The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale Page 5

page Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale: Page 5

Original Text

Modern Text

But I seye noght that every wight is holde,
That hath swich harneys as I to yow tolde,
To goon and usen hem in engendrure;
Than sholde men take of chastitee no cure.
Crist was a mayde, and shapen as a man,
140And many a seint, sith that the world bigan,
Yet lived they ever in parfit chastitee.
I nil envye no virginitee;
Lat hem be breed of pured whete-seed,
And lat us wyves hoten barly-breed;
And yet with barly-breed, Mark telle can,
Our lord Iesu refresshed many a man.
In swich estaat as God hath cleped us
I wol persevere, I nam nat precious.
In wyfhode I wol use myn instrument
150As frely as my maker hath it sent.
If I be daungerous, God yeve me sorwe!
Myn housbond shal it have bothe eve and morwe,
Whan that him list com forth and paye his dette.
An housbonde I wol have, I nil nat lette,
Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral,
And have his tribulacioun with-al
Upon his flessh, whyl that I am his wyf.
I have the power duringe al my lyf
Upon his propre body, and noght he.
160Right thus the apostel tolde it unto me;
And bad our housbondes for to love us weel.
Al this sentence me lyketh every-deel’—
“That doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone who has genitals has to have as many kids as possible. If that were the case, then no one would care about things such as virginity and celibacy. Jesus, who had the body of a man, was a virgin, as were many of the holiest saints who lived before and after Him. I’m not jealous that they were virgins: Let some people be like white bread made of the purest wheat, and let us wives be more like coarser bread made of barley like it says in Mark. Our Lord Jesus helped many people, but I don’t mind if God has selected another path for me.

I’ll use my genitals in my husband’s bed as freely as God allows

Mark 6:38

I’ll use my genitals in my husband’s bed as freely as God allows
—and God punish me if I don’t! My husband can get some morning and night, whenever he wants to ‘pay his debt’ to me! I’ll make sex easy for him so that he can give me pleasure and orgasms as often as he likes. But, I’ll have the final say when it comes to sex, and he’ll have to make love to me really well,

just as St. Paul said

1 Corinthians 7:7

just as St. Paul said
, which I think is a great piece of scripture—”