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For certainly, I say for no bobance,
Yet was I never without purveance
Of mariage, ne of other thinges eke:
I hold a mouses wit not worth a leke,
That hath but on hole for to sterten to,
And if that faille, than is all ydo.

"I bare him on hond, he hath enchanted me;
(My dame taughte me that subtiltee)
And eke I sayd, I mette of him all night,
He wold han slain me, as I lay upright,
-And all my bed was full of veray blood;
But yet I hope that ye shuln do me good:
For blood betokeneth gold, as me was taught.
And al was false, I dremed of him right naught,
But as I folwed ay my dames lore,
As wel of that as other thinges more.

"But now, sire, let me see, what shall I sain?
A ha, by God I have my tale again.
Whan that my fourthe husbonde was on bere,
I wept algate and made a sory chere,
As wives moten, for it is the usage;
And with my coverchefe covered my visage;
But, for that I was purveyed of a make,
I wept but smal, and that I undertake.
To chirche was myn husbond born a-morwe
With neighboures that for him maden sowre,
And Jankin oure clerk was on of tho:
As helpe me God, whan that I saw him go
After the bere, me thought he had a paire
Of legges and of feet, so clene and faire,
That all my herte I yave unto his hold.
He was, I trow, a twenty winter old,
And I was fourty, if I shal say soth,
But yet I had alway a coltes toth.
Gat-tothed I was, and that became me wele,
I had the print of seinte Venus sele.
As helpe me God, I was a lusty on,

And faire, and riche, and yonge, and wel begon:
And trewely, as min husbondes tolden me,
I had the beste queint that might be.

For certes I am all venerian

In feling, and my herte is marcian :

Venus me yave my lust and likerousnesse,
And Mars yave me my sturdy hardinesse.

Min ascendent was Taure, and Mars therinne:
Alas, alas, that ever love was sinne!

I folwed ay min inclination

By vertue of my constellation:

That made me that I coude nat withdraw

My chambre of Venus from a good felaw.
Yet have I Martes merke upon my face,
And also in another privee place.
For God so wisly be my salvation,
I loved never by no discresion,
But ever folwed min appetit,

All were he shorte, longe, blake, or white,
I toke no kepe, so that he liked me,
How poure he was, ne eke of what degree.
"What shuld I saye? but at the monthes ende
This jolly clerk Jankin, that was so hende,
Hath wedded me with gret solempnitee,
And to him yave I all the lond and fee,
That ever was me yeven therbefore:
But afterward repented me ful sore.
He n'olde suffre nothing of my list.
By God he smote me ones with his fist,

For that I rent out of his book a lefe,
That of the stroke myn ere wex al defe.
Stibborn I was, as is a leonesse,
And of my tonge a veray jangleresse,
And walk I wold, as I had don beforn,
Fro house to house, although he had it sworn:
For which he oftentimes wolde preche,
And me of olde Romaine gestes teche.

"How he Sulpitius Gallus left his wif,
And hire forsoke for terme of all his lif,
Not but for open-heded he hire say
Loking out at his dore upon a day.

"Another Romaine told he me by name, That, for his wif was at a sommer game Without his weting, he forsoke hire eke.

"And than wold he upon his Bible seke
That ilke proverbe of Ecclesiaste,
Wher he commandeth, and forbedeth faste,
Man shal not suffer his wife go roule about.

"Than wold he say right thus withouten doute: "Who so that bildeth his house all of salwes, And pricketh his blind hors over the falwes, And suffereth his wif to go seken halwes, Is worthy to be honged on the galwes.'

"But all for nought, I sette not an hawe
Of his proverbes, ne of his olde sawe;
Ne I wold not of him corrected be.

I hate hem that my vices tellen me,
And so do mo of us (God wote) than I.
This made him wood with me all utterly;
I n'olde not forbere him in no cas.

