The Canterbury Tales/The Miller's Prologue and Tale

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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Miller's Prologue and Tale

Heere folwen the wordes betwene the Hoost and the Millere


Here follow the words between the Host and the Miller

 

3109         Whan that the Knyght had thus his tale ytoold,
                    When the Knight had thus told his tale,
3110         In al the route nas ther yong ne oold
                    In all the company there was no one young nor old
3111         That he ne seyde it was a noble storie
                    Who did not say it was a noble story
3112         And worthy for to drawen to memorie,
                    And worthy to draw into memory,
3113         And namely the gentils everichon.
                    And especially the gentlefolk every one.
3114         Oure Hooste lough and swoor, "So moot I gon,
                    Our Host laughed and swore, "As I may move about (I swear),
3115         This gooth aright; unbokeled is the male.
                    This goes well; the bag is opened.
3116         Lat se now who shal telle another tale;
                    Let's see now who shall tell another tale;
3117         For trewely the game is wel bigonne.
                    For truly the game is well begun.
3118         Now telleth ye, sir Monk, if that ye konne,
                    Now tell you, sir Monk, if you can,
3119         Somwhat to quite with the Knyghtes tale."
                    Something to equal the Knight's tale."
3120         The Millere, that for dronken was al pale,
                    The Miller, who for drunkenness was all pale,
3121         So that unnethe upon his hors he sat,
                    So that he hardly sat upon his horse,
3122         He nolde avalen neither hood ne hat,
                    He would not doff neither hood nor hat,
3123         Ne abyde no man for his curteisie,
                    Nor give preference to any man out of courtesy,
3124         But in Pilates voys he gan to crie,
                    But in Pilate's voice he began to cry,
3125         And swoor, "By armes, and by blood and bones,
                    And swore, "By (Christ's) arms, and by blood and bones,
3126         I kan a noble tale for the nones,
                    I know a noble tale for this occasion,
3127         With which I wol now quite the Knyghtes tale."
                    With which I will now requite the Knight's tale."
3128         Oure Hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale,
                    Our Host saw that he was drunk on ale,
3129         And seyde, "Abyd, Robyn, my leeve brother;
                    And said, "Wait, Robin, my dear brother;
3130         Som bettre man shal telle us first another.
                    Some better man shall first tell us another.
3131         Abyd, and lat us werken thriftily."
                    Wait, and let us act properly."

3132         "By Goddes soule," quod he, "that wol nat I;
                    "By God's soul," said he, "that will not I;
3133         For I wol speke or elles go my wey."
                    For I will speak or else go my way."
3134         Oure Hoost answerde, "Tel on, a devel wey!
                    Our Host answered, "Tell on, in the devil's name!
3135         Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome."
                    Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome."

3136         "Now herkneth," quod the Millere, "alle and some!
                    "Now listen," said the Miller, "everyone!
3137         But first I make a protestacioun
                    But first I make a protestation
3138         That I am dronke; I knowe it by my soun.
                    That I am drunk; I know it by my sound.
3139         And therfore if that I mysspeke or seye,
                    And therefore if that I misspeak or say (amiss),
3140         Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I you preye.
                    Blame it on ale of Southwerk, I you pray.
3141         For I wol telle a legende and a lyf
                    For I will tell a legend and a life
3142         Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf,
                    Both of a carpenter and of his wife,
3143         How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe."
                    How a clerk has set the carpenter's cap (fooled him)."

3144         The Reve answerde and seyde, "Stynt thy clappe!
                    The Reeve answered and said, "Hold your tongue!
3145         Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotrye.
                    Let be thy ignorant drunken ribaldry.
3146         It is a synne and eek a greet folye
                    It is a sin and also a great folly
3147         To apeyren any man, or hym defame,
                    To slander any man, or defame him,
3148         And eek to bryngen wyves in swich fame.
                    And also to bring wives in such ill fame.
3149         Thou mayst ynogh of othere thynges seyn."
                    Thou canst say enough about other things."

3150         This dronke Millere spak ful soone ageyn
                    This drunken Miller spoke very quickly in reply
3151         And seyde, "Leve brother Osewold,
                    And said, "Dear brother Oswald,
3152         Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.
                    He who has no wife, he is no cuckold.
3153         But I sey nat therfore that thou art oon;
                    But I say not therefore that thou art one;
3154         Ther been ful goode wyves many oon,
                    There are very good wives, many a one,
3155         And evere a thousand goode ayeyns oon badde.
                    And ever a thousand good against one bad.
3156         That knowestow wel thyself, but if thou madde.
                    Thou knowest that well thyself, unless thou art mad.
3157         Why artow angry with my tale now?
                    Why art thou angry with my tale now?
3158         I have a wyf, pardee, as wel as thow;
                    I have a wife, by God, as well as thou;
3159         Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plogh,
                    Yet I would not, for the oxen in my plow,
3160         Take upon me moore than ynogh,
                    Take upon me more than enough (trouble),
3161         As demen of myself that I were oon;
                    As to believe of myself that I were one (a cuckold);
3162         I wol bileve wel that I am noon.
                    I will believe well that I am not one.
3163         An housbonde shal nat been inquisityf
                    A husband must not be inquisitive
3164         Of Goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf.
                    Of God's secrets, nor of his wife.
3165         So he may fynde Goddes foyson there,
                    So long as he can find God's plenty there,
3166         Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere."
                    Of the rest he needs not enquire."

3167         What sholde I moore seyn, but this Millere
                    What more should I say, but this Miller
3168         He nolde his wordes for no man forbere,
                    He would not refrain from speaking for any man,
3169         But tolde his cherles tale in his manere.
                    But told his churl's tale in his manner.
3170         M'athynketh that I shal reherce it heere.
                    I regret that I must repeat it here.
3171         And therfore every gentil wight I preye,
                    And therefore every respectable person I pray,
3172         For Goddes love, demeth nat that I seye
                    For God's love, think not that I speak
3173         Of yvel entente, but for I moot reherce
                    Out of evil intention, but because I must repeat
3174         Hir tales alle, be they bettre or werse,
                    All their tales, be they better or worse,
3175         Or elles falsen som of my mateere.
                    Or else (I must) falsify some of my material.
3176         And therfore, whoso list it nat yheere,
                    And therefore, whoever does not want to hear it,
3177         Turne over the leef and chese another tale;
                    Turn over the leaf and choose another tale;
3178         For he shal fynde ynowe, grete and smale,
                    For he shall find enough, of every sort,
3179         Of storial thyng that toucheth gentillesse,
                    Of historical matter that concerns nobility,
3180         And eek moralitee and hoolynesse.
                    And also morality and holiness.
3181         Blameth nat me if that ye chese amys.
                    Blame not me if you choose amiss.
3182         The Millere is a cherl; ye knowe wel this.
                    The Miller is a churl; you know this well.
3183         So was the Reve eek and othere mo,
                    So was the Reeve also and many others,
3184         And harlotrie they tolden bothe two.
                    And ribaldry they told, both of the two.
3185         Avyseth yow, and put me out of blame;
                    Think about this, and don't blame me;
3186         And eek men shal nat maken ernest of game.
                    And also people should not take a joke too seriously.

 


The Miller's Tale

 

Heere bigynneth the Millere his tale.


Here begins The Miller's Tale.

