by: William Dunbar (Author) , Eve Salisbury (Editor)
from: The Trials and Joys of Marriage 2002
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. . . I beg of you, unravel the fates of my Eurydice, too quickly run. We are totally pledged to you, and though we tarry on earth a little while, slow or swift we speed to one abode. Hither we all make our way; this is our final home; yours is the longest sway over the human race. . . .60 ff. Birds were said to take mates on St. Valentine's Day as in line 206. Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls makes a narrative of nature's selection process.
A "staracle" is a public entertainment, a pageant, spectacle, or play.
They hem rejoise to see and to be sayne,
And to seke sondry pilgremages,
At grete gaderynges to walken upon the playne,
And at staracles to sitte on hie stages.
plain (open spaces)
plays; raised seats
Apon the Midsummer evin, mirriest of nichtis,
I muvit furth allane in meid as midnicht wes past,
Besyd ane gudlie grein garth, full of gay flouris,
Hegeit of ane huge hicht with hawthorne treis;
Quhairon ane bird on ane bransche so birst out hir notis
That never ane blythfullar bird was on the beuche hard.
Quhat throw the sugarat sound of hir sang glaid,
And throw the savour sanative of the sueit flouris,
I drew in derne to the dyk to dirkin efter mirthis;
The dew donkit the daill and dynnit the feulis.
I hard, under ane holyn hevinlie grein hewit,
Ane hie speiche at my hand with hautand wourdis:
With that in haist to the hege so hard I inthrang
That I was heildit with hawthorne and with heynd leveis.
Throw pykis of the plet thorne I presandlie luikit,
Gif ony persoun wald approche within that pleasand garding.
I saw thre gay ladeis sit in ane grein arbeir,
All grathit into garlandis of fresche gudlie flouris.
So glitterit as the gold wer thair glorius gilt tressis,
Quhill all the gressis did gleme of the glaid hewis;
Kemmit war thair cleir hair and curiouslie sched,1
Attour thair schulderis doun schyre schyning full bricht,
With curches cassin thair abone of kirsp cleir and thin.2
Thair mantillis grein war as the gres that grew in May sessoun,
Fetrit with thair quhyt fingaris about thair fair sydis.
Of ferliful fyne favour war thair faceis meik,3
All full of flurist fairheid as flouris in June -
Quhyt, seimlie, and soft as the sweit lillies,
Now upspred upon spray, as new spynist rose;
Arrayit ryallie about with mony riche vardour,
That nature full nobillie annamalit with flouris,
Of alkin hewis under hevin that ony heynd knew,
Fragrant, all full of fresche odour, fynest of smell.
Ane cumlie tabil coverit wes befoir tha cleir ladeis,4
With ryalle cowpis apon rawis, full of ryche wynis.
And of thir fair wlonkes twa weddit war with lordis,
Ane wes ane wedow, iwis, wantoun of laitis.5
And as thai talk at the tabill of mony taill sindry,
They wauchtit at the wicht wyne and waris out wourdis;6
And syne thai spak more spedelie and sparit no matiris.
"Bewrie," said the wedo, "ye woddit wemen ying,
Quhat mirth ye fand in maryage sen ye war menis wyffis.7
Reveill gif ye rewit that rakles conditioun,
Or gif that ever ye luffit leyd upone lyf mair
Nor thame that ye your fayth hes festinit for ever,
Or gif ye think, had ye chois, that ye wald cheis better.
Think ye it nocht ane blist band that bindis so fast,
That none undo it a deill may bot the deith ane?"8
Than spak ane lusty belyf with lustie effeiris;
"It, that ye call the blist band that bindis so fast,
Is bair of blis, and bailfull, and greit barrat wirkis.
Ye speir, had I fre chois, gif I wald cheis bettir?
Chenyeis ay ar to eschew; and changeis ar sueit:9
Sic cursit chance till eschew, had I my chois anis,
Out of the chenyeis of ane churle I chaip suld for evir.
God gif matrimony wer made to mell for ane yeir!
It war bot merrens to be mair, bot gif our myndis pleisit:10
It is agane the law of luf, of kynd, and of nature,
Togidder hairtis to strene, that stryveis with uther:11
Birdis hes ane better law na bernis be meikill,
That ilk yeir, with new joy, joyis ane maik,
And fangis thame ane fresche feyr, unfulyeit, and constant,
And lattis thair fulyeit feiris flie quhair thai pleis.
Cryst gif sic ane consuetude war in this kith haldin!
Than weill war us wemen that evir we war fre;
We suld have feiris as fresche to fang quhen us likit,12
And gif all larbaris thair leveis, quhen thai lak curage.
Myself suld be full semlie in silkis arrayit,
Gymp, jolie, and gent, richt joyus, and gent.
I suld at fairis be found new faceis to se;
At playis, and at preichingis, and pilgrimages greit,
To schaw my renone, royaly, quhair preis was of folk,
To manifest my makdome to multitutde of pepill,
And blaw my bewtie on breid, quhair bernis war mony,13
That I micht cheis, and be chosin, and change quhen me lykit.