"Now wol I say you soth by Seint Thomas,
Why that I rent of his book a lefe,
For which he smote me, so that I was defe.

"He had a book, that gladly night and day
For his disport he wolde it rede alway,
He cleped it Valerie, and Theophrast,
And with that book he lough alway ful fast.
And eke ther was a clerk somtime at Rome,
A cardinal, that highte Seint Jerome,
That made a book against Jovinian,
Which book was ther, and eke Tertullian,
Crisippus, Tortula, and Helowis,
That was abbesse not fer fro Paris;
And eke the paraboles of Salomon,
Ovides art, and bourdes many on;
And alle thise were bonden in o volume.
And every night and day was his custume
(Whan he had leiser and vacation
From other worldly occupation)

To reden in this book of wikked wives.
He knew of hem mo legendes and mo lives,
Than ben of goode wives in the Bible.

"For trusteth wel, it is an impossible,
That any clerk wol spoken good of wives,
(But if it be of holy seintes lives)
Ne of non other woman never the mo.
Who peinted the leon, telleth me, who?
By God, if wimmen hadden written stories,
As clerkes han, within hir oratories,
They wol have writ of men more wikkednesse
Than all the merke of Adam may redresse.
The children of Mercury and of Venus
Ben in hir werking ful contrarious.
Mercury loveth wisdom and science,
And Venus loveth riot and dispence.

And for hir divers disposition,

Eche falleth in others exaltation.

As thus, God wote, Mercury is desolat In Pisces, wher Venus is exaltat,

And Venus falleth wher Mercury is reised.
Therfore no woman of no clerk is preised.
The clerk whan he is old, and may nought do
Of Venus werkes not worth his old sho,
Than siteth he doun, and writeth in his dotage,
That wimmen cannot kepe hir mariage.
But now to purpos, why I tolde thee,
That I was beten for a book parde.

"Upon a night Jankin, that was our sire,
Red on his book, as he sate by the fire,
Of Eva first, that for hire wikkednesse
Was all mankind brought to wretchedness,
For which that Jesu Crist himself was slain,
That bought us with his herte-blood again.

"Lo here expresse of wimmen may ye find, That woman was the losse of all mankind.

"Tho redde he me how Sampson lost his heres Sleping, his lemman kitte hem with hire sheres, Thurgh whiche treson lost he both his eyen.

"Tho redde he me, if that I shal not lien,
Of Hercules, and of his Deianire,
That caused him to set himself a-fire.

"Nothing forgat he the care and the wo,
That Socrates had with his wives two;
How Xantippa cast pisse upon his hed.
This sely man sat still, as he were ded,
He wiped his hed, no more dorst he sain,
But, er the thonder stint, ther cometh rain.
"Of Clitemnestra for hire lecherie
That falsely made hire husbond for to die,
He redde it with ful good devotion.

"He told me eke, for what occasion
Amphiorax at Thebes lost his lif:
My husbond had a legend of his wif
Eriphile, that for an ouche of gold
Hath prively unto the Grekes told,
Wher that hire husbond hidde him in a place,
For which he had at Thebes sory grace.

"Of Lima told he me, and of Lucie :
They bothe made hir husbondes for to die,
That on for love, that other was for hate,
Lima hire husbond on an even late
Empoysoned hath, for that she was his fo:
Lucia likerous loved hir husbond so,
That for he shuld away upon her thinke,
She yave him swiche a maner love-drinke,
That he was ded er it was by the morwe:
And thus algates husbondes hadden sorwe.
"Than told he me, how on Latumeus
Complained to his felaw Arius,

That in his garden growed swiche a tree,
On which he said how that his wives three
Honged hemself for hertes despitous.
'O leve brother,' quod this Arius,
'Yeve me a plant of thilke blessed tree,
And in my gardin planted shal it be.'

