The Canterbury Tales
Prologue to the Miller’s Tale: Page 2
‘By Goddes soul,’ quod he, ‘that wol nat I;
For I wol speke, or elles go my wey.’
Our Hoste answerde: ‘tel on, a devel wey!
Thou art a fool, thy wit is overcome.’
|“I swear to God, I won’t wait,” answered the Miller. “I’m gonna tell my story right now, or else ditch you guys and go on by myself.” “Go on then, dammit, and tell your story,” our Host said. “You’re a drunken fool and don’t know what you’re saying.”|
‘Now herkneth,’ quod the Miller, ‘alle and some!
But first I make a protestacioun
That I am dronke, I knowe it by my soun;
And therfore, if that I misspeke or seye,
Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I yow preye;
For I wol telle a legende and a lyf
Bothe of a Carpenter, and of his wyf,
How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe.’
|“Listen up, everybody,” started the Miller. “I’m gonna tell you a true story about a carpenter and his wife and how a young student made a fool outta the carpenter. But first you gotta know that I’m pretty drunk.I can tell by the sound of my own voice. So if I make a mistake or anything, blame it on that ale we drank back in Southwark, not me.”|
The Reve answerde and seyde, ‘stint thy clappe,
Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotrye.
It is a sinne and eek a greet folye
To apeiren any man, or him diffame,
And eek to bringen wyves in swich fame.
Thou mayst y-nogh of othere thinges seyn.’
|The Reeve interrupted and said, “Stop your drunken babbling! It’s a sin and bad form to hurt another man’s reputation with such stories, especially when you drag their wives through the mud with them. Tell us a story about something else.”|
This dronken Miller spak ful sone ageyn,
And seyde, ‘leve brother Osewold,
Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.
But I sey nat therfore that thou art oon;
Ther been ful gode wyves many oon,
And ever a thousand gode ayeyns oon badde,
That knowestow wel thy-self, but-if thou madde.
Why artow angry with my tale now?
I have a wyf, pardee, as well as thou,
Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plogh,
Taken upon me more than y-nogh,
As demen of my-self that I were oon;
I wol beleve wel that I am noon.
An housbond shal nat been inquisitif
Of Goddes privetee, nor of his wyf.
So he may finde Goddes foyson there,
Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere.’
|The drunken Miller shot back, “Why’re you so pissed off, huh? My dear friend Oswald, we all know that unmarried men can’t be the victims of adultery. I’m not saying that your wife cheats on you or anything. There are lots of respectable women out there, at least a thousand faithful ones to every adultress. I’m married too, you know, just like you, but I wouldn’t take it upon myself to suspect her of cheating. I think she’s been faithful. Husbands shouldn’t go around digging in God’s secrets or in their wives’. You just gotta enjoy the pleasures God gives you and keep your nose outta the rest.”|