The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 24: l.1177-1218
1177 And ther as ye of poverte me repreeve,
1178 The hye god, on whom that we bileeve,
1179 In wilful poverte chees to lyve his lyf.
1180 And certes every man, mayden, or wyf,
1181 May understonde that jhesus, hevene kyng,
1182 Ne wolde nat chese a vicious lyvyng.
1183 Glad poverte is an honest thyng, certeyn;
1184 This wole senec and othere clerkes seyn.
1185 Whoso that halt hym payd of his poverte,
1186 I holde hym riche, al hadde he nat a sherte.
1187 He that coveiteth is a povre wight,
1188 For he wolde han that is nat in his myght;
1189 But he that noght hath, ne coveiteth have,
1190 Is riche, although ye holde hym but a knave.
1191 Verray poverte, it syngeth proprely;
1192 Juvenal seith of poverte myrily:
1193 'The povre man, whan he goth by the weye,
1194 Bifore the theves he may synge and pleye.'
1195 Poverte is hateful good and, as I gesse,
1196 A ful greet bryngere out of bisynesse;
1197 A greet amendere eek of sapience
1198 To hym that taketh it in pacience.
1199 Poverte is this, although it seme alenge,
1200 Possessioun that no wight wol chalenge.
1201 Poverte ful ofte, whan a man is lowe,
1202 Maketh his God and eek hymself to knowe.
1203 Poverte a spectacle is, as thynketh me,
1204 Thurgh which he may his verray freendes see.
1205 And therfore, sire, syn that I noght yow greve,
1206 Of my poverte namoore ye me repreve.
1207 No, sire, of elde ye repreve me;
1208 And certes, sire, thogh noon auctoritee
1209 Were in no book, ye gentils of honour
1210 Seyn that men sholde an oold wight doon favour,
1211 And clepe hym fader, for youre gentillesse;
1212 And auctours shal I fynde, as I gesse.
1213 Now ther ye seye that I am foul and old,
1214 Than drede you noght to been a cokewold;
1215 For filthe and eelde, also moot I thee,
1216 Been grete wardeyns upon chastitee.
1217 But nathelees, syn I knowe youre delit,
1218 I shal fulfille youre worldly appetit.
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