 

3187         Whilom ther was dwellynge at Oxenford
                    There was once dwelling at Oxford
3188         A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
                    A rich churl, who took in boarders,
3189         And of his craft he was a carpenter.
                    And of his craft he was a carpenter.
3190         With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
                    With him there was dwelling a poor scholar,
3191         Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
                    Who had learned the arts curriculum, but all his desire
3192         Was turned for to lerne astrologye,
                    Was turned to learning astrology,
3193         And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns,
                    And he knew a certain (number of) of astronomical operations,
3194         To demen by interrogaciouns,
                    To determine by scientific calculations,
3195         If that men asked hym, in certein houres
                    If men asked him, in specific (astronomical) hours
3196         Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures,
                    When men should have drought or else showers,
3197         Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle
                    Or if people asked him what should happen
3198         Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle.
                    Concerning every thing; I can not reckon them all.

3199         This clerk was cleped hende Nicholas.
                    This clerk was called clever Nicholas.
3200         Of deerne love he koude and of solas;
                    Of secret love he knew and of its satisfaction;
3201         And therto he was sleigh and ful privee,
                    And moreover he was sly and very discreet,
3202         And lyk a mayden meke for to see.
                    And like a maiden meek in appearance.
3203         A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
                    A room had he in that hostelry
3204         Allone, withouten any compaignye,
                    Alone, without any company,
3205         Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote;
                    Very elegantly strewn with sweet-smelling herbs;
3206         And he hymself as sweete as is the roote
                    And he himself as sweet as is the root
3207         Of lycorys or any cetewale.
                    Of licorice or any zedoary (a ginger-like herb).
3208         His Almageste, and bookes grete and smale,
                    His Almagest, and books large and small,
3209         His astrelabie, longynge for his art,
                    His astrolabe, belonging to his art (of astronomy),
3210         His augrym stones layen faire apart,
                    His counting stones (for his abacus) lie neatly apart,
3211         On shelves couched at his beddes heed;
                    Arranged on shelves at his bed's head;
3212         His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed;
                    His linen press covered with a red woolen cloth;
3213         And al above ther lay a gay sautrie,
                    And all above there lay a fine psaltery,
3214         On which he made a-nyghtes melodie
                    On which at night he made melody
3215         So swetely that all the chambre rong;
                    So sweetly that all the room rang;
3216         And Angelus ad virginem he song;
                    And "The Angel to the Virgin" he sang;
3217         And after that he song the Kynges Noote.
                    And after that he sang the King's Tune.
3218         Ful often blessed was his myrie throte.
                    Very often his merry throat was blessed.
3219         And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente
                    And thus this sweet clerk spent his time
3220         After his freendes fyndyng and his rente.
                    Living on his friends' support and his (own) income.

3221         This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf,
                    This carpenter had recently wedded a wife,
3222         Which that he lovede moore than his lyf;
                    Whom he loved more than his life;
3223         Of eighteteene yeer she was of age.
                    She was eighteen years of age.
3224         Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage,
                    Jealous he was, and held her narrowly in confinement,
3225         For she was wylde and yong, and he was old
                    For she was wild and young, and he was old
3226         And demed hymself been lik a cokewold.
                    And believed himself likely to be a cuckold.
3227         He knew nat Catoun, for his wit was rude,
                    He knew not Cato, for his wit was rude,
3228         That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude.
                    Who advised that man should wed his equal.
3229         Men sholde wedden after hire estaat,
                    Men should wed according to their status in life,
3230         For youthe and elde is often at debaat.
                    For youth and old age are often in conflict.
3231         But sith that he was fallen in the snare,
                    But since he was fallen in the snare,
3232         He moste endure, as oother folk, his care.
                    He must endure, like other folk, his troubles.

3233         Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
                    Fair was this young wife, and moreover
3234         As any wezele hir body gent and smal.
                    As any weasel was her body graceful and slender.
3235         A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk,
                    A belt she wore, with decorative strips all of silk,
3236         A barmclooth as whit as morne milk
                    An apron as white as morning milk
3237         Upon hir lendes, ful of many a goore.
                    Upon her loins, full of many a flounce.
3238         Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore
                    White was her smock, and embroidered all in front
3239         And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute,
                    And also behind, around her collar,
3240         Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
                    With coal-black silk, within and also without.
3241         The tapes of hir white voluper
                    The ribbons of her white cap
3242         Were of the same suyte of hir coler;
                    Were of the same color as her collar;
3243         Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye.
                    Her headband broad of silk, and set very high.
3244         And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye;
                    And surely she had a wanton eye;
3245         Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two,
                    Her two eyebrows were plucked very thin,
3246         And tho were bent and blake as any sloo.
                    And those were bent and black as any sloe.
3247         She was ful moore blisful on to see
                    She was much more blissful to look upon
3248         Than is the newe pere-jonette tree,
                    Than is the new early-ripe pear tree,
3249         And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
                    And softer than the wool is of a sheep.
3250         And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether,
                    And by her girdle hung a purse of leather,
3251         Tasseled with silk and perled with latoun.
                    Tasseled with silk and ornamented with latten "pearls."
3252         In al this world, to seken up and doun,
                    In all this world, to seek up and down,
3253         There nys no man so wys that koude thenche
                    There is no man so wise that he could imagine
3254         So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.
                    So lovely a little doll or such a wench.
3255         Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe
                    Much brighter was the shining of her complexion
3256         Than in the Tour the noble yforged newe.
                    Than the newly minted noble in the Tower.
3257         But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne
                    But of her song, it was as loud and lively
3258         As any swalwe sittynge on a berne.
                    As any swallow sitting on a barn.
3259         Therto she koude skippe and make game,
                    Moreover she could skip and play,
3260         As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame.
                    Like any kid or calf following its mother.
3261         Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,
                    Her mouth was sweet as ale and honey or mead,
3262         Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth.
                    Or a hoard of apples laid in hay or heather.
3263         Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt,
                    Skittish she was, as is a spirited colt,
3264         Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
                    Tall as a mast, and straight as an arrow.
3265         A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler,
                    A brooch she wore upon her low collar,
3266         As brood as is the boos of a bokeler.
                    As broad as is the boss of a shield.
3267         Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.
                    Her shoes were laced high on her legs.
3268         She was a prymerole, a piggesnye,
                    She was a primrose, a pig's eye (a flower),
3269         For any lord to leggen in his bedde,
                    For any lord to lay in his bed,
3270         Or yet for any good yeman to wedde.
                    Or yet for any good yeoman to wed.

3271         Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas
                    Now, sir, and again, sir, it so happened
3272         That on a day this hende Nicholas
                    That one day this clever Nicholas
3273         Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
                    Happened with this young wife to flirt and play,
3274         Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye,
                    While her husband was at Oseneye,
3275         As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
                    For clerks are very subtle and very clever;
3276         And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
                    And intimately he caught her by her crotch,
3277         And seyde, "Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
                    And said, "Indeed, unless I have my will,
3278         For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille."
                    For secret love of thee, sweetheart, I die."
3279         And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones,
                    And held her hard by the thigh,
3280         And seyde, "Lemman, love me al atones,
                    And said, "Sweetheart, love me immediately
3281         Or I wol dyen, also God me save!"
                    Or I will die, so save me God!"
3282         And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave,
                    And she sprang as a colt does when restrained,
3283         And with hir heed she wryed faste awey,
                    And with her head she twisted fast away,
3284         And seyde, "I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey!
                    And said, "I will not kiss thee, by my faith!
3285         Why, lat be!" quod she. "Lat be, Nicholas,
                    Why, let me be!" said she. "Let me be, Nicholas,
3286         Or I wol crie `out, harrow' and `allas'!
                    Or I will cry `out, help' and `alas'!
3287         Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye!"
                    Take away your hands, for your courtesy!"

