Canterbury Tales, Wife of Bath’s Prologue [Excerpt]
But now, sire,—lat me se—what I shal seyn? A ha! by God, I have my tale ageyn. Whan that my fourthe housbonde was on beere, I weep algate, and made sory cheere, As wyves mooten, for it is usage, And with my coverchief covered my visage; But for that I was purveyed of a make, I wepte but smal, and that I undertake! To chirche was myn housbonde born a morwe With neighebores, that for hym maden sorwe, And Jankyn, oure clerk, was oon of tho. As help me God, whan that I saugh hym go After the beere, me thoughte he hadde a paire Of legges and of feet so clene and faire That al myn herte I gaf unto his hoold. He was, I trowe, a twenty wynter oold, And I was fourty, if I shal seye sooth; But yet I hadde alwey a coltes tooth. Gat-tothed I was, and that bicam me weel, I hadde the prente of seïnte Venus seel. As help me God, I was a lusty oon, And faire and riche, and yong, and wel bigon, And trewely, as myne housbondes tolde me, I hadde the beste quonyam myghte be. For certes, I am al Venerien In feelynge, and myn herte is Marcien; Venus me gaf my lust, my likerousnesse, And Mars gaf me my sturdy hardynesse. Myn áscendent was Taur, and Mars therinne; Allas, allas! that evere love was synne! I folwed ay myn inclinacioun By vertu of my constellacioun, That made me I koude noght withdrawe My chambre of Venus from a good felawe. Yet have I Martes mark upon my face, And also in another, privee, place. For God so wys be my savacioun, I ne loved nevere by no discrecioun, But evere folwede myn appetit,— Al were he short, or long, or blak, or whit; I took no kep, so that he liked me, How poore he was, ne eek of what degree.
This poem is in the public domain.