MilT 3187 Whilom ther was dwellynge at Oxenford
MilT 3188 A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
MilT 3189 And of his craft he was a carpenter.
MilT 3190 With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
MilT 3191 Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
MilT 3192 Was turned for to lerne astrologye,
MilT 3193 And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns,
MilT 3194 To demen by interrogaciouns,
MilT 3195 If that men asked hym, in certein houres
MilT 3196 Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures,
MilT 3197 Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle
MilT 3198 Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle.
MilT 3199 This clerk was cleped hende Nicholas.
MilT 3200 Of deerne love he koude and of solas;
MilT 3201 And therto he was sleigh and ful privee,
MilT 3202 And lyk a mayden meke for to see.
MilT 3203 A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
MilT 3204 Allone, withouten any compaignye,
MilT 3205 Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote;
MilT 3206 And he hymself as sweete as is the roote
MilT 3207 Of lycorys or any cetewale.
MilT 3208 His Almageste, and bookes grete and smale,
MilT 3209 His astrelabie, longynge for his art,
MilT 3210 His augrym stones layen faire apart,
MilT 3211 On shelves couched at his beddes heed;
MilT 3212 His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed;
MilT 3213 And al above ther lay a gay sautrie,
MilT 3214 On which he made a-nyghtes melodie
MilT 3215 So swetely that all the chambre rong;
MilT 3216 And Angelus ad virginem he song;
MilT 3217 And after that he song the Kynges Noote.
MilT 3218 Ful often blessed was his myrie throte.
MilT 3219 And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente
MilT 3220 After his freendes fyndyng and his rente.
MilT 3221 This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf,
MilT 3222 Which that he lovede moore than his lyf;
MilT 3223 Of eighteteene yeer she was of age.
MilT 3224 Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage,
MilT 3225 For she was wylde and yong, and he was old
MilT 3226 And demed hymself been lik a cokewold.
MilT 3227 He knew nat Catoun, for his wit was rude,
MilT 3228 That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude.
MilT 3229 Men sholde wedden after hire estaat,
MilT 3230 For youthe and elde is often at debaat.
MilT 3231 But sith that he was fallen in the snare,
MilT 3232 He moste endure, as oother folk, his care.
MilT 3233 Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
MilT 3234 As any wezele hir body gent and smal.
MilT 3235 A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk,
MilT 3236 A barmclooth as whit as morne milk
MilT 3237 Upon hir lendes, ful of many a goore.
MilT 3238 Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore
MilT 3239 And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute,
MilT 3240 Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
MilT 3241 The tapes of hir white voluper
MilT 3242 Were of the same suyte of hir coler;
MilT 3243 Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye.
MilT 3244 And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye;
MilT 3245 Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two,
MilT 3246 And tho were bent and blake as any sloo.
MilT 3247 She was ful moore blisful on to see
MilT 3248 Than is the newe pere-jonette tree,
MilT 3249 And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
MilT 3250 And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether,
MilT 3251 Tasseled with silk and perled with latoun.
MilT 3252 In al this world, to seken up and doun,
MilT 3253 There nys no man so wys that koude thenche
MilT 3254 So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.
MilT 3255 Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe
MilT 3256 Than in the Tour the noble yforged newe.
MilT 3257 But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne
MilT 3258 As any swalwe sittynge on a berne.
MilT 3259 Therto she koude skippe and make game,
MilT 3260 As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame.
MilT 3261 Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,
MilT 3262 Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth.
MilT 3263 Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt,
MilT 3264 Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
MilT 3265 A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler,
MilT 3266 As brood as is the boos of a bokeler.
MilT 3267 Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.
MilT 3268 She was a prymerole, a piggesnye,
MilT 3269 For any lord to leggen in his bedde,
MilT 3270 Or yet for any good yeman to wedde.
MilT 3271 Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas
MilT 3272 That on a day this hende Nicholas
MilT 3273 Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
MilT 3274 Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye,
MilT 3275 As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
MilT 3276 And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
MilT 3277 And seyde, " Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
MilT 3278 For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille. "
MilT 3279 And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones,
MilT 3280 And seyde, " Lemman, love me al atones,
MilT 3281 Or I wol dyen, also God me save! "
MilT 3282 And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave,
MilT 3283 And with hir heed she wryed faste awey,
MilT 3284 And seyde, " I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey!
MilT 3285 Why, lat be! " quod she. " Lat be, Nicholas,
MilT 3286 Or I wol crie `out, harrow' and `allas'!
