The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 19: l.899-951
899 The queene thanketh the kyng with al hir myght,
900 And after this thus spak she to the knyght,
901 Whan that she saugh hir tyme, upon a day:
902 Thou standest yet, quod she, in swich array
903 That of thy lyf yet hastow no suretee.
904 I grante thee lyf, if thou kanst tellen me
905 What thyng is it that wommen moost desiren.
906 Be war, and keep thy nekke-boon from iren!
907 And if thou kanst nat tellen it anon,
908 Yet wol I yeve thee leve for to gon
909 A twelf-month and a day, to seche and leere
910 An answere suffisant in this mateere;
911 And suretee wol I han, er that thou pace,
912 Thy body for to yelden in this place.
913 Wo was this knyght, and sorwefully he siketh;
914 But what! he may nat do al as hym liketh.
915 And at the laste he chees hym for to wende,
916 And come agayn, right at the yeres ende,
917 With swich answere as God wolde hym purveye;
918 And taketh his leve, and wendeth froth his weye.
919 He seketh every hous and and every place
920 Where as he hopeth for to fynde grace,
921 To lerne what thyng wommen loven moost;
922 But he ne koude arryven in no coost
923 Wher as he myghte fynde in this mateere
924 Two creatures accordynge in-feere.
925 Somme seyde wommen loven best richesse,
926 Somme seyde honour, somme seyde jolynesse,
927 Somme riche array,
928 And oftetyme to be wydwe and wedde.
929 Somme seyde that oure hertes been moost esed
930 Whan that we ben yflatered and yplesed.
931 He gooth ful ny the sothe, I wol nat lye.
932 A man shal wynne us best with flaterye;
933 And with attendance, and with bisynesse,
934 Been we ylymed, bothe moore and lesse.
935 And somme seyen that we loven best
936 For to be free, and do right as us lest,
937 And that no man repreve us of oure vice,
938 But seye that we be wise, and no thyng nyce.
939 For trewely ther is noon of us alle,
940 If any wight wol clawe us on the galle,
941 That we nel kike, for he seith us sooth.
942 Assay, and he shal fynde it that so dooth;
943 For, be we never so vicious withinne,
944 We wol been holden wise and clene of synne.
945 And somme seyn that greet delit han we
946 For to been holden stable, and eek secree,
947 And in o purpos stedefastly to dwelle,
948 And nat biwreye thyng that men us telle.
949 But that tale is nat worth a rake-stele.
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