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The Miller's Prologue
The Miller's Prologue
Heere folwen the wordes betwene the Hoost and the Millere
Here follow the words between the Host and the Miller
Whan that the Knyght had thus his tale ytoold,
When the Knight had thus told his tale,
In al the route nas ther yong ne oold
In all the company there was no one young nor old
That he ne seyde it was a noble storie
Who did not say it was a noble story
And worthy for to drawen to memorie,
And worthy to draw into memory,
And namely the gentils everichon.
And especially the gentlefolk every one.
Oure Hooste lough and swoor, "So moot I gon,
Our Host laughed and swore, "As I may move about (I swear),
This gooth aright; unbokeled is the male.
This goes well; the bag is opened.
Lat se now who shal telle another tale;
Let's see now who shall tell another tale;
For trewely the game is wel bigonne.
For truly the game is well begun.
Now telleth ye, sir Monk, if that ye konne,
Now tell you, sir Monk, if you can,
Somwhat to quite with the Knyghtes tale."
Something to equal the Knight's tale."
The Millere, that for dronken was al pale,
The Miller, who for drunkenness was all pale,
So that unnethe upon his hors he sat,
So that he hardly sat upon his horse,
He nolde avalen neither hood ne hat,
He would not doff neither hood nor hat,
Ne abyde no man for his curteisie,
Nor give preference to any man out of courtesy,
But in Pilates voys he gan to crie,
But in Pilate's voice he began to cry,
And swoor, "By armes, and by blood and bones,
And swore, "By (Christ's) arms, and by blood and bones,
I kan a noble tale for the nones,
I know a noble tale for this occasion,
With which I wol now quite the Knyghtes tale."
With which I will now requite the Knight's tale."
Oure Hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale,
Our Host saw that he was drunk on ale,
And seyde, "Abyd, Robyn, my leeve brother;
And said, "Wait, Robin, my dear brother;
Som bettre man shal telle us first another.
Some better man shall first tell us another.
Abyd, and lat us werken thriftily."
Wait, and let us act properly."
"By Goddes soule," quod he, "that wol nat I;
By God's soul, said he, "that will not I;
For I wol speke or elles go my wey."
For I will speak or else go my way."
Oure Hoost answerde, "Tel on, a devel wey!
Our Host answered, "Tell on, in the devil's name!
Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome."
Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome."
"Now herkneth," quod the Millere, "alle and some!
Now listen, said the Miller, "everyone!
But first I make a protestacioun
But first I make a protestation
That I am dronke; I knowe it by my soun.
That I am drunk; I know it by my sound.
And therfore if that I mysspeke or seye,
And therefore if that I misspeak or say (amiss),
Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I you preye.
Blame it on ale of Southwerk, I you pray.
For I wol telle a legende and a lyf
For I will tell a legend and a life
Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf,
Both of a carpenter and of his wife,
How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe."
How a clerk has set the carpenter's cap (fooled him)."
The Reve answerde and seyde, "Stynt thy clappe!
The Reeve answered and said, "Hold your tongue!
Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotrye.
Let be thy ignorant drunken ribaldry.
It is a synne and eek a greet folye
It is a sin and also a great folly
To apeyren any man, or hym defame,
To slander any man, or defame him,
And eek to bryngen wyves in swich fame.
And also to bring wives in such ill fame.
Thou mayst ynogh of othere thynges seyn."
Thou canst say enough about other things."
This dronke Millere spak ful soone ageyn
This drunken Miller spoke very quickly in reply
And seyde, "Leve brother Osewold,
And said, "Dear brother Oswald,
Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.
He who has no wife, he is no cuckold.
But I sey nat therfore that thou art oon;
But I say not therefore that thou art one;
Ther been ful goode wyves many oon,
There are very good wives, many a one,
And evere a thousand goode ayeyns oon badde.
And ever a thousand good against one bad.
That knowestow wel thyself, but if thou madde.
Thou knowest that well thyself, unless thou art mad.
Why artow angry with my tale now?
Why art thou angry with my tale now?
I have a wyf, pardee, as wel as thow;
I have a wife, by God, as well as thou;
Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plogh,
Yet I would not, for the oxen in my plow,
Take upon me moore than ynogh,
Take upon me more than enough (trouble),
As demen of myself that I were oon;
As to believe of myself that I were one (a cuckold);
I wol bileve wel that I am noon.
I will believe well that I am not one.
An housbonde shal nat been inquisityf
A husband must not be inquisitive
Of Goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf.
Of God's secrets, nor of his wife.
So he may fynde Goddes foyson there,
So long as he can find God's plenty there,
Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere."
Of the rest he needs not enquire."
What sholde I moore seyn, but this Millere
What more should I say, but this Miller
He nolde his wordes for no man forbere,
He would not refrain from speaking for any man,
But tolde his cherles tale in his manere.
But told his churl's tale in his manner.
M'athynketh that I shal reherce it heere.
I regret that I must repeat it here.
And therfore every gentil wight I preye,
And therefore every respectable person I pray,
For Goddes love, demeth nat that I seye
For God's love, think not that I speak
Of yvel entente, but for I moot reherce
Out of evil intention, but because I must repeat
Hir tales alle, be they bettre or werse,
All their tales, be they better or worse,
Or elles falsen som of my mateere.
Or else (I must) falsify some of my material.
And therfore, whoso list it nat yheere,
And therefore, whoever does not want to hear it,
Turne over the leef and chese another tale;
Turn over the leaf and choose another tale;
For he shal fynde ynowe, grete and smale,
For he shall find enough, of every sort,
Of storial thyng that toucheth gentillesse,
Of historical matter that concerns nobility,
And eek moralitee and hoolynesse.
And also morality and holiness.
Blameth nat me if that ye chese amys.
Blame not me if you choose amiss.
The Millere is a cherl; ye knowe wel this.
The Miller is a churl; you know this well.
So was the Reve eek and othere mo,
So was the Reeve also and many others,
And harlotrie they tolden bothe two.
And ribaldry they told, both of the two.
Avyseth yow, and put me out of blame;
Think about this, and don't blame me;
And eek men shal nat maken ernest of game.
And also people should not take a joke too seriously.
The Miller's Tale
The Miller's Tale
Heere bigynneth the Millere his tale.
