The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
Part 8: l.379-452
379: Lordynges, right thus, as ye have understonde,
380: Baar I stifly myne olde housbondes on honde
381: That thus they seyden in hir dronkenesse;
382: And al was fals, but that I took witnesse
383: On janekyn, and on my nece also.
384: O lord! the peyne I dide hem and the wo,
385: Ful giltelees, by goddes sweete pyne!
386: For as an hors I koude byte and whyne.
387: I koude pleyne, and yit was in the gilt,
388: Or elles often tyme hadde I been spilt.
389: Whose that first to mille comth, first grynt;
390: I pleyned first, so was oure werre ystynt.
391: They were ful glade to excuse hem blyve
392: Of thyng of which they nevere agilte hir lyve.
393: Of wenches wolde I beren hem on honde,
394: Whan that for syk unnethes myghte they stonde.
395: Yet tikled I his herte, for that he
396: Wende that I hadde of hym so greet chiertee!
397: I swoor that al my walkynge out by nyghte
398: Was for t' espye wenches that he dighte;
399: Under that colour hadde I many a myrthe.
400: For al swich wit is yeven us in oure byrthe;
401: Deceite, wepyng, spynnyng God hath yive
402: To wommen kyndely, whil that they may lyve.
403: And thus of o thyng I avaunte me,
404: Atte ende I hadde the bettre in ech degree,
405: By sleighte, or force, or by som maner thyng,
406: As by continueel murmur or grucchyng.
407: Namely abedde hadden they meschaunce:
408: Ther wolde I chide, and do hem no plesaunce;
409: I wolde no lenger in the bed abyde,
410: If that I felte his arm over my syde,
411: Til he had maad his raunson unto me;
412: Thanne wolde I suffre hym do his necetee.
413: And therfore every man this tale I telle,
414: Wynne whose may, for al is for to selle;
415: With empty hand men may none haukes lure.
416: For wynnyng wolde I al his lust endure,
417: And make me feyned appetit;
418: And yet in bacon hadde I nevere delit;
419: That made me that evere I wolde hem chide.
420: For thogh the pope hadde seten hem biside,
421: I wolde nat spare hem at hir owene bord;
422: For, by my trouthe, I quitte hem word for word.
423: As helpe me verray God omnipotent,
424: Though I right now sholde make my testament,
425: I ne owe hem nat a word that it nys quit.
426: I broghte it so aboute by my wit
427: That they moste yeve it up, as for the beste,
428: Or elles hadde we nevere been in reste.
429: For thogh he looked as a wood leon,
430: Yet sholde he faille of his conclusion.
431: Thanne wolde I seye, -- goode lief, taak keep
432: How mekely looketh wilkyn, oure sheep!
433: Com neer, my spouse, lat me ba thy cheke!
434: Ye sholde been al pacient and meke,
435: And han a sweete spiced conscience,
436: Sith ye so preche of jobes pacience.
437: Suffreth alwey, syn ye so wel kan preche;
438: And but ye do, certein we shal yow teche
439: That it is fair to have a wyf in pees.
440: Oon of us two moste bowen, doutelees;
441: And sith a man is moore resonable
442: Than womman is, ye moste been suffrable.
443: What eyleth yow to grucche thus and grone?
444: Is it for ye wolde have my queynte allone?
445: Wy, taak it al! lo, have it every deel!
446: Peter! I shrewe yow, but ye love it weel;
447: For if I wolde selle my bele chose,
448: I koude walke as fressh as is a rose;
449: But I wol kepe it for youre owene tooth.
450: Ye be to blame, by god! I sey yow sooth. --
451: Swiche manere wordes hadde we on honde.
452: Now wol I speken of my fourthe housbonde.
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