Than suld I waill ane full weill, ovr all the wyd realme,
That suld my womanheid weild the lang winter nicht;
And quhen I gottin and ane grome ganest of uther,
Yaip, and ying, in the yok ane yeir for to draw;
Fra I had preveit his pitht the first plesand moneth,14
Than suld I cast me to keik in kirk, and in markat,
And all the cuntré about, kyngis court, and uther,
Quhair I ane galland micht get aganis the nixt yeir,
For to perfurneis furth the werk quhen failyeit the tother;
A forky fure, ay furthwart, and forsy in draucht,15
Nother febill, nor fant, nor fulyeit in labour,
But als fresche of his forme as flouris in May;
For all the fruit suld I fang, thocht he the flour burgeoun.
I have ane wallidrag, ane worme, ane auld wobat carle,
A waistit wolroun, na worth bot wourdis to clatter;16
Ane bumbart, ane dron bee, and bag full of flewme,
Ane skabbit skarth, ane scorpioun, ane scutarde behind;17
To see him scart his awin skyn grit scunner I think,
Quhen kissis me that carybald, than kyndillis all my sorow;18
As birs of ane brym bair, his berd is als stif,
Bot soft and soupill as the silk is his sary lume;
He may weill to the syn assent, bot sakles is his deidis.
With gor his tua grym ene ar gladderrit all about,19
And gorgeit lyk twa gutaris that war with glar stoppit;
Bot quhen that glowrand gaist grippis me about,
Than think I hiddowus Mahowne hes me in armes;
Thair ma na sanyne me save fra that auld Sathane;
For, thocht I croce me all cleine, fra the croun doun,
He wil my corse all beclip, and clap me to his breist.
Quhen schaiffyn is that ald schalk with a scharp rasour,
He schowis on me his schevill mouth and schedis my lippis20
And with his hard hurcheone skyn sa heklis he my chekis,
That as a glemand gleyd glowis my chaftis;
I schrenk for the scharp stound, bot schout dar I nought,
For schore of that auld schrew, schame him betide!21
The luf blenkis of that bogill, fra his blerde ene,
As Belzebub had on me blent, abasit my spreit;
And quhen the smy one me smyrkis with his smake smolet,
He fepillis ike a farcy aver that flyrit one a gillot.22
"Quhen that the sound of his saw sinkis in my eris,
Than ay renewis my noy, or he be neir cumand:
Quhen I heir nemmyt his name, than mak I nyne Crocis,
To keip me fra the cummerans of that carll mangit,23
That full of eldnyng is and anger and all evill thewis.
I dar nought luke to my luf for that lene gib,
He is sa full of jelusy and engyne fals;
Ever ymagynyng in mynd materis of evill,
Compasand and castand cacis a thousand
How he sall tak me, with a trawe, at trist of ane othir:24
I dar nought keik to the knaip that the cop fillis,
For eldnyng of that ald schrew that ever one evill thynkis;
For he is waistit and worne fra Venus werkis,
And may nought beit worth a bene in bed of my mystirs.
He trowis that young folk I yerne yeild, for he gane is,
Bot I may huke all this yer, or his yerd help.
"Ay quhen that caribald carll wald clyme one my wambe,
Than am I dangerus and daine and dour of my will;
Yit leit I never that larbar my leggis ga betueene,
To fyle my flesche, na fumyll me, without a fee gret;
And thoght his pené purly me payis in bed,
His purse pays richely in recompense efter:
For, or he clym on my corse, that carybald forlane,
I have conditioun of a curche of kersp allther fynest,
A goun of engranyt claith, right gaily furrit,
A ring with a ryall stane, or other riche jowell,
Or rest of his rousty raid, thoght he wer rede wod:
For all the buddis of Johne Blunt, quhen he abone clymis,
Me think the baid deir aboucht, sa bawch ar his werkis;25
And thus I sell him solace, thoght I it sour think:
Fra sic a syre, God yow saif, my sueit sisteris deir!"
Quhen that the semely had said her sentence to end,
Than all thai leuch apon loft with latis full mery,
And raucht the cop round about full of riche wynis.
And ralyeit lang, or thai wald rest, with ryatus speche.
The wedo to the tothir wlonk warpit thir wordis:
"Now, fair sister, fallis yow but fenyeing to tell,
Sen man ferst with matrimony yow menskit in kirk,
How haif ye farne be your faith? confese us the treuth:
That band to blise or to ban, quhilk yow best thinkis?
Or how ye like lif to leid into leill spousage?
And syne myself ye exeme one the samyn wise,
And I sall say furth the south, dissymyland no word."
The plesand said, "I protest, the treuth gif I schaw,
That of your toungis ye be traist." The tothir twa grantit;
With that sprang up hir spreit be a span hechar.
