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The Canterbury Tales

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HERE BIGINNETH THE TALE OF THE WYF OF BATHE.
HERE IS THE WIFE FROM THE CITY OF BATH’S TALE.









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In tholde dayes of the king Arthour,
Of which that Britons speken greet honour,
All was this land fulfild of fayerye.
The elf-queen, with hir Ioly companye,
Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede;
This was the olde opinion, as I rede,
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago;
But now can no man see none elves mo.
For now the grete charitee and prayeres
Of limitours and othere holy freres,
That serchen every lond and every streem,
As thikke as motes in the sonne-beem,
Blessinge halles, chambres, kichenes, boures,
Citees, burghes, castels, hye toures,
Thropes, bernes, shipnes, dayeryes,
This maketh that ther been no fayeryes.
For ther as wont to walken was an elf,
Ther walketh now the limitour him-self
In undermeles and in morweninges,
And seyth his matins and his holy thinges
As he goth in his limitacioun.
Wommen may go saufly up and doun,
In every bush, or under every tree;
Ther is noon other incubus but he,
And he ne wol doon hem but dishonour.
Back in the olden days, many hundreds of years ago when King Arthur ruled the land, England was still a country of magic. I read that they believed that there were elves and fairies and the like, and that the elf-queen herself could be seen dancing with other magical creatures in the forests. It’s too bad you can’t see any of these creatures any more. It’s because they simply don’t exist any longer. Now, instead of magical creatures, all you’ll find in the forests are priests and friars. It sometimes seems as if these men are lurking around everywhere: in hallways, bedrooms, kitchens, cities, villages, castles, barns, dairies, high towers. It’s because of them there aren’t any fairies or elves any more. Now, women no longer have to worry about demons and imps hiding in the forest—only priests.

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