838 To sitten in the roof, par compaignye. Line 3839 The folk gan laughen at his fantasye; Line 3840 Into the roof they kiken and they cape, Line 3841 And turned al his harm unto a jape. Line 3842 For what so that this carpenter answerde, Line 3843 It was for noght, no man his reson herde. Line 3844 With othes grete he was so sworn adoun Line 3845 That he was holde wood in al the toun; Line 3846 For every clerk anonright heeld with oother. Line 3847

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Line 3847 They seyde, the man is wood, my leeve brother; Line 3848 And every wight gan laughen at this stryf. Line 3849 Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf, Line 3850 For al his kepyng and his jalousye; Line 3851 And absolon hath kist hir nether ye; Line 3852 And nicholas is scalded in the towte. Line 3853 This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte! Line 3854
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