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For certes I am all venerian
In feling, and my herte is marcian:
Venus me yave my lust and likerousnesse,
And Mars yave me my sturdy hardinesse.
Min ascendent was Taure, and Mars therinne:
Alas, alas, that ever love was sinnel
i folwed ay min inclination
By vertue of my constellation t
That made me that I coude nat withdraw
My chambre of Venus from a good felaw.
Yet have I Martes merke upon my face,
And also in another privee place.
For God so wisly be my salvation,
I loved never by no discresion,
But ever folwed min appetit,
All were he shorte, longe, blake, or white,
H toke no kepe, so that he liked me,
How poure he was, ne eke of what degree.
“What shuld Isaye 2 but at the monthes ende
This jolly clerk Jankin, that was so hende,
Hath wedded me with gret solempnitee,
And to him yave I all the lond and fee,
That ever was me yeven therbefore:
But afterward repented me ful sore.
He n'olde suffre nothing of my list.
By God he smote me ones with his fist,
For that I rent out of his book a lefe,
That of the stroke myn ere wer al defe.
Stibborn I was, as is a leonesse,
And of my tonge averay jangleresse,
And walk I wold, as I had don beforn,
Fro house to house, although he had it sworn:
For which he oftentimes wolde preche,
And me of olde Romaine gestes teche.
“How he Sulpitius Gallus left his wif,
And hire forsoke for terme of all his lif,
Not but for open-heded he hire say
Loking out at his dore upon a day.
“Another Romaine told he me by name,
That, for his wif was at a sommer game
Without his weting, he forsoke hire eke.
“And than wold he upon his Bible seke
That ilke proverbe of Ecclesiaste,
Wher he commandeth, and forbedeth faste,
Man shal not suffer his wife go roule about.
“Than wold he say right thus withouten doute:
“Who so that bildeth his house all of salwes,
And pricketh his blind hors over the falwes,
And suffereth his wif to go seken halwes,
Is worthy to be honged on the galwes.”
“But all for nought, I sette not an hawe
Of his proverbes, ne of his olde sawe;
Ne I wold not of him corrected be.
I hate hem that my vices tellen me,
And so do mo of us (God wote) than I.
This made him wood with me all utterly;
I n'olde not forbere him in no cas.
“Now wol I say you soth by Seint Thomas,
Why that I rent of his book a lese,
For which he smote me, so that I was defe.
“He had a book, that gladly night and day
For his disport he wolde it rede alway,
He cleped it Valerie, and Theophrast,
And with that book he lough alway ful fast.
And eke ther was a clerk somtime at Rome,
A cardinal, that highte Seint Jerome,
That made a book against Jovinian,
Which book was ther, and eke Tertullian,
Crisippus, Tortula, and Helowis,
That was abbesse not fer fro Paris;
And eke the paraboles of Salomon,
Ovides art, and bourdes many on ;
And alle thise were bonden in o volume.
And every night and day was his custume
(Whan he had leiser and vacation
From other worldly occupation)
To reden in this book of wikked wives.
He knew of hem molegendes and mo lives,
Than ben of goode wives in the Bible.
“For trusteth wel, it is an impossible,
That any clerk wol spoken good of wives,
(But if it be of holy seintes lives)
Ne of non other woman never the mo.
Who peinted the leon, telleth me, who
By God, if wimmen hadden written stories,
As clerkes han, within hir oratories,
They wol have writ of men more wikkednesse
Than all the merke of Adam may redresse.
The children of Mercury and of Venus
Ben in hir werking ful contrarious.
Mercury loveth wisdom and science,
And Venus loveth riot and dispence.
And for hir divers disposition,
Eche falleth in others exaltation.
As thus, God wote, Mercury is desolat
In Pisces, wher Venus is exaltat,
And Venus falleth wher Mercury is reised.
Therfore no woman of no clerk is preised.
The clerk whan he is old, and may nought do
Of Venus werkes not worth his old sho,
Than siteth he doun, and writeth in his dotage,
That winmen cannot kepe hir mariage.
But now to purpos, why I tolde thee,
That I was beten for a book parde.
“Upon a night Jankin, that was our sire,
Red on his book, as he sate by the fire,
Of Eva first, that for hire wikkednesse
Was all mankind brought to wretchedness,
For which that Jesu Crist himself was slain,
That bought us with his herte-blood again.
