The Canterbury Tales
The Wife of Bath’s Tale: Page 12
Verray povert, it singeth proprely;
Iuvenal seith of povert merily:
“The povre man, whan he goth by the weye,
Bifore the theves he may singe and pleye.”
Povert is hateful good, and, as I gesse,
A ful greet bringer out of bisinesse;
A greet amender eek of sapience
To him that taketh it in pacience.
Povert is this, al-though it seme elenge:
Possessioun, that no wight wol chalenge.
Povert ful ofte, whan a man is lowe,
Maketh his God and eek him-self to knowe.
Povert a spectacle is, as thinketh me,
Thurgh which he may his verray frendes see.
And therfore, sire, sin that I noght yow greve,
Of my povert na-more ye me repreve.
|“The Roman poet Juvenal tells us of the virtues of being poor. ‘The poor man can sing and play happily whenever thieves pass by because he has nothing to lose.’ Poverty is one of those good things that no one wants, and, I guess, it’s one of those things that can give you less to worry about and make you that much smarter. Being poor may seem bad, but it actually means you have something that no one can take away from you. Poverty helps make people know God and themselves better and lets them know who their real friends are. So don’t give me a hard time about being poor since it doesn’t hurt you anyway.|
Now, sire, of elde ye repreve me;
And certes, sire, thogh noon auctoritee
Were in no book, ye gentils of honour
Seyn that men sholde an old wight doon favour,
And clepe him fader, for your gentillesse;
And auctours shal I finden, as I gesse.
|“You also criticize the fact that I am old, but aren’t you knights always saying that old people should be respected and honored for their wisdom? I’m sure I can find those kinds of sayings in lots of other books too.|
Now ther ye seye, that I am foul and old,
Than drede you noght to been a cokewold;
For filthe and elde, also moot I thee,
Been grete wardeyns upon chastitee.
But nathelees, sin I knowe your delyt,
I shal fulfille your worldly appetyt.
|“You also say that I’m ugly and disgusting. Well then, you don’t have to worry about me cheating on you, now do you? Ugliness and age, I think, keep people faithful. But, since I know what turns you on, I’ll make your wish come true.|