The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 18: l.857-898
857 In th' olde dayes of the kyng arthour,
858 Of which that britons speken greet honour,
859 Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.
860 The elf-queene, with hir joly compaignye,
861 Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede.
862 This was the olde opinion, as I rede;
863 I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.
864 But now kan no man se none elves mo,
865 For now the grete charitee and prayers
866 Of lymytours and othere hooly freres,
867 That serchen every lond and every streem,
868 As thikke as motes in the sonne-beem,
869 Blessynge halles, chambres, kichenes, boures,
870 Citees, burghes, castels, hye toures,
871 Thropes, bernes, shipnes, dayeryes --
872 This maketh that ther ben no fayeryes.
873 For ther as wont to walken was an elf,
874 Ther walketh now the lymytour hymself
875 In undermeles and in morwenynges,
876 And seyth his matyns and his hooly thynges
877 As he gooth in his lymytacioun.
878 Wommen may go now saufly up and doun.
879 In every bussh or under every tree
880 Ther is noon oother incubus but he,
881And he ne wol doon hem but dishonour.
882 And so bifel it that this kyng arthour
883 Hadde in his hous a lusty bacheler,
884 That on a day cam ridynge fro ryver;
885 And happed that, allone as he was born,
886 He saugh a mayde walkynge hym biforn,
887 Of which mayde anon, maugree hir heed,
888 By verray force, he rafte hire maydenhed;
889 For which oppressioun was swich clamour
890 And swich pursute unto the kyng arthour,
891 That dampned was this knyght for to be deed,
892 By cours of lawe, and sholde han lost his heed --
893 Paraventure swich was the statut tho --
894 But that the queene and othere ladyes mo
895 So longe preyeden the kyng of grace,
896 Til he his lyf hym graunted in the place,
897 And yaf hym to the queene, al at hir wille,
898 To chese wheither she wolde hym save or spille.
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