The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 6: l.235-307
235: Sire olde kaynard, is this thyn array?
236: Why is my neighbores wyf so gay?
237: She is honoured over al ther she gooth;
238: I sitte at hoom I have no thrifty clooth.
239: What dostow at my neighebores hous?
240: Is she so fair? artow so amorous?
241: What rowne ye with oure mayde? benedicite!
242: Sire olde lecchour, lat thy japes be!
243: And if I have a gossib or a freend,
244: Withouten gilt, thou chidest as a feend,
245: If that I walke or pleye unto his hous!
246: Thou comest hoom as dronken as a mous,
247: And prechest on thy bench, with yvel preef!
248: Thou seist to me it is a greet meschief
249: To wedde a povre womman, for costage;
250: And if that she be riche, of heigh parage,
251: Thanne seistow that it is a tormentrie
252: To soffre hire pride and hire malencolie.
253: And if that she be fair, thou verray knave,
254: Thou seyst that every holour wol hire have;
255: She may no while in chastitee abyde,
256: That is assailled upon ech a syde.
257: Thou seyst som folk desiren us for richesse,
258: Somme for oure shap, and somme for oure fairnesse,
259: And som for she kan outher synge or daunce,
260: And som for gentillesse and daliaunce;
261: Som for hir handes and hir armes smale:
262: Thus goth al to the devel, by thy tale.
263: Thou seyst men may nat kepe a castel wal,
264: It may so longe assailled been over al.
265: And if that she be foul, thou seist that she
266: Coveiteth every man that she may se,
267: For as a spaynel she wol on hym lepe,
268: Til that she fynde som man hire to chepe.
269: Ne noon so grey goos gooth ther in the lake
270: As, seistow, wol been withoute make.
271: And seyst it is an hard thyng for to welde
272: A thyng that no man wole, his thankes, helde.
273: Thus seistow, lorel, whan thow goost to bedde;
274: And that no wys man nedeth for to wedde,
275: Ne no man that entendeth unto hevene.
276: With wilde thonder-dynt and firy levene
277: Moote thy welked nekke be tobroke!
278: Thow seyst that droppyng houses, and eek smoke,
279: And chidyng wyves maken men to flee
280: Out of his owene hous; a! benedicitee!
281: What eyleth swich an old man for to chide?
282: Thow seyst we wyves wol oure vices hide
283: Til we be fast, and thanne we wol hem shewe, --
284: Wel may that be a proverbe of a shrewe!
285: Thou seist that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes,
286: They been assayed at diverse stoundes;
287: Bacyns, lavours, er that men hem bye,
288: Spoones and stooles, and al swich housbondrye,
289: And so been pottes, clothes, and array;
290: But folk of wyves maken noon assay,
291: Til they be wedded; olde dotard shrewe!
292: And thanne, seistow, we wol oure vices shewe.
293: Thou seist also that it displeseth me
294: But if that thou wolt preyse my beautee,
295: And but thou poure alwey upon my face,
296: And clepe me faire dame in every place.
297: And but thou make a feeste on thilke day
298: That I was born, and make me fressh and gay;
299: And but thou do to my norice honour,
300: And to my chamberere withinne my bour,
301: And to my fadres folk and his allyes, --
302: Thus seistow, olde barel-ful of lyes!
303: And yet of oure apprentice janekyn,
304: For his crispe heer, shynynge as gold so fyn,
305: And for he squiereth me bothe up and doun,
306: Yet hastow caught a fals suspecioun.
307: I wol hym noght, thogh thou were deed tomorwe!
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