The Miller's Prologue
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
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
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 (tale).
3131 Abyd, and lat us
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."
herkneth," quod the Millere, "alle and some!
"Now listen," said the Miller, "everyone!
3137 But first I make a
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
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 can 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
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.
The Miller's Theme: "God's Privetee"
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
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 one 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 gentle 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,
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 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 OxenfordAnd of his craft he
was a carpenter.
There was once dwelling at Oxford
3188 A riche gnof, that
gestes heeld to bord,
A rich churl, who took in boarders,
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
Was turned to learning astrology,
3193 And koude a certeyn
And he knew a certain (number of) of astronomical operations,
3194 To demen by
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 courtly 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
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
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 gay psaltery (stringed instrument),
3214 On which he made a-nyghtes
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.
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
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 mush more blissful to look upon
3248 Than is the newe
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 pearled with latten (a brass-like metal).
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 gay 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 bragot (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.
Makes his Move
3271 Now, sire, and
eft, sire, so bifel the cas
Now, sir, and again, sir, it so happened
3272 That on a day this
That one day this courtly 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!"
Do 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."
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
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 an 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
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 pretty 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 shoos,
3319 In hoses rede he
In red hoses 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
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
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 rebeck (a kind of 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
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
About farting, and fastidious in his speech.
3339 This Absolon,
that jolif was and gay,
This Absolon, who was jolly 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
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 handsome 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, jolly and amorous,
3356 Til he cam to the
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
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
From day to day this handsome Absolon
3372 So woweth hire that
hym is wo bigon.
So woes 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 of town, 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
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 all his earnestness turns 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."
so bifel it on a Saterday,This Nicholas no
lenger wolde tarie,
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 clever Nicholas and Alisoun
3402 Acorded been to this
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
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,
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
If he asked after 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
God forbid that he should suddenly die!
3428 This world is now ful
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.This Nicholas sat
evere capyng upright,
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.
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,Men sholde nat knowe
of Goddes pryvetee.
This carpenter began to bless 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!
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
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
I feel very sorry for clever Nicholas.
3463 He shal be rated of
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
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.
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
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
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
"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,
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 that work."
3492 This Nicholas
answerde, "Fecche me drynke,
This Nicholas answered, "Fetch me drink,
3493 And after wol I speke
And after will I speak in private
3494 Of certeyn thyng that
toucheth me and thee.
Of 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 the carpenter sat down by him.
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!"
Nicholas' Prediction of Doom
John," quod Nicholas, "I wol nat lye;That now a Monday
next, at quarter nyght,
"Now John," said Nicholas, "I will not lie;
3514 I have yfounde in myn
I have found in my astrology,
3515 As I have looked in
the moone bright,
As I have looked on the bright moon,
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?"
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
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
Men may not preach nor make tarrying.
3547 "Anon go gete
us faste into this in
I wol nat tellen
"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
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
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,
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
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
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
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!And after that a
tubbe and a kymelyn,
Lo, what a great thing is emotion!
3612 Men may dyen of
One can die of imagination,
3613 So depe may
impressioun be take.
So deeply may a mental image be taken.
3614 This sely carpenter
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,
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
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.
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
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.
Alisoun (at last!)
3643 The dede sleep,
for wery bisynesse,
And Alisoun ful softe
adoun she spedde;
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
Down on the ladder stalks Nicholay,
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 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
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
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
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 grange a day or two;
3669 Or elles he is at his
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 jolly was 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
To Alison now will I 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
Up rises this handsome lover Absolon,
3689 And hym arraieth gay,
And dresses himself gaily, 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
He goes to the carpenter's house,
3695 And stille he stant
under the shot-wyndowe --
And still he stands 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
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
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
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!"
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."
thanne go thy wey therwith?" quod she.
"Will 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
3721 And unto Nicholas she
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?"
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
For he was healed of his malady.
3758 Ful ofte paramours he
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
He sharpens ploughshares and plough blades busily.
3764 This Absolon knokketh
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?
Why rise you so early? Ay, bless me!
3769 What eyleth yow? Som
gay gerl, God it woot,
What ails yow? Some gay girl, God knows it,
3770 Hath broght yow thus
upon the viritoot.
Hath brought yow thus astir [see n.].
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
That hoote kultour in
the chymenee heere,
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
He had more business on hand
3775 Than Gerveys knew,
and seyde, "Freend so deere,
Than Gerveys knew, and said, "Friend so dear,
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
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?"
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
And went unto the carpenter's wall.
3788 He cogheth first, and
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."
nay," quod he, "God woot, my sweete leef,
"Why, nay," said he, "God knows, my sweet beloved,
3793 I am thyn Absolon, my
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
And he puts out his ass stealthily
3803 Over the buttok, to
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,"Help! Water!
Water! Help, for Goddes herte!"
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,
"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,
That 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
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
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
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
Thus screwed was this carpenter's wife,
3851 For al his kepyng and
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