Original Text

Modern Text

Chese now,’ quod she, ‘oon of thise thinges tweye,
To han me foul and old til that I deye,
And be to yow a trewe humble wyf,
And never yow displese in al my lyf,
Or elles ye wol han me yong and fair,
And take your aventure of the repair
That shal be to your hous, by-cause of me,
370Or in som other place, may wel be.
Now chese your-selven, whether that yow lyketh.’
“I’ll give you a choice,” she said, “between one of two things. I can be old and disgusting until the day I die but be humble and faithful to you and never upset you, or you can have me be young and beautiful and take the risk that I’ll cheat on you with the many men who’ll try to seduce me. Now, make your decision, whichever you prefer.”
This knight avyseth him and sore syketh,
But atte laste he seyde in this manere,
‘My lady and my love, and wyf so dere,
I put me in your wyse governance;
Cheseth your-self, which may be most plesance,
And most honour to yow and me also.
I do no fors the whether of the two;
For as yow lyketh, it suffiseth me.’
The knight thought a moment, sighed, and then finally said, “My lady, my love, my wife. I put myself in your good hands. You decide which of these options will be better for yourself and for me. I don’t care which of the two you decide. I’ll be happy with whichever you choose.”
380‘Thanne have I gete of yow maistrye,’ quod she,
‘Sin I may chese, and governe as me lest?’
“Then do I have control over your life and destiny because I get to the make the decisions?” she asked.
‘Ye, certes, wyf,’ quod he, ‘I holde it best.’
“Yes. Yes, you do. Because I think it’s best that way,” he replied.
‘Kis me,’ quod she, ‘we be no lenger wrothe;
For, by my trouthe, I wol be to yow bothe,
This is to seyn, ye, bothe fair and good.
I prey to God that I mot sterven wood,
But I to yow be al-so good and trewe
As ever was wyf, sin that the world was newe.
And, but I be to-morn as fair to sene
390As any lady, emperyce, or quene,
That is bitwixe the est and eke the west,
Doth with my lyf and deeth right as yow lest.
Cast up the curtin, loke how that it is.’
“Then kiss me, and let’s stop fighting,” she said. “Because I promise that I’ll be both beautiful and faithful to you. I pray to God that I go insane if I’m ever bad or unfaithful to you and not the best wife the world has ever seen. And if you wake up in the morning and don’t find that I’ve become beautiful enough to be a queen or an empress, then you can kill me if you like. Pull back the curtains in the morning to see for yourself.”