"To speik," quoth scho, "I sall nought spar; ther is no spy neir:
I sall a ragment reveil fra rute of my hert
A roust that is sa rankild quhill risis my stomok26
Now sall the byle all out brist, that beild has so lang;
For it to beir on my brist wes berdin ovr hevy:
I sall the venome devoid with a vent large,
And me assuage of the swalme, that swuellit wes gret.
"My husband wes a hur maister, the hugeast in erd,
Tharfor I hait him with my hert, sa help me our Lord!
He is a young man ryght yaip, bot nought in youthis flouris;
For he is fadit full far and feblit of strenth:
He wes as flurising fresche within this few yeris,
Bot he is falyeid full far and fulyeid in labour;
He has bene lychour so lang quhill lost is his natur,
His lume is waxit larbar and lyis into swonne:
Wes never sugeorne wer set na one that snaill tyrit,27
For efter seven oulkis rest, it will nought rap anys;
He has bene waistit apon wemen, or he me wif chesit,
And in adultré, in my tyme, I haif him tane oft:
And yit he is als brankand with bonet one syde,
And blenkand to the brichtest that in the burgh duellis,
Alse curtly of his clething and kemmyng of his hairis,
As he that is mare valyeand in Venus chalmer;
He semys to be sumthing worth, that syphry in bour,
He lukis as he wald luffit be, thocht he be litill of valour;28
He dois as dotit dog that damys on all bussis,
And liftis his leg apone loft, thoght he nought list pische;
He has a luke without lust and lif without curage;
He has a borme without force and fessous but vertu,29
And fair wordis but effect, all fruster of dedis;
He is for laydis in luf a right lusty schadow,
Bot into derne, at the deid, he sal be drup fundin;30
He ralis, and makis repet with ryatus wordis,
Ay rusing him of his radis and rageing in chalmer;
Bot God wait quhat I think quhen he so thra spekis,
And how it settis him so syde to sege of sic materis.31
Bot gif himself, of sum evin, myght ane say among thaim,
Bot he nought ane is, bot nane of naturis possessoris.
"Scho that has ane auld man nought all is begylit;
He is at Venus werkis na war na he semys;
I wend I josit a gem, and I haif geit gottin;32
He had the glemyng of gold, and wes bot glase fundin.
Thought men be ferse, wele I fynd, fra falye ther curage,
That is bot eldnyng and anger ther hertis within.
Ye speik of berdis on bewch: of blise may thai sing,
That, on Sanct Valentynis day, ar vacandis ilk yer;
Hed I that plesand prevelege to part quhen me likit,
To change, and ay to cheise agane, than, chastité, adew!
Than suld I haif a fresch feir to fang in myn armes:
To hald a freke, quhill he faynt, may foly be calit.
"Apone sic materis I mus, at mydnyght, full oft,
And murnys so in my mynd I murdris myselfin;
Than ly I walkand for wa, and walteris about,
Warian oft my wekit kyn, that me away cast
To sic a craudoune but curage, that knyt my cler bewté,33
And ther so mony kene kynghtis this kenrik within:
Than think I on a semelyar, the suth for to tell,
Na is our syre, be sic sevin; with that I sych oft:
Than he ful tenderly dois turne to me his tume person,
And with a yoldin yerd dois yolk me in armys,
And said, 'My soverane sueit thing, quhy sleip ye no betir?
Me think ther haldis yow a hete, as ye sum harme alyt.'
Quoth I, 'My hon, hald abak, and handill me nought sair;
A hache is happinit hastely at my hert rut.'
With that I seme for to swoune, thought I na swerf tak;
And thus beswik I that swane with my sueit wordis:
I cast on him a crabit e, quhen cleir day is cummyn,
And lettis it is a luf blenk quhen he about glemys.
I turne it in a tender luke, that I in tene warit,
And him behaldis hamely with hertly smyling.
"I wald a tender peronall, that myght na put thole,
That hatit men with hard geir for hurting of flesch,34
Had my gud man to hir gest; for I dar God suer,
Scho suld not stert for his straik a stray breid of erd.35
And syne I wald that ilk band that ye so blist call
Had bund him so to that bryght, quhill his bak werkit;
And I wer in a beid broght with berne that me likit,
I trow that bird of my blis suld a bourd want."36
Onone, quhen this amyable had endit hir speche,
Loud lauchand, the laif allowit hir mekle:
Thir gay wiffis maid game amang the grene leiffis,
Thai drank and did away dule under derne bewis;
Thai swapit of the sueit wyne, thai swan quhit of hewis,
Bot all the pertlyar, in plane, thai put out ther vocis.
Than said the Weido, "Iwis ther is no way other;
Now tydis me for to talk; my taill it is nixt:
God my spreit now inspir and my speche quykkin,
And send me sentence to say, substantious and noble;
Sa that my preching may pers your perverst hertis,
And mak yow mekar to men in maneris and conditiounis.
