Whan that the Knight hadde thus his tale i-told,
In al the route nas ther yong ne old,
That he ne seyde it was a noble story,
And worthi to be drawen in memory;
And namely the gentils everichoon.
Oure Host then lowh and swoor, “So moot I goon,
This goth right wel; unbokeled is the male;
Let se now who schal telle another tale;
For trewely this game is wel bygonne.
Now telleth now, sir Monk, if that ye konne
Somwhat, to quyte with the knightes tale.”
The Myller that for drunken was al pale,
So that unnethe upon his hors he sat,
He wold avale nowther hood ne hat,
Ne abyde no man for his curtesye,
But in Pilates voys he gan to crye,
And swor by armes and by blood and bones,
“I can a noble tale for the noones,
With which I wol now quyte the knightes tale.”
Oure Hoost saugh wel how dronke he was of ale,
And seyde, “Robyn, abyde, my leve brother,
Som bettre man schal telle us first another;
Abyd, and let us worken thriftyly.”
“By Goddes soule!” quod he, “that wol nat I,
For I wol speke, or elles go my way.”
Oure Host answerede, “Tel on, a devel way!
Thou art a fool; thy witt is overcome.”
“Now herkneth,” quod this Myller, “al and some;
But first I make a protestacioun,
That I am dronke, I knowe wel by my soun;
And therfore if that I mys-speke or seye,
Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I you preye;
For I wol telle a legende and a lyf
Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf,
How that the clerk hath set the wrightes cappe.”
The Reve answered and seyde, “Stynt thi clappe.
Let be thy lewede drunken harlottrye.
It is a synne, and eek a great folye
To apeyren eny man, or him defame,
And eek to brynge wyves in ylle name.
Thou mayst ynowgh of other thinges seyn.”
This dronken Miller spak ful sone ageyn,
And seyde, “Leeve brother Osewold,
Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.
But I seye not therfore that thou art oon,
Ther been ful goode wyves many oon.
And ever a thousand goode agayns oon badde;
That knowest thou wel thyself, but if thou madde.
Why art thou angry with my tale now?
I have a wyf, pardé! as wel as thow,
Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plough,
Take upon me more than ynough;
Though that thou deme thiself that thou be oon,
I wol bileeve wel that I am noon.
An housbond schal not be inquisityf
Of Goddes pryveté, ne of his wyf.
So that he fynde Goddes foysoun there,
Of the remenaunt needeth nought enquere.”
What schuld I seye, but that this proude Myllere
He nolde his wordes for no man forbere,
But told his cherlisch tale in his manere.
Me athinketh, that I schal reherce it heere;
And therfor every gentil wight I preye,
For Goddes love, as deme nat that I seye,
Of yvel entent, but for I moot reherse
Here wordes alle, al be they better or werse,
Or elles falsen som of my mateere.
And therfor who-so list it nat to heere,
Turne over the leef, and cheese another tale;
For he schal fynde ynowe bothe gret and smale,
Of storial thing that toucheth gentilesse,
And eek moralité, and holynesse.
Blameth nat me, if that ye cheese amys.
The Miller is a cherl, ye knowe wel this;
So was the Reeve, and othir many mo,
And harlotry they tolden bothe two.
Avyseth you, and put me out of blame;
And men schulde nat make ernest of game.
Whilom ther was dwellyng at Oxenford
A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to boorde,
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
With him ther was dwellyng a pore scoler,
Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
Was torned for to lerne astrologye,
And cowde a certeyn of conclusiouns
To deme by interrogaciouns,
If that men axed him in certeyn houres,
Whan that men schuld han drought or ellys schoures,
Or if men axed him what schulde bifalle
Of everything, I may nought reken hem alle.
This clerk was cleped heende Nicholas;
Of derne love he cowde and of solas;
And therwith he was sleigh and ful privé,
And lik to a mayden meke for to se.