MilT 3287 Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye! "
MilT 3288 This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
MilT 3289 And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
MilT 3290 That she hir love hym graunted atte laste,
MilT 3291 And swoor hir ooth, by Seint Thomas of Kent,
MilT 3292 That she wol been at his comandement,
MilT 3293 Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie.
MilT 3294 " Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie
MilT 3295 That but ye wayte wel and been privee,
MilT 3296 I woot right wel I nam but deed, " quod she.
MilT 3297 " Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas. "
MilT 3298 " Nay, therof care thee noght, " quod Nicholas.
MilT 3299 " A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle,
MilT 3300 But if he koude a carpenter bigyle. "
MilT 3301 And thus they been accorded and ysworn
MilT 3302 To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
MilT 3303 Whan Nicholas had doon thus everideel
MilT 3304 And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
MilT 3305 He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie,
MilT 3306 And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie.
MilT 3307 Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche,
MilT 3308 Cristes owene werkes for to wirche,
MilT 3309 This goode wyf went on an haliday.
MilT 3310 Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,
MilT 3311 So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk.
MilT 3312 Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
MilT 3313 The which that was ycleped Absolon.
MilT 3314 Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
MilT 3315 And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
MilT 3316 Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode.
MilT 3317 His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos.
MilT 3318 With Poules wyndow corven on his shoos,
MilT 3319 In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
MilT 3320 Yclad he was ful smal and proprely
MilT 3321 Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget;
MilT 3322 Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set.
MilT 3323 And therupon he hadde a gay surplys
MilT 3324 As whit as is the blosme upon the rys.
MilT 3325 A myrie child he was, so God me save.
MilT 3326 Wel koude he laten blood, and clippe and shave,
MilT 3327 And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce.
MilT 3328 In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce
MilT 3329 After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
MilT 3330 And with his legges casten to and fro,
MilT 3331 And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
MilT 3332 Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble;
MilT 3333 And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne.
MilT 3334 In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
MilT 3335 That he ne visited with his solas,
MilT 3336 Ther any gaylard tappestere was.
MilT 3337 But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous
MilT 3338 Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
MilT 3339 This Absolon, that jolif was and gay,
MilT 3340 Gooth with a sencer on the haliday,
MilT 3341 Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste;
MilT 3342 And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
MilT 3343 And namely on this carpenteris wyf.
MilT 3344 To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf,
MilT 3345 She was so propre and sweete and likerous.
MilT 3346 I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous,
MilT 3347 And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon.
MilT 3348 This parissh clerk, this joly Absolon,
MilT 3349 Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge
MilT 3350 That of no wyf took he noon offrynge;
MilT 3351 For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon.
MilT 3352 The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon,
MilT 3353 And Absolon his gyterne hath ytake;
MilT 3354 For paramours he thoghte for to wake.
MilT 3355 And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous,
MilT 3356 Til he cam to the carpenteres hous
MilT 3357 A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe,
MilT 3358 And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe
MilT 3359 That was upon the carpenteris wal.
MilT 3360 He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal,
MilT 3361 " Now, deere lady, if thy wille be,
MilT 3362 I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me, "
MilT 3363 Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge.
MilT 3364 This carpenter awook, and herde him synge,
MilT 3365 And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon,
MilT 3366 " What! Alison! Herestow nat Absolon,
MilT 3367 That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal? "
MilT 3368 And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal,
MilT 3369 " Yis, God woot, John, I heere it every deel. "
MilT 3370 This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel?
MilT 3371 Fro day to day this joly Absolon
MilT 3372 So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon.
MilT 3373 He waketh al the nyght and al the day;
MilT 3374 He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay;
MilT 3375 He woweth hire by meenes and brocage,
MilT 3376 And swoor he wolde been hir owene page;
MilT 3377 He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale;
MilT 3378 He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale,
MilT 3379 And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede;
MilT 3380 And, for she was of town, he profred meede;
MilT 3381 For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
MilT 3382 And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse.
MilT 3383 Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
MilT 3384 He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye.
MilT 3385 But what availleth hym as in this cas?
MilT 3386 She loveth so this hende Nicholas
MilT 3387 That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn;
MilT 3388 He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn.
MilT 3389 And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
MilT 3390 And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
MilT 3391 Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
MilT 3392 Men seyn right thus: " Alwey the nye slye
MilT 3393 Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth. "
MilT 3394 For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth,
MilT 3395 By cause that he fer was from hire sight,
MilT 3396 This nye Nicholas stood in his light.
