The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

Sequitur pars quinta.

Among al this, after his wikke usage,
     785
This markys, yet his wyf to tempte moore Page  110
     786
To the outtreste preeve of hir corage,
     787
Fully to han experience and loore
     788
If that she were as stidefast as bifoore,
     789
He on a day, in open audience,
     790
Ful boistously hath seyd hire this sentence:
     791
Certes, grisilde, I hadde ynogh plesance
     792
To han yow to my wyf for youre goodnesse,
     793
As for youre trouthe and for youre obeisance,
     794
Noght for youre lynage, ne for youre richesse;
     795
But now knowe I in verray soothfastnesse
     796
That in greet lordshipe, if I wel avyse,
     797
Ther is greet servitute in sondry wyse.
     798
I may nat doon as every plowman may.
     799
My peple me constreyneth for to take
     800
Another wyf, and crien day by day;
     801
And eek the pope, rancour for to slake.
     802
Consenteth it, that dar I undertake;
     803
And trewely thus muche I wol yow seye,
     804
My newe wyf is comynge by the weye.
     805
Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place,
     806
And thilke dowere that ye broghten me,
     807
Taak it agayn; I graunte it of my grace.
     808
Retourneth to youre fadres hous, quod he;
     809
No man may alwey han prosperitee.
     810
With evene herte I rede yow t' endure
     811
The strook of fortune or of aventure.
     812
And she agayn answerde in pacience,
     813
My lord, quod she, I woot, and wiste alway,
     814
How that bitwixen youre magnificence
     815
And my poverte no wight kan ne may
     816
Maken comparison; it is no nay.
     817
I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere
     818
To be youre wyf, no, ne youre chamberere.
     819
And in this hous, ther ye me lady maade --
     820
The heighe God take I for my witnesse,
     821
And also wysly he my soule glaade --
     822
I nevere heeld me lady ne mistresse,
     823
But humble servant to youre worthynesse,
     824
And evere shal, whil that my lyf may dure,
     825
Aboven every worldly creature.
     826
That ye so longe of youre benignitee
     827
Han holden me in honour and nobleye,
     828
Where as I was noght worthy for to bee,
     829
That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye
     830
Foryelde it yow; ther is namoore to seye.
     831
Unto my fader gladly wol I wende,
     832
And with hym dwelle unto my lyves ende.
     833
Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal,
     834
Til I be deed my lyf ther wol I lede,
     835
A wydwe clene in body, herte, and al.
     836
For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede,
     837
And am youre trewe wyf, it is no drede,
     838
God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take
     839
Another man to housbonde or to make!
     840
And of youre newe wyf God of his grace
     841
So graunte yow wele and prosperitee!
     842
For I wol gladly yelden hire my place,
     843
In which that I was blisful wont to bee.
     844
For sith it liketh yow, my lord, quod shee,
     845
That whilom weren al myn hertes reste,
     846
That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste.
     847
But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire
     848
As I first broghte, it is wel in my mynde
     849
It were my wrecched clothes, nothyng faire,
     850
The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde.
     851
O goode god! how gentil and how kynde
     852
Ye semed by youre speche and youre visage
     853
The day that maked was oure mariage!
     854
But sooth is seyd -- algate I fynde it trewe,
     855
For in effect it preeved is on me --
     856
Love is noght oold as whan that it is newe.
     857
But certes, lord, for noon adversitee,
     858
To dyen in the cas, it shal nat bee
     859
That evere in word or werk I shal repente
     860
That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.
     861
My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place
     862
Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede,
     863
And richely me cladden, of youre grace.
     864
To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede,
     865
But feith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede;
     866
And heere agayn your clothyng I restoore,
     867
And eek your weddyng ryng, for everemore.
     868
The remenant of youre jueles redy be
     869
Inwith youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn.
     870
Naked out of my fadres hous, quod she,
     871
I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn.
     872
Al youre plesance wol I folwen fayn;
     873
But yet I hope it be nat youre entente
     874
That I smoklees out of youre paleys wente.
     875
Ye koude nat doon so dishonest a thyng,
     876
That thilke wombe in which youre children leye
     877
Sholde biforn the peple, in my walkyng,
     878
Be seyn al bare; wherfore I yow preye,
     879
Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye. Page  111
     880
Remembre yow, myn owene lord so deere,
     881
I was youre wyf, though I unworthy weere.
     882
Wherfore, in gerdon of my maydenhede,
     883
Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere,
     884
As voucheth sauf to yeve me, to my meede,
     885
But swich a smok as I was wont to were,
     886
That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here
     887
That was youre wyf. And heer take I my leeve
     888
Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve.
     889
The smok, quod he, that thou hast on thy bak,
     890
Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee.
     891
But wel unnethes thilke word he spak,
     892
But wente his wey, for routhe and for pitee.
     893
Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she,
     894
And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,
     895
Toward hir fadre hous forth is she fare.
     896
The folk hire folwe, wepynge in hir weye,
     897
And fortune ay they cursen as they goon;
     898
But she fro wepyng kepte hire eyen dreye,
     899
Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.
     900
Hir fader, that this tidynge herde anoon,
     901
Curseth the day and tyme that nature
     902
Shoop hym to been a lyves creature.
     903
For out of doute this olde poure man
     904
Was evere in suspect of hir mariage;
     905
For evere he demed, sith that it bigan,
     906
That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage,
     907
Hym wolde thynke it were a disparage
     908
To his estaat so lowe for t' alighte,
     909
And voyden hire as soone as ever he myghte.
     910
Agayns his doghter hastily goth he,
     911
For he by noyse of folk knew hire comynge,
     912
And with hire olde coote, as it myghte be
     913
He covered hire, ful sorwefully wepynge.
     914
But on hire body myghte he it nat brynge,
     915
For rude was the clooth, and moore of age
     916
By dayes fele than at hire mariage.
     917
Thus with hire fader, for a certeyn space,
     918
Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience,
     919
That neither by hire wordes ne hire face,
     920
Biforn the folk, ne eek in hire absence,
     921
Ne shewed she that hire was doon offence;
     922
Ne of hire heighe astaat no remembraunce
     923
Ne hadde she, as by hire contenaunce.
     924
No wonder is for in hire grete estaat
     925
Hire goost was evere in pleyn humylitee;
     926
No tendre mouth, noon herte delicaat,
     927
No pompe, no semblant of roialtee,
     928
But ful of pacient benyngnytee,
     929
Discreet and pridelees, ay honurable,
     930
And to hire housbonde evere meke and stable.
     931
Men speke of job, and moost for humblesse,
     932
As clerkes, whan hem list, konne wel endite,
     933
Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse,
     934
Though clerkes preise wommen but a lite,
     935
Ther kan no man in humbless hym acquite
     936
As womman kan, ne kan been half so trewe
     937
As wommen been, but it be falle of newe.
     938