A chambir had he in that hostillerye
Alone, withouten eny compaignye,
Ful fetisly i-dight with herbes soote,
And he himself as swete as is the roote
Of lokorys, or eny cetewale.
His almagest, and bookes gret and smale,
His astrylabe, longyng to his art,
His augrym stoones, leyen faire apart
On schelves couched at his beddes heed,
His presse i-covered with a faldyng reed.
And al above ther lay a gay sawtrye,
On which he made a-nightes melodye,
So swetely, that al the chambur rang;
And Angelus ad virginem he sang.
And after that he sang the kynges note;
Ful often blissed was his mery throte,
And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente,
After his frendes fyndyng and his rente.
This carpenter hadde weddid newe a wyf,
Which that he lovede more than his lyf;
Of eyghteteene yeer sche was of age,
Gelous he was, and heeld hir narwe in cage,
For sche was wilde and yong, and he was old,
And demed himself belik a cokewold,
He knew not Catoun, for his wit was rude,
That bad man schulde wedde his similitude.
Men schulde wedde aftir here astaat,
For eelde and youthe ben often at debaat.
But syn that he was brought into the snare,
He moste endure, as othere doon, his care.
Fair was the yonge wyf, and therwithal
As eny wesil hir body gent and smal.
A seynt sche werede, barred al of silk;
A barm-cloth eek as whit as morne mylk
Upon hir lendes, ful of many a gore.
Whit was hir smok, and browdid al byfore
And eek byhynde on hir coler aboute,
Of cole-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
The tapes of hir white voluper
Weren of the same sute of hire coler;
Hir filet brood of silk y-set ful heye.
And certeynly sche hadd a licorous eyghe;
Ful smal y-pulled weren hir browes two,
And tho were bent, as blak as any slo.
Sche was wel more blisful on to see
Than is the newe perjonette tree;
And softer than the wol is of a wethir.
And by hir gurdil hyng a purs of lethir,
Tassid with silk, and perled with latoun.
In al this world to seken up and doun
There nys no man so wys, that couthe thenche
So gay a popillot, or such a wenche.
For brighter was the schynyng of hir hewe,
Than in the Tour the noble i-forged newe.
But of hir song, it was as lowde and yerne
As eny swalwe chiteryng on a berne.
Therto sche cowde skippe, and make a game,
As eny kyde or calf folwyng his dame.
Hir mouth was sweete as bragat is or meth,
Or hoord of apples, layd in hay or heth.
Wynsyng sche was, as is a joly colt;
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
A broch sche bar upon hir loue coleer,
As brod as is the bos of a bocleer.
Hir schos were laced on hir legges heyghe;
Sche was a primerole and a piggesneyghe,
For eny lord have liggyng in his bedde,
Or yet for eny good yeman to wedde.
Now sir, and eft sir, so bifel the cas,
That on a day this heende Nicholas
Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye
Whil that hir housbond was at Oseneye,
As clerkes ben ful sotil and ful queynte.
And pryvely he caught hir by the queynte,
And seyde, “I-wis, but if I have my wille,
For derne love of the, lemman, I spille.”
And heeld hir harde by the haunche boones,
And seyde, “Lemman, love me wel at ones,
Or I wol dye, as wisly God me save.”
And sche sprang out as doth a colt in trave:
And with hir heed sche wriede fast awey,
And seyde, “I wol nat kisse the, by my fey!
Why let be,” quod sche, “lat be thou, Nicholas
Or I wol crye out harrow and allas!
Do wey youre handes for youre curtesye!”
This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
That sche hir love him graunted atte laste,
And swor hir oth by seynt Thomas of Kent,
That sche wolde be at his commaundement,
When that sche may hir leysir wel aspye.
“Myn housbond is so ful of jelousie,
That but ye wayten wel, and be pryvé,
I woot right wel I am but deed,” quod sche:
“Ye mosten be ful derne as in this caas.”