MilT 3397 Now ber thee wel, thou hende Nicholas,
MilT 3398 For Absolon may waille and synge " allas. "
MilT 3399 And so bifel it on a Saterday,
MilT 3400 This carpenter was goon til Osenay;
MilT 3401 And hende Nicholas and Alisoun
MilT 3402 Acorded been to this conclusioun,
MilT 3403 That Nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle
MilT 3404 This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle;
MilT 3405 And if so be the game wente aright,
MilT 3406 She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght,
MilT 3407 For this was his desir and hire also.
MilT 3408 And right anon, withouten wordes mo,
MilT 3409 This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarie,
MilT 3410 But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie
MilT 3411 Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye,
MilT 3412 And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye,
MilT 3413 If that he axed after Nicholas,
MilT 3414 She sholde seye she nyste where he was;
MilT 3415 Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye;
MilT 3416 She trowed that he was in maladye,
MilT 3417 For, for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle,
MilT 3418 He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle.
MilT 3419 This passeth forth al thilke Saterday,
MilT 3420 That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
MilT 3421 And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste,
MilT 3422 Til Sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste.
MilT 3423 This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle
MilT 3424 Of Nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle,
MilT 3425 And seyde, " I am adrad, by Seint Thomas,
MilT 3426 It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas.
MilT 3427 God shilde that he deyde sodeynly!
MilT 3428 This world is now ful tikel, sikerly.
MilT 3429 I saugh today a cors yborn to chirche
MilT 3430 That now, on Monday last, I saugh hym wirche.
MilT 3431 " Go up, " quod he unto his knave anoon,
MilT 3432 " Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon.
MilT 3433 Looke how it is, and tel me boldely. "
MilT 3434 This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily,
MilT 3435 And at the chambre dore whil that he stood,
MilT 3436 He cride and knokked as that he were wood,
MilT 3437 " What, how! What do ye, maister Nicholay?
MilT 3438 How may ye slepen al the longe day? "
MilT 3439 But al for noght; he herde nat a word.
MilT 3440 An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord,
MilT 3441 Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
MilT 3442 And at that hole he looked in ful depe,
MilT 3443 And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight.
MilT 3444 This Nicholas sat evere capyng upright,
MilT 3445 As he had kiked on the newe moone.
MilT 3446 Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone
MilT 3447 In what array he saugh this ilke man.
MilT 3448 This carpenter to blessen hym bigan,
MilT 3449 And seyde, " Help us, Seinte Frydeswyde!
MilT 3450 A man woot litel what hym shal bityde.
MilT 3451 This man is falle, with his astromye,
MilT 3452 In some woodnesse or in som agonye.
MilT 3453 I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be!
MilT 3454 Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee.
MilT 3455 Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
MilT 3456 That noght but oonly his bileve kan!
MilT 3457 So ferde another clerk with astromye;
MilT 3458 He walked in the feeldes for to prye
MilT 3459 Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle,
MilT 3460 Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle;
MilT 3461 He saugh nat that. But yet, by Seint Thomas,
MilT 3462 Me reweth soore of hende Nicholas.
MilT 3463 He shal be rated of his studiyng,
MilT 3464 If that I may, by Jhesus, hevene kyng!
MilT 3465 Get me a staf, that I may underspore,
MilT 3466 Whil that thou, Robyn, hevest up the dore.
MilT 3467 He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse. "
MilT 3468 And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse.
MilT 3469 His knave was a strong carl for the nones,
MilT 3470 And by the haspe he haaf it of atones;
MilT 3471 Into the floor the dore fil anon.
MilT 3472 This Nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon,
MilT 3473 And evere caped upward into the eir.
MilT 3474 This carpenter wende he were in despeir,
MilT 3475 And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily,
MilT 3476 And shook hym harde, and cride spitously,
MilT 3477 " What! Nicholay! What, how! What, looke adoun!
MilT 3478 Awak, and thenk on Cristes passioun!
MilT 3479 I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes. "
MilT 3480 Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes
MilT 3481 On foure halves of the hous aboute,
MilT 3482 And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute:
MilT 3483 " Jhesu Crist and Seinte Benedight,
MilT 3484 Blesse this hous from every wikked wight,
MilT 3485 For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster!