3288         This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
                    This Nicholas began to cry for mercy,
3289         And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
                    And spoke so fair, and pressed his suit so fast,
3290         That she hir love hym graunted atte laste,
                    That she granted him her love at the last,
3291         And swoor hir ooth, by Seint Thomas of Kent,
                    And swore her oath, by Saint Thomas of Kent,
3292         That she wol been at his comandement,
                    That she will be at his commandment,
3293         Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie.
                    When she may well espy her opportunity.
3294         "Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie
                    "My husband is so full of jealousy
3295         That but ye wayte wel and been privee,
                    That unless you wait patiently and are secretive,
3296         I woot right wel I nam but deed," quod she.
                    I know right well I am as good as dead," said she.
3297         "Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas."
                    "You must been very secret in this matter."

3298         "Nay, therof care thee noght," quod Nicholas.
                    "No, care thee not about that," said Nicholas.
3299         "A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle,
                    "A clerk had badly wasted his time (studying),
3300         But if he koude a carpenter bigyle."
                    If he could not outwit a carpenter."
3301         And thus they been accorded and ysworn
                    And thus they are agreed and sworn
3302         To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
                    To wait for a time, as I have told before.

3303         Whan Nicholas had doon thus everideel
                    When Nicholas had done thus every bit
3304         And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
                    And well patted her about the loins,
3305         He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie,
                    He kissed her sweetly and takes his psaltery,
3306         And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie.
                    And plays fast, and makes melody.

3307         Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche,
                    Then it thus happened, that to the parish church,
3308         Cristes owene werkes for to wirche,
                    Christ's own works to do,
3309         This goode wyf went on an haliday.
                    This good wife went on a holiday.
3310         Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,
                    Her forehead shone as bright as any day,
3311         So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk.
                    It was so washed when she left her work.
3312         Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
                    Now was there of that church a parish clerk,
3313         The which that was ycleped Absolon.
                    Who was called Absolon.
3314         Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
                    Curly was his hair, and as the gold it shone,
3315         And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
                    And stretched out like a fan large and broad;
3316         Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode.
                    Very straight and even lay his elegant parted hair.
3317         His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos.
                    His complexion was ruddy, his eyes gray as a goose.
3318         With Poules wyndow corven on his shoos,
                    With St. Paul's window carved on his shoes,
3319         In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
                    In red hose he went elegantly.
3320         Yclad he was ful smal and proprely
                    Clad he was very trimly and properly
3321         Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget;
                    All in a tunic of a light blue;
3322         Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set.
                    Very fair and thick are the laces set.
3323         And therupon he hadde a gay surplys
                    And over that he had a gay surplice
3324         As whit as is the blosme upon the rys.
                    As white as is the blossom upon the branch.
3325         A myrie child he was, so God me save.
                    A merry lad he was, so save me God.
3326         Wel koude he laten blood, and clippe and shave,
                    Well could he draw blood, and cut hair and shave,
3327         And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce.
                    And make a charter of land or a legal release.
3328         In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce
                    In twenty different ways could he trip and dance
3329         After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
                    After the school of Oxford as it was then,
3330         And with his legges casten to and fro,
                    And with his legs kick to and fro,
3331         And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
                    And play songs on a small fiddle,
3332         Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble;
                    To which he some times sang a loud high treble;
3333         And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne.
                    And he could play as well on a guitar.
3334         In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
                    In all the town there was no brew house nor tavern
3335         That he ne visited with his solas,
                    That he did not visit with his entertainment,
3336         Ther any gaylard tappestere was.
                    Where any merry barmaid was.
3337         But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous
                    But to say the truth, he was somewhat squeamish
3338         Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
                    About farting, and fastidious in his speech.

3339         This Absolon, that jolif was and gay,
                    This Absolon, who was elegant and gay,
3340         Gooth with a sencer on the haliday,
                    Goes with a censer on the holiday,
3341         Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste;
                    Censing the wives of the parish eagerly;
3342         And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
                    And many a lovely look he cast on them,
3343         And namely on this carpenteris wyf.
                    And especially on this carpenter's wife.
3344         To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf,
                    To look on her he thought a merry life,
3345         She was so propre and sweete and likerous.
                    She was so attractive and sweet and flirtatious.
3346         I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous,
                    I dare well say, if she had been a mouse,
3347         And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon.
                    And he a cat, he would have grabbed her at once.
3348         This parissh clerk, this joly Absolon,
                    This parish clerk, this elegant Absolon,
3349         Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge
                    Has in his heart such a love-longing
3350         That of no wyf took he noon offrynge;
                    That of no wife took he any offering;
3351         For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon.
                    For courtesy, he said, he would have none.

3352         The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon,
                    The moon, when it was night, very brightly shone,
3353         And Absolon his gyterne hath ytake;
                    And Absolon his guitar has taken;
3354         For paramours he thoghte for to wake.
                    For the sake of love he intended to stay awake.
3355         And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous,
                    And forth he goes, elegant and amorous,
3356         Til he cam to the carpenteres hous
                    Until he came to the carpenter's house
3357         A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe,
                    A little after cocks had crowed,
3358         And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe
                    And took his place up by a casement window
3359         That was upon the carpenteris wal.
                    That was upon the carpenter's wall.
3360         He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal,
                    He sings in his voice gentle and high,
3361         "Now, deere lady, if thy wille be,
                    "Now, dear lady, if it be thy will,
3362         I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me,"
                    I pray yow that you will have pity on me,"
3363         Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge.
                    Very well in harmony with his guitar-playing.
3364         This carpenter awook, and herde him synge,
                    This carpenter awoke, and heard him sing,
3365         And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon,
                    And spoke unto his wife, and said at once,
3366         "What! Alison! Herestow nat Absolon,
                    "What! Alison! Hearest thou not Absolon,
3367         That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal?"
                    That chants thus next to our bedroom's wall?"
3368         And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal,
                    And she answered her husband immediately,
3369         "Yis, God woot, John, I heere it every deel."
                    "Yes indeed, God knows, John, I hear it every bit."

3370         This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel?
                    This goes on; what more would you have?
3371         Fro day to day this joly Absolon
                    From day to day this elegant Absolon
3372         So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon.
                    So woos her that he is in a sorry state.
3373         He waketh al the nyght and al the day;
                    He stays awake all the night and all the day;
3374         He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay;
                    He combs his flowing locks, and dressed himself elegantly;
3375         He woweth hire by meenes and brocage,
                    He woos her by go-betweens and agents,
3376         And swoor he wolde been hir owene page;
                    And swore he would be her own servant;
3377         He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale;
                    He sings, trilling like a nightingale;
3378         He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale,
                    He sent her sweetened wine, mead, and spiced ale,
3379         And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede;
                    And wafers, piping hot out of the fire;
3380         And, for she was of town, he profred meede;
                    And, because she was a townie, he offered money;
3381         For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
                    For some folk will be won for riches,
3382         And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse.
                    And some by force, and some for noble character.
3383         Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
                    Sometimes, to show his agility and skill,
3384         He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye.
                    He plays Herod upon a high stage.
3385         But what availleth hym as in this cas?
                    But what good does it do him in this case?
3386         She loveth so this hende Nicholas
                    She so loves this clever Nicholas
3387         That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn;
                    That Absolon may go whistle;
3388         He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn.
                    He had for his labor nothing but scorn.
3389         And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
                    And thus she makes Absolon her fool,
3390         And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
                    And turns all his earnestness into a joke.
3391         Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
                    Very true is this proverb, it is no lie,
3392         Men seyn right thus: "Alwey the nye slye
                    Men say right thus: "Always the nearby sly one
3393         Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth."
                    Makes the distant loved one to be disliked."
3394         For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth,
                    For though Absolon be crazed or angry,
3395         By cause that he fer was from hire sight,
                    Because he was far from her sight,
3396         This nye Nicholas stood in his light.
                    This nearby Nicholas cast him in the shadow.