“Thereof ne care the nought,” quod Nicholas:
“A clerk hath litherly byset his while,
But if he cowde a carpenter bygyle.”
And thus they ben acorded and i-sworn
To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
Whan Nicholas hadde doon thus every del,
And thakked hire aboute the lendys wel,
He kist hir sweet, and taketh his sawtrye,
And pleyeth fast, and maketh melodye.
Than fyl it thus, that to the parisch chirche
Cristes owen workes for to wirche,
This goode wyf went on an haly day;
Hir forheed schon as bright as eny day,
So was it waisschen, when sche leet hir werk.
Now ther was of that chirche a parisch clerk,
The which that was i-cleped Absolon.
Crulle was his heer, and as the gold it schon,
And strowted as a fan right large and brood;
Ful streyt and evene lay his joly schood.
His rode was reed, his eyghen gray as goos,
With Powles wyndowes corven in his schoos.
In his hoses reed he wente fetusly.
I-clad he was ful smal and propurly,
Al in a kirtel of a fyn wachet,
Schapen with goores in the newe get.
And therupon he had a gay surplys,
As whyt as is the blosme upon the rys.
A mery child he was, so God me save;
Wel couthe he lete blood, and clippe and schave,
And make a chartre of lond and acquitaunce.
In twenty maners he coude skippe and daunce,
After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges casten to and fro;
And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
Ther-to he sang som tyme a lowde quynyble.
And as wel coude he pleye on a giterne.
In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
That he ne visitede with his solas,
Ther as that any gaylard tapster was.
Bot soth to say he was somdel squaymous
Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
This Absolon, that joly was and gay,
Goth with a senser on the haly day,
Sensing the wyves of the parisch faste;
And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
And namely on this carpenteres wyf;
To loke on hire him thought a mery lyf;
Sche was so propre, sweete, and licorous.
I dar wel sayn, if sche hadde ben a mous,
And he a cat, he wold hir bent anoon.
This parisch clerk, this joly Absolon,
Hath in his herte such a love longyng,
That of no wyf ne took he noon offryng;
Aor curtesy, he seyde, he wolde noon.
The moone at night ful cleer and brighte schoon,
And Absolon his giterne hath i-take,
For paramours he seyde he wold awake.
And forth he goth, jolyf and amerous,
Til he cam to the carpenteres hous,
A litel after the cok hadde y-crowe,
And dressed him up by a schot wyndowe
That was under the carpenteres walle.
He syngeth in his voys gentil and smalle —
“Now, deere lady, if thi wille be,
I praye yow that ye wol rewe on me.”
Ful wel acordyng to his gyternynge.
This carpenter awook, and herde him synge,
And spak unto his wyf, and sayde anoon,
“What Alisoun, herestow not Absolon,
That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal?”
And sche answered hir housbond therwithal,
“Yis, God woot, Johan, I heere it every del.”
This passeth forth; what wil ye bet than wel?
Fro day to day this joly Absolon
So woweth hire, that him is wo-bigon.
He waketh al the night and al the day,
To kembe his lokkes brode and made him gay.
He woweth hire by mene and by brocage,
And swor he wolde ben hir owne page.
He syngeth crowyng as a nightyngale;
And sent hire pyment, meth, and spiced ale,
And wafres pypyng hoot out of the gleede;
And for sche was of toune, he profrede meede.
For som folk wol be wonne for richesse,
And som for strokes, som for gentillesse.
Som tyme, to schewe his lightnes and maistrye,
He pleyeth Herodz on a scaffold hye.
But what avayleth him as in this caas?
Sche loveth so this heende Nicholas,
That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn;
He ne hadde for al his labour but a skorn.
And thus sche maketh Absolon hir ape,
And al his ernest torneth to a jape.
Ful soth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
Men seyn right thus alway, the neye slye
Maketh the ferre leefe to be loth.
For though that Absolon be wood or wroth,
Bycause that he fer was from here sight,
This Nicholas hath stonden in his light.