MilT 3486 Where wentestow, Seinte Petres soster? "
MilT 3487 And atte laste this hende Nicholas
MilT 3488 Gan for to sik soore, and seyde, " Allas!
MilT 3489 Shal al the world be lost eftsoones now? "
MilT 3490 This carpenter answerde, " What seystow?
MilT 3491 What! Thynk on God, as we doon, men that swynke. "
MilT 3492 This Nicholas answerde, " Fecche me drynke,
MilT 3493 And after wol I speke in pryvetee
MilT 3494 Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee.
MilT 3495 I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn. "
MilT 3496 This carpenter goth doun, and comth ageyn,
MilT 3497 And broghte of myghty ale a large quart;
MilT 3498 And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part,
MilT 3499 This Nicholas his dore faste shette,
MilT 3500 And doun the carpenter by hym he sette.
MilT 3501 He seyde, " John, myn hooste, lief and deere,
MilT 3502 Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere
MilT 3503 That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye,
MilT 3504 For it is Cristes conseil that I seye,
MilT 3505 And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore;
MilT 3506 For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore,
MilT 3507 That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood. "
MilT 3508 " Nay, Crist forbede it, for his hooly blood! "
MilT 3509 Quod tho this sely man, " I nam no labbe,
MilT 3510 Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe.
MilT 3511 Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle
MilT 3512 To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle! "
MilT 3513 " Now John, " quod Nicholas, " I wol nat lye;
MilT 3514 I have yfounde in myn astrologye,
MilT 3515 As I have looked in the moone bright,
MilT 3516 That now a Monday next, at quarter nyght,
MilT 3517 Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood
MilT 3518 That half so greet was nevere Noes flood.
MilT 3519 This world, " he seyde, " in lasse than an hour
MilT 3520 Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour.
MilT 3521 Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf. "
MilT 3522 This carpenter answerde, " Allas, my wyf!
MilT 3523 And shal she drenche? Allas, myn Alisoun! "
MilT 3524 For sorwe of this he fil almoost adoun,
MilT 3525 And seyde, " Is ther no remedie in this cas? "
MilT 3526 " Why, yis, for Gode, " quod hende Nicholas,
MilT 3527 " If thou wolt werken after loore and reed.
MilT 3528 Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed;
MilT 3529 For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe:
MilT 3530 `Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe.'
MilT 3531 And if thou werken wolt by good conseil,
MilT 3532 I undertake, withouten mast and seyl,
MilT 3533 Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me.
MilT 3534 Hastow nat herd hou saved was Noe,
MilT 3535 Whan that oure Lord hadde warned hym biforn
MilT 3536 That al the world with water sholde be lorn? "
MilT 3537 " Yis, " quod this Carpenter, " ful yoore ago. "
MilT 3538 " Hastou nat herd, " quod Nicholas, " also
MilT 3539 The sorwe of Noe with his felaweshipe,
MilT 3540 Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe?
MilT 3541 Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake,
MilT 3542 At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake
MilT 3543 That she hadde had a ship hirself allone.
MilT 3544 And therfore, woostou what is best to doone?
MilT 3545 This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng
MilT 3546 Men may nat preche or maken tariyng.
MilT 3547 " Anon go gete us faste into this in
MilT 3548 A knedyng trogh, or ellis a kymelyn,
MilT 3549 For ech of us, but looke that they be large,
MilT 3550 In which we mowe swymme as in a barge,
MilT 3551 And han therinne vitaille suffisant
MilT 3552 But for a day -- fy on the remenant!
MilT 3553 The water shal aslake and goon away
MilT 3554 Aboute pryme upon the nexte day.
MilT 3555 But Robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave,
MilT 3556 Ne eek thy mayde Gille I may nat save;
MilT 3557 Axe nat why, for though thou aske me,
MilT 3558 I wol nat tellen Goddes pryvetee.
MilT 3559 Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde,
MilT 3560 To han as greet a grace as Noe hadde.
MilT 3561 Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute.
MilT 3562 Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute.
MilT 3563 " But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me,
MilT 3564 Ygeten us thise knedyng tubbes thre,
MilT 3565 Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye,
MilT 3566 That no man of oure purveiaunce espye.
MilT 3567 And whan thou thus hast doon as I have seyd,
MilT 3568 And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd,
MilT 3569 And eek an ax to smyte the corde atwo,
MilT 3570 Whan that the water comth, that we may go
MilT 3571 And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable,
MilT 3572 Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable,
MilT 3573 That we may frely passen forth oure way,
MilT 3574 Whan that the grete shour is goon away.