3397         Now ber thee wel, thou hende Nicholas,
                    Now bear thyself well, thou clever Nicholas,
3398         For Absolon may waille and synge "allas."
                    For Absolon may wail and sing "alas."
3399         And so bifel it on a Saterday,
                    And so it happened on a Saturday,
3400         This carpenter was goon til Osenay;
                    This carpenter was gone to Osenay;
3401         And hende Nicholas and Alisoun
                    And clever Nicholas and Alisoun
3402         Acorded been to this conclusioun,
                    Are agreed on this plan,
3403         That Nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle
                    That Nicholas shall devise a trick
3404         This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle;
                    To beguile this hapless jealous husband;
3405         And if so be the game wente aright,
                    And if it so be the game went right,
3406         She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght,
                    She should sleep in his arms all night,
3407         For this was his desir and hire also.
                    For this was his desire and hers also.
3408         And right anon, withouten wordes mo,
                    And right away, without more words,
3409         This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarie,
                    This Nicholas no longer would tarry,
3410         But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie
                    But has carried very quietly unto his chamber
3411         Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye,
                    Both food and drink for a day or two,
3412         And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye,
                    And told her to say to her husband,
3413         If that he axed after Nicholas,
                    If he asked about Nicholas,
3414         She sholde seye she nyste where he was;
                    She should say she knew not where he was;
3415         Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye;
                    Of all that day she saw him not with eye;
3416         She trowed that he was in maladye,
                    She believed that he was ill,
3417         For, for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle,
                    Because, for no shout could her maid call him,
3418         He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle.
                    He would not answer for anything that might befall.

3419         This passeth forth al thilke Saterday,
                    This goes on all that same Saturday,
3420         That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
                    That Nicholas still in his chamber lay,
3421         And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste,
                    And ate and slept, or did what he pleased,
3422         Til Sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste.
                    Until Sunday, when the sun goes to rest.
3423         This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle
                    This hapless carpenter has great marvel
3424         Of Nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle,
                    About Nicholas, or what thing might ail him,
3425         And seyde, "I am adrad, by Seint Thomas,
                    And said, "I am afraid, by Saint Thomas,
3426         It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas.
                    Things are not right with Nicholas.
3427         God shilde that he deyde sodeynly!
                    God forbid that he should suddenly die!
3428         This world is now ful tikel, sikerly.
                    This world is now very ticklish, surely.
3429         I saugh today a cors yborn to chirche
                    I saw today a corpse carried to church
3430         That now, on Monday last, I saugh hym wirche.
                    That just now, on last Monday, I saw him work.

3431         "Go up," quod he unto his knave anoon,
                    "Go up," he said unto his servant at once,
3432         "Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon.
                    "Call at his door, or knock with a stone.
3433         Looke how it is, and tel me boldely."
                    Look how it is, and tell me quickly."

3434         This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily,
                    This servant goes up very resolutely,
3435         And at the chambre dore whil that he stood,
                    And at the chamber door while he stood,
3436         He cride and knokked as that he were wood,
                    He cried and knocked as if he were crazy,
3437         "What, how! What do ye, maister Nicholay?
                    "What, hey! What do you, master Nicholay?
3438         How may ye slepen al the longe day?"
                    How can you sleep all the long day?"

3439         But al for noght; he herde nat a word.
                    But all for naught; he heard not a word.
3440         An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord,
                    He found a hole, very low upon a board,
3441         Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
                    Where the cat was accustomed to creep in,
3442         And at that hole he looked in ful depe,
                    And through that hole he looked in very carefully,
3443         And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight.
                    And at the last he had a sight of him.
3444         This Nicholas sat evere capyng upright,
                    This Nicholas sat ever gaping upward,
3445         As he had kiked on the newe moone.
                    As if he were gazing on the new moon.
3446         Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone
                    Down he goes, and told his master immediately
3447         In what array he saugh this ilke man.
                    In what condition he saw this same man.

3448         This carpenter to blessen hym bigan,
                    This carpenter began to cross himself,
3449         And seyde, "Help us, Seinte Frydeswyde!
                    And said, "Help us, Saint Frideswide!
3450         A man woot litel what hym shal bityde.
                    A man knows little what shall happen to him.
3451         This man is falle, with his astromye,
                    This man is fallen, because of his astronomy,
3452         In some woodnesse or in som agonye.
                    In some madness or in some fit.
3453         I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be!
                    I always thought well how it should be!
3454         Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee.
                    Men should not know of God's secrets.
3455         Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
                    Yes, blessed be always an unlearned man
3456         That noght but oonly his bileve kan!
                    Who knows nothing but only his belief!
3457         So ferde another clerk with astromye;
                    So fared another clerk with astronomy;
3458         He walked in the feeldes for to prye
                    He walked in the fields to look
3459         Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle,
                    Upon the stars, (to find) there what should happen,
3460         Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle;
                    Until he was fallen in a fertilizer pit;
3461         He saugh nat that. But yet, by Seint Thomas,
                    He did not see that. But yet, by Saint Thomas,
3462         Me reweth soore of hende Nicholas.
                    I feel very sorry for clever Nicholas.
3463         He shal be rated of his studiyng,
                    He shall be scolded for his studying,
3464         If that I may, by Jhesus, hevene kyng!
                    If that I may, by Jesus, heaven's king!
3465         Get me a staf, that I may underspore,
                    Get me a staff, that I may pry up from below,
3466         Whil that thou, Robyn, hevest up the dore.
                    While thou, Robyn, lift up the door.
3467         He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse."
                    He shall (come) out of his studying, as I guess."
3468         And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse.
                    And to the chamber door he turned his attention.
3469         His knave was a strong carl for the nones,
                    His servant was a strong fellow for this purpose,
3470         And by the haspe he haaf it of atones;
                    And by the hasp he heaved it off at once;
3471         Into the floor the dore fil anon.
                    Onto the floor the door fell straightway.
3472         This Nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon,
                    This Nicholas sat ever as still as stone,
3473         And evere caped upward into the eir.
                    And ever gaped upward into the air.
3474         This carpenter wende he were in despeir,
                    This carpenter supposed he was in despair,
3475         And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily,
                    And seized him by the shoulders vigorously,
3476         And shook hym harde, and cride spitously,
                    And shook him hard, and cried loudly,
3477         "What! Nicholay! What, how! What, looke adoun!
                    "What! Nicholay! What, how! What, look down!
3478         Awak, and thenk on Cristes passioun!
                    Awake, and think on Christ's passion!
3479         I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes."
                    I bless thee from elves and from evil creatures."
3480         Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes
                    Therewith the night-charm he said straightway
3481         On foure halves of the hous aboute,
                    On four corners of the house about,
3482         And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute:
                    And on the threshold of the door outside:
3483         "Jhesu Crist and Seinte Benedight,
                    "Jesus Christ and Saint Benedict,
3484         Blesse this hous from every wikked wight,
                    Bless this house from every wicked creature,
3485         For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster!
                    For evil spirits of the nights, the white pater-noster!
3486         Where wentestow, Seinte Petres soster?"
                    Where went thou, Saint Peter's sister?"

