The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 14: l.666-710
666: Now wol I seye yow sooth, by seint thomas,
667: Why that I rente out of his book a leef,
668: For which he smoot me so that I was deef.
669: He hadde a book that gladly, nyght and day,
670: For his desport he wolde rede alway;
671: He cleped it valerie and theofraste,
672: At which book he lough alwey ful faste.
673: And eek ther was somtyme a clerk at rome,
674: A cardinal, that highte seint jerome,
675: That made a book agayn jovinian;
676: In which book eek ther was tertulan,
677: Crisippus, trotula, and helowys,
678: That was abbesse nat fer fro parys;
679: And eek the parables of salomon,
680: Ovides art, and bookes many on,
681: And alle thise were bounden in o volume.
682: And every nyght and day was his custume,
683: Whan he hadde leyser and vacacioun
684: From oother worldly occupacioun,
685: To reden on this book of wikked wyves.
686: He knew of hem mo legendes and lyves
687: Than been of goode wyves in the bible.
688: For trusteth wel, it is an impossible
689: That any clerk wol speke good of wyves,
690: But if it be of hooly seintes lyves,
691: Ne of noon oother womman never the mo.
692: Who peyntede the leon, tel me who?
693: By god! if wommen hadde writen stories,
694: As clerkes han withinne hire oratories,
695: They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse
696: Than al the mark of adam may redresse.
697: The children of mercurie and of venus
698: Been in hir wirkyng ful contrarius;
699: Mercurie loveth wysdam and science,
700: And venus loveth ryot and dispence.
701: And, for hire diverse disposicioun,
702: Ech falleth in otheres exaltacioun.
703: And thus, God woot, mercurie is desolat
704: In pisces, wher venus is exaltat;
705: And venus falleth ther mercurie is reysed.
706: Therfore no womman of no clerk is preysed.
707: The clerk, whan he is oold, and may noght do
708: Of venus werkes worth his olde sho,
709: Thanne sit he doun, and writ in his dotage
710: That wommen kan nat kepe hir mariage!
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