Here begins the Miller's Tale
Whilom ther was dwellynge at Oxenford
There was once dwelling at Oxford
A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
A rich churl, who took in boarders,
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
With him there was dwelling a poor scholar,
Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
Who had learned the arts curriculum, but all his desire
Was turned for to lerne astrologye,
Was turned to learning astrology,
And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns,
And he knew a certain (number of) of astronomical operations,
To demen by interrogaciouns,
To determine by scientific calculations,
If that men asked hym, in certein houres
If men asked him, in specific (astronomical) hours
Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures,
When men should have drought or else showers,
Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle
Or if people asked him what should happen
Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle.
Concerning every thing; I can not reckon them all.
This clerk was cleped hende Nicholas.
This clerk was called clever Nicholas.
Of deerne love he koude and of solas;
Of secret love he knew and of its satisfaction;
And therto he was sleigh and ful privee,
And moreover he was sly and very discreet,
And lyk a mayden meke for to see.
And like a maiden meek in appearance.
A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
A room had he in that hostelry
Allone, withouten any compaignye,
Alone, without any company,
Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote;
Very elegantly strewn with sweet-smelling herbs;
And he hymself as sweete as is the roote
And he himself as sweet as is the root
Of lycorys or any cetewale.
Of licorice or any zedoary (a ginger-like herb).
His Almageste, and bookes grete and smale,
His Almagest, and books large and small,
His astrelabie, longynge for his art,
His astrolabe, belonging to his art (of astronomy),
His augrym stones layen faire apart,
His counting stones (for his abacus) lie neatly apart,
On shelves couched at his beddes heed;
Arranged on shelves at his bed's head;
His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed;
His linen press covered with a red woolen cloth;
And al above ther lay a gay sautrie,
And all above there lay a fine psaltery,
On which he made a-nyghtes melodie
On which at night he made melody
So swetely that all the chambre rong;
So sweetly that all the room rang;
And Angelus ad virginem he song;
And "The Angel to the Virgin" he sang;
And after that he song the Kynges Noote.
And after that he sang the King's Tune.
Ful often blessed was his myrie throte.
Very often his merry throat was blessed.
And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente
And thus this sweet clerk spent his time
After his freendes fyndyng and his rente.
Living on his friends' support and his (own) income.
This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf,
This carpenter had recently wedded a wife,
Which that he lovede moore than his lyf;
Whom he loved more than his life;
Of eighteteene yeer she was of age.
She was eighteen years of age.
Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage,
Jealous he was, and held her narrowly in confinement,
For she was wylde and yong, and he was old
For she was wild and young, and he was old
And demed hymself been lik a cokewold.
And believed himself likely to be a cuckold.
He knew nat Catoun, for his wit was rude,
He knew not Cato, for his wit was rude,
That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude.
Who advised that man should wed his equal.
Men sholde wedden after hire estaat,
Men should wed according to their status in life,
For youthe and elde is often at debaat.
For youth and old age are often in conflict.
But sith that he was fallen in the snare,
But since he was fallen in the snare,
He moste endure, as oother folk, his care.
He must endure, like other folk, his troubles.
Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
Fair was this young wife, and moreover
As any wezele hir body gent and smal.
As any weasel was her body graceful and slender.
A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk,
A belt she wore, with decorative strips all of silk,
A barmclooth as whit as morne milk
An apron as white as morning milk
Upon hir lendes, ful of many a goore.
Upon her loins, full of many a flounce.
Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore
White was her smock, and embroidered all in front
And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute,
And also behind, around her collar,
Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
With coal-black silk, within and also without.
The tapes of hir white voluper
The ribbons of her white cap
Were of the same suyte of hir coler;
Were of the same color as her collar;
Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye.
Her headband broad of silk, and set very high.
And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye;
And surely she had a wanton eye;
Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two,
Her two eyebrows were plucked very thin,
And tho were bent and blake as any sloo.
And those were bent and black as any sloe.
She was ful moore blisful on to see
She was much more blissful to look upon
Than is the newe pere-jonette tree,
Than is the new early-ripe pear tree,
And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
And softer than the wool is of a sheep.
And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether,
And by her girdle hung a purse of leather,
Tasseled with silk and perled with latoun.
Tasseled with silk and ornamented with latten "pearls."
In al this world, to seken up and doun,
In all this world, to seek up and down,
There nys no man so wys that koude thenche
There is no man so wise that he could imagine
So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.
So lovely a little doll or such a wench.
Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe
Much brighter was the shining of her complexion
Than in the Tour the noble yforged newe.
Than the newly minted noble in the Tower.
But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne
But of her song, it was as loud and lively
As any swalwe sittynge on a berne.
As any swallow sitting on a barn.
Therto she koude skippe and make game,
Moreover she could skip and play,
As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame.
Like any kid or calf following its mother.
Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,
Her mouth was sweet as ale and honey or mead,
Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth.
Or a hoard of apples laid in hay or heather.
Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt,
Skittish she was, as is a spirited colt,
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
Tall as a mast, and straight as an arrow.
A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler,
A brooch she wore upon her low collar,
As brood as is the boos of a bokeler.
As broad as is the boss of a shield.
Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.
Her shoes were laced high on her legs.
She was a prymerole, a piggesnye,
She was a primrose, a pig's eye (a flower),
For any lord to leggen in his bedde,
For any lord to lay in his bed,
Or yet for any good yeman to wedde.
Or yet for any good yeoman to wed.
Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas
Now, sir, and again, sir, it so happened
That on a day this hende Nicholas
That one day this clever Nicholas
Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
Happened with this young wife to flirt and play,
Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye,
While her husband was at Oseneye,
As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
For clerks are very subtle and very clever;
And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
And intimately he caught her by her crotch,
And seyde, "Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
And said, "Indeed, unless I have my will,
For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille."
For secret love of thee, sweetheart, I die."
And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones,
And held her hard by the thigh,
And seyde, "Lemman, love me al atones,
And said, "Sweetheart, love me immediately
Or I wol dyen, also God me save!"
Or I will die, so save me God!"
And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave,
And she sprang as a colt does when restrained,
And with hir heed she wryed faste awey,
And with her head she twisted fast away,
And seyde, "I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey!
And said, "I will not kiss thee, by my faith!
Why, lat be!" quod she. "Lat be, Nicholas,
Why, let me be!" said she. "Let me be, Nicholas,
Or I wol crie `out, harrow' and `allas'!