Now bere the wel, thou heende Nicholas,
For Absolon may wayle and synge allas.
And so bifelle it on a Satyrday
This carpenter was gon to Osenay,
And heende Nicholas and Alisoun
Acordid ben to this conclusioun,
That Nicholas schal schapen hem a wyle
This sely jelous housbond to begyle;
And if so were this game wente aright,
Sche schulde slepe in his arm al night,
For this was hire desir and his also.
And right anoon, withouten wordes mo,
This Nicholas no lenger wold he tarye,
But doth ful softe into his chambur carye
Both mete and drynke for a day or tweye.
And to hir housbond bad hir for to seye,
If that he axed after Nicholas,
Sche schulde seye, sche wiste nat wher he was;
Of al that day sche saw him nat with eye;
Sche trowed he were falle in som maladye,
For no cry that hir mayden cowde him calle
He nolde answere, for nought that may bifalle.
Thus passeth forth al that like Satyrday,
That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
And eet, and drank, and dede what him leste
Til Soneday the sonne was gon to reste.
This sely carpenter hath gret mervaile
Of Nicholas, or what thing may him ayle,
And seyde, “I am adrad, by seynt Thomas!
It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas;
God schilde that he deyde sodeinly.
This world is now ful tykel sikerly;
I saugh to-day a corps y-born to chirche,
That now on Monday last I saugh him wirche.
Go up,” quod he unto his knave, “anoon;
Clepe at his dore, and knokke with a stoon;
Loke how it is, and telle me boldely.”
This knave goth him up ful sturdily,
And at the chambir dore whil that he stood,
He cryed and knokked as that he were wood;
“What how? what do ye, mayster Nicholay!
How may ye slepen al this longe day?”
But al for nought, he herde nat o word.
An hole he fond right lowe upon a boord,
Ther as the cat was wont in for to creepe,
And at that hole he loked in ful deepe,
And atte laste he hadde of him a sight.
This Nicholas sat ever gapyng upright,
As he hadde loked on the newe moone.
Adoun he goth, and tolde his mayster soone,
In what aray he sawh this like man.
This carpenter to blessen him bygan,
And seyde “Now help us, seynte Frideswyde!
A man woot litel what him schal betyde.
This man is falle with his astronomye
In som woodnesse, or in som agonye.
I though ay wel how that it schulde be.
Men schulde nought knowe of Goddes pryvyté.
Ye! blessed be alwey a lewed man,
That nat but oonly his bileeve can.
So ferde another clerk with astronomye;
He walked in the feeldes for to prye
Upon the sterres, what ther schulde bifalle,
Til he was in a marle pit i-falle.
He saugh nat that. But yet, by seint Thomas.
Me reweth sore for heende Nicholas;
He schal be ratyd of his studyyng,
If that I may, by Jhesu heven kyng!
Gete me a staf, that I may underspore,
Whil that thou, Robyn, hevest up the dore:
He schal out of his studyyng, as I gesse.”
And to the chambir dore he gan him dresse.
His knave was a strong karl for the noones,
And by the hasp he haf it up at oones;
And in the floor the dore fil doun anoon.
This Nicholas sat stille as eny stoon,
And ever he gapyed up-ward to the eyr.
This carpenter wende he were in despeir,
And hent him by the schuldres mightily,
And schook him harde, and cryede spitously,
“What, Nicholas? what how, man? loke adoun;
Awake, and thynk on Cristes passioun.
I crowche the from elves and from wightes.”
Therwith the night-spel seyde hie anon rightes,
On the foure halves of the hous aboute,
And on the threisshfold of the dore withoute.
“Lord Jhesu Crist, and seynte Benedight,
Blesse this house from every wikkede wight,
Fro nyghtes mare werye the with Pater-noster;
Wher wonestow now, seynte Petres soster?”
And atte laste, heende Nicholas
Gan for to syke sore, and seyde, “Allas!