3487         And atte laste this hende Nicholas
                    And at the last this clever Nicholas
3488         Gan for to sik soore, and seyde, "Allas!
                    Began to sigh deeply, and said, "Alas!
3489         Shal al the world be lost eftsoones now?"
                    Shall all the world be lost right now?"

3490         This carpenter answerde, "What seystow?
                    This carpenter answered, "What sayest thou?
3491         What! Thynk on God, as we doon, men that swynke."
                    What! Think on God, as we do, men who work."
3492         This Nicholas answerde, "Fecche me drynke,
                    This Nicholas answered, "Fetch me drink,
3493         And after wol I speke in pryvetee
                    And after will I speak in private
3494         Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee.
                    About a certain matter that concerns me and thee.
3495         I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn."
                    I will tell it to no other man, certainly."

3496         This carpenter goth doun, and comth ageyn,
                    This carpenter goes down, and comes again,
3497         And broghte of myghty ale a large quart;
                    And brought of strong ale a large quart;
3498         And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part,
                    And when each of them had drunk his part,
3499         This Nicholas his dore faste shette,
                    This Nicholas shut fast his door,
3500         And doun the carpenter by hym he sette.
                    And he sat the carpenter down by his side.

3501         He seyde, "John, myn hooste, lief and deere,
                    He said, "John, my host, beloved and dear,
3502         Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere
                    Thou shalt upon thy pledged word swear to me here
3503         That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye,
                    That to no person thou shalt this counsel reveal,
3504         For it is Cristes conseil that I seye,
                    For it is Christ's secrets that I say,
3505         And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore;
                    And if thou tell it to anyone, thou art completely lost;
3506         For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore,
                    For this vengeance thou shalt have therefore,
3507         That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood."
                    That if thou betray me, thou shalt go mad."
3508         "Nay, Crist forbede it, for his hooly blood!"
                    "Nay, Christ forbid it, for his holy blood!"
3509         Quod tho this sely man, "I nam no labbe,
                    Said then this hapless man, "I am no blabbermouth,
3510         Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe.
                    And, though I say it, I do not like to gab.
3511         Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle
                    Say what thou will, I shall never tell it
3512         To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle!"
                    To child nor wife, by Him that rescued souls from hell!"

3513         "Now John," quod Nicholas, "I wol nat lye;
                    "Now John," said Nicholas, "I will not lie;
3514         I have yfounde in myn astrologye,
                    I have found in my astrology,
3515         As I have looked in the moone bright,
                    As I have looked on the bright moon,
3516         That now a Monday next, at quarter nyght,
                    That now on Monday next, after midnight,
3517         Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood
                    Shall fall a rain, and that so wild and raging
3518         That half so greet was nevere Noes flood.
                    That Noah's flood was never half so large.
3519         This world," he seyde, "in lasse than an hour
                    This world," he said, "in less than an hour
3520         Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour.
                    Shall all be drowned, so hideous is the shower.
3521         Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf."
                    Thus shall mankind drown, and lose their lives."

3522         This carpenter answerde, "Allas, my wyf!
                    This carpenter answered, "Alas, my wife!
3523         And shal she drenche? Allas, myn Alisoun!"
                    And shall she drown? Alas, my Alisoun!"
3524         For sorwe of this he fil almoost adoun,
                    For sorrow of this he almost fell down,
3525         And seyde, "Is ther no remedie in this cas?"
                    And said, "Is there no remedy in this case?"

3526         "Why, yis, for Gode," quod hende Nicholas,
                    "Why, yes indeed, by God," said clever Nicholas,
3527         "If thou wolt werken after loore and reed.
                    "If thou will act in accordance with learning and (good) advice.
3528         Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed;
                    Thou mayst not act according to thine own ideas;
3529         For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe:
                    For thus says Salomon, which was very true:
3530         `Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe.'
                    `Do all in accordance with good advice, and thou shalt not rue (it).'
3531         And if thou werken wolt by good conseil,
                    And if thou will act in accordance with good advice,
3532         I undertake, withouten mast and seyl,
                    I guarantee, without mast and sail,
3533         Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me.
                    Yet shall I save her and thee and me.
3534         Hastow nat herd hou saved was Noe,
                    Hast thou not heard how Noah was saved,
3535         Whan that oure Lord hadde warned hym biforn
                    When our Lord had warned him before
3536         That al the world with water sholde be lorn?"
                    That all the world should be destroyed by water?"

3537         "Yis," quod this Carpenter, "ful yoore ago."
                    "Yes indeed," said this Carpenter, "very long ago."

3538         "Hastou nat herd," quod Nicholas, "also
                    "Hast thou not heard," said Nicholas, "also
3539         The sorwe of Noe with his felaweshipe,
                    The sorrow of Noah with his fellowship,
3540         Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe?
                    Before he could get his wife onto the ship?
3541         Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake,
                    He would rather, I dare well guarantee,
3542         At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake
                    At that time, than have all his black sheep
3543         That she hadde had a ship hirself allone.
                    That she had had a ship for herself alone.
3544         And therfore, woostou what is best to doone?
                    And therefore, knowest thou what is best to do?
3545         This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng
                    This needs haste, and of a hasty thing
3546         Men may nat preche or maken tariyng.
                    Men may not preach nor make tarrying.

3547         "Anon go gete us faste into this in
                    "Right now go bring us quickly into this dwelling
3548         A knedyng trogh, or ellis a kymelyn,
                    A kneading trough, or else a large vat,
3549         For ech of us, but looke that they be large,
                    For each of us, but see that they be large,
3550         In which we mowe swymme as in a barge,
                    In which we may float as in a barge,
3551         And han therinne vitaille suffisant
                    And have therein sufficient victuals
3552         But for a day -- fy on the remenant!
                    But for a day -- fie on the remnant!
3553         The water shal aslake and goon away
                    The water shall recede and go away
3554         Aboute pryme upon the nexte day.
                    About nine a.m. on the next day.
3555         But Robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave,
                    But Robin, thy knave, may not know of this,
3556         Ne eek thy mayde Gille I may nat save;
                    And also thy maid Gille I can not save;
3557         Axe nat why, for though thou aske me,
                    Ask not why, for though thou ask me,
3558         I wol nat tellen Goddes pryvetee.
                    I will not tell God's secrets.
3559         Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde,
                    It suffices thee, unless thy wits go mad,
3560         To han as greet a grace as Noe hadde.
                    To have as great a grace as Noah had.
3561         Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute.
                    Thy wife shall I well save, beyond doubt.
3562         Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute.
                    Go now thy way, and speed thee on this business.

3563         "But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me,
                    "But when thou hast, for her and thee and me,
3564         Ygeten us thise knedyng tubbes thre,
                    Got us these three kneading tubs,
3565         Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye,
                    Then shalt thou hang them in the roof very high,
3566         That no man of oure purveiaunce espye.
                    In a way that no man may espy our preparations.
3567         And whan thou thus hast doon as I have seyd,
                    And when thou thus hast done as I have said,
3568         And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd,
                    And hast laid our victuals carefully in them,
3569         And eek an ax to smyte the corde atwo,
                    And also an axe to smite the cord in two,
3570         Whan that the water comth, that we may go
                    When the water comes, so that we may go
3571         And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable,
                    And break a hole on high, upon the gable,
3572         Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable,
                    Toward the garden, over the stable,
3573         That we may frely passen forth oure way,
                    That we may freely pass forth on our way,
3574         Whan that the grete shour is goon away.
                    When the great shower is gone away.
3575         Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake,
                    Then shalt thou float as merry, I guarantee,
3576         As dooth the white doke after hire drake.
                    As does the white duck after her drake.
3577         Thanne wol I clepe, `How, Alison! How, John!
                    Then will I call, `How, Alison! How, John!
3578         Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon.'
                    Be merry, for the flood will soon pass.'
3579         And thou wolt seyn, `Hayl, maister Nicholay!
                    And thou will say, `Hail, master Nicholay!
3580         Good morwe, I se thee wel, for it is day.'
                    Good morrow, I see thee well, for it is day.'
3581         And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf
                    And then shall we be lords all our life
3582         Of al the world, as Noe and his wyf.
                    Of all the world, like Noah and his wife.