Or I will cry `out, help' and `alas'!
Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye!"
Take away your hands, for your courtesy!"
This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
This Nicholas began to cry for mercy,
And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
And spoke so fair, and pressed his suit so fast,
That she hir love hym graunted atte laste,
That she granted him her love at the last,
And swoor hir ooth, by Seint Thomas of Kent,
And swore her oath, by Saint Thomas of Kent,
That she wol been at his comandement,
That she will be at his commandment,
Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie.
When she may well espy her opportunity.
"Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie
"My husband is so full of jealousy
That but ye wayte wel and been privee,
That unless you wait patiently and are secretive,
I woot right wel I nam but deed," quod she.
I know right well I am as good as dead," said she.
Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas.
"You must been very secret in this matter."
"Nay, therof care thee noght," quod Nicholas.
"No, care thee not about that," said Nicholas.
"A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle,
"A clerk had badly wasted his time (studying),
But if he koude a carpenter bigyle."
If he could not outwit a carpenter."
And thus they been accorded and ysworn
And thus they are agreed and sworn
To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
To wait for a time, as I have told before.
Whan Nicholas had doon thus everideel
When Nicholas had done thus every bit
And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
And well patted her about the loins,
He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie,
He kissed her sweetly and takes his psaltery,
And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie.
And plays fast, and makes melody.
Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche,
Then it thus happened, that to the parish church,
Cristes owene werkes for to wirche,
Christ's own works to do,
This goode wyf went on an haliday.
This good wife went on a holiday.
Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,
Her forehead shone as bright as any day,
So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk.
It was so washed when she left her work.
Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
Now was there of that church a parish clerk,
The which that was ycleped Absolon.
Who was called Absolon.
Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
Curly was his hair, and as the gold it shone,
And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
And stretched out like a fan large and broad;
Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode.
Very straight and even lay his elegant parted hair.
His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos.
His complexion was ruddy, his eyes gray as a goose.
With Poules wyndow corven on his shoos,
With St. Paul's window carved on his shoes,
In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
In red hose he went elegantly.
Yclad he was ful smal and proprely
Clad he was very trimly and properly
Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget;
All in a tunic of a light blue;
Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set.
Very fair and thick are the laces set.
And therupon he hadde a gay surplys
And over that he had a gay surplice
As whit as is the blosme upon the rys.
As white as is the blossom upon the branch.
A myrie child he was, so God me save.
A merry lad he was, so save me God.
Wel koude he laten blood, and clippe and shave,
Well could he draw blood, and cut hair and shave,
And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce.
And make a charter of land or a legal release.
In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce
In twenty different ways could he trip and dance
After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
After the school of Oxford as it was then,
And with his legges casten to and fro,
And with his legs kick to and fro,
And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
And play songs on a small fiddle,
Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble;
To which he some times sang a loud high treble;
And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne.
And he could play as well on a guitar.
In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
In all the town there was no brew house nor tavern
That he ne visited with his solas,
That he did not visit with his entertainment,
Ther any gaylard tappestere was.
Where any merry barmaid was.
But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous
But to say the truth, he was somewhat squeamish
Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
About farting, and fastidious in his speech.
This Absolon, that jolif was and gay,
This Absolon, who was elegant and gay,
Gooth with a sencer on the haliday,
Goes with a censer on the holiday,
Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste;
Censing the wives of the parish eagerly;
And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
And many a lovely look he cast on them,
And namely on this carpenteris wyf.
And especially on this carpenter's wife.
To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf,
To look on her he thought a merry life,
She was so propre and sweete and likerous.
She was so attractive and sweet and flirtatious.
I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous,
I dare well say, if she had been a mouse,
And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon.
And he a cat, he would have grabbed her at once.
This parissh clerk, this joly Absolon,
This parish clerk, this elegant Absolon,
Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge
Has in his heart such a love-longing
That of no wyf took he noon offrynge;
That of no wife took he any offering;
For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon.
For courtesy, he said, he would have none.
The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon,
The moon, when it was night, very brightly shone,
And Absolon his gyterne hath ytake;
And Absolon his guitar has taken;
For paramours he thoghte for to wake.
For the sake of love he intended to stay awake.
And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous,
And forth he goes, elegant and amorous,
Til he cam to the carpenteres hous
Until he came to the carpenter's house
A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe,
A little after cocks had crowed,
And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe
And took his place up by a casement window
That was upon the carpenteris wal.
That was upon the carpenter's wall.
He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal,
He sings in his voice gentle and high,
"Now, deere lady, if thy wille be,
"Now, dear lady, if it be thy will,
I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me,"
I pray yow that you will have pity on me,"
Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge.
Very well in harmony with his guitar-playing.
This carpenter awook, and herde him synge,
This carpenter awoke, and heard him sing,
And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon,
And spoke unto his wife, and said at once,
"What! Alison! Herestow nat Absolon,
"What! Alison! Hearest thou not Absolon,
That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal?"
That chants thus next to our bedroom's wall?"
And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal,
And she answered her husband immediately,
"Yis, God woot, John, I heere it every deel."
"Yes indeed, God knows, John, I hear it every bit."
This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel?
This goes on; what more would you have?
Fro day to day this joly Absolon
From day to day this elegant Absolon
So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon.
So woos her that he is in a sorry state.
He waketh al the nyght and al the day;
He stays awake all the night and all the day;
He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay;
He combs his flowing locks, and dressed himself elegantly;
He woweth hire by meenes and brocage,
He woos her by go-betweens and agents,
And swoor he wolde been hir owene page;
And swore he would be her own servant;
He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale;
He sings, trilling like a nightingale;
He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale,
He sent her sweetened wine, mead, and spiced ale,
And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede;
And wafers, piping hot out of the fire;
And, for she was of town, he profred meede;
And, because she was a townie, he offered money;
For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
For some folk will be won for riches,
And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse.
And some by force, and some for noble character.
Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
Sometimes, to show his agility and skill,
He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye.
He plays Herod upon a high stage.
But what availleth hym as in this cas?
But what good does it do him in this case?
She loveth so this hende Nicholas
She so loves this clever Nicholas
That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn;
That Absolon may go whistle;
He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn.
He had for his labor nothing but scorn.
And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
And thus she makes Absolon her fool,
And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
And turns all his earnestness into a joke.
Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
Very true is this proverb, it is no lie,
Men seyn right thus: "Alwey the nye slye
Men say right thus: "Always the nearby sly one
Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth."
Makes the distant loved one to be disliked."
For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth,
For though Absolon be crazed or angry,
By cause that he fer was from hire sight,
Because he was far from her sight,
This nye Nicholas stood in his light.
This nearby Nicholas cast him in the shadow.
Now ber thee wel, thou hende Nicholas,
Now bear thyself well, thou clever Nicholas,
For Absolon may waille and synge "allas."
For Absolon may wail and sing "alas."
And so bifel it on a Saterday,
And so it happened on a Saturday,
This carpenter was goon til Osenay;
This carpenter was gone to Osenay;
And hende Nicholas and Alisoun
And clever Nicholas and Alisoun
Acorded been to this conclusioun,
Are agreed on this plan,
That Nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle
That Nicholas shall devise a trick
This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle;
To beguile this hapless jealous husband;
And if so be the game wente aright,
And if it so be the game went right,
She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght,
She should sleep in his arms all night,
For this was his desir and hire also.
For this was his desire and hers also.
And right anon, withouten wordes mo,
And right away, without more words,
This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarie,
This Nicholas no longer would tarry,
But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie
But has carried very quietly unto his chamber
Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye,
Both food and drink for a day or two,
And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye,
And told her to say to her husband,
If that he axed after Nicholas,
If he asked about Nicholas,
She sholde seye she nyste where he was;
She should say she knew not where he was;
Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye;
Of all that day she saw him not with eye;
She trowed that he was in maladye,
She believed that he was ill,
For, for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle,
Because, for no shout could her maid call him,
He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle.
He would not answer for anything that might befall.
This passeth forth al thilke Saterday,
This goes on all that same Saturday,
That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
That Nicholas still in his chamber lay,
And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste,
And ate and slept, or did what he pleased,
Til Sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste.
Until Sunday, when the sun goes to rest.
This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle
This hapless carpenter has great marvel
Of Nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle,
About Nicholas, or what thing might ail him,
And seyde, "I am adrad, by Seint Thomas,
And said, "I am afraid, by Saint Thomas,
It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas.
Things are not right with Nicholas.
God shilde that he deyde sodeynly!
God forbid that he should suddenly die!
This world is now ful tikel, sikerly.
This world is now very ticklish, surely.
I saugh today a cors yborn to chirche
I saw today a corpse carried to church
That now, on Monday last, I saugh hym wirche.
That just now, on last Monday, I saw him work.
"Go up," quod he unto his knave anoon,
"Go up," he said unto his servant at once,
"Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon.
"Call at his door, or knock with a stone.
Looke how it is, and tel me boldely."
Look how it is, and tell me quickly."
This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily,
This servant goes up very resolutely,
And at the chambre dore whil that he stood,
And at the chamber door while he stood,
He cride and knokked as that he were wood,
He cried and knocked as if he were crazy,
"What, how! What do ye, maister Nicholay?
"What, hey! What do you, master Nicholay?
How may ye slepen al the longe day?"
How can you sleep all the long day?"
But al for noght; he herde nat a word.
But all for naught; he heard not a word.
An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord,
He found a hole, very low upon a board,
Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
Where the cat was accustomed to creep in,
And at that hole he looked in ful depe,
And through that hole he looked in very carefully,
And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight.
And at the last he had a sight of him.
This Nicholas sat evere capyng upright,
This Nicholas sat ever gaping upward,
As he had kiked on the newe moone.
As if he were gazing on the new moon.
Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone
Down he goes, and told his master immediately
In what array he saugh this ilke man.
In what condition he saw this same man.
This carpenter to blessen hym bigan,
This carpenter began to bless himself,
And seyde, "Help us, Seinte Frydeswyde!
And said, "Help us, Saint Frideswide!
A man woot litel what hym shal bityde.
A man knows little what shall happen to him.
This man is falle, with his astromye,
This man is fallen, because of his astronomy,
In some woodnesse or in som agonye.
In some madness or in some fit.
I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be!
I always thought well how it should be!
Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee.
Men should not know of God's secrets.
Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
Yes, blessed be always an unlearned man
That noght but oonly his bileve kan!
Who knows nothing but only his belief!
So ferde another clerk with astromye;
So fared another clerk with astronomy;
He walked in the feeldes for to prye
He walked in the fields to look
Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle,
Upon the stars, (to find) there what should happen,
Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle;
Until he was fallen in a fertilizer pit;
He saugh nat that. But yet, by Seint Thomas,
He did not see that. But yet, by Saint Thomas,
Me reweth soore of hende Nicholas.
I feel very sorry for clever Nicholas.
He shal be rated of his studiyng,
He shall be scolded for his studying,
If that I may, by Jhesus, hevene kyng!
If that I may, by Jesus, heaven's king!
Get me a staf, that I may underspore,
Get me a staff, that I may pry up from below,
Whil that thou, Robyn, hevest up the dore.
While thou, Robyn, lift up the door.
He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse."
He shall (come) out of his studying, as I guess."
And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse.
And to the chamber door he turned his attention.
His knave was a strong carl for the nones,
His servant was a strong fellow for this purpose,
And by the haspe he haaf it of atones;
And by the hasp he heaved it off at once;
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,
And evere caped upward into the eir.
And ever gaped upward into the air.
This carpenter wende he were in despeir,
This carpenter supposed he was in despair,
And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily,
And seized him by the shoulders vigorously,
And shook hym harde, and cride spitously,
And shook him hard, and cried loudly,
"What! Nicholay! What, how! What, looke adoun!
"What! Nicholay! What, how! What, look down!
Awak, and thenk on Cristes passioun!
Awake, and think on Christ's passion!
I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes."
I bless thee from elves and from evil creatures."
Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes
Therewith the night-charm he said straightway
On foure halves of the hous aboute,
On four corners of the house about,
And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute:
And on the threshold of the door outside:
"Jhesu Crist and Seinte Benedight,
"Jesus Christ and Saint Benedict,
Blesse this hous from every wikked wight,
Bless this house from every wicked creature,
For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster!
For evil spirits of the nights, the white pater-noster!
Where wentestow, Seinte Petres soster?"
Where went thou, Saint Peter's sister?"
And atte laste this hende Nicholas
And at the last this clever Nicholas
Gan for to sik soore, and seyde, "Allas!