"Of later date of wives hath he redde,

That som had slain hir husbonds in hir bedde, And let hir lechour dight hem all the night, While that the corps lay in the flore upright: And som han driven nailes in hir brain,

Som han hem yeven poison in hir drink : He spake more harm than herte may bethinke. "And therwithall he knew of mo proverbes, Than in this world their growen gras or herbes. "Bet is' (quod he) thin habitation

Be with a leon, or a foule dragon,

Than with a woman using for to chide.

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"Bet is' (quod he) high in the roof abide,
Than with an angry woman doun in the hous,
They ben so wikked and contrarious :
They haten, that hir husbonds loven ay.'

"He sayd, a woman cast hire shame away,
Whan she cast of hire smock; and furthermo,
A faire woman, but she be chast also,
Is like a gold ring in a sowes nose.

"Who coude wene, or who coude suppose
The wo that in min herte was, and the pine?
And whan I saw he n'olde never fine
To reden on this cursed book all night,
Al sodenly three leves have I plight
Out of his book, right as he redde, and eke
I with my fist so toke him on the cheke,
That in oure fire he fell bakward adoun.
And he up sterte, as doth a wood leoun,
And with his fist he smote me on the hed,
That in the flore I lay as I were ded.
And whan he saw how stille that I lay,
He was agast, and wold have fled away,
Til at the last out of my swough I brayde.
'O, hast thou slain me, false theef?' I sayde,
'And for my lond thus hast thou mordered me?
Er I be ded, yet wol I kissen thee.'
And nere he came, and kneled faire adoun,
And sayde; Dere suster Alisoun,

As helpe me God I shall thee never smite:
That I have don it is thyself to wite,
Foryeve it me, and that I thee beseke.'
And yet eftsones I hitte him on the cheke,
And sayde; Theef, thus much am I awreke,
Now wol I die, I may no longer speke.'


"But at the last with mochel care and wo We fell accorded by ourselven two: He yaf me all the bridel in min hond To han the governance of hous and lond, And of his tonge, and of his hond also, And made him brenne his book anon right tho. "And whan that I had getten unto me By maistrie all the soverainetce, And that he sayd, Min owen trewe wif, Do as thee list, the terme of all thy lif, Kepe thin honour, and kepe eke min estat ;' After that day we never had debat. God helpe me so; I was to him as kinde, As any wif fro Denmark unto Inde. And al so trewe, and so was he to me:



pray to God that sit in majestee

So blisse his soule; for his mercy dere.

Now wol I say my tale if ye wol here."

The Frere lough whan he herd all this: "Now dame" (quod he), "so have I joye and bliss, This is a long preamble of a tale."

And whan the Sompnour herd the Frere gale, "Lo" (quod this Sompnour) "Goddes armes two, A frere wol entermit him evermo:

Lo, goode men, a flie and eke a frere

While that they slepe, and thus they han hem slain: | Wol fall in every dish and eke matere.

What spekest thou of preambulatioun ?
What? amble or trot; or pees, or go sit doun:
Thou lettest our disport in this matere."

"Ye, wolt thou so, sire Sompnour?" quod the Frere; "Now by my faith I shal, er that I go, Tell of a sompnour swiche a tale or two, That all the folk shal laughen in this place." "Now elles, Frere, I wol beshrewe thy face," (Quod this Sompnour) " and I beshrewe me, But if I telle tales two or three

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BUT right as floures through the cold night
Inclosed stoupen in hir stalke lowe,
Redressen hem ayen the Sunne bright,
And spreden in hir kindlie course by rowe;
Right so began his eyen up to throw
This Troilus, and seth, "O Venus dere,
Thy might, thy grace, yheried be it here."

BUT right as when the Sunne shineth bright
In Marche that changeth ofttimes his face,
And that a cloud is put with winde to flight
Which oversprad the Sunne, as for a space
A cloudy thought gan through her soule to pace,
That oversprad her bright thoughts all,
So that for fear almost she gan to fall.