3583         "But of o thyng I warne thee ful right:
                    "But of one thing I warn thee very sternly:
3584         Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght
                    Be well advised on that same night
3585         That we ben entred into shippes bord,
                    On which we are entered onto shipboard,
3586         That noon of us ne speke nat a word,
                    That not one of us speak a word,
3587         Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere;
                    Nor call, nor cry, but be in his prayer;
3588         For it is Goddes owene heeste deere.
                    For it is God's own dear command.

3589         "Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne,
                    "Thy wife and thou must hang far apart,
3590         For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne,
                    So that between yow shall be no sin,
3591         Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede.
                    No more in looking than there shall be in deed.
3592         This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede!
                    This ordinance is said. Go, God give thee success!
3593         Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe,
                    Tomorrow at night, when people are all asleep,
3594         Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe,
                    Into our kneading-tubs will we creep,
3595         And sitten there, abidyng Goddes grace.
                    And sit there, awaiting God's grace.
3596         Go now thy wey; I have no lenger space
                    Go now thy way; I have no more time
3597         To make of this no lenger sermonyng.
                    To make of this any longer preaching.
3598         Men seyn thus, `sende the wise, and sey no thyng.'
                    Men say thus, `send the wise, and say nothing.'
3599         Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche.
                    Thou art so wise, one needs not teach thee.
3600         Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche."
                    Go, save our life, and that I beseech thee."

3601         This sely carpenter goth forth his wey.
                    This hapless carpenter goes forth his way.
3602         Ful ofte he seide "Allas and weylawey,"
                    Very often he said "Alas and woe is me,"
3603         And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee,
                    And to his wife he told his secret,
3604         And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
                    And she was aware, and knew it better than he,
3605         What al this queynte cast was for to seye.
                    What all this ingenious scheme meant.
3606         But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye,
                    But nonetheless she acted as if she would die,
3607         And seyde, "Allas! go forth thy wey anon,
                    And said, "Alas! go forth thy way quickly,
3608         Help us to scape, or we been dede echon!
                    Help us to escape, or we are dead each one of us!
3609         I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf;
                    I am thy faithful, truly wedded wife;
3610         Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf."
                    Go, dear spouse, and help to save our lives."

3611         Lo, which a greet thyng is affeccioun!
                    Lo, what a great thing is emotion!
3612         Men may dyen of ymaginacioun,
                    One can die of imagination,
3613         So depe may impressioun be take.
                    So deeply may a mental image be taken.
3614         This sely carpenter bigynneth quake;
                    This hapless carpenter begins to tremble;
3615         Hym thynketh verraily that he may see
                    He thinks truly that he can see
3616         Noees flood come walwynge as the see
                    Noah's flood come surging like the sea
3617         To drenchen Alisoun, his hony deere.
                    To drown Alisoun, his honey dear.
3618         He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere;
                    He weeps, wails, looks wretched;
3619         He siketh with ful many a sory swogh;
                    He sighs with very many a sorry groan;
3620         He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng trogh,
                    He goes and gets him a kneading trough,
3621         And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn,
                    And after that a tub and a large vat,
3622         And pryvely he sente hem to his in,
                    And secretly he sent them to his dwelling,
3623         And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee.
                    And hanged them in the roof secretly.
3624         His owene hand he made laddres thre,
                    With his own hand he made three ladders,
3625         To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes
                    To climb by the rungs and the uprights
3626         Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes,
                    Unto the tubs hanging in the beams,
3627         And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe,
                    And provisioned them, both trough and tub,
3628         With breed, and chese, and good ale in a jubbe,
                    With bread, and cheese, and good ale in a jug,
3629         Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day.
                    Sufficing just enough for a day.
3630         But er that he hadde maad al this array,
                    But before he had made all this preparation,
3631         He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also,
                    He sent his servant, and also his servant girl,
3632         Upon his nede to London for to go.
                    Upon his business to go to London.
3633         And on the Monday, whan it drow to nyght,
                    And on the Monday, when it drew toward night,
3634         He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght,
                    He shut his door without candlelight,
3635         And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be.
                    And prepared everything as it should be.
3636         And shortly, up they clomben alle thre;
                    And shortly, up they climbed all three;
3637         They seten stille wel a furlong way.
                    They sat still a good two and one-half minutes.

3638         "Now, Pater-noster, clom!" seyde Nicholay,
                    "Now, Pater-noster, quiet!" said Nicholay,
3639         And "Clom!" quod John, and "Clom!" seyde Alisoun.
                    And "Quiet!" said John, and "Quiet!" said Alisoun.
3640         This carpenter seyde his devocioun,
                    This carpenter said his devotion,
3641         And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere,
                    And still he sits, and says his prayer,
3642         Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere.
                    Awaiting the rain, if he might hear it.

3643         The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse,
                    The dead sleep, for weary business,
3644         Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse,
                    Fell on this carpenter right, as I guess,
3645         Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore;
                    About curfew time, or a little more;
3646         For travaille of his goost he groneth soore,
                    For suffering of his spirit he groans deeply,
3647         And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay.
                    And also he snores, for his head lay wrong.
3648         Doun of the laddre stalketh Nicholay,
                    Down on the ladder stalks Nicholay,
3649         And Alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde;
                    And Alisoun very quietly down she sped;
3650         Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde,
                    Without more words they go to bed,
3651         Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye.
                    Where the carpenter is accustomed to lie.
3652         Ther was the revel and the melodye;
                    There was the revel and the sounds of festivity;
3653         And thus lith Alison and Nicholas,
                    And thus lie Alison and Nicholas,
3654         In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas,
                    In business of mirth and of pleasure,
3655         Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge,
                    Until the bell of the early morning service began to ring,
3656         And freres in the chauncel gonne synge.
                    And friars in the chapel began to sing.

3657         This parissh clerk, this amorous Absolon,
                    This parish clerk, this amorous Absolon,
3658         That is for love alwey so wo bigon,
                    That is for love always so woebegone,
3659         Upon the Monday was at Oseneye
                    Upon the Monday was at Oseneye
3660         With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye,
                    With company, to be merry and amuse himself,
3661         And axed upon cas a cloisterer
                    And by chance asked a cloistered monk
3662         Ful prively after John the carpenter;
                    Very discreetly about John the carpenter;
3663         And he drough hym apart out of the chirche,
                    And he drew him apart out of the church,
3664         And seyde, "I noot; I saugh hym heere nat wirche
                    And said, "I know not; I have not seen him working here
3665         Syn Saterday; I trowe that he be went
                    Since Saturday; I suppose that he is gone
3666         For tymber, ther oure abbot hath hym sent;
                    For timber, where our abbot has sent him;
3667         For he is wont for tymber for to go
                    For he is accustomed to go for timber
3668         And dwellen at the grange a day or two;
                    And dwell at the granary a day or two;
3669         Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn.
                    Or else he is at his house, certainly.
3670         Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn."
                    Where he may be, I can not truly say."