“Lo here expresse of wimmen may ye find.
That woman was the losse of all mankind.
“Tho redde he me how Sampson lost his her.--
Sleping, his lemman kitte hem with hire sher-s,
Thurgh whiche treson lost he both his eyen.
“Tho redde he me, if that I shal not lien,
Of Hercules, and of his Deianire,
That caused him to set himself a-fire.
“Nothing forgat he the care and the wo,
That Socrates had with his wives two :
How Xantippa cast pisse upon his hed.
This sely man sat still, as he were ded,
He wiped his hed, no more dorst he sain,
But, er the thonder stint, ther cometh rain.
“Of Clitemnestra for hire lecherie That falsely made hire husbond for to die, He redde it with ful good devotion. “He told me eke, for what occasion. Amphiorax at Thebes lost his lif: My husbond had a legend of his wif Eriphile, that for an ouche of gold Hath prively unto the Grekes told, Wher that hire husbond hidde him in a place, For which he had at Thebes sory grace. “Of Lima told he me, and of Lucie; They bothe made hir husbondes for to die, That on for love, that other was for hate. Lima hire husbond on an even late Empoysoned hath, for that she was his so: Lucia likerous loved hir husbond so, That for he shuld away upon her thinke, She Yave him swiche a maner love-drinke, That he was ded er it was by the morwe: And thus algates husbondes hadden sorwe. “Than told he me, how on Latumeus Complained to his felaw Arius, That in his garden growed swiche a tree, On which he said how that his wives three Honged hemself for hertes despitous. "O leve brother, quod this Arius, “Yeve me a plant of thilke blessed tree, And in my gardin planted shal it be.” “Of later date of wives hath he redde, That som had slain hir husbonds in hir bedde, And let hirlechour dight hem all the night, While that the corps lay in the flore upright: And som han driven nailes in hir brain,
While that they slepe, and thus they han hem slain:
Somhan hem yeven poison in hir drink:
He spake more harm than herte may bethinke.
“And therwithall he knew of mo proverbes,
Than in this world their growen gras or herbes.
“Bet is' (quod he) “thin habitation,
Be with a leon, or a foule dragon,
Than with a woman using for to chide.
“Bet is (quod he] ‘ high in the roof abide,
Than with an angry woman doun in the hous,
They ben so wikked and contrarious:
They haten, that hir husbonds loven ay."
“He sayd, a woman cast hire shame away,
Whan she cast of hire smock; and furthermo,
A faire woman, but she be chast also,
ls like a gold ring in a sowes nose.
“Who coude wene, or who coude suppose
The wo that in min herte was, and the pine?
And whan I saw he n'olde never fine
To reden on this cursed book all night,
Alsodenly three leves have I plight -
Out of his book, right as he redde, and eke
I with my fist so toke him on the cheke,
That in oure fire he sell bakward adoun.
And he up sterte, as doth a wood leoum,
And with his fist he smote me on the hed,
That in the flore I lay as I were ded.