"I schaw yow, sisteris in schrift, I wes a schrew evir,
Bot I wes schene in my schrowd, and schew me innocent;
And thought I dour wes and dane, dispitous, and bald,37
I wes dissymblit suttelly in a sanctis liknes:
I semyt sober, and sueit, and sempill without fraud,
Bot I couth sexty dissaif that suttilar wer haldin.
"Unto my lesson ye lyth, and leir at me wit,
Gif you nought list be forleit with losingeris untrew:
Be constant in your governance, and counterfeit gud maneris.
Thought ye be kene, inconstant, and cruell of mynd;
Thought ye as tygris be terne, be tretable in luf,
And be as turtoris in your talk, thought ye haif talis brukill;38
Be dragonis baith and dowis, ay in double forme,
And quhen it nedis yow, onone, note baith ther strenthis;39
Be amyable with humble face, as angellis apperand,
And with a terrebill tail be stangand as edderis;
Be of your luke like innocentis, thoght ye haif evill myndis;
Be courtly ay in clething and costly arrayit,
That hurtis yow nought worth a hen; yowr husband pays for all.
"Twa husbandis I have had, thai held me baith deir,
Thought I dispytit thaim agane, thai spyit it nathing:
Ane wes ane hair hogeart, that hostit out flewme;40
I hatit him like a hund, thought I it hid prevé:
With kissing and with clapping I gert the carill fone;
Weil couth I keyth his cruke bak, and kemm his cowit noddill,
And with a bukky in my cheik bo on him behind,41
And with a bek gang about and bler his ald e,
And with a kynd contynance kys his crynd chekis;
Into my mynd makand mokis at that mad fader,
Trowand me with trew lufe to treit him so fair.
This cought I do without dule and na dises tak,
Bot ay be mery in my mynd and myrth full of cher.
"I had a lufsummar leid my lust for to slokyn,
That couth be secrete and sure and ay saif my honour,
And sew bot at certayne tymes and in sicir placis;
Ay quhen the ald did me anger with akword wordis
Apon the galland for to goif it gladit me agane.
I had sic wit that for wo weipit I litill,
Bot leit the sweit ay the sour to gud sesone bring.
Quhen that the chuf wald me chid, with girnand chaftis,42
I wald him chuk, cheik and chyn, and cheris him so mekill,
That his cheif chymys he had chevist to my sone,
Suppos the churll wes gane chaist or the child wes gottin:43
As wis woman ay I wrought and not as wod fule,
For mar with wylis I wan na wichtnes of handis.
"Syne maryit I a mercheand, myghti of gudis:
He was a man of myd eld and mene statur;
Bot we na fallowis wer in frenschip or blud,
In fredome, na furth bering, na fairnes of persoune,
Quhilk ay the fule did forghet, for febilnes of knawlege,
Bot I sa oft thoght him on, quhill angrit his hert,
And quhilum I put furth my voce and pedder him callit;
I wald ryght tuichandly talk be I wes tuyse maryit,
For endit wes my innocence with my ald husband.
I wes apperand to be pert within perfit eild;
Sa sais the curat of our kirk, that knew me full ying:
He is ovr famous to be fals, that fair worthy prelot;
I sal be laith to lat him le, quhill I may luke furth.
I gert the buthman obey, ther wes no bute ellis;
He maid me ryght hie reverens, fra he my rycht knew;
For, thocht I say it myself, the severance wes mekle
Betuix his bastard blude and my birth noble.
That page wes never of sic price for to presome anys44
Unto my persone to be peir, had peté nought grantit.
Bot mercie into womanheid is a mekle vertu,
For never bot in a gentill hert is generit ony ruth.
I held ay grene into his mynd that I of grace tuk him,
And for he couth ken himself I curtasly him lerit:
He durst not sit anys my summondis, for or the secund charge,45
He wes ay redy for to ryn, so rad he wes for blame.
Bot ay my will wes the war of womanly natur;
The mair he loutit for my luf, the les of him I rakit;
And eik, this is a ferly thing, or I him faith gaif,
I had sic favour to that freke, and feid syne forever.
"Quhen I the cure had all clene and him ourcummyn haill,
I crew abone that craudone, as cok that wer victour;
Quhen I him saw subjeit and set at myn bydding,
Than I him lightlyit as a lowne and lathit his maneris.
Than woxe I sa unmerciable to martir him I thought,
For as a best I broddit him to all boyis laubour:
I wald haif ridden him to Rome with raip in his heid,
Wer not ruffill of my renoune and rumour of pepill.
And yit hatrent I hid within my hert all;
Bot quhilis it hepit so huge, quhill it behud out:46
Yit tuk I nevir the wosp clene out of my wyde throte,
Quhil I oucht wantit of my will or quhat I wald desir.
Bot quhen I severit had that syre of substance in erd,
And gottin his biggingis to my barne, and hie burrow landis,47
Than with a stew stert out the stoppell of my hals,
That he all stunyst throu the stound, as of a stele wappin.
