Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  England  Index  Previous  Next 

The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at

The Canterbury Tales

The Merchant's Tale

 Whilom ther was dwellynge in Lumbardye
 A worthy knyght, that born was of Pavye,
 In which he lyved in greet prosperitee;
 And sixty yeer a wyflees man was hee,
 And folwed ay his bodily delyt
1250 On wommen, ther as was his appetyt,
 As doon thise fooles that been seculeer.
 And whan that he was passed sixty yeer,
 Were it for hoolynesse or for dotage
 I kan nat seye, but swich a greet corage
 Hadde this knyght to been a wedded man
 That day and nyght he dooth al that he kan
 T' espien where he myghte wedded be,
 Preyinge oure Lord to graunten him that he
 Mighte ones knowe of thilke blisful lyf
1260 That is bitwixe an housbonde and his wyf,
 And for to lyve under that hooly boond
 With which that first God man and womman bond.
 "Noon oother lyf," seyde he, "is worth a bene,
 For wedlok is so esy and so clene,
 That in this world it is a paradys."
 Thus seyde this olde knyght, that was so wys.
 And certeinly, as sooth as God is kyng,
 To take a wyf it is a glorious thyng,
 And namely whan a man is oold and hoor;
1270 Thanne is a wyf the fruyt of his tresor.
 Thanne sholde he take a yong wyf and a feir,
 On which he myghte engendren hym an heir,
 And lede his lyf in joye and in solas,
 Where as thise bacheleris synge "allas,"
 Whan that they fynden any adversitee
 In love, which nys but childyssh vanytee.
 And trewely it sit wel to be so,
 That bacheleris have often peyne and wo;
 On brotel ground they buylde, and brotelnesse
1280 They fynde whan they wene sikernesse.
 They lyve but as a bryd or as a beest,
 In libertee and under noon arreest,
 Ther as a wedded man in his estaat
 Lyveth a lyf blisful and ordinaat
 Under this yok of mariage ybounde.
 Wel may his herte in joy and blisse habounde,
 For who kan be so buxom as a wyf?
 Who is so trewe, and eek so ententyf
 To kepe hym, syk and hool, as is his make?
1290 For wele or wo she wole hym nat forsake;
 She nys nat wery hym to love and serve,
 Though that he lye bedrede til he sterve.
 And yet somme clerkes seyn it nys nat so,
 Of whiche he Theofraste is oon of tho.
 What force though Theofraste liste lye?
 "Ne take no wyf," quod he, "for housbondrye,
 As for to spare in houshold thy dispence.
 A trewe servant dooth moore diligence
 Thy good to kepe than thyn owene wyf,
1300 For she wol clayme half part al hir lyf.
 And if thou be syk, so God me save,
 Thy verray freendes, or a trewe knave,
 Wol kepe thee bet than she that waiteth ay
 After thy good and hath doon many a day.
 And if thou take a wyf unto thyn hoold
 Ful lightly maystow been a cokewold."
 This sentence, and an hundred thynges worse,
 Writeth this man, ther God his bones corse!
 But take no kep of al swich vanytee;
1310 Deffie Theofraste, and herke me.
 A wyf is Goddes yifte verraily;
 Alle othere manere yiftes hardily,
 As londes, rentes, pasture, or commune,
 Or moebles -- alle been yiftes of Fortune
 That passen as a shadwe upon a wal.
 But drede nat, if pleynly speke I shal:
 A wyf wol laste, and in thyn hous endure,
 Wel lenger than thee list, paraventure.
 Mariage is a ful greet sacrement.
1320 He which that hath no wyf, I holde hym shent;
 He lyveth helplees and al desolat --
 I speke of folk in seculer estaat.
 And herke why -- I sey nat this for noght --
 That womman is for mannes helpe ywroght.
 The hye God, whan he hadde Adam maked,
 And saugh him al allone, bely-naked,
 God of his grete goodnesse seyde than,
 "Lat us now make an helpe unto this man
 Lyk to hymself"; and thanne he made him Eve.
1330 Heere may ye se, and heerby may ye preve,
 That wyf is mannes helpe and his confort,
 His paradys terrestre, and his disport.
 So buxom and so vertuous is she,
 They moste nedes lyve in unitee.
 O flessh they been, and o fleesh, as I gesse,
 Hath but oon herte, in wele and in distresse.
 A wyf! a, Seinte Marie, benedicite!
 How myghte a man han any adversitee
 That hath a wyf? Certes, I kan nat seye.
1340 The blisse which that is bitwixe hem tweye
 Ther may no tonge telle, or herte thynke.
 If he be povre, she helpeth hym to swynke;
 She kepeth his good, and wasteth never a deel;
 Al that hire housbonde lust, hire liketh weel;
 She seith nat ones "nay," whan he seith "ye."
 "Do this," seith he; "Al redy, sire," seith she.
 O blisful ordre of wedlok precious,
 Thou art so murye, and eek so vertuous,
 And so commended and appreved eek
1350 That every man that halt hym worth a leek
 Upon his bare knees oughte al his lyf
 Thanken his God that hym hath sent a wyf,
 Or elles preye to God hym for to sende
 A wyf to laste unto his lyves ende.
 For thanne his lyf is set in sikernesse;
 He may nat be deceyved, as I gesse,
 So that he werke after his wyves reed.
 Thanne may he boldely beren up his heed,
 They been so trewe and therwithal so wyse;
1360 For which, if thou wolt werken as the wyse,
 Do alwey so as wommen wol thee rede.
 Lo, how that Jacob, as thise clerkes rede,
 By good conseil of his mooder Rebekke,
 Boond the kydes skyn aboute his nekke,
 For which his fadres benyson he wan.
 Lo Judith, as the storie eek telle kan,
 By wys conseil she Goddes peple kepte,
 And slow hym Olofernus, whil he slepte.
 Lo Abigayl, by good conseil how she
1370 Saved hir housbonde Nabal whan that he
 Sholde han be slayn; and looke, Ester also
 By good conseil delyvered out of wo
 The peple of God, and made hym Mardochee
 Of Assuere enhaunced for to be.
 Ther nys no thyng in gree superlatyf,
 As seith Senek, above an humble wyf.
 Suffre thy wyves tonge, as Catoun bit;
 She shal comande, and thou shalt suffren it,
 And yet she wole obeye of curteisye.
1380 A wyf is kepere of thyn housbondrye;
 Wel may the sike man biwaille and wepe,
 Ther as ther nys no wyf the hous to kepe.
 I warne thee, if wisely thou wolt wirche,
 Love wel thy wyf, as Crist loved his chirche.
 If thou lovest thyself, thou lovest thy wyf;
 No man hateth his flessh, but in his lyf
 He fostreth it, and therfore bidde I thee
 Cherisse thy wyf, or thou shalt nevere thee.