Schal al the world be lost eftsones now?”
This carpenter answerde, “What seystow?
What? thenk on God, as we doon, men that swynke.”
This Nicholas answerde, “Fette me drynke;
And after wol I speke in pryvytè
Of certeyn thing that toucheth the and me;
I wol telle it non other man certayn.”
This carpenter goth forth, and comth agayn,
And brought of mighty ale a large quart.
Whan ech of hem y-dronken had his part,
This Nicholas his dore gan to schitte,
And dede this carpenter doun by him sitte,
And seide, “Johan, myn host ful leve and deere,
Thou schalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere,
That to no wight thou schalt this counsel wreye,
For it is Cristes counsel that I seye,
And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore;
For this vengaunce thou schalt han therfore,
That if thou wreye me, thou schalt be wood.”
“Nay, Crist forbede it for his holy blood!”
Quod tho this sely man, “I am no labbe,
Though I it say, I am nought leef to gabbe.
Say what thou wolt, I schal it never telle
To child ne wyf, by him that harwed helle!”
“Now, Johan,” quod Nicholas,” “I wol not lye:
I have i-founde in myn astrologye,
As I have loked in the moone bright,
That now on Monday next, at quarter night,
Schal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood,
That half so gret was never Noes flood.
This worlde,” he seyde, “more than an hour
Schal ben i-dreynt, so hidous in the schour:
Thus schal mankynde drench, and leese his lyf.”
This carpenter answered, “Allas, my wyf!
And shal she drenche? allas, myn Alisoun!”
For sorwe of this he fel almost adoun,
And seyde, “Is ther no remedy in this caas?”
“Why yis, for Gode,” quod heende Nicholas;
“If thou wolt werken aftir lore and reed;
Thou maist nought worke after thin owen heed.
For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe,
Werke by counseil, and thou schalt nat rewe.
And if thou worken wolt by good counsail,
I undertake, withouten mast and sail,
Yet schal I saven hir, and the, and me.
Hastow nat herd how saved was Noe,
Whan that our Lord hadde warned him biforn,
That al the world with watir schulde be lorn?”
“Yis,” quod this carpenter, “ful yore ago,”
“Hast ow nought herd,” quod Nicholas, “also
The sorwe of Noe with his felaschipe,
That he hadde or he gat his wyf to schipe?
Him hadde wel lever, I dar wel undertake,
At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake,
That sche hadde a schip hirself allone.
And therfore wostow what is best to doone?
This axeth hast, and of an hasty thing
Men may nought preche or make taryyng.
Anon go gete us fast into this in
A knedyng trowh or elles a kemelyn,
For ech of us; but loke that they be large,
In which that we may rowe as in a brage,
And have therin vitaille suffisant
But for o day; fy on the remenant;
The water schal aslake and gon away
Aboute prime upon the nexte day.
But Robyn may not wite of this, thy knave,
Ne ek thy mayde Gille I may not save;
Aske nought why; for though thou aske me,
I wol nat tellen Goddes prtveté.
Sufficeth the, but if that thy wittes madde,
To have as gret a grace as Noe hadde.
Thy wyf schal I wel saven out of doute.
Go now thy wey, and speed the heer aboute:
And whan thou hast for hir, and the, and me,
I-goten us this knedyng tubbes thre,
Than schalt thou hange hem in the roof ful hie,
That no man of oure purveaunce aspye;
And whan thou thus hast doon as I have seyd,
And hast our vitaille faire in hem y-leyd,
And eek an ax to smyte the corde a-two
Whan that the water cometh, that we may goo,
And breke an hole an hye upon the gable
Into the gardyn ward over the stable,
That we may frely passen forth oure way,
Whan that the grete schour is gon away;
Than schaltow swymme as mery, I undertake,
As doth the white doke aftir hir drake;
Than wol I clepe, How Alisoun, how Jon,
Beoth merye, for the flood passeth anon.
