The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 20: l.952-1004
950 Pardee, we wommen konne no thyng hele;
951 Witnesse on myda, -- wol ye heere the tale?
952 Ovyde, amonges othere thynges smale,
953 Seyde myda hadde, under his longe heres,
954 Growynge upon his heed two asses eres,
955 The whiche vice he hydde, as he best myghte,
956 Ful subtilly from every mannes sighte,
957 That, save his wyf, ther wiste of it namo.
958 He loved hire moost, and trusted hire also;
959 He preyede hire that to no creature
960 She sholde tellen of his disfigure.
961 She swoor him, nay, for al this world to wynne,
962 She nolde do that vileynye or synne,
963 To make hir housbonde han so foul a name.
964 She nolde nat telle it for hir owene shame.
965 But nathelees, hir thoughte that she dyde,
966 That she so longe sholde a conseil hyde;
967 Hir thoughte it swal so soore aboute hir herte
968 That nedely som word hire moste asterte;
969 And sith she dorste telle it to no man,
970 Doun to a mareys faste by she ran
971 Til she cam there, hir herte was a-fyre --
972 And as a bitore bombleth in the myre,
973 She leyde hir mouth unto the water doun:
974 Biwreye me nat, thou water, with thy soun,
975 Quod she; -- to thee I telle it and namo;
976 Myn housbonde hath longe asses erys two!
977 Now is myn herte al hool, now is it oute.
978 I myghte no lenger kepe it, out of doute.
979 Heere may ye se, thogh we a tyme abyde,
980 Yet out it moot; we kan no conseil hyde.
981 The remenant of the tale if ye wol heere,
982 Redeth ovyde, and ther ye may it leere.
983 This knyght, of which my tale is specially,
984 Than that he saugh he myghte nat come therby,
985 This is to seye, what wommen love moost,
986 Withinne his brest ful sorweful was the goost.
987 But hoom he gooth, he myghte nat sojourne;
988 The day was come that homward moste he tourne.
989 And in his wey it happed hym to ryde,
990 In al this care, under a forest syde,
991 Wher as he saugh upon a daunce go
992 Of ladyes foure and twenty, and yet mo;
993 Toward the whiche daunce he drow ful yerne,
994 In hope that som wysdom sholde he lerne.
995 But certeinly, er he cam fully there,
996 Vanysshed was this daunce, he nyste where.
997 No creature saugh he that bar lyf,
998 Save on the grene he saugh sittynge a wyf --
999 A fouler wight ther may no man devyse.
1000 Agayn the knyght this olde wyf gan ryse,
1001 And seyde, sire knyght, heer forth ne lith no wey.
1002 Tel me what that ye seken, by youre fey!
1003 Paraventure it may the bettre be;
1004 Thise olde folk kan muchel thyng, quod she.
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