 Housbonde and wyf, what so men jape or pleye,
1390 Of worldly folk holden the siker weye;
 They been so knyt ther may noon harm bityde,
 And namely upon the wyves syde.
 For which this Januarie, of whom I tolde,
 Considered hath, inwith his dayes olde,
 The lusty lyf, the vertuous quyete,
 That is in mariage hony-sweete,
 And for his freendes on a day he sente,
 To tellen hem th' effect of his entente.
 With face sad his tale he hath hem toold.
1400 He seyde, "Freendes, I am hoor and oold,
 And almoost, God woot, on my pittes brynke;
 Upon my soule somwhat moste I thynke.
 I have my body folily despended;
 Blessed be God that it shal been amended!
 For I wol be, certeyn, a wedded man,
 And that anoon in al the haste I kan.
 Unto som mayde fair and tendre of age,
 I prey yow, shapeth for my mariage
 Al sodeynly, for I wol nat abyde;
1410 And I wol fonde t' espien, on my syde,
 To whom I may be wedded hastily.
 But forasmuche as ye been mo than I,
 Ye shullen rather swich a thyng espyen
 Than I, and where me best were to allyen.
 "But o thyng warne I yow, my freendes deere,
 I wol noon oold wyf han in no manere.
 She shal nat passe twenty yeer, certayn;
 Oold fissh and yong flessh wolde I have fayn.
 Bet is," quod he, "a pyk than a pykerel,
1420 And bet than old boef is the tendre veel.
 I wol no womman thritty yeer of age;
 It is but bene-straw and greet forage.
 And eek thise olde wydwes, God it woot,
 They konne so muchel craft on Wades boot,
 So muchel broken harm, whan that hem leste,
 That with hem sholde I nevere lyve in reste.
 For sondry scoles maken sotile clerkis;
 Womman of manye scoles half a clerk is.
 But certeynly, a yong thyng may men gye,
1430 Right as men may warm wex with handes plye.
 Wherfore I sey yow pleynly, in a clause,
 I wol noon oold wyf han right for this cause.
 For if so were I hadde swich myschaunce
 That I in hire ne koude han no plesaunce,
 Thanne sholde I lede my lyf in avoutrye
 And go streight to the devel whan I dye.
 Ne children sholde I none upon hire geten;
 Yet were me levere houndes had me eten
 Than that myn heritage sholde falle
1440 In straunge hand, and this I telle yow alle.
 I dote nat; I woot the cause why
 Men sholde wedde, and forthermoore woot I
 Ther speketh many a man of mariage
 That woot namoore of it than woot my page
 For whiche causes man sholde take a wyf.
 If he ne may nat lyven chaast his lyf,
 Take hym a wyf with greet devocioun,
 By cause of leveful procreacioun
 Of children to th' onour of God above,
1450 And nat oonly for paramour or love;
 And for they sholde leccherye eschue,
 And yelde hir dette whan that it is due;
 Or for that ech of hem sholde helpen oother
 In meschief, as a suster shal the brother,
 And lyve in chastitee ful holily.
 But sires, by youre leve, that am nat I.
 For -- God be thanked! -- I dar make avaunt
 I feele my lymes stark and suffisaunt
 To do al that a man bilongeth to;
1460 I woot myselven best what I may do.
 Though I be hoor, I fare as dooth a tree
 That blosmeth er that fruyt ywoxen bee;
 And blosmy tree nys neither drye ne deed.
 I feele me nowhere hoor but on myn heed;
 Myn herte and alle my lymes been as grene
 As laurer thurgh the yeer is for to sene.
 And syn that ye han herd al myn entente,
 I prey yow to my wyl ye wole assente."
 Diverse men diversely hym tolde
1470 Of mariage manye ensamples olde.
 Somme blamed it, somme preysed it, certeyn,
 But atte laste, shortly for to seyn,
 As al day falleth altercacioun
 Bitwixen freendes in disputisoun,
 Ther fil a stryf bitwixe his bretheren two,
 Of whiche that oon was cleped Placebo;
 Justinus soothly called was that oother.
 Placebo seyde, "O Januarie, brother,
 Ful litel nede hadde ye, my lord so deere,
1480 Conseil to axe of any that is heere,
 But that ye been so ful of sapience
 That yow ne liketh, for youre heighe prudence,
 To weyven fro the word of Salomon.
 This word seyde he unto us everychon:
 `Wirk alle thyng by conseil,' thus seyde he,
 `And thanne shaltow nat repente thee.'
 But though that Salomon spak swich a word,
 Myn owene deere brother and my lord,
 So wysly God my soule brynge at reste,
1490 I holde youre owene conseil is the beste.
 For, brother myn, of me taak this motyf:
 I have now been a court-man al my lyf,
 And God it woot, though I unworthy be,
 I have stonden in ful greet degree
 Abouten lordes of ful heigh estaat;
 Yet hadde I nevere with noon of hem debaat.
 I nevere hem contraried, trewely;
 I woot wel that my lord kan moore than I.
 What that he seith, I holde it ferme and stable;
1500 I seye the same, or elles thyng semblable.
 A ful greet fool is any conseillour
 That serveth any lord of heigh honour,
 That dar presume, or elles thenken it,
 That his conseil sholde passe his lordes wit.
 Nay, lordes been no fooles, by my fay!
 Ye han youreselven shewed heer to-day
 So heigh sentence, so holily and weel,
 That I consente and conferme everydeel
 Youre wordes alle and youre opinioun.
1510 By God, ther nys no man in al this toun,
 Ne in Ytaille, that koude bet han sayd!
 Crist halt hym of this conseil ful wel apayd.
 And trewely, it is an heigh corage
 Of any man that stapen is in age
 To take a yong wyf; by my fader kyn,
 Youre herte hangeth on a joly pyn!
 Dooth now in this matiere right as yow leste,
 For finally I holde it for the beste."
 Justinus, that ay stille sat and herde,
1520 Right in this wise he to Placebo answerde:
 "Now, brother myn, be pacient, I preye,
 Syn ye han seyd, and herkneth what I seye.
 Senek, amonges othere wordes wyse,
 Seith that a man oghte hym right wel avyse
 To whom he yeveth his lond or his catel.
 And syn I oghte avyse me right wel
 To whom I yeve my good awey fro me,
 Wel muchel moore I oghte avysed be
 To whom I yeve my body for alwey.
1530 I warne yow wel, it is no childes pley
 To take a wyf withouten avysement.
 Men moste enquere -- this is myn assent --
 Wher she be wys, or sobre, or dronkelewe,
 Or proud, or elles ootherweys a shrewe,
 A chidestere, or wastour of thy good,
 Or riche, or poore, or elles mannyssh wood.
