The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale Page 6

page Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale: Page 6

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Up sterte the Pardoner, and that anon,
‘Now dame,’ quod he, ‘by God and by seint Iohn,
Ye been a noble prechour in this cas!
I was aboute to wedde a wyf; allas!
What sholde I bye it on my flesh so dere?
Yet hadde I lever wedde no wyf to-yere!’
“Oh my God,” interrupted the Pardoner just then. “By God and Saint John, you sure do have a lot to say about marriage and sex! I thought about getting married soon, but I’m not so sure I want my wife to have control over my life and my body like that. Maybe I shouldn’t get married at all!”
‘Abyde!’ quod she, ‘my tale is nat bigonne;
170Nay, thou shalt drinken of another tonne
Er that I go, shal savoure wors than ale.
And whan that I have told thee forth my tale
Of tribulacioun in mariage,
Of which I am expert in al myn age,
This to seyn, my-self have been the whippe;—
Than maystow chese whether thou wolt sippe
Of thilke tonne that I shal abroche.
Be war of it, er thou to ny approche;
For I shal telle ensamples mo than ten.
180Who-so that nil be war by othere men,
By him shul othere men corrected be.
The same wordes wryteth Ptholomee;
Rede in his Almageste, and take it there.’
“Now hold on a second,” the Wife from Bath replied. “I haven’t even started telling my story yet. No, you’ll change your mind on marriage once again by the time I finish my story. But don’t make any rash decisions because I’m going to give you about a dozen examples of other married men. Men such as you should pay attention to stories about other men who didn’t listen to the good advice given them. The Greek philosopher Ptolemy said this in his book the Almagest.”
‘Dame, I wolde praye yow, if your wil it were,’
Seyde this Pardoner, ‘as ye bigan,
Telle forth your tale, spareth for no man,
And teche us yonge men of your praktike.’
“My lady, please continue then, and don’t let any one of us interrupt you anymore. I’m sure all of us young men can learn from your experience!” said the Pardoner in return.