MilT 3575 Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake,
MilT 3576 As dooth the white doke after hire drake.
MilT 3577 Thanne wol I clepe, `How, Alison! How, John!
MilT 3578 Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon.'
MilT 3579 And thou wolt seyn, `Hayl, maister Nicholay!
MilT 3580 Good morwe, I se thee wel, for it is day.'
MilT 3581 And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf
MilT 3582 Of al the world, as Noe and his wyf.
MilT 3583 " But of o thyng I warne thee ful right:
MilT 3584 Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght
MilT 3585 That we ben entred into shippes bord,
MilT 3586 That noon of us ne speke nat a word,
MilT 3587 Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere;
MilT 3588 For it is Goddes owene heeste deere.
MilT 3589 " Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne,
MilT 3590 For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne,
MilT 3591 Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede.
MilT 3592 This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede!
MilT 3593 Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe,
MilT 3594 Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe,
MilT 3595 And sitten there, abidyng Goddes grace.
MilT 3596 Go now thy wey; I have no lenger space
MilT 3597 To make of this no lenger sermonyng.
MilT 3598 Men seyn thus, `sende the wise, and sey no thyng.'
MilT 3599 Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche.
MilT 3600 Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche. "
MilT 3601 This sely carpenter goth forth his wey.
MilT 3602 Ful ofte he seide " Allas and weylawey, "
MilT 3603 And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee,
MilT 3604 And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
MilT 3605 What al this queynte cast was for to seye.
MilT 3606 But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye,
MilT 3607 And seyde, " Allas! go forth thy wey anon,
MilT 3608 Help us to scape, or we been dede echon!
MilT 3609 I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf;
MilT 3610 Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf. "
MilT 3611 Lo, which a greet thyng is affeccioun!
MilT 3612 Men may dyen of ymaginacioun,
MilT 3613 So depe may impressioun be take.
MilT 3614 This sely carpenter bigynneth quake;
MilT 3615 Hym thynketh verraily that he may see
MilT 3616 Noees flood come walwynge as the see
MilT 3617 To drenchen Alisoun, his hony deere.
MilT 3618 He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere;
MilT 3619 He siketh with ful many a sory swogh;
MilT 3620 He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng trogh,
MilT 3621 And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn,
MilT 3622 And pryvely he sente hem to his in,
MilT 3623 And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee.
MilT 3624 His owene hand he made laddres thre,
MilT 3625 To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes
MilT 3626 Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes,
MilT 3627 And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe,
MilT 3628 With breed, and chese, and good ale in a jubbe,
MilT 3629 Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day.
MilT 3630 But er that he hadde maad al this array,
MilT 3631 He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also,
MilT 3632 Upon his nede to London for to go.
MilT 3633 And on the Monday, whan it drow to nyght,
MilT 3634 He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght,
MilT 3635 And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be.
MilT 3636 And shortly, up they clomben alle thre;
MilT 3637 They seten stille wel a furlong way.
MilT 3638 " Now, Pater-noster, clom! " seyde Nicholay,
MilT 3639 And " Clom! " quod John, and " Clom! " seyde Alisoun.
MilT 3640 This carpenter seyde his devocioun,
MilT 3641 And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere,
MilT 3642 Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere.
MilT 3643 The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse,
MilT 3644 Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse,
MilT 3645 Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore;
MilT 3646 For travaille of his goost he groneth soore,
MilT 3647 And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay.
MilT 3648 Doun of the laddre stalketh Nicholay,
MilT 3649 And Alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde;
MilT 3650 Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde,
MilT 3651 Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye.
MilT 3652 Ther was the revel and the melodye;
MilT 3653 And thus lith Alison and Nicholas,
MilT 3654 In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas,
MilT 3655 Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge,
MilT 3656 And freres in the chauncel gonne synge.
MilT 3657 This parissh clerk, this amorous Absolon,
MilT 3658 That is for love alwey so wo bigon,
MilT 3659 Upon the Monday was at Oseneye
MilT 3660 With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye,
MilT 3661 And axed upon cas a cloisterer
MilT 3662 Ful prively after John the carpenter;
MilT 3663 And he drough hym apart out of the chirche,
MilT 3664 And seyde, " I noot; I saugh hym heere nat wirche
MilT 3665 Syn Saterday; I trowe that he be went
MilT 3666 For tymber, ther oure abbot hath hym sent;
MilT 3667 For he is wont for tymber for to go
MilT 3668 And dwellen at the grange a day or two;
MilT 3669 Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn.