 Al be it so that no man fynden shal
 Noon in this world that trotteth hool in al,
 Ne man, ne beest, swich as men koude devyse;
1540 But nathelees it oghte ynough suffise
 With any wyf, if so were that she hadde
 Mo goode thewes than hire vices badde;
 And al this axeth leyser for t' enquere.
 For, God it woot, I have wept many a teere
 Ful pryvely, syn I have had a wyf.
 Preyse whoso wole a wedded mannes lyf,
 Certein I fynde in it but cost and care
 And observances, of alle blisses bare.
 And yet, God woot, my neighebores aboute,
1550 And namely of wommen many a route,
 Seyn that I have the mooste stedefast wyf,
 And eek the mekeste oon that bereth lyf;
 But I woot best where wryngeth me my sho.
 Ye mowe, for me, right as yow liketh do;
 Avyseth yow -- ye been a man of age --
 How that ye entren into mariage,
 And namely with a yong wyf and a fair.
 By hym that made water, erthe, and air,
 The yongeste man that is in al this route
1560 Is bisy ynough to bryngen it aboute
 To han his wyf allone. Trusteth me,
 Ye shul nat plesen hire fully yeres thre --
 This is to seyn, to doon hire ful plesaunce.
 A wyf axeth ful many an observaunce.
 I prey yow that ye be nat yvele apayd."
 "Wel," quod this Januarie, "and hastow ysayd?
 Straw for thy Senek, and for thy proverbes!
 I counte nat a panyer ful of herbes
 Of scole-termes. Wyser men than thow,
1570 As thou hast herd, assenteden right now
 To my purpos. Placebo, what sey ye?"
 "I seye it is a cursed man," quod he,
 "That letteth matrimoigne, sikerly."
 And with that word they rysen sodeynly,
 And been assented fully that he sholde
 Be wedded whanne hym liste and where he wolde.
 Heigh fantasye and curious bisynesse
 Fro day to day gan in the soule impresse
 Of Januarie aboute his mariage.
1580 Many fair shap and many a fair visage
 Ther passeth thurgh his herte nyght by nyght,
 As whoso tooke a mirour, polisshed bryght,
 And sette it in a commune market-place,
 Thanne sholde he se ful many a figure pace
 By his mirour; and in the same wyse
 Gan Januarie inwith his thoght devyse
 Of maydens whiche that dwelten hym bisyde.
 He wiste nat wher that he myghte abyde.
 For if that oon have beaute in hir face,
1590 Another stant so in the peples grace
 For hire sadnesse and hire benyngnytee
 That of the peple grettest voys hath she;
 And somme were riche and hadden badde name.
 But nathelees, bitwixe ernest and game,
 He atte laste apoynted hym on oon,
 And leet alle othere from his herte goon,
 And chees hire of his owene auctoritee;
 For love is blynd alday, and may nat see.
 And whan that he was in his bed ybroght,
1600 He purtreyed in his herte and in his thoght
 Hir fresshe beautee and hir age tendre,
 Hir myddel smal, hire armes longe and sklendre,
 Hir wise governaunce, hir gentillesse,
 Hir wommanly berynge, and hire sadnesse.
 And whan that he on hire was condescended,
 Hym thoughte his choys myghte nat ben amended.
 For whan that he hymself concluded hadde,
 Hym thoughte ech oother mannes wit so badde
 That inpossible it were to repplye
1610 Agayn his choys; this was his fantasye.
 His freendes sente he to, at his instaunce,
 And preyed hem to doon hym that plesaunce,
 That hastily they wolden to hym come;
 He wolde abregge hir labour, alle and some.
 Nedeth namoore for hym to go ne ryde;
 He was apoynted ther he wolde abyde.
 Placebo cam, and eek his freendes soone,
 And alderfirst he bad hem alle a boone,
 That noon of hem none argumentes make
1620 Agayn the purpos which that he hath take,
 Which purpos was plesant to God, seyde he,
 And verray ground of his prosperitee.
 He seyde ther was a mayden in the toun,
 Which that of beautee hadde greet renoun,
 Al were it so she were of smal degree;
 Suffiseth hym hir yowthe and hir beautee.
 Which mayde, he seyde, he wolde han to his wyf,
 To lede in ese and hoolynesse his lyf;
 And thanked God that he myghte han hire al,
1630 That no wight his blisse parten shal.
 And preyed hem to laboure in this nede,
 And shapen that he faille nat to spede;
 For thanne, he seyde, his spirit was at ese.
 "Thanne is," quod he, "no thyng may me displese,
 Save o thyng priketh in my conscience,
 The which I wol reherce in youre presence.
 "I have," quod he, "herd seyd, ful yoore ago,
 Ther may no man han parfite blisses two --
 This is to seye, in erthe and eek in hevene.
1640 For though he kepe hym fro the synnes sevene,
 And eek from every branche of thilke tree,
 Yet is ther so parfit felicitee
 And so greet ese and lust in mariage
 That evere I am agast now in myn age
 That I shal lede now so myrie a lyf,
 So delicat, withouten wo and stryf,
 That I shal have myn hevene in erthe heere.
 For sith that verray hevene is boght so deere
 With tribulacion and greet penaunce,
1650 How sholde I thanne, that lyve in swich plesaunce
 As alle wedded men doon with hire wyvys,
 Come to the blisse ther Crist eterne on lyve ys?
 This is my drede, and ye, my bretheren tweye,
 Assoilleth me this question, I preye."
 Justinus, which that hated his folye,
 Answerde anon right in his japerye;
 And for he wolde his longe tale abregge,
 He wolde noon auctoritee allegge,
 But seyde, "Sire, so ther be noon obstacle
1660 Oother than this, God of his hygh myracle
 And of his mercy may so for yow wirche
 That, er ye have youre right of hooly chirche,
 Ye may repente of wedded mannes lyf,
 In which ye seyn ther is no wo ne stryf.
 And elles, God forbede but he sente
 A wedded man hym grace to repente
 Wel ofte rather than a sengle man!
 And therfore, sire -- the beste reed I kan --
 Dispeire yow noght, but have in youre memorie,
1670 Paraunter she may be youre purgatorie!
 She may be Goddes meene and Goddes whippe;
 Thanne shal youre soule up to hevene skippe
 Swifter than dooth an arwe out of a bowe.
 I hope to God, herafter shul ye knowe
 That ther nys no so greet felicitee
 In mariage, ne nevere mo shal bee,
 That yow shal lette of youre savacion,
 So that ye use, as skile is and reson,
 The lustes of youre wyf attemprely,
1680 And that ye plese hire nat to amorously,
 And that ye kepe yow eek from oother synne.
 My tale is doon, for my wit is thynne.
 Beth nat agast herof, my brother deere,
 But lat us waden out of this mateere.