Than wald I, efter lang, first sa fane haif bene wrokin,
That I to flyte wes als fers as a fell dragoun.
I had for flattering of the fule fenyeit so lang,
Mi evidentis of heritagis or thai wer all selit,48
My breist, that wes gret beild, bowdyn wes sa huge,
That neir my baret out brist or the band makin.49
Bot quhen my billis and my bauchles wes all braid selit,50
I wald na langar beir on bridill, bot braid up my heid;
Thar myght na molet mak me moy, na hald my mouth in:
I gert the renyeis rak and rif into sondir;
I maid that wif carll to werk all womenis werkis,
And laid all manly materis and mensk in this eird.
Than said I to my cumaris in counsall about,
"Se how I cabeld yone cout with a kene brydill!
The cappill, that the crelis kest in the caf mydding,
Sa curtasly the cart drawis, and kennis na plungeing,
He is nought skeich, na yit sker, na scippis nought one syd":
And thus the scorne and the scaith scapit he nothir.
"He wes no glaidsum gest for a gay lady,
Tharfor I gat him a game that ganyt him bettir;
He wes a gret goldit man and of gudis riche;
I leit him be my lumbart to lous me all misteris,
And he wes fane for to fang fra me that fair office,
And thoght my favoris to fynd through his feill giftis.
He grathit me in a gay silk and gudly arrayis,
In gownis of engranyt claith and gret goldin chenyeis,
In ringis ryally set with riche ruby stonis,
Quhill hely raise my renoune amang the rude peple.
Bot I full craftely did keip thai courtly wedis,
Quhill efter dede of that drupe that docht nought in chalmir51
Thought he of all my clathis maid cost and expense,
Aneothir sall the worschip haif, that weildis me eftir;
And thoght I likit him bot litill, yit for luf of otheris,
I wald me prein plesandly in precius wedis,
That luffaris myght apone me luke and ying lusty gallandis,
That I held more in daynté and derer be ful mekill
Ne him that dressit me so dink: full dotis wes his heyd.
Quhen he wes heryit out of hand to hie up my honoris,
And payntit me as pako, proudest of fedderis,
I him miskennyt, be Crist, and cukkald him maid;
I him forleit as a lad and laithit him mekle:
I thoght my self a papingay and him a plukit herle;
All thus enforsit he his fa and fortifyit in strenth,
And maid a stalwart staff to strik himselfe doune.
"Bot of ane bowrd into bed I sall yow breif yit:
Quhen he ane hal year wes hanyt and him behuffit rage,52
And I wes laith to be loppin with sic a lob avoir,
Alse lang as he wes on loft, I lukit on him never,
Na leit never enter in my thoght that he my thing persit,
Bot ay in mynd ane other man ymagynit that I haid;
Or ellis had I never mery bene at that myrthles raid.
Quhen I that grome geldit had of gudis and of natur,
Me thoght him gracelese one to goif, sa me God help:
Quhen he had warit all one me his welth and his substance,
Me thoght his wit wes all went away with the laif;
And so I did him dispise, I spittit quhen I saw
That super spendit evill spreit, spulyeit of all vertu.
For, weill ye wait, wiffis, that he that wantis riches
And valyeandnes in Venus play, is ful vile haldin:
Full fruster is his fresch array and fairnes of persoune,
Al is bot frutlese his effeir and falyeis at the up with.53
I buskit up my barnis like baronis sonnis,
And maid bot fulis of the fry of his first wif.
I banyst fra my boundis his brethir ilkane;
His frendis as my fais I held at feid evir;
Be this, ye belief may, I luffit nought himself,
For never I likit a leid that langit till his blude:
And yit thir wisemen, thai wait that all wiffis evill
Ar kend with ther conditionis and knawin with the samin.54
"Deid is now that dyvour and dollin in erd:
With him deit all my dule and my drery thoghtis;
Now done is my dolly nyght, my day is upsprungin,
Adew dolour, adew! my daynté now begynis:
Now am I a wedow, iwise, and weill am at ese;
I weip as I were woful, but wel is me forever;
I busk as I wer bailfull, bot flith is my hert;
My mouth it makis murnyng, and my mynd lauchis;
My clokis thai ar caerfull in colour of sabill,55
Bot courtly and ryght curyus my corse is ther undir:
I drup with a ded luke in my dule habit,
As with manis daill I had done for dayis of my lif.56
"Quhen that I go to the kirk, cled in cair weid,
As foxe in a lambis fleise fenye I my cheir;
Than lay I furght my bright buke one breid one my kne,
With mony lusty letter ellummynit with gold;
And drawis my clok forthwart our my face quhit,
That I may spy, unaspyit, a space be me syd:
Full oft I blenk by my buke, and blynis of devotioun,
To se quhat berne is best brand or bredest in schulderis,
Or forgeit is maist forcely to furnyse a bancat
In Venus chalmer, valyeandly, withoutin vane ruse:
And, as the new mone all pale, oppressit with change,
Kythis quhilis her cleir face through cluddis of sable,
So keik I through my clokis, and castis kynd lukis
To knychtis, and to cleirkis, and cortly personis.