Began to sigh deeply, and said, "Alas!
Shal al the world be lost eftsoones now?"
Shall all the world be lost right now?"
This carpenter answerde, "What seystow?
This carpenter answered, "What sayest thou?
What! Thynk on God, as we doon, men that swynke."
What! Think on God, as we do, men who work."
This Nicholas answerde, "Fecche me drynke,
This Nicholas answered, "Fetch me drink,
And after wol I speke in pryvetee
And after will I speak in private
Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee.
About a certain matter that concerns me and thee.
I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn."
I will tell it to no other man, certainly."
This carpenter goth doun, and comth ageyn,
This carpenter goes down, and comes again,
And broghte of myghty ale a large quart;
And brought of strong ale a large quart;
And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part,
And when each of them had drunk his part,
This Nicholas his dore faste shette,
This Nicholas shut fast his door,
And doun the carpenter by hym he sette.
And the carpenter sat down by him.
He seyde, "John, myn hooste, lief and deere,
He said, "John, my host, beloved and dear,
Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere
Thou shalt upon thy pledged word swear to me here
That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye,
That to no person thou shalt this counsel reveal,
For it is Cristes conseil that I seye,
For it is Christ's secrets that I say,
And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore;
And if thou tell it to anyone, thou art completely lost;
For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore,
For this vengeance thou shalt have therefore,
That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood."
That if thou betray me, thou shalt go mad."
"Nay, Crist forbede it, for his hooly blood!"
"Nay, Christ forbid it, for his holy blood!"
Quod tho this sely man, "I nam no labbe,
Said then this hapless man, "I am no blabbermouth,
Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe.
And, though I say it, I do not like to gab.
Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle
Say what thou will, I shall never tell it
To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle!"
To child nor wife, by Him that rescued souls from hell!"
"Now John," quod Nicholas, "I wol nat lye;
"Now John," said Nicholas, "I will not lie;
I have yfounde in myn astrologye,
I have found in my astrology,
As I have looked in the moone bright,
As I have looked on the bright moon,
That now a Monday next, at quarter nyght,
That now on Monday next, after midnight,
Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood
Shall fall a rain, and that so wild and raging
That half so greet was nevere Noes flood.
That Noah's flood was never half so large.
This world," he seyde, "in lasse than an hour
This world," he said, "in less than an hour
Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour.
Shall all be drowned, so hideous is the shower.
Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf."
Thus shall mankind drown, and lose their lives."
This carpenter answerde, "Allas, my wyf!
This carpenter answered, "Alas, my wife!
And shal she drenche? Allas, myn Alisoun!"
And shall she drown? Alas, my Alisoun!"
For sorwe of this he fil almoost adoun,
For sorrow of this he almost fell down,
And seyde, "Is ther no remedie in this cas?"
And said, "Is there no remedy in this case?"
"Why, yis, for Gode," quod hende Nicholas,
"Why, yes indeed, by God," said clever Nicholas,
"If thou wolt werken after loore and reed.
"If thou will act in accordance with learning and (good) advice.
Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed;
Thou mayst not act according to thine own ideas;
For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe:
For thus says Salomon, which was very true:
`Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe.'
`Do all in accordance with good advice, and thou shalt not rue (it).'
And if thou werken wolt by good conseil,
And if thou will act in accordance with good advice,
I undertake, withouten mast and seyl,
I guarantee, without mast and sail,
Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me.
Yet shall I save her and thee and me.
Hastow nat herd hou saved was Noe,
Hast thou not heard how Noah was saved,
Whan that oure Lord hadde warned hym biforn
When our Lord had warned him before
That al the world with water sholde be lorn?"
That all the world should be destroyed by water?"
"Yis," quod this Carpenter, "ful yoore ago."
"Yes indeed," said this Carpenter, "very long ago."
"Hastou nat herd," quod Nicholas, "also
"Hast thou not heard," said Nicholas, "also
The sorwe of Noe with his felaweshipe,
The sorrow of Noah with his fellowship,
Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe?
Before he could get his wife onto the ship?
Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake,
He would rather, I dare well guarantee,
At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake
At that time, than have all his black sheep
That she hadde had a ship hirself allone.
That she had had a ship for herself alone.
And therfore, woostou what is best to doone?
And therefore, knowest thou what is best to do?
This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng
This needs haste, and of a hasty thing
Men may nat preche or maken tariyng.
Men may not preach nor make tarrying.
"Anon go gete us faste into this in
"Right now go bring us quickly into this dwelling
A knedyng trogh, or ellis a kymelyn,
A kneading trough, or else a large vat,
For ech of us, but looke that they be large,
For each of us, but see that they be large,
In which we mowe swymme as in a barge,
In which we may float as in a barge,
And han therinne vitaille suffisant
And have therein sufficient victuals
But for a day -- fy on the remenant!
But for a day -- fie on the remnant!
The water shal aslake and goon away
The water shall recede and go away
Aboute pryme upon the nexte day.
About nine a.m. on the next day.
But Robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave,
But Robin, thy knave, may not know of this,
Ne eek thy mayde Gille I may nat save;
And also thy maid Gille I can not save;
Axe nat why, for though thou aske me,
Ask not why, for though thou ask me,
I wol nat tellen Goddes pryvetee.
I will not tell God's secrets.
Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde,
It suffices thee, unless thy wits go mad,
To han as greet a grace as Noe hadde.
To have as great a grace as Noah had.
Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute.
Thy wife shall I well save, beyond doubt.
Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute.
Go now thy way, and speed thee on this business.
"But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me,
"But when thou hast, for her and thee and me,
Ygeten us thise knedyng tubbes thre,
Got us these three kneading tubs,
Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye,
Then shalt thou hang them in the roof very high,
That no man of oure purveiaunce espye.
In a way that no man may espy our preparations.
And whan thou thus hast doon as I have seyd,
And when thou thus hast done as I have said,
And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd,
And hast laid our victuals carefully in them,
And eek an ax to smyte the corde atwo,
And also an axe to smite the cord in two,
Whan that the water comth, that we may go
When the water comes, so that we may go
And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable,
And break a hole on high, upon the gable,
Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable,
Toward the garden, over the stable,
That we may frely passen forth oure way,
That we may freely pass forth on our way,
Whan that the grete shour is goon away.
When the great shower is gone away.
Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake,
Then shalt thou float as merry, I guarantee,
As dooth the white doke after hire drake.
As does the white duck after her drake.
Thanne wol I clepe, `How, Alison! How, John!
Then will I call, `How, Alison! How, John!
Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon.'
Be merry, for the flood will soon pass.'
And thou wolt seyn, `Hayl, maister Nicholay!
And thou will say, `Hail, master Nicholay!
Good morwe, I se thee wel, for it is day.'
Good morrow, I see thee well, for it is day.'
And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf
And then shall we be lords all our life
Of al the world, as Noe and his wyf.
Of all the world, like Noah and his wife.
"But of o thyng I warne thee ful right:
"But of one thing I warn thee very sternly:
Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght
Be well advised on that same night
That we ben entred into shippes bord,
On which we are entered onto shipboard,
That noon of us ne speke nat a word,
That not one of us speak a word,
Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere;
Nor call, nor cry, but be in his prayer;
For it is Goddes owene heeste deere.
For it is God's own dear command.
"Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne,
"Thy wife and thou must hang far apart,
For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne,
So that between yow shall be no sin,
Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede.
No more in looking than there shall be in deed.
This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede!
This ordinance is said. Go, God give thee success!
Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe,
Tomorrow at night, when people are all asleep,
Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe,
Into our kneading-tubs will we creep,
And sitten there, abidyng Goddes grace.
And sit there, awaiting God's grace.
Go now thy wey; I have no lenger space
Go now thy way; I have no more time
To make of this no lenger sermonyng.
To make of this any longer preaching.
Men seyn thus, `sende the wise, and sey no thyng.'
Men say thus, `send the wise, and say nothing.'
Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche.
Thou art so wise, one needs not teach thee.
Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche."
Go, save our life, and that I beseech thee."
This sely carpenter goth forth his wey.
This hapless carpenter goes forth his way.
Ful ofte he seide "Allas and weylawey,"
Very often he said "Alas and woe is me,"
And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee,
And to his wife he told his secret,
And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
And she was aware, and knew it better than he,
What al this queynte cast was for to seye.
What all this ingenious scheme meant.
But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye,
But nonetheless she acted as if she would die,
And seyde, "Allas! go forth thy wey anon,
And said, "Alas! go forth thy way quickly,
Help us to scape, or we been dede echon!
Help us to escape, or we are dead each one of us!
I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf;
I am thy faithful, truly wedded wife;
Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf."
Go, dear spouse, and help to save our lives."
Lo, which a greet thyng is affeccioun!
Lo, what a great thing is emotion!
Men may dyen of ymaginacioun,
One can die of imagination,
So depe may impressioun be take.
So deeply may a mental image be taken.
This sely carpenter bigynneth quake;
This hapless carpenter begins to tremble;
Hym thynketh verraily that he may see
He thinks truly that he can see
Noees flood come walwynge as the see
Noah's flood come surging like the sea
To drenchen Alisoun, his hony deere.
To drown Alisoun, his honey dear.
He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere;
He weeps, wails, looks wretched;
He siketh with ful many a sory swogh;
He sighs with very many a sorry groan;
He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng trogh,
He goes and gets him a kneading trough,
And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn,
And after that a tub and a large vat,
And pryvely he sente hem to his in,
And secretly he sent them to his dwelling,
And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee.
And hanged them in the roof secretly.
His owene hand he made laddres thre,
With his own hand he made three ladders,
To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes
To climb by the rungs and the uprights
Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes,
Unto the tubs hanging in the beams,
And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe,
And provisioned them, both trough and tub,
With breed, and chese, and good ale in a jubbe,
With bread, and cheese, and good ale in a jug,
Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day.
Sufficing just enough for a day.
But er that he hadde maad al this array,
But before he had made all this preparation,
He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also,
He sent his servant, and also his servant girl,
Upon his nede to London for to go.
Upon his business to go to London.
And on the Monday, whan it drow to nyght,
And on the Monday, when it drew toward night,
He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght,
He shut his door without candlelight,
And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be.
And prepared everything as it should be.
And shortly, up they clomben alle thre;
And shortly, up they climbed all three;
They seten stille wel a furlong way.
They sat still a good two and one-half minutes.
"Now, Pater-noster, clom!" seyde Nicholay,
"Now, Pater-noster, quiet!" said Nicholay,
And "Clom!" quod John, and "Clom!" seyde Alisoun.
And "Quiet!" said John, and "Quiet!" said Alisoun.
This carpenter seyde his devocioun,
This carpenter said his devotion,
And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere,
And still he sits, and says his prayer,
Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere.
Awaiting the rain, if he might hear it.
The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse,
The dead sleep, for weary business,
Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse,
Fell on this carpenter right, as I guess,
Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore;
About curfew time, or a little more;
For travaille of his goost he groneth soore,
For suffering of his spirit he groans deeply,
And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay.
And also he snores, for his head lay wrong.
Doun of the laddre stalketh Nicholay,
Down on the ladder stalks Nicholay,
And Alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde;
And Alisoun very quietly down she sped;
Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde,
Without more words they go to bed,
Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye.
Where the carpenter is accustomed to lie.
Ther was the revel and the melodye;
There was the revel and the sounds of festivity;
And thus lith Alison and Nicholas,
And thus lie Alison and Nicholas,
In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas,
In business of mirth and of pleasure,
Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge,
Until the bell of the early morning service began to ring,
And freres in the chauncel gonne synge.
And friars in the chapel began to sing.
This parissh clerk, this amorous Absolon,
This parish clerk, this amorous Absolon,
That is for love alwey so wo bigon,
That is for love always so woebegone,
Upon the Monday was at Oseneye
Upon the Monday was at Oseneye
With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye,
With company, to be merry and amuse himself,
And axed upon cas a cloisterer
And by chance asked a cloistered monk
Ful prively after John the carpenter;
Very discreetly about John the carpenter;
And he drough hym apart out of the chirche,
And he drew him apart out of the church,
And seyde, "I noot; I saugh hym heere nat wirche
And said, "I know not; I have not seen him working here
Syn Saterday; I trowe that he be went
Since Saturday; I suppose that he is gone
For tymber, ther oure abbot hath hym sent;
For timber, where our abbot has sent him;
For he is wont for tymber for to go
For he is accustomed to go for timber
And dwellen at the grange a day or two;
And dwell at the granary a day or two;
Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn.
Or else he is at his house, certainly.
Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn."
Where he may be, I can not truly say."
This Absolon ful joly was and light,
This Absolon very was jolly and happy,
And thoghte, "Now is tyme to wake al nyght,
And thought, "Now is time to stay awake all night,
For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge
For surely I saw him not stirring
Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge.
About his door, since day began to spring.
"So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe,
"As I may prosper, I shall, at cock's crow,
Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe
Very quietly knock at his window
That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal.
That stands very low upon his bedroom's wall.
To Alison now wol I tellen al
To Alison now I will tell all
My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse
My love-longing, for yet I shall not miss
That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse.
That at the very least I shall her kiss.
Som maner confort shal I have, parfay.
Some sort of comfort shall I have, by my faith.
My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
My mouth has itched all this long day;
That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste.
That is a sign of kissing at the least.
Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste.
All night I dreamed also I was at a feast.
Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye,
Therefore I will go sleep an hour or two,
And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye."
And all the night then will I stay awake and play."
Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon
When the first cock has crowed (about midnight), at once
Up rist this joly lovere Absolon,
Up rises this elegant lover Absolon,
And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys.
And dresses himself handsomely, in every detail.
But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys,
But first he chews cardamom and licorice,
To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer.
To smell sweet, ere he had combed his hair.
Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer,
Under his tongue he had a true-love herb,
For therby wende he to ben gracious.
For thus he thought he would be gracious.
He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
He goes to the carpenter's house,
And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe --
And he stands still under the casement window --
Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe --
Unto his breast it reached, it was so low --
And softe he cougheth with a semy soun:
And softly he coughs with a gentle sound:
"What do ye, hony-comb, sweete Alisoun,
"What do you, honey-comb, sweet Alisoun,
My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome?
My fair bird, my sweet cinnamon?
Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me!
Awake, sweetheart mine, and speak to me!
Wel litel thynken ye upon my wo,
Well little you think upon my woe,
That for youre love I swete ther I go.
That for your love I sweat wherever I go.
No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete;
No wonder is though that I swelter and sweat;
I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete.
I mourn as does a lamb after the tit.
Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge
Indeed, sweetheart, I have such love-longing
That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge.
That like a true turtledove is my mourning.
I may nat ete na moore than a mayde."
I can eat no more than a maiden."
"Go fro the wyndow, Jakke fool," she sayde;
"Go from the window, you idiot," she said;
"As help me God, it wol nat be `com pa me.'
"So help me God, it will not be `come kiss me.'
I love another -- and elles I were to blame --
I love another -- and else I were to blame --
Wel bet than thee, by Jhesu, Absolon.
Well better than thee, by Jesus, Absolon.
Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston,
Go forth thy way, or I will cast a stone,
And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey!"
And let me sleep, in the name of twenty devils!"
"Allas," quod Absolon, "and weylawey,
"Alas," said Absolon, "and woe is me,
That trewe love was evere so yvel biset!
That true love was ever in such miserable circumstances!
Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet,
Then kiss me, since it can be no better,
For Jhesus love, and for the love of me."
For Jesus' love, and for the love of me."
"Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith?" quod she.
"Wilt thou then go thy way with that?" said she.
"Ye, certes, lemman," quod this Absolon.
"Yes, certainly, sweetheart," said this Absolon.
"Thanne make thee redy," quod she, "I come anon."
"Then make thee ready," said she, "I come right now."
And unto Nicholas she seyde stille,
And unto Nicholas she said quietly,
"Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille."
"Now hush, and thou shalt laugh all thy fill."
This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees
This Absolon set himself down on his knees
And seyde, "I am a lord at alle degrees;
And said, "I am a lord in every way;
For after this I hope ther cometh moore.
For after this I hope there comes more.
Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore!"
Sweetheart, thy grace, and sweet bird, thy mercy!"
The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste.
The window she undoes, and that in haste.
"Have do," quod she, "com of, and speed the faste,
"Get done with it," said she, "come on, and hurry up,
Lest that oure neighebores thee espie."
Lest our neighbors espy thee."
This Absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie.
This Absolon wiped his mouth very dry.
Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole,
Dark was the night as pitch, or as the coal,
And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
And at the window out she put her hole,
And Absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers,
And Absolon, to him it happened no better nor worse,
But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
But with his mouth he kissed her naked ass
Ful savourly, er he were war of this.
With great relish, before he was aware of this.
Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
Back he jumped, and thought it was amiss,
For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
For well he knew a woman has no beard.
He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
He felt a thing all rough and long haired,
And seyde, "Fy! allas! what have I do?"
And said, "Fie! alas! what have I done?"
"Tehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to,
"Tehee!" said she, and clapped the window to,
And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
And Absolon goes forth walking sadly.
"A berd! A berd!" quod hende Nicholas,
"A beard! A beard!" said clever Nicholas,
"By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel."
"By God's body, this goes fair and well."
This sely Absolon herde every deel,
This hapless Absolon heard every bit,
And on his lippe he gan for anger byte,
And on his lip he began for anger to bite,
And to hymself he seyde, "I shal thee quyte."
And to himself he said, "I shall pay thee back."
Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes
Who rubs now, who now scrubs his lips
With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes,
With dust, with sand, with straw, with cloth, with chips,
But Absolon, that seith ful ofte, "Allas!"
But Absolon, who says very often, "Alas!"
"My soule bitake I unto Sathanas,
"My soul I entrust to Satan,
But me were levere than al this toun," quod he,
If I would not rather than (have) all this town," said he,
"Of this despit awroken for to be.
"Be avenged for this insult.
Allas," quod he, "allas, I ne hadde ybleynt!"
Alas," said he, "alas, I did not turn away!"
His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt;
His hot love was cold and all extinguished;
For fro that tyme that he hadde kist hir ers,
For from that time that he had kissed her ass,
Of paramours he sette nat a kers,
Love-making he thought not worth not a watercress,
For he was heeled of his maladie.
For he was healed of his malady.
Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie,
Very often he did renounce love-making,
And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.
And wept as does a child that is beaten.
A softe paas he wente over the strete
At a slow pace he went down the street
Until a smyth men cleped daun Gerveys,
To a smith men called dan Gerveys,
That in his forge smythed plough harneys;
Who in his forge made plowing equipment;
He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily.
He sharpens ploughshares and plough blades busily.
This Absolon knokketh al esily,
This Absolon knocked all gently,
And seyde, "Undo, Gerveys, and that anon."
And said, "Open up, Gerveys, and that right now."
"What, who artow?" "It am I, Absolon."
"What, who art thou?" "It am I, Absolon."
"What, Absolon! for Cristes sweete tree,
"What, Absolon! for Christ's sweet cross,
Why rise ye so rathe? Ey, benedicitee!
Why rise you so early? Ay, bless me!
What eyleth yow? Som gay gerl, God it woot,
What ails yow? Some pretty girl, God knows it,
Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot.
Hath brought you to be running around like this.
By Seinte Note, ye woot wel what I mene."
By Saint Note, you know well what I mean."
This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene
This Absolon cared not a bean
Of al his pley; no word agayn he yaf;
For all his joking; no word he gave in reply;
He hadde moore tow on his distaf
He had more business on hand
Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, "Freend so deere,
Than Gerveys knew, and said, "Friend so dear,
That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere,
That hot plough blade in the hearth here,
As lene it me; I have therwith to doone,
Lend it to me; I have something to do with it,
And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone."
And I will bring it back to thee very soon."
Gerveys answerde, "Certes, were it gold,
Gerveys answered, "Certainly, were it gold,
Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
Or in a sack countless silver coins,
Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth.
Thou sholdest have it, as I am true smith.
Ey, Cristes foo! What wol ye do therwith?"
Ay, Christ's foe! What will you do with it?"
"Therof," quod Absolon, "be as be may.
"Concerning that," said Absolon, "be as be may.
I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day" --
I shall well tell it to thee to-morrow" --
And caughte the kultour by the colde stele.
And caught the plough blade by the cold handle.
Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
Very softly out at the door he began to steal,
And wente unto the carpenteris wal.
And went unto the carpenter's wall.
He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal
He coughs first, and knocks then
Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er.
Upon the window, just as he did before.
This Alison answerde, "Who is ther
This Alison answered, "Who is there
That knokketh so? I warante it a theef."
That knocks so? I swear it is a thief."
"Why, nay," quod he, "God woot, my sweete leef,
"Why, nay," said he, "God knows, my sweet beloved,
I am thyn Absolon, my deerelyng.
I am thy Absolon, my darling.
Of gold," quod he, "I have thee broght a ryng.
Of gold," said he, "I have brought thee a ring.
My mooder yaf it me, so God me save;
My mother gave it to me, as God may save me;
Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave.
Very fine it is, and also nicely engraved.
This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse."
This will I give thee, if thou kiss me."
This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
This Nicholas was risen to piss,
And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
And thought he would make the joke even better;
He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
He should kiss his ass before he escapes.
And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
And he opened up the window hastily,
And out his ers he putteth pryvely
And he puts out his ass stealthily
Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
Over the buttock, to the thigh;
And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
And then spoke this clerk, this Absolon,
"Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art."
"Speak, sweet bird, I know not where thou art."
This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
This Nicholas immediately let fly a fart
As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
As great as if it had been a thunder-bolt,
That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
So that with the stroke he was almost blinded;
And he was redy with his iren hoot,
And he was ready with his hot iron,
And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.
And he smote Nicholas in the middle of the ass.
Of gooth the skyn an hande-brede aboute,
Off goes the skin a hand's breadth about,
The hoote kultour brende so his toute,
The hot plough blade so burned his rump
And for the smert he wende for to dye.
And for the pain he thought he would die.
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 Goddes herte!"
"Help! Water! Water! Help, for God's heart!"
This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
This carpenter woke suddenly out of his slumber,
And herde oon crien "water!" as he were wood,
And heard someone cry "water!" as if he were crazy,
And thoughte, "Allas, now comth Nowelis flood!"
And thought, "Alas, now comes Nowell's flood!"
He sit hym up withouten wordes mo,
He sits up without more words,
And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo,
And with his ax he smote the cord in two,
And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle,
And down goes all; he found nothing to sell (wasted no time),
Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle
Neither bread nor ale, until he came to the pavement
Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay.
Upon the floor, and there he lay in a swoon.
Up stirte hire Alison and Nicholay,
Up started Alison and Nicholay,
And criden "Out" and "Harrow" in the strete.
And cried "Out" and "Help" in the street.
The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
The neighbors, both low-ranking and high,
In ronnen for to gauren on this man,
Run in to gawk at this man,
That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan,
Who yet lay in a swoon, both pale and wan,
For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm.
For with the fall he had broken his arm.
But stonde he moste unto his owene harm;
But he had to stand up for himself, though it went badly;
For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun
For when he spoke, he was immediately put down
With hende Nicholas and Alisoun.
By clever Nicholas and Alisoun.
They tolden every man that he was wood;
They told every one that he was crazy;
He was agast so of Nowelis flood
He was so afraid of Nowell's flood
Thurgh fantasie that of his vanytee
Because of his imagination that in his foolishness
He hadde yboght hym knedyng tubbes thre,
He had bought himself three kneading tubs,
And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
And had hanged them in the roof above;
And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love,
And that he begged them, for God's love,
To sitten in the roof, par compaignye.
To sit in the roof, to keep him company.
The folk gan laughen at his fantasye;
The folk did laugh at his foolishness;
Into the roof they kiken and they cape,
Into the roof they stare and they gape,
And turned al his harm unto a jape.
And turned all his harm into a joke.
For what so that this carpenter answerde,
For whatever this carpenter answered,
It was for noght; no man his reson herde.
It was for naught; no one listened to his explanation,
With othes grete he was so sworn adoun
With oaths great he was so sworn down
That he was holde wood in al the toun;
That he was considered crazy in all the town;
For every clerk anonright heeld with oother.
For every clerk immediately agreed with the other.
They seyde, "The man is wood, my leeve brother";
They said, "The man is crazy, my dear brother";
And every wight gan laughen at this stryf.
And every person did laugh at this strife.
Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf,
Thus screwed was this carpenter's wife,
For al his kepyng and his jalousye,
In spite of all his guarding and his jealousy,
And Absolon hath kist hir nether ye,
And Absolon has kissed her lower eye,
And Nicholas is scalded in the towte.
And Nicholas is scalded in the rump.
This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte!
This tale is done, and God save all this company!