 The Wyf of Bathe, if ye han understonde,
 Of mariage, which we have on honde,
 Declared hath ful wel in litel space.
 Fareth now wel. God have yow in his grace."
 And with this word this Justyn and his brother
1690 Han take hir leve, and ech of hem of oother.
 For whan they saughe that it moste nedes be,
 They wroghten so, by sly and wys tretee,
 That she, this mayden which that Mayus highte,
 As hastily as evere that she myghte
 Shal wedded be unto this Januarie.
 I trowe it were to longe yow to tarie,
 If I yow tolde of every scrit and bond
 By which that she was feffed in his lond,
 Or for to herknen of hir riche array.
1700 But finally ycomen is the day
 That to the chirche bothe be they went
 For to receyve the hooly sacrement.
 Forth comth the preest, with stole aboute his nekke,
 And bad hire be lyk Sarra and Rebekke
 In wysdom and in trouthe of mariage;
 And seyde his orisons, as is usage,
 And croucheth hem, and bad God sholde hem blesse,
 And made al siker ynogh with hoolynesse.
 Thus been they wedded with solempnitee,
1710 And at the feeste sitteth he and she
 With othere worthy folk upon the deys.
 Al ful of joye and blisse is the paleys,
 And ful of instrumentz and of vitaille,
 The mooste deyntevous of al Ytaille.
 Biforn hem stoode instrumentz of swich soun
 That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphioun,
 Ne maden nevere swich a melodye.
 At every cours thanne cam loud mynstralcye
 That nevere tromped Joab for to heere,
1720 Nor he Theodomas, yet half so cleere
 At Thebes whan the citee was in doute.
 Bacus the wyn hem shynketh al aboute,
 And Venus laugheth upon every wight,
 For Januarie was bicome hir knyght
 And wolde bothe assayen his corage
 In libertee, and eek in mariage;
 And with hire fyrbrond in hire hand aboute
 Daunceth biforn the bryde and al the route.
 And certeinly, I dar right wel seyn this,
1730 Ymeneus, that god of weddyng is,
 Saugh nevere his lyf so myrie a wedded man.
 Hoold thou thy pees, thou poete Marcian,
 That writest us that ilke weddyng murie
 Of hire Philologie and hym Mercurie,
 And of the songes that the Muses songe!
 To smal is bothe thy penne, and eek thy tonge,
 For to descryven of this mariage.
 Whan tendre youthe hath wedded stoupyng age,
 Ther is swich myrthe that it may nat be writen.
1740 Assayeth it youreself; thanne may ye witen
 If that I lye or noon in this matiere.
 Mayus, that sit with so benyngne a chiere,
 Hire to biholde it semed fayerye.
 Queene Ester looked nevere with swich an ye
 On Assuer, so meke a look hath she.
 I may yow nat devyse al hir beautee.
 But thus muche of hire beautee telle I may,
 That she was lyk the brighte morwe of May,
 Fulfild of alle beautee and plesaunce.
1750 This Januarie is ravysshed in a traunce
 At every tyme he looked on hir face;
 But in his herte he gan hire to manace
 That he that nyght in armes wolde hire streyne
 Harder than evere Parys dide Eleyne.
 But nathelees yet hadde he greet pitee
 That thilke nyght offenden hire moste he,
 And thoughte, "Allas! O tendre creature,
 Now wolde God ye myghte wel endure
 Al my corage, it is so sharp and keene!
1760 I am agast ye shul it nat susteene.
 But God forbede that I dide al my myght!
 Now wolde God that it were woxen nyght,
 And that the nyght wolde lasten everemo.
 I wolde that al this peple were ago."
 And finally he dooth al his labour,
 As he best myghte, savynge his honour,
 To haste hem fro the mete in subtil wyse.
 The tyme cam that resoun was to ryse;
 And after that men daunce and drynken faste,
1770 And spices al aboute the hous they caste,
 And ful of joye and blisse is every man --
 Al but a squyer, highte Damyan,
 Which carf biforn the knyght ful many a day.
 He was so ravysshed on his lady May
 That for the verray peyne he was ny wood.
 Almoost he swelte and swowned ther he stood,
 So soore hath Venus hurt hym with hire brond,
 As that she bar it daunsynge in hire hond;
 And to his bed he wente hym hastily.
1780 Namoore of hym at this tyme speke I,
 But there I lete hym wepe ynogh and pleyne
 Til fresshe May wol rewen on his peyne.
 O perilous fyr, that in the bedstraw bredeth!
 O famulier foo, that his servyce bedeth!
 O servant traytour, false hoomly hewe,
 Lyk to the naddre in bosom sly untrewe,
 God shilde us alle from youre aqueyntaunce!
 O Januarie, dronken in plesaunce
 In mariage, se how thy Damyan,
1790 Thyn owene squier and thy borne man,
 Entendeth for to do thee vileynye.
 God graunte thee thyn hoomly fo t' espye!
 For in this world nys worse pestilence
 Than hoomly foo al day in thy presence.
 Parfourned hath the sonne his ark diurne;
 No lenger may the body of hym sojurne
 On th' orisonte, as in that latitude.
 Night with his mantel, that is derk and rude,
 Gan oversprede the hemysperie aboute;
1800 For which departed is this lusty route
 Fro Januarie, with thank on every syde.
 Hoom to hir houses lustily they ryde,
 Where as they doon hir thynges as hem leste,
 And whan they sye hir tyme, goon to reste.
 Soone after that, this hastif Januarie
 Wolde go to bedde; he wolde no lenger tarye.
 He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage
 Of spices hoote t' encreessen his corage;
 And many a letuarie hath he ful fyn,
1810 Swiche as the cursed monk, daun Constantyn,
 Hath writen in his book De Coitu;
 To eten hem alle he nas no thyng eschu.
 And to his privee freendes thus seyde he:
 "For Goddes love, as soone as it may be,
 Lat voyden al this hous in curteys wyse."
 And they han doon right as he wol devyse.
 Men drynken and the travers drawe anon.
 The bryde was broght abedde as stille as stoon;
 And whan the bed was with the preest yblessed,
1820 Out of the chambre hath every wight hym dressed,
 And Januarie hath faste in armes take
 His fresshe May, his paradys, his make.
 He lulleth hire; he kisseth hire ful ofte;
 With thikke brustles of his berd unsofte,
 Lyk to the skyn of houndfyssh, sharp as brere --
 For he was shave al newe in his manere --
 He rubbeth hire aboute hir tendre face,
 And seyde thus, "Allas! I moot trespace
 To yow, my spouse, and yow greetly offende
1830 Er tyme come that I wil doun descende.
 But nathelees, considereth this," quod he,
 "Ther nys no werkman, whatsoevere he be,
 That may bothe werke wel and hastily;
 This wol be doon at leyser parfitly.