AND as the newe-abashed nightingale,
That stinteth first whan she beginneth sing,
Whan that she heareth any herdes tale,
Or in the hedges any wight stirring,
And after sicker doth her voice outring;
Right so Creseide whan her dred stent
Opened her hart and told him her intent.

HAVE ye not seen sometyme a pale face
(Emong a prees) of hem that hath been lad
Toward his deth, wher as him get no grace,
And soch a colour in his face hath had
That men might know his face that was bestad
Emonges all the faces in that rout;

So standeth Custance, and loketh her about.

SPENSER-A. D. 1553-1598.


A GENTLE knight was pricking on the plain,
Yclad in mighty arms and silver shield,
Wherein old dints of deep wounds did remain,
The cruel marks of many a bloody field;
Yet arms till that time did he never wield:
His angry steed did chide his foaming bit,
As much disdaining to the curb to yield:
Full jolly knight he seem'd, and fair did sit,

As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit.

But on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead (as living) ever him ador'd:
Upon his shield the like was also scor'd,
For sovereign hope, which in his help he had :
Right faithful true he was in deed and word;
But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad:
Yet nothing did he dread; but ever was ydrad.

Upon a great adventure he was bound,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
That greatest glorious queen of fairy lond,
To win him worship, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
And ever as he rode, his heart did yearn
To prove his puissance in battle brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learn;
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stern.

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And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain
Did pour into his leman's lap so fast,
That every wight to shroud it did constrain,
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.

Enforc'd to seek some covert nigh at hand,
A shady grove not far away they spied,
That promis'd aid the tempest to withstand;
Whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's pride,
Did spread so broad, they heaven's light did hide,
Not pierceable with power of any star:
And all within were paths and alleys wide,
With footing worn, and leading inward far:

Fair harbour, that them seems; so in they entred are.

And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to hear the birds' sweet harmony,
Which therein shrouded from the tempest's dread,
Seem'd in their song to scorn the cruel sky.
Much can they praise the trees so strait and high,
The sailing Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elm, the Poplar never dry,
The builder Oak, sole king of forests all,
The Aspin good for staves, the Cypress funeral,

The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
And poets sage, the Fir that weepeth still,
The Willow, worn of forlorn paramours,
The Yew, obedient to the bender's will,
The Birch for shafts, the Sallow for the mill,
The Myrrh sweet bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike Beech, the Ash for nothing ill,
The fruitful Olive, and the Plantain round,
The carver Holme, the Maple seldom inward sound:

Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustering storm is overblown,
When, weening to return, whence they did stray,
They cannot find that path which first was shown,
But wander to and fro in ways unknown,
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own:
So many paths, so many turnings seen,

That which of them to take, in divers doubt they been.


SUDDEN upriseth from her stately place
The royal dame, and for her coach doth call:
All hurlen forth, and she with princely pace,
(As fair Aurora in her purple pall,
Out of the East the dawning day doth call)
So forth she comes: her brightness broad doth blaze.
The heaps of people, thronging in the hall,
Do ride each other, upon her to gaze:

Her glorious glittering light doth all men's eyes amaze.


So forth she comes, and to her coach does climb,
Adorned all with gold, and garlands gay,
That seem'd as fresh as Flora in her prime,
And strove to match, in royal rich array,
Great Juno's golden chair, the which they say
The Gods stand gazing on, when she does ride
To Jove's high house through heaven's brass-pav'd
Drawn of fair peacocks, that excel in pride,
And full of Argus eyes their tails disspreaden wide.

But this was drawn of six unequal beasts,
On which her six sage counsellors did ride,
Taught to obey their bestial behests,
With like conditions to their kinds applied:
Of which the first, that all the rest did guide,
Was sluggish Idleness, the nurse of sin;
Upon a slothful ass he chose to ride,
Array'd in habit black, and amice thin,
Like to an holy monk, the service to begin.

And in his hand his portice still he bare,
That much was worn, but therein little read:
For of devotion he had little care,


Still drown'd in sleep, and most of his days dead;

Scarce could he once uphold his heavy head,
To looken whether it were night or day.

May seem the wain was very evil led,
When such an one had guiding of the way,

And a dry dropsy through his flesh did flow;
Which by misdiet daily greater grew:
Such one was Gluttony, the second of that crew.

And next to him rode lustful Lechery,
Upon a bearded goat, whose rugged hair
And whaly eyes (the sign of jealousy)
Was like the person's self, whom he did bear:
Who rough, and black, and filthy did appear,
Unseemly man to please fair Lady's eye;
Yet he of Ladies oft was loved dear,
When fairer faces were bid standen by:

O! who does know the bent of women's fantasie?

In a green gown he clothed was full fair,
Which underneath did hide his filthiness,
And in his hand a burning heart he bare,
Full of vain follies, and new-fangleness:
For he was false, and fraught with fickleness,
And learned had to love with secret looks,
And well could dance and sing with ruefulness,
And fortunes tell, and read in loving books,

And thousand other ways to bait his fleshly hooks.

Inconstant man, that loved all he saw,
And lusted after all that he did love,
Nor would his looser life be tied to law,

But joy'd weak women's hearts to tempt and prove,

That knew not, whether right he went, or else astray. If from their loyal loves he might them move;

From worldly cares he did himself essoine,
And greatly shunned manly exercise:
From every work he challenged essoine,
For contemplation-sake: yet otherwise,
His life he led in lawless riotise,
By which he grew to grievous malady;
For in his listless limbs through evil guise
A shaking fever reign'd continually;
Such one was Idleness, first of this company.

And by his side rode loathsome Gluttony,
Deformed creature, on a filthy swine;
His belly was up-blown with luxury,
And eke with fatness swollen were his eyne:
And like a crane his neck was long and fine,
With which he swallowed up excessive feast,
For want whereof poor people oft did pine;

In green vine leaves he was right fitly clad;
For other clothes he could not wear for heat,
And on his head an ivy garland had,
From under which fast trickled down the sweat.
Still as he rode, he somewhat still did eat,
And in his hand did bear a boozing can,
Of which he supt so oft, that on his seat
His drunken corse he scarce upholden can;

In shape and life more like a monster, than a man.

Unfit he was for any worldly thing,
And eke unable once to stir or go;
Not meet to be of counsel to a king,

Whose mind in meat and drink was drowned so,
That from his friend he seldom knew his foe:
Full of diseases was his carcase blue,

Which lewdness fill'd him with reproachful pain
Of that foul evil, which all men reprove,
That rots the marrow, and consumes the brain :
Such one was Lechery, the third of all this train.

And greedy Avarice by him did ride,
Upon a camel loaden all with gold;
Two iron coffers hung on either side,

With precious metal full as they might hold,
And in his lap an heap of coin he told;
For of his wicked pelf his God he made,
And unto hell himself for money sold;
Accursed usury was all his trade,

And right and wrong alike in equal balance weigh'd.

His life was nigh unto death's door yplac'd,
And threadbare coat, and cobbled shoes he ware,
Nor scarce good morsel all his life did taste,
But both from back and belly still did spare,
To fill his bags, and riches to compare ;
Yet child or kinsman living had he none
To leave them to; but thorough daily care
To get, and nightly fear to lose his own,

He led a wretched life unto himself unknown.

Most wretched wight, whom nothing might suffice,
Whose greedy lust did lack in greatest store,
Whose need had end, but no end covetise,

Whose wealth was want, whose plenty made him poor,
Who had enough, yet wished evermore;
A vile disease, and eke in foot and hand
A grievous gout tormented him full sore,
That well he could not touch, nor go, nor stand;
Such one was Avarice, the fourth of this fair band.

And next to him malicious Envy rode Upon a ravenous wolf, and still did chaw

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