MilT 3670 Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn. "
MilT 3671 This Absolon ful joly was and light,
MilT 3672 And thoghte, " Now is tyme to wake al nyght,
MilT 3673 For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge
MilT 3674 Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge.
MilT 3675 " So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe,
MilT 3676 Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe
MilT 3677 That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal.
MilT 3678 To Alison now wol I tellen al
MilT 3679 My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse
MilT 3680 That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse.
MilT 3681 Som maner confort shal I have, parfay.
MilT 3682 My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
MilT 3683 That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste.
MilT 3684 Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste.
MilT 3685 Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye,
MilT 3686 And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye. "
MilT 3687 Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon
MilT 3688 Up rist this joly lovere Absolon,
MilT 3689 And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys.
MilT 3690 But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys,
MilT 3691 To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer.
MilT 3692 Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer,
MilT 3693 For therby wende he to ben gracious.
MilT 3694 He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
MilT 3695 And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe --
MilT 3696 Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe --
MilT 3697 And softe he cougheth with a semy soun:
MilT 3698 " What do ye, hony-comb, sweete Alisoun,
MilT 3699 My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome?
MilT 3700 Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me!
MilT 3701 Wel litel thynken ye upon my wo,
MilT 3702 That for youre love I swete ther I go.
MilT 3703 No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete;
MilT 3704 I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete.
MilT 3705 Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge
MilT 3706 That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge.
MilT 3707 I may nat ete na moore than a mayde. "
MilT 3708 " Go fro the wyndow, Jakke fool, " she sayde;
MilT 3709 " As help me God, it wol nat be `com pa me.'
MilT 3710 I love another -- and elles I were to blame --
MilT 3711 Wel bet than thee, by Jhesu, Absolon.
MilT 3712 Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston,
MilT 3713 And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey! "
MilT 3714 " Allas, " quod Absolon, " and weylawey,
MilT 3715 That trewe love was evere so yvel biset!
MilT 3716 Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet,
MilT 3717 For Jhesus love, and for the love of me. "
MilT 3718 " Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith? " quod she.
MilT 3719 " Ye, certes, lemman, " quod this Absolon.
MilT 3720 " Thanne make thee redy, " quod she, " I come anon. "
MilT 3721 And unto Nicholas she seyde stille,
MilT 3722 " Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille. "
MilT 3723 This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees
MilT 3724 And seyde, " I am a lord at alle degrees;
MilT 3725 For after this I hope ther cometh moore.
MilT 3726 Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore! "
MilT 3727 The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste.
MilT 3728 " Have do, " quod she, " com of, and speed the faste,
MilT 3729 Lest that oure neighebores thee espie. "
MilT 3730 This Absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie.
MilT 3731 Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole,
MilT 3732 And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
MilT 3733 And Absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers,
MilT 3734 But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
MilT 3735 Ful savourly, er he were war of this.
MilT 3736 Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
MilT 3737 For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
MilT 3738 He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
MilT 3739 And seyde, " Fy! allas! what have I do? "
MilT 3740 " Tehee! " quod she, and clapte the wyndow to,
MilT 3741 And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
MilT 3742 " A berd! A berd! " quod hende Nicholas,
MilT 3743 " By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel. "
MilT 3744 This sely Absolon herde every deel,
MilT 3745 And on his lippe he gan for anger byte,
MilT 3746 And to hymself he seyde, " I shal thee quyte. "
MilT 3747 Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes
MilT 3748 With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes,
MilT 3749 But Absolon, that seith ful ofte, " Allas! "
MilT 3750 " My soule bitake I unto Sathanas,
MilT 3751 But me were levere than al this toun, " quod he,
MilT 3752 " Of this despit awroken for to be.
MilT 3753 Allas, " quod he, " allas, I ne hadde ybleynt! "
MilT 3754 His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt;
MilT 3755 For fro that tyme that he hadde kist hir ers,
MilT 3756 Of paramours he sette nat a kers,
MilT 3757 For he was heeled of his maladie.
MilT 3758 Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie,
MilT 3759 And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.
MilT 3760 A softe paas he wente over the strete
MilT 3761 Until a smyth men cleped daun Gerveys,
MilT 3762 That in his forge smythed plough harneys;
MilT 3763 He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily.