 It is no fors how longe that we pleye;
 In trewe wedlok coupled be we tweye,
 And blessed be the yok that we been inne,
 For in oure actes we mowe do no synne.
 A man may do no synne with his wyf,
1840 Ne hurte hymselven with his owene knyf,
 For we han leve to pleye us by the lawe."
 Thus laboureth he til that the day gan dawe;
 And thanne he taketh a sop in fyn clarree,
 And upright in his bed thanne sitteth he,
 And after that he sang ful loude and cleere,
 And kiste his wyf, and made wantown cheere.
 He was al coltissh, ful of ragerye,
 And ful of jargon as a flekked pye.
 The slakke skyn aboute his nekke shaketh
1850 Whil that he sang, so chaunteth he and craketh.
 But God woot what that May thoughte in hir herte,
 Whan she hym saugh up sittynge in his sherte,
 In his nyght-cappe, and with his nekke lene;
 She preyseth nat his pleyyng worth a bene.
 Thanne seide he thus, "My reste wol I take;
 Now day is come, I may no lenger wake."
 And doun he leyde his heed and sleep til pryme.
 And afterward, whan that he saugh his tyme,
 Up ryseth Januarie; but fresshe May
1860 Heeld hire chambre unto the fourthe day,
 As usage is of wyves for the beste.
 For every labour somtyme moot han reste,
 Or elles longe may he nat endure;
 This is to seyn, no lyves creature,
 Be it of fyssh, or bryd, or beest, or man.
 Now wol I speke of woful Damyan,
 That langwissheth for love, as ye shul heere;
 Therfore I speke to hym in this manere:
 I seye, "O sely Damyan, allas!
1870 Andswere to my demaunde, as in this cas.
 How shaltow to thy lady, fresshe May,
 Telle thy wo? She wole alwey seye nay.
 Eek if thou speke, she wol thy wo biwreye.
 God be thyn helpe! I kan no bettre seye."
 This sike Damyan in Venus fyr
 So brenneth that he dyeth for desyr,
 For which he putte his lyf in aventure.
 No lenger myghte he in this wise endure,
 But prively a penner gan he borwe,
1880 And in a lettre wroot he al his sorwe,
 In manere of a compleynt or a lay,
 Unto his faire, fresshe lady May;
 And in a purs of sylk heng on his sherte
 He hath it put, and leyde it at his herte.
 The moone, that at noon was thilke day
 That Januarie hath wedded fresshe May
 In two of Tawr, was into Cancre glyden;
 So longe hath Mayus in hir chambre abyden,
 As custume is unto thise nobles alle.
1890 A bryde shal nat eten in the halle
 Til dayes foure, or thre dayes atte leeste,
 Ypassed been; thanne lat hire go to feeste.
 The fourthe day compleet fro noon to noon,
 Whan that the heighe masse was ydoon,
 In halle sit this Januarie and May,
 As fressh as is the brighte someres day.
 And so bifel how that this goode man
 Remembred hym upon this Damyan,
 And seyde, "Seynte Marie! how may this be,
1900 That Damyan entendeth nat to me?
 Is he ay syk, or how may this bityde?"
 His squieres, whiche that stooden ther bisyde,
 Excused hym by cause of his siknesse,
 Which letted hym to doon his bisynesse;
 Noon oother cause myghte make hym tarye.
 "That me forthynketh," quod this Januarie,
 "He is a gentil squier, by my trouthe!
 If that he deyde, it were harm and routhe.
 He is as wys, discreet, and as secree
1910 As any man I woot of his degree,
 And therto manly, and eek servysable,
 And for to been a thrifty man right able.
 But after mete, as soone as evere I may,
 I wol myself visite hym, and eek May,
 To doon hym al the confort that I kan."
 And for that word hym blessed every man,
 That of his bountee and his gentillesse
 He wolde so conforten in siknesse
 His squier, for it was a gentil dede.
1920 "Dame," quod this Januarie, "taak good hede,
 At after-mete ye with youre wommen alle,
 Whan ye han been in chambre out of this halle,
 That alle ye go se this Damyan.
 Dooth hym disport -- he is a gentil man;
 And telleth hym that I wol hym visite,
 Have I no thyng but rested me a lite;
 And spede yow faste, for I wole abyde
 Til that ye slepe faste by my syde."
 And with that word he gan to hym to calle
1930 A squier, that was marchal of his halle,
 And tolde hym certeyn thynges, what he wolde.
 This fresshe May hath streight hir wey yholde
 With alle hir wommen unto Damyan.
 Doun by his beddes syde sit she than,
 Confortynge hym as goodly as she may.
 This Damyan, whan that his tyme he say,
 In secree wise his purs and eek his bille,
 In which that he ywriten hadde his wille,
 Hath put into hire hand, withouten moore,
1940 Save that he siketh wonder depe and soore,
 And softely to hire right thus seyde he:
 "Mercy! And that ye nat discovere me,
 For I am deed if that this thyng be kyd."
 This purs hath she inwith hir bosom hyd
 And wente hire wey; ye gete namoore of me.
 But unto Januarie ycomen is she,
 That on his beddes syde sit ful softe.
 He taketh hire, and kisseth hire ful ofte,
 And leyde hym doun to slepe, and that anon.
1950 She feyned hire as that she moste gon
 Ther as ye woot that every wight moot neede;
 And whan she of this bille hath taken heede,
 She rente it al to cloutes atte laste,
 And in the pryvee softely it caste.
 Who studieth now but faire fresshe May?
 Adoun by olde Januarie she lay,
 That sleep til that the coughe hath hym awaked.
 Anon he preyde hire strepen hire al naked;
 He wolde of hire, he seyde, han som plesaunce;
1960 He seyde hir clothes dide hym encombraunce,
 And she obeyeth, be hire lief or looth.
 But lest that precious folk be with me wrooth,
 How that he wroghte, I dar nat to yow telle,
 Or wheither hire thoughte it paradys or helle.
 But heere I lete hem werken in hir wyse
 Til evensong rong and that they moste aryse.
 Were it by destynee or by aventure,
 Were it by influence or by nature,
 Or constellacion, that in swich estaat
1970 The hevene stood that tyme fortunaat
 Was for to putte a bille of Venus werkes --
 For alle thyng hath tyme, as seyn thise clerkes --
 To any womman for to gete hire love,
 I kan nat seye; but grete God above,
 That knoweth that noon act is causelees,
 He deme of al, for I wole holde my pees.
 But sooth is this, how that this fresshe May
 Hath take swich impression that day
 Of pitee of this sike Damyan
1980 That from hire herte she ne dryve kan
 The remembrance for to doon hym ese.