3671         This Absolon ful joly was and light,
                    This Absolon very was jolly and happy,
3672         And thoghte, "Now is tyme to wake al nyght,
                    And thought, "Now is time to stay awake all night,
3673         For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge
                    For surely I saw him not stirring
3674         Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge.
                    About his door, since day began to spring.

3675         "So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe,
                    "As I may prosper, I shall, at cock's crow,
3676         Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe
                    Very quietly knock at his window
3677         That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal.
                    That stands very low upon his bedroom's wall.
3678         To Alison now wol I tellen al
                    To Alison now I will tell all
3679         My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse
                    My love-longing, for yet I shall not miss
3680         That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse.
                    That at the very least I shall her kiss.
3681         Som maner confort shal I have, parfay.
                    Some sort of comfort shall I have, by my faith.
3682         My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
                    My mouth has itched all this long day;
3683         That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste.
                    That is a sign of kissing at the least.
3684         Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste.
                    All night I dreamed also I was at a feast.
3685         Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye,
                    Therefore I will go sleep an hour or two,
3686         And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye."
                    And all the night then will I stay awake and play."

3687         Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon
                    When the first cock has crowed (about midnight), at once
3688         Up rist this joly lovere Absolon,
                    Up rises this elegant lover Absolon,
3689         And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys.
                    And dresses himself handsomely, in every detail.
3690         But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys,
                    But first he chews cardamom and licorice,
3691         To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer.
                    To smell sweet, ere he had combed his hair.
3692         Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer,
                    Under his tongue he had a true-love herb,
3693         For therby wende he to ben gracious.
                    For thus he thought he would be gracious.
3694         He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
                    He goes to the carpenter's house,
3695         And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe --
                    And he stands still under the casement window --
3696         Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe --
                    Unto his breast it reached, it was so low --
3697         And softe he cougheth with a semy soun:
                    And softly he coughs with a gentle sound:
3698         "What do ye, hony-comb, sweete Alisoun,
                    "What do you, honey-comb, sweet Alisoun,
3699         My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome?
                    My fair bird, my sweet cinnamon?
3700         Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me!
                    Awake, sweetheart mine, and speak to me!
3701         Wel litel thynken ye upon my wo,
                    Well little you think upon my woe,
3702         That for youre love I swete ther I go.
                    That for your love I sweat wherever I go.
3703         No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete;
                    No wonder is though that I swelter and sweat;
3704         I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete.
                    I mourn as does a lamb after the tit.
3705         Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge
                    Indeed, sweetheart, I have such love-longing
3706         That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge.
                    That like a true turtledove is my mourning.
3707         I may nat ete na moore than a mayde."
                    I can eat no more than a maiden."

3708         "Go fro the wyndow, Jakke fool," she sayde;
                    "Go from the window, you idiot," she said;
3709         "As help me God, it wol nat be `com pa me.'
                    "So help me God, it will not be `come kiss me.'
3710         I love another -- and elles I were to blame --
                    I love another -- and else I were to blame --
3711         Wel bet than thee, by Jhesu, Absolon.
                    Well better than thee, by Jesus, Absolon.
3712         Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston,
                    Go forth thy way, or I will cast a stone,
3713         And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey!"
                    And let me sleep, in the name of twenty devils!"
3714         "Allas," quod Absolon, "and weylawey,
                    "Alas," said Absolon, "and woe is me,
3715         That trewe love was evere so yvel biset!
                    That true love was ever in such miserable circumstances!
3716         Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet,
                    Then kiss me, since it can be no better,
3717         For Jhesus love, and for the love of me."
                    For Jesus' love, and for the love of me."

3718         "Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith?" quod she.
                    "Wilt thou then go thy way with that?" said she.

3719         "Ye, certes, lemman," quod this Absolon.
                    "Yes, certainly, sweetheart," said this Absolon.

3720         "Thanne make thee redy," quod she, "I come anon."
                    "Then make thee ready," said she, "I come right now."
3721         And unto Nicholas she seyde stille,
                    And unto Nicholas she said quietly,
3722         "Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille."
                    "Now hush, and thou shalt laugh all thy fill."

3723         This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees
                    This Absolon set himself down on his knees
3724         And seyde, "I am a lord at alle degrees;
                    And said, "I am a lord in every way;
3725         For after this I hope ther cometh moore.
                    For after this I hope there comes more.
3726         Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore!"
                    Sweetheart, thy grace, and sweet bird, thy mercy!"

3727         The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste.
                    The window she undoes, and that in haste.
3728         "Have do," quod she, "com of, and speed the faste,
                    "Get done with it," said she, "come on, and hurry up,
3729         Lest that oure neighebores thee espie."
                    Lest our neighbors espy thee."

3730         This Absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie.
                    This Absolon wiped his mouth very dry.
3731         Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole,
                    Dark was the night as pitch, or as the coal,
3732         And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
                    And at the window out she put her hole,
3733         And Absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers,
                    And Absolon, to him it happened no better nor worse,
3734         But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
                    But with his mouth he kissed her naked ass
3735         Ful savourly, er he were war of this.
                    With great relish, before he was aware of this.
3736         Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
                    Back he jumped, and thought it was amiss,
3737         For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
                    For well he knew a woman has no beard.
3738         He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
                    He felt a thing all rough and long haired,
3739         And seyde, "Fy! allas! what have I do?"
                    And said, "Fie! alas! what have I done?"

3740         "Tehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to,
                    "Tehee!" said she, and clapped the window to,
3741         And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
                    And Absolon goes forth walking sadly.

3742         "A berd! A berd!" quod hende Nicholas,
                    "A beard! A beard!" said clever Nicholas,
3743         "By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel."
                    "By God's body, this goes fair and well."

3744         This sely Absolon herde every deel,
                    This hapless Absolon heard every bit,
3745         And on his lippe he gan for anger byte,
                    And on his lip he began for anger to bite,
3746         And to hymself he seyde, "I shal thee quyte."
                    And to himself he said, "I shall pay thee back."

3747         Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes
                    Who rubs now, who now scrubs his lips
3748         With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes,
                    With dust, with sand, with straw, with cloth, with chips,
3749         But Absolon, that seith ful ofte, "Allas!"
                    But Absolon, who says very often, "Alas!"
3750         "My soule bitake I unto Sathanas,
                    "My soul I entrust to Satan,
3751         But me were levere than al this toun," quod he,
                    If I would not rather than (have) all this town," said he,
3752         "Of this despit awroken for to be.
                    "Be avenged for this insult.
3753         Allas," quod he, "allas, I ne hadde ybleynt!"
                    Alas," said he, "alas, I did not turn away!"
3754         His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt;
                    His hot love was cold and all extinguished;
3755         For fro that tyme that he hadde kist hir ers,
                    For from that time that he had kissed her ass,
3756         Of paramours he sette nat a kers,
                    Love-making he thought not worth not a watercress,
3757         For he was heeled of his maladie.
                    For he was healed of his malady.
3758         Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie,
                    Very often he did renounce love-making,
3759         And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.
                    And wept as does a child that is beaten.
3760         A softe paas he wente over the strete
                    At a slow pace he went down the street
3761         Until a smyth men cleped daun Gerveys,
                    To a smith men called dan Gerveys,
3762         That in his forge smythed plough harneys;
                    Who in his forge made plowing equipment;
3763         He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily.
                    He sharpens ploughshares and plough blades busily.
3764         This Absolon knokketh al esily,
                    This Absolon knocked all gently,
3765         And seyde, "Undo, Gerveys, and that anon."
                    And said, "Open up, Gerveys, and that right now."