And thou wolt seye, Heyl, maister Nicholay,
Good morn, I see the wel, for it is day.
And than schul we be lordes al oure lyf
Of al the world, as Noe and his wyf.
But of oo thing I warne the ful right,
Be wel avysed of that like nyght,
That we ben entred into schippes boord,
That non of us ne speke not a word,
Ne clepe ne creye, but be in his preyere,
For it is Goddes owne heste deere.
Thy wyfe and thou most hangen fer a-twynne,
For that bitwixe you schal be no synne,
No more in lokyng than ther schal in dede.
This ordynaunce is seyd; so God me speede.
To morwe at night, whan men ben aslepe,
Into our knedyng tubbes wol we crepe,
And sitte ther, abydyng Goddes grace.
Go now thy way, I have no lenger space
To make of this no lenger sermonyng;
Men seyn thus, send the wyse, and sey no thing;
Thou art so wys, it needeth nat the teche.
Go, save oure lyf, and that I the byseche.”
This seely carpenter goth forth his way,
Ful ofte he seyd, “Allas, and weylaway!”
And to his wyf he told his pryveté,
And sche was war, and knew it bet than he,
What al this queinte caste was for to seye.
But natheles sche ferd as sche schulde deye,
And seyde, “Allas! go forth thy way anoon,
Help us to skape, or we be ded echon.
I am thy verray trewe wedded wyf;
Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf.”
Lo, which a gret thing is affeccioun!
A man may dye for ymaginacioun,
So deepe may impressioun be take.
This seely carpenter bygynneth quake;
Him thenketh verrayly that he may se
Noes flood come walking as the see
To drenchen Alisoun, his hony deere.
He weepeth, wayleth, he maketh sory cheere;
He siketh, with ful many a sory swough,
And goth, and geteth him a knedyng trough,
And after that a tubbe, and a kymelyn,
And pryvely he sent hem to his in,
And heng hem in the roof in pryveté.
His owne honde than made he laddres thre,
To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes
Unto the tubbes hangyng in the balkes;
And hem vitaylede, bothe trough and tubbe,
With breed and cheese, with good ale in a jubbe,
Suffisyng right ynough as for a day.
But or that he hadde maad al this array,
He sent his knave and eek his wenche also
Upon his neede to Londone for to go.
And on the Monday, whan it drew to nyght,
He schette his dore, withouten candel light,
And dressed al this thing as it schulde be.
And schortly up they clumben alle thre.
They seten stille wel a forlong way:
“Now Pater noster, clum,” quod Nicholay,
And “clum,” quod Jon, and “clum,” quod Alisoun.
This carpenter seyd his devocioun,
And stille he sitt, and byddeth his prayere,
Ay waytyng on the reyn, if he it heere.
The deede sleep, for verray busynesse,
Fil on this carpenter, right as I gesse,
Abowten courfew tyme, or litel more.
For travail of his goost he groneth sore,
And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay.
Doun of the laddir stalketh Nicholay,
And Alisoun ful softe adoun hir spedde.
Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde;
Ther as the carpenter was wont to lye,
Ther was the revel and the melodye.
And thus lith Alisoun and Nicholas,
In busynesse of myrthe and of solas,
Til that the belles of laudes gan to rynge,
And freres in the chauncel gan to synge.
This parissch clerk, this amerous Absolon,
That is for love so harde and woo bygon,
Upon the Monday was at Osenaye
With company, him to desporte and playe;
And axed upon caas a cloysterer
Ful pryvely after the carpenter;
And he drough him apart out of the chirche,
And sayde, “Nay, I say him nat here wirche
Syn Satirday: I trow that he be went
For tymber, ther our abbot hath him sent.
For he is wont for tymber for to goo,
And dwellen at the Graunge a day or tuo.
Or elles he is at his hous certayn.
Wher that he be, I can nat sothly sayn.”