 "Certeyn," thoghte she, "whom that this thyng displese
 I rekke noght, for heere I hym assure
 To love hym best of any creature,
 Though he namoore hadde than his sherte."
 Lo, pitee renneth soone in gentil herte!
 Heere may ye se how excellent franchise
 In wommen is, whan they hem narwe avyse.
 Som tyrant is, as ther be many oon
1990 That hath an herte as hard as any stoon,
 Which wolde han lat hym sterven in the place
 Wel rather than han graunted hym hire grace,
 And hem rejoysen in hire crueel pryde,
 And rekke nat to been an homycide.
 This gentil May, fulfilled of pitee,
 Right of hire hand a lettre made she,
 In which she graunteth hym hire verray grace.
 Ther lakketh noght oonly but day and place
 Wher that she myghte unto his lust suffise,
2000 For it shal be right as he wole devyse.
 And whan she saugh hir tyme, upon a day
 To visite this Damyan gooth May,
 And sotilly this lettre doun she threste
 Under his pilwe; rede it if hym leste.
 She taketh hym by the hand and harde hym twiste
 So secrely that no wight of it wiste,
 And bad hym been al hool, and forth she wente
 To Januarie, whan that he for hire sente.
 Up riseth Damyan the nexte morwe;
2010 Al passed was his siknesse and his sorwe.
 He kembeth hym, he preyneth hym and pyketh,
 He dooth al that his lady lust and lyketh,
 And eek to Januarie he gooth as lowe
 As evere dide a dogge for the bowe.
 He is so plesant unto every man
 (For craft is al, whoso that do it kan)
 That every wight is fayn to speke hym good,
 And fully in his lady grace he stood.
 Thus lete I Damyan aboute his nede,
2020 And in my tale forth I wol procede.
 Somme clerkes holden that felicitee
 Stant in delit, and therfore certeyn he,
 This noble Januarie, with al his myght,
 In honest wyse, as longeth to a knyght,
 Shoop hym to lyve ful deliciously.
 His housynge, his array, as honestly
 To his degree was maked as a kynges.
 Amonges othere of his honeste thynges,
 He made a gardyn, walled al with stoon;
2030 So fair a gardyn woot I nowher noon.
 For, out of doute, I verraily suppose
 That he that wroot the Romance of the Rose
 Ne koude of it the beautee wel devyse;
 Ne Priapus ne myghte nat suffise,
 Though he be god of gardyns, for to telle
 The beautee of the gardyn and the welle
 That stood under a laurer alwey grene.
 Ful ofte tyme he Pluto and his queene,
 Proserpina, and al hire fayerye,
2040 Disporten hem and maken melodye
 Aboute that welle, and daunced, as men tolde.
 This noble knyght, this Januarie the olde,
 Swich deyntee hath in it to walke and pleye,
 That he wol no wight suffren bere the keye
 Save he hymself; for of the smale wyket
 He baar alwey of silver a clyket,
 With which, whan that hym leste, he it unshette.
 And whan he wolde paye his wyf hir dette
 In somer seson, thider wolde he go,
2050 And May his wyf, and no wight but they two;
 And thynges whiche that were nat doon abedde,
 He in the gardyn parfourned hem and spedde.
 And in this wyse, many a murye day,
 Lyved this Januarie and fresshe May.
 But worldly joye may nat alwey dure
 To Januarie, ne to no creature.
 O sodeyn hap! O thou Fortune unstable!
 Lyk to the scorpion so deceyvable,
 That flaterest with thyn heed whan thou wolt stynge;
2060 Thy tayl is deeth, thurgh thyn envenymynge.
 O brotil joye! O sweete venym queynte!
 O monstre, that so subtilly kanst peynte
 Thy yiftes under hewe of stidefastnesse,
 That thou deceyvest bothe moore and lesse!
 Why hastow Januarie thus deceyved,
 That haddest hym for thy fulle freend receyved?
 And now thou hast biraft hym bothe his yen,
 For sorwe of which desireth he to dyen.
 Allas, this noble Januarie free,
2070 Amydde his lust and his prosperitee,
 Is woxen blynd, and that al sodeynly.
 He wepeth and he wayleth pitously;
 And therwithal the fyr of jalousie,
 Lest that his wyf sholde falle in som folye,
 So brente his herte that he wolde fayn
 That som man bothe hire and hym had slayn.
 For neither after his deeth nor in his lyf
 Ne wolde he that she were love ne wyf,
 But evere lyve as wydwe in clothes blake,
2080 Soul as the turtle that lost hath hire make.
 But atte laste, after a month or tweye,
 His sorwe gan aswage, sooth to seye;
 For whan he wiste it may noon oother be,
 He paciently took his adversitee,
 Save, out of doute, he may nat forgoon
 That he nas jalous everemoore in oon;
 Which jalousye it was so outrageous
 That neither in halle, n' yn noon oother hous,
 Ne in noon oother place, neverthemo,
2090 He nolde suffre hire for to ryde or go,
 But if that he had hond on hire alway;
 For which ful ofte wepeth fresshe May,
 That loveth Damyan so benyngnely
 That she moot outher dyen sodeynly
 Or elles she moot han hym as hir leste.
 She wayteth whan hir herte wolde breste.
 Upon that oother syde Damyan
 Bicomen is the sorwefulleste man
 That evere was, for neither nyght ne day
2100 Ne myghte he speke a word to fresshe May,
 As to his purpos, of no swich mateere,
 But if that Januarie moste it heere,
 That hadde an hand upon hire everemo.
 But nathelees, by writyng to and fro
 And privee signes wiste he what she mente,
 And she knew eek the fyn of his entente.
 O Januarie, what myghte it thee availle,
 Thogh thou myghtest se as fer as shippes saille?
 For as good is blynd deceyved be
2110 As to be deceyved whan a man may se.
 Lo, Argus, which that hadde an hondred yen,
 For al that evere he koude poure or pryen,
 Yet was he blent, and, God woot, so been mo
 That wenen wisly that it be nat so.
 Passe over is an ese, I sey namoore.
 This fresshe May, that I spak of so yoore,
 In warm wex hath emprented the clyket
 That Januarie bar of the smale wyket,
 By which into his gardyn ofte he wente;
2120 And Damyan, that knew al hire entente,
 The cliket countrefeted pryvely.
 Ther nys namoore to seye, but hastily
 Som wonder by this clyket shal bityde,
 Which ye shul heeren, if ye wole abyde.
 O noble Ovyde, ful sooth seystou, God woot,
 What sleighte is it, thogh it be long and hoot,
 That Love nyl fynde it out in som manere?
 By Piramus and Tesbee may men leere;
 Thogh they were kept ful longe streite overal,
2130 They been accorded, rownynge thurgh a wal,
 Ther no wight koude han founde out swich a sleighte.
