The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 21: l.1005-1072
1005 My leeve mooder, quod this knyght, certeyn
1006 I nam but deed, but if that I kan seyn
1007 What thyng it is that wommen moost desire.
1008 Koude ye me wisse, I wolde wel quite youre hire.
1009 Plight me thy trouthe heere in myn hand, quod she,
1010 The nexte thyng that I requere thee,
1011 Thou shalt it do, if it lye in thy myght,
1012 And I wol telle it yow er it be nyght.
1013 Have heer my trouthe, quod the knyght, I grante.
1014 Thanne, quod she, I dar me wel avante
1015 Thy lyf is sauf; for I wol stonde therby,
1016 Upon my lyf, the queene wol seye as I.
1017 Lat se which is the proudeste of hem alle,
1018 That wereth on a coverchief or a calle,
1019 That day seye nay of that I shal thee teche.
1020 Lat us go forth, withouten lenger speche.
1021 Tho rowned she a pistel in his ere,
1022 And bad hym to be glad, and have no fere.
1023 Whan they be comen to the court, this knyght
1024 Seyde he had holde his day, as he hadde hight,
1025 And redy was his answere, as he sayde.
1026 Ful many a noble wyf, and many a mayde,
1027 And many a wydwe, for that they been wise,
1028 The queene hirself sittynge as a justise,
1029 Assembled been, his answere for to heere;
1030 And afterward this knyght was bode appeere.
1031 To every wight comanded was silence,
1032 And that the knyght sholde telle in audience
1033 What thyng that worldly wommen loven best.
1034This knyght ne stood nat stille as doth a best,
1035 But to his questioun anon answerde
1036 With manly voys, that al the court it herde:
1037 My lige lady, generally, quod he,
1038 Wommen desiren to have sovereynetee
1039 As wel over his housbond as hir love,
1040 And for to been in maistrie hym above.
1041 This is youre mooste desir, thogh ye me kille.
1042 Dooth as yow list; I am heer at youre wille.
1043 In al the court ne was ther wyf, ne mayde,
1044 Ne wydwe, that contraried that he sayde,
1045 But seyden he was worthy han his lyf.
1046 And with that word up stirte the olde wyf,
1047 Which that the knyght saugh sittynge on the grene:
1048 Mercy, quod she, my sovereyn lady queene!
1049 Er that youre court departe, do me right.
1050 I taughte this answere unto the knyght;
1051 For which he plighte me his trouthe there,
1052 The firste thyng that I wolde hym requere,
1053 He wolde it do, if it lay in his myghte.
1054 Bifore the court thanne preye I thee, sir knyght,
1055 Quod she, that thou me take unto thy wyf;
1056 For wel thou woost that I have kept thy lyf.
1057 If I seye fals, sey nay, upon thy fey!
1058 This knyght answerde, allas! and weylawey!
1059 I woot right wel that swich was my biheste.
1060 For goddes love, as chees a newe requeste!
1061 Taak al my good, and lat my body go.
1062 Nay, thanne, quod she, I shrewe us bothe two!
1063 For thogh that I be foul, and oold, and poore,
1064 I nolde for al the metal, ne for oore,
1065 That under erthe is grave, or lith above,
1066 But if thy wyf I were, and eek thy love.
1067 My love? quod he, nay, my dampnacioun!
1068 Allas! that any of my nacioun
1069 Sholde evere so foule disparaged be!
1070 But al for noght; the ende is this, that he
1071 Constreyned was, he nedes moste hire wedde;
1072 And taketh his olde wyf, and gooth to bedde.
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