The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale Page 10

page Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale: Page 10

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Thou seist, that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes,
They been assayed at diverse stoundes;
Bacins, lavours, er that men hem bye,
Spones and stoles, and al swich housbondrye,
And so been pottes, clothes, and array;
290But folk of wyves maken noon assay
Til they be wedded; olde dotard shrewe!
And than, seistow, we wol oure vices shewe.
“‘You like to point out that men examine their oxen, donkeys, horses, dogs, clothes, pots, and even the kitchen sink before buying them but then don’t look at a woman thoroughly. A man can’t try a woman out until he’s married to her, and then it’s too late to get rid of her once she’s revealed all her faults.
Thou seist also, that it displeseth me
But-if that thou wolt preyse my beautee,
And but thou poure alwey upon my face,
And clepe me “faire dame” in every place;
And but thou make a feste on thilke day
That I was born, and make me fresh and gay,
And but thou do to my norice honour,
300And to my chamberere with-inne my bour,
And to my fadres folk and his allyes;—
Thus seistow, olde barel ful of lyes!
“‘You say that I’m not happy unless you tell me I’m pretty and fawn over me and call me “darling” and throw me parties on my birthday and buy me new clothes and say nice things to my servants and friends and family. Well, that’s all a load of crap!
And yet of our apprentice Ianekyn,
For his crisp heer, shyninge as gold so fyn,
And for he squiereth me bothe up and doun,
Yet hastow caught a fals suspecioun;
I wol hym noght, thogh thou were deed to-morwe.
“‘And worse, you think there’s something going on between me and that kid Janken simply because he’s handsome, has curly golden hair, and treats me kindly. Well, I wouldn’t want to sleep with him even if you died tomorrow!