 But now to purpos: er that dayes eighte
 Were passed [of] the month of [Juyn], bifil
 That Januarie hath caught so greet a wil,
 Thurgh eggyng of his wyf, hym for to pleye
 In his gardyn, and no wight but they tweye,
 That in a morwe unto his May seith he:
 "Rys up, my wyf, my love, my lady free!
 The turtles voys is herd, my dowve sweete;
2140 The wynter is goon with alle his reynes weete.
 Com forth now, with thyne eyen columbyn!
 How fairer been thy brestes than is wyn!
 The gardyn is enclosed al aboute;
 Com forth, my white spouse! Out of doute
 Thou hast me wounded in myn herte, O wyf!
 No spot of thee ne knew I al my lyf.
 Com forth, and lat us taken oure disport;
 I chees thee for my wyf and my confort."
 Swiche olde lewed wordes used he.
2150 On Damyan a signe made she,
 That he sholde go biforn with his cliket.
 This Damyan thanne hath opened the wyket,
 And in he stirte, and that in swich manere
 That no wight myghte it se neither yheere,
 And stille he sit under a bussh anon.
 This Januarie, as blynd as is a stoon,
 With Mayus in his hand, and no wight mo,
 Into his fresshe gardyn is ago,
 And clapte to the wyket sodeynly.
2160 "Now wyf," quod he, "heere nys but thou and I,
 That art the creature that I best love.
 For by that Lord that sit in hevene above,
 Levere ich hadde to dyen on a knyf
 Than thee offende, trewe deere wyf!
 For Goddes sake, thenk how I thee chees,
 Noght for no coveitise, doutelees,
 But oonly for the love I had to thee.
 And though that I be oold and may nat see,
 Beth to me trewe, and I wol telle yow why.
2170 Thre thynges, certes, shal ye wynne therby:
 First, love of Crist, and to youreself honour,
 And al myn heritage, toun and tour;
 I yeve it yow, maketh chartres as yow leste;
 This shal be doon to-morwe er sonne reste,
 So wisly God my soule brynge in blisse.
 I prey yow first, in covenant ye me kisse;
 And though that I be jalous, wyte me noght.
 Ye been so depe enprented in my thoght
 That, whan that I considere youre beautee
2180 And therwithal the unlikly elde of me,
 I may nat, certes, though I sholde dye,
 Forbere to been out of youre compaignye
 For verray love; this is withouten doute.
 Now kys me, wyf, and lat us rome aboute."
 This fresshe May, whan she thise wordes herde,
 Benyngnely to Januarie answerde,
 But first and forward she bigan to wepe.
 "I have," quod she, "a soule for to kepe
 As wel as ye, and also myn honour,
2190 And of my wyfhod thilke tendre flour,
 Which that I have assured in youre hond,
 Whan that the preest to yow my body bond;
 Wherfore I wole answere in this manere,
 By the leve of yow, my lord so deere:
 I prey to God that nevere dawe the day
 That I ne sterve, as foule as womman may,
 If evere I do unto my kyn that shame,
 Or elles I empeyre so my name,
 That I be fals; and if I do that lak,
2200 Do strepe me and put me in a sak,
 And in the nexte ryver do me drenche.
 I am a gentil womman and no wenche.
 Why speke ye thus? But men been evere untrewe,
 And wommen have repreve of yow ay newe.
 Ye han noon oother contenance, I leeve,
 But speke to us of untrust and repreeve."
 And with that word she saugh wher Damyan
 Sat in the bussh, and coughen she bigan,
 And with hir fynger signes made she
2210 That Damyan sholde clymbe upon a tree
 That charged was with fruyt, and up he wente.
 For verraily he knew al hire entente,
 And every signe that she koude make,
 Wel bet than Januarie, hir owene make,
 For in a lettre she hadde toold hym al
 Of this matere, how he werchen shal.
 And thus I lete hym sitte upon the pyrie,
 And Januarie and May romynge myrie.
 Bright was the day, and blew the firmament;
2220 Phebus hath of gold his stremes doun ysent
 To gladen every flour with his warmnesse.
 He was that tyme in Geminis, as I gesse,
 But litel fro his declynacion
 Of Cancer, Jovis exaltacion.
 And so bifel, that brighte morwe-tyde
 That in that gardyn, in the ferther syde,
 Pluto, that is kyng of Fayerye,
 And many a lady in his compaignye,
 Folwynge his wyf, the queene Proserpyna,
2230 Which that he ravysshed out of [Ethna]
 Whil that she gadered floures in the mede --
 In Claudyan ye may the stories rede,
 How in his grisely carte he hire fette --
 This kyng of Fairye thanne adoun hym sette
 Upon a bench of turves, fressh and grene,
 And right anon thus seyde he to his queene:
 "My wyf," quod he, "ther may no wight seye nay;
 Th' experience so preveth every day
 The tresons whiche that wommen doon to man.
2240 Ten hondred thousand [tales] tellen I kan
 Notable of youre untrouthe and brotilnesse.
 O Salomon, wys, and richest of richesse,
 Fulfild of sapience and of worldly glorie,
 Ful worthy been thy wordes to memorie
 To every wight that wit and reson kan.
 Thus preiseth he yet the bountee of man:
 `Amonges a thousand men yet foond I oon,
 But of wommen alle foond I noon.'
 "Thus seith the kyng that knoweth youre wikkednesse.
2250 And Jhesus, filius Syrak, as I gesse,
 Ne speketh of yow but seelde reverence.
 A wylde fyr and corrupt pestilence
 So falle upon youre bodyes yet to-nyght!
 Ne se ye nat this honurable knyght,
 By cause, allas, that he is blynd and old,
 His owene man shal make hym cokewold.
 Lo, where he sit, the lechour, in the tree!
 Now wol I graunten, of my magestee,
 Unto this olde, blynde, worthy knyght
2260 That he shal have ayen his eyen syght,
 Whan that his wyf wold doon hym vileynye.
 Thanne shal he knowen al hire harlotrye,
 Bothe in repreve of hire and othere mo."
 "Ye shal?" quod Proserpyne, "wol ye so?
 Now by my moodres sires soule I swere
 That I shal yeven hire suffisant answere,
 And alle wommen after, for hir sake,
 That, though they be in any gilt ytake,
 With face boold they shulle hemself excuse,
2270 And bere hem doun that wolden hem accuse.
 For lak of answere noon of hem shal dyen.
 Al hadde man seyn a thyng with bothe his yen,
 Yit shul we wommen visage it hardily,
 And wepe, and swere, and chyde subtilly,
 So that ye men shul been as lewed as gees.
 "What rekketh me of youre auctoritees?
 I woot wel that this Jew, this Salomon,
 Foond of us wommen fooles many oon.