MilT 3764 This Absolon knokketh al esily,
MilT 3765 And seyde, " Undo, Gerveys, and that anon. "
MilT 3766 " What, who artow? " " It am I, Absolon. "
MilT 3767 " What, Absolon! for Cristes sweete tree,
MilT 3768 Why rise ye so rathe? Ey, benedicitee!
MilT 3769 What eyleth yow? Som gay gerl, God it woot,
MilT 3770 Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot.
MilT 3771 By Seinte Note, ye woot wel what I mene. "
MilT 3772 This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene
MilT 3773 Of al his pley; no word agayn he yaf;
MilT 3774 He hadde moore tow on his distaf
MilT 3775 Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, " Freend so deere,
MilT 3776 That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere,
MilT 3777 As lene it me; I have therwith to doone,
MilT 3778 And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone. "
MilT 3779 Gerveys answerde, " Certes, were it gold,
MilT 3780 Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
MilT 3781 Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth.
MilT 3782 Ey, Cristes foo! What wol ye do therwith? "
MilT 3783 " Therof, " quod Absolon, " be as be may.
MilT 3784 I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day " --
MilT 3785 And caughte the kultour by the colde stele.
MilT 3786 Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
MilT 3787 And wente unto the carpenteris wal.
MilT 3788 He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal
MilT 3789 Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er.
MilT 3790 This Alison answerde, " Who is ther
MilT 3791 That knokketh so? I warante it a theef. "
MilT 3792 " Why, nay, " quod he, " God woot, my sweete leef,
MilT 3793 I am thyn Absolon, my deerelyng.
MilT 3794 Of gold, " quod he, " I have thee broght a ryng.
MilT 3795 My mooder yaf it me, so God me save;
MilT 3796 Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave.
MilT 3797 This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse. "
MilT 3798 This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
MilT 3799 And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
MilT 3800 He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
MilT 3801 And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
MilT 3802 And out his ers he putteth pryvely
MilT 3803 Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
MilT 3804 And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
MilT 3805 " Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art. "
MilT 3806 This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
MilT 3807 As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
MilT 3808 That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
MilT 3809 And he was redy with his iren hoot,
MilT 3810 And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.
MilT 3811 Of gooth the skyn an hande-brede aboute,
MilT 3812 The hoote kultour brende so his toute,
MilT 3813 And for the smert he wende for to dye.
MilT 3814 As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye,
MilT 3815 " Help! Water! Water! Help, for Goddes herte! "
MilT 3816 This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
MilT 3817 And herde oon crien " water! " as he were wood,
MilT 3818 And thoughte, " Allas, now comth Nowelis flood! "
MilT 3819 He sit hym up withouten wordes mo,
MilT 3820 And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo,
MilT 3821 And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle,
MilT 3822 Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle
MilT 3823 Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay.
MilT 3824 Up stirte hire Alison and Nicholay,
MilT 3825 And criden " Out " and " Harrow " in the strete.
MilT 3826 The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
MilT 3827 In ronnen for to gauren on this man,
MilT 3828 That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan,
MilT 3829 For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm.
MilT 3830 But stonde he moste unto his owene harm;
MilT 3831 For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun
MilT 3832 With hende Nicholas and Alisoun.
MilT 3833 They tolden every man that he was wood;
MilT 3834 He was agast so of Nowelis flood
MilT 3835 Thurgh fantasie that of his vanytee
MilT 3836 He hadde yboght hym knedyng tubbes thre,
MilT 3837 And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
MilT 3838 And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love,
MilT 3839 To sitten in the roof, par compaignye.
MilT 3840 The folk gan laughen at his fantasye;
MilT 3841 Into the roof they kiken and they cape,
MilT 3842 And turned al his harm unto a jape.
MilT 3843 For what so that this carpenter answerde,
MilT 3844 It was for noght; no man his reson herde.
MilT 3845 With othes grete he was so sworn adoun
MilT 3846 That he was holde wood in al the toun;
MilT 3847 For every clerk anonright heeld with oother.
MilT 3848 They seyde, " The man is wood, my leeve brother " ;
MilT 3849 And every wight gan laughen at this stryf.
MilT 3850 Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf,
MilT 3851 For al his kepyng and his jalousye,
MilT 3852 And Absolon hath kist hir nether ye,
MilT 3853 And Nicholas is scalded in the towte.
MilT 3854 This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte!