The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale Page 15

page Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale: Page 15

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Thanne wolde I seye, ‘gode lief, tak keep
How mekely loketh Wilkin oure sheep;
Com neer, my spouse, lat me ba thy cheke!
Ye sholde been al pacient and meke,
And han a swete spyced conscience,
Sith ye so preche of Iobes pacience.
Suffreth alwey, sin ye so wel can preche;
And but ye do, certain we shal yow teche
That it is fair to have a wyf in pees.
440Oon of us two moste bowen, doutelees;
And sith a man is more resonable
Than womman is, ye moste been suffrable.
What eyleth yow to grucche thus and grone?
Is it for ye wolde have my queynte allone?
Why taak it al, lo, have it every-deel;
Peter! I shrewe yow but ye love it weel!
For if I wolde selle my bele chose,
I coude walke as fresh as is a rose;
But I wol kepe it for your owene tooth.
450Ye be to blame, by God, I sey yow sooth.’
“I’d say to them things like, ‘Oh honey, Willy’s looking pretty limp tonight. Come over here and let me kiss you! You’re always talking about the virtues of patience, so just relax and give it some time. Be patient or else we won’t be able to do anything. What’s bothering you so much? Why are you groaning like that? Is it because you want to come inside me? Well, I’m waiting here for you—come on and hurry up! Lord, some stud you are—can’t even get it up. You know, my vagina would be a lot happier if I were sleeping with another man. But that’d make me a bad wife, now wouldn’t it? God knows this is all your fault.’
Swiche maner wordes hadde we on honde.
Now wol I speken of my fourthe housbonde.
“We’d have so many conversations like this. Anyway, let’s move on to my fourth husband.
My fourthe housbonde was a revelour,
This is to seyn, he hadde a paramour;
And I was yong and ful of ragerye,
Stiborn and strong, and Ioly as a pye.
Wel coude I daunce to an harpe smale,
And singe, y-wis, as any nightingale,
Whan I had dronke a draughte of swete wyn.
460Metellius, the foule cherl, the swyn,
That with a staf birafte his wyf hir lyf,
For she drank wyn, thogh I hadde been his wyf,
He sholde nat han daunted me fro drinke;
And, after wyn, on Venus moste I thinke:
For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl,
A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl.
In womman vinolent is no defence,
This knowen lechours by experience.
“My fourth husband was a partier and a philanderer, and I was young and carefree and very headstrong. Give me a little wine, and I’d sing and dance all night long. You remember that old story about the ancient man named Metellius who beat his wife to death because she drank too much wine? Well, he sure wouldn’t have stopped me from drinking! I always get horny when I’m drunk because sex and alcohol usually go hand-in-hand. And as any womanizer can tell you, women have a hard time fending off men’s advances when they’re drunk.