This Absolon ful joly was and light,
And thoughte, “Now is tyme to wake al night,
For sikerly I sawh him nought styrynge
Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge.
So mote I thryve, I schal at cokkes crowe
Ful pryvely go knokke at his wyndowe,
That stant ful lowe upon his browres wal;
To Alisoun than wol I tellen al
My love-longyng; for yet I schal not mysse
That atte leste wey I schal hir kisse.
Som maner comfort schal I have, parfay!
My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
That is a signe of kissyng atte leste.
Al nyght I mette eek I was at a feste.
Therfore I wol go slepe an hour or tweye,
And al the night than wol I wake and pleye.”
Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anoon
Up ryst this jolyf lover Absolon,
And him arrayeth gay, at poynt devys.
But first he cheweth greyn and lycoris,
To smellen swete, or he hadde kempt his heere.
Under his tunge a trewe love he beere,
For therby wende he to be gracious.
He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
And stille he stant under the schot wyndowe;
Unto his brest it raught, it was so lowe;
And softe he cowhith with a semysoun:
“What do ye, honycomb, swete Alisoun?
My fayre bryd, my swete cynamome,
Awake, lemman myn, and speketh to me.
Ful litel thynke ye upon my wo,
That for youre love I swelte ther I go.
No wonder is if that I swelte and swete,
I morne as doth a lamb after the tete.
I-wis, lemman, I have such love-longyng,
That like a turtil trewe is my moornyng,
I may not ete no more than a mayde.”
“Go fro the wyndow, jakke fool,” sche sayde
“As help me God, it wol not be, compaine.
I love another, and elles were I to blame,
Well bet than the, by Jhesu, Absolon.
Go forth thy wey, or I wol cast a stoon;
And let me slepe, a twenty devel way!”
“Allas!” quod Absolon, “and weylaway!
That trewe love was ever so ylle bysett;
Thanne kisseth me, syn it may be no bett,
For Jesus love, and for the love of me.”
“Wilt thou than go thy wey therwith?” quod sche.
“Ye, certes, lemman,” quod this Absolon.
“Than mak the redy,” quod sche, “I come anon.”
This Absolon doun sette him on his knees,
And seide, “I am a lord at alle degrees;
For after this I hope ther cometh more;
Lemman, thy grace, and, swete bryd, thyn ore.”
The wyndow she undyd, and that in hast;
“Have doon,” quod sche, “com of, and speed the fast,
Lest that our neygheboures the aspye.”
This Absolon gan wipe his mouth ful drye,
Derk was the night as picche or as a cole,
Out atte wyndow putte sche hir hole:
And Absolon him fel no bet ne wers,
But with his mouth he kist hir naked ers
Ful savorly. Whan he was war of this,
Abak he sterte, and thought it was amys,
For wel he wist a womman hath no berd.
He felt a thing al rough and long i-herd,
And seyde, “Fy, allas! what have I do?”
“Te- hee!” quod sche, and clapte the wyndow to;
And Absolon goth forth a sory paas.
“A berd, a berd!” quod heende Nicholas;
“By Goddes corps, this game goth fair and wel.”
This seely Absolon herd every del,
And on his lippe he gan for angir byte;
And to himself he seyde, “I schal the quyte.”
Who rubbith now, who froteth now his lippes
With dust, with sand, with straw, with cloth, with chippes,
But Absolon? that seith ful ofte, “Allas,
My soule bytake I unto Sathanas!
But me were lever than alle this toun,” quod he,
“Of this dispit awroken for to be.
Allas!” quod he, “allas! I nadde y-bleynt!”
His hoote love was cold, and al i-queint.
For fro that tyme that he hadde kist her ers,
Of paramours ne sette he nat a kers,
For he was helyd of his maledye;
Ful ofte paramours he gan deffye,
And wept as doth a child that is i-bete.
A softe paas went he over the strete
Unto a smyth, men clepith daun Gerveys,
That is his forge smythede plowh-harneys;
He scharpeth schar and culture bysily.