3766         "What, who artow?" "It am I, Absolon."
                    "What, who art thou?" "It am I, Absolon."
3767         "What, Absolon! for Cristes sweete tree,
                    "What, Absolon! for Christ's sweet cross,
3768         Why rise ye so rathe? Ey, benedicitee!
                    Why rise you so early? Ay, bless me!
3769         What eyleth yow? Som gay gerl, God it woot,
                    What ails yow? Some pretty girl, God knows it,
3770         Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot.
                    Hath brought you to be running around like this.
3771         By Seinte Note, ye woot wel what I mene."
                    By Saint Note, you know well what I mean."

3772         This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene
                    This Absolon cared not a bean
3773         Of al his pley; no word agayn he yaf;
                    For all his joking; no word he gave in reply;
3774         He hadde moore tow on his distaf
                    He had more business on hand
3775         Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, "Freend so deere,
                    Than Gerveys knew, and said, "Friend so dear,
3776         That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere,
                    That hot plough blade in the hearth here,
3777         As lene it me; I have therwith to doone,
                    Lend it to me; I have something to do with it,
3778         And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone."
                    And I will bring it back to thee very soon."

3779         Gerveys answerde, "Certes, were it gold,
                    Gerveys answered, "Certainly, were it gold,
3780         Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
                    Or in a sack countless silver coins,
3781         Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth.
                    Thou sholdest have it, as I am true smith.
3782         Ey, Cristes foo! What wol ye do therwith?"
                    Ay, Christ's foe! What will you do with it?"

3783         "Therof," quod Absolon, "be as be may.
                    "Concerning that," said Absolon, "be as be may.
3784         I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day" --
                    I shall well tell it to thee to-morrow" --
3785         And caughte the kultour by the colde stele.
                    And caught the plough blade by the cold handle.
3786         Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
                    Very softly out at the door he began to steal,
3787         And wente unto the carpenteris wal.
                    And went unto the carpenter's wall.
3788         He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal
                    He coughs first, and knocks then
3789         Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er.
                    Upon the window, just as he did before.

3790         This Alison answerde, "Who is ther
                    This Alison answered, "Who is there
3791         That knokketh so? I warante it a theef."
                    That knocks so? I swear it is a thief."

3792         "Why, nay," quod he, "God woot, my sweete leef,
                    "Why, nay," said he, "God knows, my sweet beloved,
3793         I am thyn Absolon, my deerelyng.
                    I am thy Absolon, my darling.
3794         Of gold," quod he, "I have thee broght a ryng.
                    Of gold," said he, "I have brought thee a ring.
3795         My mooder yaf it me, so God me save;
                    My mother gave it to me, as God may save me;
3796         Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave.
                    Very fine it is, and also nicely engraved.
3797         This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse."
                    This will I give thee, if thou kiss me."

3798         This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
                    This Nicholas was risen to piss,
3799         And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
                    And thought he would make the joke even better;
3800         He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
                    He should kiss his ass before he escapes.
3801         And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
                    And he opened up the window hastily,
3802         And out his ers he putteth pryvely
                    And he puts out his ass stealthily
3803         Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
                    Over the buttock, to the thigh;
3804         And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
                    And then spoke this clerk, this Absolon,
3805         "Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art."
                    "Speak, sweet bird, I know not where thou art."

3806         This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
                    This Nicholas immediately let fly a fart
3807         As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
                    As great as if it had been a thunder-bolt,
3808         That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
                    So that with the stroke he was almost blinded;
3809         And he was redy with his iren hoot,
                    And he was ready with his hot iron,
3810         And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.
                    And he smote Nicholas in the middle of the ass.

3811         Of gooth the skyn an hande-brede aboute,
                    Off goes the skin a hand's breadth about,
3812         The hoote kultour brende so his toute,
                    The hot plough blade so burned his rump
3813         And for the smert he wende for to dye.
                    And for the pain he thought he would die.
3814         As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye,
                    As if he were crazy, for woe he began to cry,
3815         "Help! Water! Water! Help, for Goddes herte!"
                    "Help! Water! Water! Help, for God's heart!"

3816         This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
                    This carpenter woke suddenly out of his slumber,
3817         And herde oon crien "water!" as he were wood,
                    And heard someone cry "water!" as if he were crazy,
3818         And thoughte, "Allas, now comth Nowelis flood!"
                    And thought, "Alas, now comes Nowell's flood!"
3819         He sit hym up withouten wordes mo,
                    He sits up without more words,
3820         And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo,
                    And with his ax he smote the cord in two,
3821         And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle,
                    And down goes all; he found nothing to sell (wasted no time),
3822         Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle
                    Neither bread nor ale, until he came to the pavement
3823         Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay.
                    Upon the floor, and there he lay in a swoon.

3824         Up stirte hire Alison and Nicholay,
                    Up started Alison and Nicholay,
3825         And criden "Out" and "Harrow" in the strete.
                    And cried "Out" and "Help" in the street.
3826         The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
                    The neighbors, both low-ranking and high,
3827         In ronnen for to gauren on this man,
                    Run in to gawk at this man,
3828         That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan,
                    Who yet lay in a swoon, both pale and wan,
3829         For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm.
                    For with the fall he had broken his arm.
3830         But stonde he moste unto his owene harm;
                    But he had to stand up for himself, though it went badly;
3831         For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun
                    For when he spoke, he was immediately put down
3832         With hende Nicholas and Alisoun.
                    By clever Nicholas and Alisoun.
3833         They tolden every man that he was wood;
                    They told every one that he was crazy;
3834         He was agast so of Nowelis flood
                    He was so afraid of Nowell's flood
3835         Thurgh fantasie that of his vanytee
                    Because of his imagination that in his foolishness
3836         He hadde yboght hym knedyng tubbes thre,
                    He had bought himself three kneading tubs,
3837         And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
                    And had hanged them in the roof above;
3838         And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love,
                    And that he begged them, for God's love,
3839         To sitten in the roof, par compaignye.
                    To sit in the roof, to keep him company.

3840         The folk gan laughen at his fantasye;
                    The folk did laugh at his foolishness;
3841         Into the roof they kiken and they cape,
                    Into the roof they stare and they gape,
3842         And turned al his harm unto a jape.
                    And turned all his harm into a joke.
3843         For what so that this carpenter answerde,
                    For whatever this carpenter answered,
3844         It was for noght; no man his reson herde.
                    It was for naught; no one listened to his explanation,
3845         With othes grete he was so sworn adoun
                    With oaths great he was so sworn down
3846         That he was holde wood in al the toun;
                    That he was considered crazy in all the town;
3847         For every clerk anonright heeld with oother.
                    For every clerk immediately agreed with the other.
3848         They seyde, "The man is wood, my leeve brother";
                    They said, "The man is crazy, my dear brother";
3849         And every wight gan laughen at this stryf.
                    And every person did laugh at this strife.
3850         Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf,
                    Thus screwed was this carpenter's wife,
3851         For al his kepyng and his jalousye,
                    In spite of all his guarding and his jealousy,
3852         And Absolon hath kist hir nether ye,
                    And Absolon has kissed her lower eye,
3853         And Nicholas is scalded in the towte.
                    And Nicholas is scalded in the rump.
3854         This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte!
                    This tale is done, and God save all this company!

 

Heere endeth the Millere his Tale
[Here ends the Miller's Tale]