"Quhen frendis of my husbandis behaldis me one fer,
I haif a watter spunge for wa, within my wide clokis,
Than wring I it full wylely and wetis my chekis,
With that watteris myn ene and welteris doune teris.
Than say thai all, that sittis about, "Se ye nought, allace!
Yone lustlese led so lelely scho luffit hir husband:
Yone is a peté to enprent in a princis hert,
That sic a perle of plesance suld yone pane dre!"
I sane me as I war ane sanct, and semys ane angell;
At langage of lichory I leit as I war crabit:
I sich, without sair hert or seiknes in body;
According to my sable weid I mon haif sad maneris,57
Or thai will se all the suth; for certis, we wemen
We set us all for the syght to syle men of treuth:58
We dule for na evill deid, sa it be derne haldin.
"Wise wemen has wayis and wonderfull gydingis
With gret engyne to behaip ther jolyus husbandis;
And quyetly, with sic craft, convoyis our materis
That, under Crist, no creatur kennis of our doingis.
Bot folk a cury may miscuke, that knawledge wantis,59
And has na colouris for to cover thair awne kindly fautis;
As dois thir damysellis, for derne dotit lufe,
That dogonis haldis in dainté and delis with thaim so lang,60
Quhill all the cuntré knaw ther kyndnes and faith:
Faith has a fair name, bot falsheid faris bettir:
Fy one hir that can nought feyne her fame for to saif!
Yit am I wise in sic werk and wes all my tyme;
Thoght I want wit in warldlynes, I wylis haif in luf,
As ony happy woman has that is of hie blude:
Hutit be the halok lase a hunder yeir of eild!
"I have ane secrete servand, rycht sobir of his toung,
That me supportis of sic nedis, quhen I a syne mak:
Thoght he be sympill to the sicht; he has a tong sickir;
Full mony semelyar sege wer service dois mak:
Thought I haif cair, under cloke, the cleir day quhill nyght,
Yit I have solace, under serk, quhill the sone ryse.
"Yit am I haldin a haly wif out all the haill schyre,
I am so peteouse to the pur, quhen ther is persounis mony.
In passing of pilgramagis I pride me full mekle,
Mair for the prese of the peple na ony perdoun wynyng.
"Bot yit me think the best bourd, quhen baronis and knychtis,
And othir bachilleris, blith blumyng in youth,
And all my luffaris lele, my lugeing persewis,
And fyllis me wyne wantonly with weilfair and joy:
Sum rownis; and sum ralyeis; and sum redis ballatis;
Sum raiffis furght rudly with riatus speche:
Sum plenis, and sum prayis; sum prasis mi bewté,
Sum kissis me; sum clappis me; sum kyndnes me proferis;
Sum kerffis to me curtasli; sum me the cop giffis;
Sum stalwardly steppis ben, with a stout curage.
And a stif standand thing staiffis in my neiff;
And mony blenkis ben ovr, that but full fer sittis,
That mai, for the thik thrang, nought thrid as thai wald.
Bot, with my fair calling, I comfort thaim all:
For he that sittis me nixt, I nip on his finger;
I serf him on the tothir syde on the samin fasson;
And he that behind me sittis, I hard on him lene;
And him befor, with my fut fast on his I tramp;
And to the bernis far but sueit blenkis I cast.
To every man in speciall I speik sum wordis,
So wisly and so womanly, quhill warmys ther hertis.
"Thar is no liffand leid so law of degré
That sall me luf unluffit, I am so loik hertit;
And gif his lust be so lent into my lyre quhit,
That he be lost or with me lig, his lif sall nocht danger.61
I am so mercifull in mynd and menys all wichtis,
My sely saull sal be saif, quhen sabot all jugis.
Ladyis leir thir lessonis and be no lassis fundin:
This is the legeand of my lif, thought Latyne it be nane."
Quhen endit had her ornat speche, this eloquent wedow,
Lowd thai lewch all the laif, and loffit hir mekle;
And said thai suld exampill tak of her soverane teching,
And wirk efter hir wordis, that woman wes so prudent.
Than culit thai ther mouthis with confortable drinkis;
And carpit full cummerlik with cop going round.
Thus draif thai ovr that deir nyght with danceis full noble.
Quhill that the day did up daw, and dew donkit flouris;
The morow myld wes and meik, the mavis did sing,
And all remuffit the myst, and the meid smellit;
Silver schouris doune schuke as the schene cristall,
And berdis schoutit in schaw with thair schill notis;
The goldin glitterand gleme so gladit ther hertis,
Thai maid a glorius gle amang the grene bewis.
The soft sowch of the swyr and soune of the stremys,
The sweit savour of the sward and singing of foulis,
Myght confort ony creatur of the kyn of Adam,
And kindill agane his curage, thocht it wer cald slokynt.