This Absolon knokketh al esily.
And seyde, “Undo, Gerveys, and that anoon.”
“What, who art thou?” “It am I Absolon.”
“What? Absolon, what for Cristes swete tree!
Why ryse ye so rathe? benedicite,
What eyleth you? some gay gurl, God it woot,
Hath brought you thus upon the verytrot;
By seinte Noet! ye wote wel what I mene.”
This Absolon ne roughte nat a bene
Of al this pley, no word agayn he yaf;
For he hadde more tow on his distaf
Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, “Freend so deere,
That hote cultre in the chymney heere
As lene it me, I have therwith to doone;
I wol it bring agayn to the ful soone.”
Gerveys answerde, “Certes, were it gold,
Or in a poke nobles all untold,
Ye schul him have, as I am trewe smyth.
Ey, Cristes fote! what wil ye do therwith?”
“Therof,” quod Absolon, “be as be may;
I schal wel telle it the to morwe day;”
And caughte the cultre by the colde stele.
Ful soft out at the dore he gan it stele,
And wente unto the carpenteres wal.
He cowheth first, and knokketh therwithal
Upon the wyndow, right as he dede er.
This Alisoun answerde, “Who is ther
That knokketh so? I warant it a theef.”
“Why nay,” quod he, “God woot, my sweete leef,
I am thyn Absolon, o my derlyng.
Of gold,” quod he, “I have the brought a ryng;
My mooder yaf it me, so God me save!
Ful fyn it is, and therto wel i-grave;
This wol I yive the, if thou me kisse.”
This Nicholas was risen for to pysse,
And thought he wold amenden al the jape,
He schulde kisse his ers or that he skape.
And up the wyndow dyde he hastily,
And out his ers putteth he pryvely
Over the buttok, to the haunche bon.
And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
“Spek, sweete bryd, I wot nat wher thou art.”
This Nicholas anon let flee a fart,
As gret as it hadde ben a thundir dent,
And with that strook he was almost i-blent;
And he was redy with his yren hoot,
And Nicholas amid the ers he smoot.
Of goth the skyn an hande brede aboute,
The hoote cultre brente so his toute;
And for the smert he wende for to dye;
As he were wood, anon he gan to crye,
“Help, watir, watir, help, for Goddes herte!”
This carpentir out of his slumber sterte,
And herd on crye watir, as he wer wood.
He thought, “Allas, for now cometh Noes flood!”
He sit him up withoute wordes mo,
And with his ax he smot the corde a-two;
And doun he goth; he fond nowthir to selle
No breed ne ale, til he com to the selle
Upon the floor, and ther aswoun he lay.
Up styrt hir Alisoun, and Nicholay,
And cryden, “out and harrow!” in the strete,
The neygheboures bothe smal and grete,
In ronnen, for to gauren on this man,
That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan;
For with the fal he brosten had his arm.
But stond he muste to his owne harm,
For whan he spak, he was anon born doun
With heende Nicholas and Alisoun.
They tolden every man that he was wood;
He was agast and feerd of Noes flood
Thurgh fantasie, that of his vanité
He hadde i-bought him knedyng tubbes thre,
And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
And that he preyed hem for Goddes love
To sitten in the roof par compaignye.
The folk gan lawhen at his fantasye;
Into the roof they kyken, and they gape,
And torne al his harm into a jape.
For whatsoever the carpenter answerde,
Hit was for nought, no man his resoun herde,
With othis greet he was so sworn adoun,
That he was holden wood in al the toun.
For every clerk anon right heeld with othir;
They seyde, “The man was wood, my leeve brother;”
And every man gan lawhen at his stryf.
Thus swyved was the carpenteres wyf
For al his kepyng and his gelousye;
And Absolon hath kist hir nethir ye;
And Nicholas is skaldid in his towte.
This tale is doon, and God save al the route.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48