And whan he saw how stille that I lay, He was agast, and wold have fled away, ,Til at the last out of my swough I brayde. “O, hast thou slain me, false theef?' I sayde, “And for my lond thus hast thou mordered me? Er I be ded, yet wol I kissen thee." And nere he came, and kneled faire adoun, And sayde; ‘Dere suster Alisoun, As helpe me God I shall thee never smite: That I have don it is thyself to wite, Foryeve it me, and that I thee beseke.’ And yet eftsones I hitte him ou the cheke, And sayde; “Theef, thus much am I awreke, Now wol I die, I may no longer speke.' “But at the last with mochel care and wo We fell accorded by ourselven two: He yaf me all the bridel in min hond To han the governance of hous and lond, And of his tonge, and of his hond also, And made him brenne his book anon right tho. “And whan that I had getten unto me By maistrie all the soverainetee, And that he sayd, “Min owen trewe wif, Do as thee list, the terme of all thy lif, Kepe thin honour, and kepe eke min estat;" After that day we never had debat. God helpe me so; I was to him as kinde, As any wif fro Denmark unto Inde. And also trewe, and so was he to me: I pray to God that sit in majestee So blisse his soule; for his mercy dere. Now wol I say my tale if ye wol here.” The Frere lough whan he herd all this: “Now dame” (quod he), “so have I joye and blis", This is a long preamble of a tale.” And whan the Sompnour herd the Frere gale, “Lo" (quod this Sompnour) “Goddes armes two, A frere wol entermit him evermo: Lo, goode men, a flie and eke a frere Wol fall in every dish and eke matere. . what spekest thou of preambulatioun ? what? amble or trot; or pees, or go sit doun : Thou lettest our disport in this matere.” [Frere ; “Ye, wolt thou so, sire Sompnour?" quod the “Now by my faith I shal, er that I go, Tell of a sompnour swiche a tale or two, That all the folk shal laughen in this place.” “Now elles, Frere, I wol beshrewe thy face,” (Quod this Sompnour) “and I beshrewe me, But if I telle tales two or three Of freres, or I come to Sidenborne, That I shal make thin herte for to morne: For wel I wot thy patience is gon.” Our Hoste cried; “Pees, and that anon;" And sayde; “Let the woman tell hire tale. Ye fare as folk that dronken ben of ale. Do, dame, tell forth your tale, and that is best.” “Alredy, sire” (quod she), “right as you lest, If I have licence of this worthy frere.” [here.” “Yes, dame" (quod he], “tell forth, and I wol
But right as floures through the cold night
Inclosed stoupen in hir stalke lowe,
Redressen hem ayen the Sunne bright,
And spreden in hir kindlie course by rowe;
Right so began his eyen up to throw
This Troilus, and seth, “O Venus dere,
Thy might, thy grace, yheried be it here.”
But right as when the Sumne shineth bright
In Marche that changeth ofttimes his face,
And that a cloud is put with winde to flight
Which oversprad the Sunne, as for a space
A cloudy thought gan through her soule to pace,
That oversprad her bright thoughts all,
So that for fear almost she gan to fall.
And as the newe-abashed nightingale,
That stinteth first whan she beginneth sing,
Whan that she heareth any herdes tale,
Or in the hedges any wight stirring,
And after sicker doth her voice outring;
Right so Creseide whan her dred stent
Opened her hart and told him her intent.
Have ye not seen sometyme a pale face
(Emong a prees) of hem that hath been lad
Toward his deth, wher as him get no grace,
And soch a colour in his face hath had
That men might know his face that was bestad
Emonges all the faces in that rout;
So standeth Custance, and loketh her about.
Sc pure an innocent, as that same lamb,
She was in life and every virtuous lore,
And by descent from royal lineage came
Of ancient kings and queens, that had of yore
Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore,
And all the world in their subjection held;
Till that infernal fiend with foul uproar
Forewasted all their land and them expell'd:
Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far
Behind her far away a dwarf did lag,
That lazy seem'd in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his back. Thus as they past
The day with clouds was sudden overcast,
And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain
Did pour into his leman's lap so fast,
That every wight to shroud it did constrain, [fain.
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were
Enforc'd to seek some covert nigh at hand,
A shady grove not far away they spied,
That promis'd aid the tempest to withstand;
Whose lofty trees, yelad with summer's pride,
Did spread so broad, they heaven's light did hide,
Not pierceable with power of any star:
And all within were paths and alleys wide,
With footing worn, and leading inward far:
Fair harbour, that them seems; so in they entred are.
And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to hear the bird's sweet harmony,
Which therein shrouded from the tempest's dread,
Seem'd in their song to scorn the cruel sky.
Much can they praise the trees so strait and high,
The sailing Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elm, the Poplar never dry,
The builder Oak, sole king of forests all,
The Aspin good for staves, the Cypress funeral,
The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
And poets sage, the Fir that weepeth still,
The Willow, worn of forlorn paramours,
The Yew, obedient to the bender’s will,
The Birch for shafts, the Sallow for the mill,
The Myrrh sweet bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike Beech, the Ash for nothing ill,
The fruitful Olive, and the Plantain round,
The carver Holme, the Maple seldom inward soun d:
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustering storm is overblown,
When, weening to return, whence they did stray,
They cannot find that path which first was shown,
But wander to and fro in ways unknown,
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own:
So many paths, so many turnings seen, [been.
That which of them to take, in divers doubt they