Than rais thir ryall rosis, in ther riche wedis,
And rakit hame to ther rest throgh the rise blumys;
And I all prevely past to a plesand arber,
And with my pen did report thair pastyme most mery.
Ye auditoris most honorable, that eris has gevin
Oneto this uncouth aventur, quhilk airly me happinnit;
Of thir thre wantoun wiffis, that I haif writtin heir,
Quhilk wald ye waill to your wif, gif ye suld wed one?
evening; nights; (see note); (t-note)
walked; meadow; (t-note)
beautiful; garden; brightly colored
more joyful; bough heard
Partly through; sweet
furtively; wall; lurk; revelry
moistened; valley; sang loudly; birds
heard; holly tree; green hued
loud; haughty words
hedge; pushed in
spikes; intertwined thorns; presently
If; pleasant garden
arrayed in; goodly
wire; tresses [of hair]
Till; green plants
(see note); (t-note)
stretched up; tree twigs; newly opened
richly; much; greenery
every color; courteous [person]
cups in orderly setting
beautiful creatures two wedded; (t-note)
then; spoke; spared; matters; (t-note)
Reveal; wedded; young
rue; imprudent contract
living man more
beautiful woman; lively expression
naked; wretched; strife
Such; for once
than men by far; (see note)
consorts with a mate
worn out mates go where; please
such; custom; country held
well [off] were; (t-note)
give impotent men their leave; (see note)
very beautifully; arrayed
Slender, very happy; elegant; (t-note)
faces; (see note)
show; renown; gathering
[So] that; choose
choose; rightly; wide
womanliness use potently
[have] gotten; fellow more fit than
Keen; young; yoke
look about in church
gallant; again; next
perform; weakened; other
Neither; faint; weak
take; flower cause to expand
lazy fellow; drone; phlegm
scratch; own; great disgust
bristles; furious bear
harmless is his performance
choked; gutters; filth
hideous Mahomet has; (see note)
may; sign [of the Cross]; old Satan
cross myself; completely
body; embrace; press; (t-note)
shaven; aged man
hedgehog skin; scratches
gleaming coal; chin (jaws)
cower; sharp pain; (t-note)
leers; hobgoblin; bleary eyes; (see note); (t-note)
As [if]; looked, cast down; spirit; (see note)
(see note); (t-note)
speech; ears; (t-note)
vexation, before; coming near
because of; scrawny tomcat
Contriving; tricks; (t-note)
glance; groom; cup; (t-note)
acts of love
bean; sexual needs; (see note)
believes; eagerly; impotent; (t-note)
itch; before; penis
monstrous man; belly; (t-note)
reluctant; haughty; unwilling; (see note)
allow; impotent wretch
fill; nor fumble with
though; penny/penis poorly; gratifies; (see note); (t-note)
body; worthless monster
kerchief; all the finest fabric; (t-note)
scarlet cloth; trimmed with fur; (see note); (t-note)
royal stone; jewel
(see note); (t-note)
From; man; sisters
lovely [one]; speech
laughed aloud; behavior
jested; riotous; (t-note)
widow; lovely [lady] directed
it befalls; without deceit
favored in church; (t-note)
have; fared; confess
bond; curse; to you seems
as a faithful wife; (t-note)
afterwards; examine in; same
truth, dissembling; (t-note)
agreeable [woman]; if
spirit; about five inches higher; (t-note)
long discourse; depths; (t-note)
bile; burst; swollen [with rage]; (t-note)
endure; breast; burden
cast out; discharge; (t-note)
swelling; swollen; (t-note)
flourishing; these; (t-note)
lecher; sexual power
weeks; penetrate once; (t-note)
as proud; cap
glancing at the fairest; lives
courtly; combing; hair; (t-note)
valiant; bedchamber; (t-note)
cipher in bower; (t-note)
stupid; makes; bushes
aloft; unable to piss
without efficacy; worthless
rails; uproar; riotous; (t-note)
boasting; rides; sexual vigor
no worse than
(see note); (t-note)
fierce; after[wards] fails
free [to take mates] each; (see note)
Had; privilege; depart
should; young [man]; clasp
hold a man; foolish
awake; grief; toss and turn
There [being]; fierce; kingdom
one more attractive (seemlier); truth
Than; by seven times; sigh; (t-note)
Then; feeble; (t-note)
an exhausted; force me to surrender
fever; distress suffered
ache; root; (t-note)
faint; do not swoon
deceive; lowly man
ill-tempered (crabby) eye; (t-note)
feign; love glance; looks
look; anger [had] put on; (t-note)
behold him intimately; warmth
as her guest; swear; (t-note)
bound; pretty [girl]; ached
bed; lover; pleased; (t-note)
Forthwith; amiable [woman]
laughing; rest praised; greatly; (t-note)
These; made sport; leaves
cast off sorrow; dark boughs; (t-note)
tossed off; those white swans; (t-note)
saucier, frankly; poured out; (t-note)