 But though that he ne foond no good womman,
2280 Yet hath ther founde many another man
 Wommen ful trewe, ful goode, and vertuous.
 Witnesse on hem that dwelle in Cristes hous;
 With martirdom they preved hire constance.
 The Romayn geestes eek make remembrance
 Of many a verray, trewe wyf also.
 But, sire, ne be nat wrooth, al be it so,
 Though that he seyde he foond no good womman,
 I prey yow take the sentence of the man;
 He mente thus, that in sovereyn bontee
2290 Nis noon but God, but neither he ne she.
 "Ey! for verray God that nys but oon,
 What make ye so muche of Salomon?
 What though he made a temple, Goddes hous?
 What though he were riche and glorious?
 So made he eek a temple of false goddis.
 How myghte he do a thyng that moore forbode is?
 Pardee, as faire as ye his name emplastre,
 He was a lecchour and an ydolastre,
 And in his elde he verray God forsook;
2300 And if God ne hadde, as seith the book,
 Yspared him for his fadres sake, he sholde
 Have lost his regne rather than he wolde.
 I sette right noght, of al the vileynye
 That ye of wommen write, a boterflye!
 I am a womman, nedes moot I speke,
 Or elles swelle til myn herte breke.
 For sithen he seyde that we been jangleresses,
 As evere hool I moote brouke my tresses,
 I shal nat spare, for no curteisye,
2310 To speke hym harm that wolde us vileynye."
 "Dame," quod this Pluto, "be no lenger wrooth;
 I yeve it up! But sith I swoor myn ooth
 That I wolde graunten hym his sighte ageyn,
 My word shal stonde, I warne yow certeyn.
 I am a kyng; it sit me noght to lye."
 "And I," quod she, "a queene of Fayerye!
 Hir answere shal she have, I undertake.
 Lat us namoore wordes heerof make;
 For sothe, I wol no lenger yow contrarie."
2320 Now lat us turne agayn to Januarie,
 That in the gardyn with his faire May
 Syngeth ful murier than the papejay,
 "Yow love I best, and shal, and oother noon."
 So longe aboute the aleyes is he goon,
 Til he was come agaynes thilke pyrie
 Where as this Damyan sitteth ful myrie
 An heigh among the fresshe leves grene.
 This fresshe May, that is so bright and sheene,
 Gan for to syke, and seyde, "Allas, my syde!
2330 Now sire," quod she, "for aught that may bityde,
 I moste han of the peres that I see,
 Or I moot dye, so soore longeth me
 To eten of the smale peres grene.
 Help, for hir love that is of hevene queene!
 I telle yow wel, a womman in my plit
 May han to fruyt so greet an appetit
 That she may dyen but she of it have."
 "Allas," quod he, "that I ne had heer a knave
 That koude clymbe! Allas, allas," quod he,
2340 "For I am blynd!" "Ye, sire, no fors," quod she;
 "But wolde ye vouche sauf, for Goddes sake,
 The pyrie inwith youre armes for to take,
 For wel I woot that ye mystruste me,
 Thanne sholde I clymbe wel ynogh," quod she,
 "So I my foot myghte sette upon youre bak."
 "Certes," quod he, "theron shal be no lak,
 Mighte I yow helpen with myn herte blood."
 He stoupeth doun, and on his bak she stood,
 And caughte hire by a twiste, and up she gooth --
2350 Ladyes, I prey yow that ye be nat wrooth;
 I kan nat glose, I am a rude man --
 And sodeynly anon this Damyan
 Gan pullen up the smok, and in he throng.
 And whan that Pluto saugh this grete wrong,
 To Januarie he gaf agayn his sighte,
 And made hym se as wel as evere he myghte.
 And whan that he hadde caught his sighte agayn,
 Ne was ther nevere man of thyng so fayn,
 But on his wyf his thoght was everemo.
2360 Up to the tree he caste his eyen two,
 And saugh that Damyan his wyf had dressed
 In swich manere it may nat been expressed,
 But if I wolde speke uncurteisly;
 And up he yaf a roryng and a cry,
 As dooth the mooder whan the child shal dye:
 "Out! Help! Allas! Harrow!" he gan to crye,
 "O stronge lady stoore, what dostow?"
 And she answerde, "Sire, what eyleth yow?
 Have pacience and resoun in youre mynde.
2370 I have yow holpe on bothe youre eyen blynde.
 Up peril of my soule, I shal nat lyen,
 As me was taught, to heele with youre eyen,
 Was no thyng bet, to make yow to see,
 Than strugle with a man upon a tree.
 God woot, I dide it in ful good entente."
 "Strugle?" quod he, "Ye, algate in it wente!
 God yeve yow bothe on shames deth to dyen!
 He swyved thee; I saugh it with myne yen,
 And elles be I hanged by the hals!"
2380 "Thanne is," quod she, "my medicyne fals;
 For certeinly, if that ye myghte se,
 Ye wolde nat seyn thise wordes unto me.
 Ye han som glymsyng, and no parfit sighte."
 "I se," quod he, "as wel as evere I myghte,
 Thonked be God! With bothe myne eyen two,
 And by my trouthe, me thoughte he dide thee so."
 "Ye maze, maze, goode sire," quod she;
 "This thank have I for I have maad yow see.
 Allas," quod she, "that evere I was so kynde!"
2390 "Now, dame," quod he, "lat al passe out of mynde.
 Com doun, my lief, and if I have myssayd,
 God helpe me so, as I am yvele apayd.
 But, by my fader soule, I wende han seyn
 How that this Damyan hadde by thee leyn,
 And that thy smok hadde leyn upon his brest."
 "Ye, sire," quod she, "ye may wene as yow lest.
 But, sire, a man that waketh out of his sleep,
 He may nat sodeynly wel taken keep
 Upon a thyng, ne seen it parfitly,
2400 Til that he be adawed verraily.
 Right so a man that longe hath blynd ybe,
 Ne may nat sodeynly so wel yse,
 First whan his sighte is newe come ageyn,
 As he that hath a day or two yseyn.
 Til that youre sighte ysatled be a while
 Ther may ful many a sighte yow bigile.
 Beth war, I prey yow, for by hevene kyng,
 Ful many a man weneth to seen a thyng,
 And it is al another than it semeth.
2410 He that mysconceyveth, he mysdemeth."
 And with that word she leep doun fro the tree.
 This Januarie, who is glad but he?
 He kisseth hire and clippeth hire ful ofte,
 And on hire wombe he stroketh hire ful softe,
 And to his palays hoom he hath hire lad.
 Now, goode men, I pray yow to be glad.
 Thus endeth heere my tale of Januarie;
 God blesse us, and his mooder Seinte Marie!

Next: The Merchant's Epilogue