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The Canterbury Tales

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Modern Text






770









780






Of latter date, of wyves hath he red,
That somme han slayn hir housbondes in hir bed,
And lete hir lechour dighte hir al the night
Whyl that the corps lay in the floor up-right.
And somme han drive nayles in hir brayn
Whyl that they slepte, and thus they han hem slayn.
Somme han hem yeve poysoun in hir drinke.
He spak more harm than herte may bithinke.
And ther-with-al, he knew of mo proverbes
Than in this world ther growen gras or herbes.
“Bet is,” quod he, “thyn habitacioun
Be with a leoun or a foul dragoun,
Than with a womman usinge for to chyde.
Bet is,” quod he, “hye in the roof abyde
Than with an angry wyf doun in the hous;
They been so wikked and contrarious;
They haten that hir housbondes loveth ay.”
He seyde, “a womman cast hir shame away,
Whan she cast of hir smok;” and forther-mo,
“A fair womman, but she be chaast also,
Is lyk a gold ring in a sowes nose.”
Who wolde wenen, or who wolde suppose
The wo that in myn herte was, and pyne?
“My husband also read more recent stories of women who murdered their husbands while they slept, threw the dead bodies on the floor, and then screwed their lovers all night long. Or he’d tell me about women who had killed their husbands by driving nails into their heads as they slept. And then there’d be other stories of women who put poison in their husbands’ drinks. Jankin knew more mysoginistic proverbs than there are blades of grass and more horrible stories about women than you could possibly imagine. He’d also say things such as, ‘It’s better to live with a lion or a ferocious dragon than with a woman who nags all the time.’ And, ‘It’s better to be homeless than to live with a tyrannical wife, who is so wicked and contrary because she hates everything her husband loves.’ Or, ‘A beautiful woman is no better than a gold ring in a pig’s nose unless she’s also a virgin.’ Can you imagine how awful and hurtful those words were?

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