it is time; tale
pierce; wayward (perverse); (t-note)
more meek; dispositions
show; confession; scold; (t-note)
bright; gown; appeared; (t-note)
disguised cleverly in likeness of a saint
seemed meek; simple
could beguile; more crafty
listen; learn from my wisdom
wish; abandoned; flatterers; (t-note)
tigers; ferocious; tractable
dragons both; doves, always; (t-note)
deadly; stinging; adders
not a whit; (see note)
Two; both dear
despised; in return; observed
hated; hound; secretly
fondling; made; boor foolish
curtsy walk; blur his aged eye
countenance; shriveled cheeks; (t-note)
could; lament; distress
more lovable youth; satisfy; (t-note)
follow [me]; certain; safe; (t-note)
old [man]; ill-tempered; (t-note)
such skill; wept; (t-note)
good relish; (t-note)
fondle, cheek; cherish
split manor house; provided; (t-note)
more; wiles; won than strength; (t-note)
Since then married; (t-note)
middle age; low social status
equals; kinship; blood
caused him to think of
sometimes; pedlar; (t-note)
affectingly; twice; (t-note)
appearing; clever; maturity
curate (priest); church; young
too reputable; prelate
shall be loath; tell lies; look around
make; shopkeeper; remedy; (t-note)
respect; right (privilege); (t-note)
in womanhood; great virtue; (t-note)
engendered; pity; (see note)
come running; afraid
humbled himself; esteemed
also; strange; before
man; hostility subsequently
crowed above; coward
despised; loon; detested
grew; pitiless; torment; (t-note)
beast; goaded; menial labor
deprived; fellow; wealth
stink started; bung; throat
astounded; shock; weapon; (t-note)
[a] delay; gladly; avenged
scold; fierce; cruel
swollen [with rage], inflamed; (t-note)
be restrained; tossed
curb bit; submissive
made the reins strain; split
womanish man; (see note); (t-note)
buried; dignity; earth; (t-note)
horse; baskets; dung heap
knows; violent leaping; (t-note)
spirited; restive; skips
humiliation escaped; neither
obtained; sport; suited; (t-note)
Lombard (banker); free; (t-note)
glad; take; (t-note)
crimson cloth; chains
esteem; costlier; much
Than; finely; stupid
plundered excessively; raise; (t-note)
adorned; peacock; plumes
disregarded; cuckold; made
rejected; serving man; loathed; greatly
parrot; plucked heron
gave strength to; enemy; enhanced
cause for amusement; tell
reluctant; mounted; loutish old horse
on top; looked
vulva pierced; (t-note)
mirthless ride; (t-note)
valor; held; (t-note)
dressed; children; baron's sons
fools; progeny; (t-note)
banished; lands; brethren every one
foes; enmity ever; (t-note)
liked a person; belonged
know; women's; (t-note)
Dead; bankrupt; buried
indeed; well at ease
weep as [if]
dress; sad; blithe
mourning; laughs; (t-note)
very beautiful my body; (t-note)
droop; lifeless appearance; mourning clothes
fleece; pretend; cheer; (t-note)
forth; book wide open; (see note)
glance away from; cease
youth; muscled; broadest; (t-note)
built; muscularly; furnish; banquet
bedchamber; vain boasting
Reveals at times; clouds
behold me from afar
water sponge; woe
eyes; stream down
joyless [creature]; faithfully
pity; imprint; (t-note)
sign myself; saint
lechery; behave; ill-natured
sigh; sore heart; illness
mourn; so long as it be kept secret
ways of acting; (t-note)
ingenuity; deceive; jealous; (t-note)
conduct our business; (t-note)
disguises; natural defects
young women; secret foolish; (t-note)
Fie on; deceive; reputation; (t-note)
lack; worldly matters; cunning
Mocked; guileless girl; hundred; (see note); (t-note)
paramour; trustworthy; (t-note)
innocent; sight; secure
more handsome person; worse
anxiety; until; (t-note)
holy woman throughout; county
compassionate; poor; many; (t-note)
praise; obtaining of pardons; (t-note)
faithful; lodging enter
pours out for me; (t-note)
whisper; race; read poems; (t-note)
rant forth rudely; riotous
lament; pray; praise
carve [at table]; cup
boldly march within
erect; thrusts; fist
glances; seated far apart
crowd; prosper; (t-note)
serve; same fashion; (t-note)
young men fair; glances
living person; low of status
inclined; face white
take pity on; witches
innocent; so long as shoe (see note); (t-note)
learn; ignorant girls; (t-note)
legend (saint's life); Latin; (see note)
Loud; laughed; others; praised; (t-note)
act according to
talked like gossips; cup
passed away; meadow
birds chirped; wood; shrill; (t-note)
made; melody; boughs; (t-note)
murmuring; valley; sound
extinguished by cold
arose; roses; (t-note)
proceeded; brushwood blossoms
strange; in the early hours
choose; (see note)