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Over the buttok, to the hanche bon.
And therwith spake this clerk, this Absolon,
Speke swete bird, I n'ot not wher thou art.
This Nicholas anon let fleen a fart,
As gret as it had ben a thonder dint,
That with the stroke he was wel nie yblint:
And he was redy with his yren hote,
And Nicholas amid the ers he smote.
Off goth the skinne an hondbrede al aboute.
The hote culter brenned so his toute,
That for the smert he wened for to die;
As he were wood, for wo he gan to crie,
Help, water, water, help for Goddes herte.
This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
And herd on crie water, as he were wood,
And thought, alas, now cometh Noes food.
He set him up withouten wordes mo,
And with his axe be smote the cord atwo;
And doun goth all; he fond neyther to selle
Ne breed ne ale, til he came to the selle,
Upon the flore, and ther aswoune he lay.
Up sterten Alison and Nicholay,
And crieden, out and harow! in the strete.
The neigheboures bothe smale and grete
In rannen, for to gauren on this man,
That yet aswoune lay, bothe pale and wan:
For with the fall he brosten hath his arm.
But stonden he must unto his owen harm,
For whan he spake, he was anon bore doun
With hendy Nicholas and Alisoun.
They tolden every man that he was wood;
He was agaste so of Noes flood
Thurgh fantasie, that of his vanitee
He had ybought him kneding tubbes three,
And had hem honged in the roof above;
And that he praied hem for Goddes love
To sitten in the roof par compagnie.
The folk gan laughen at his fantasie.
Into the roof they kyken, and they gape,
And turned all his harm into a jape.
For what so that this carpenter answerd,
It was for nought, no man his reson herd.
With othes gret he was so sworne adoun,
That he was holden wood in all the toun.,
For everich clerk anon right held with other;
They said, the man was wood, my leve brother;
And every wight gan laughen at this strif.
Thus swived was the carpenteres wif, For all his keping, and his jalousie; And Absolon hath kist hire nether
eye; And Nicholas is scalded in the toute. This tale is don, and God save all the route.
Whan folk han laughed at this nice cas
Of Absolon and hendy Nicholas,
Diverse folk diversely they saide,
But for the more part they lought and plaide;
Ne at this tale I saw no man him greve,
But it were only Osewold the Reve.
Because he was of carpenteres craft,
A litel ire is in his herte ylaft;
He gan to grutch and blamen it a lite.
So the ik, quod he, ful wel coude I him quite
With blering of a proud milleres eye,
If that me list to speke of ribaudrie.
But ik am olde; me list not play for age;
Gras time is don, my foddre is now forage.
This white top writeth min olde yeres;
Min herte is also mouled as min heres;
But if I fare as doth an open-ers;
That ilke fruit is ever lenger the wers,
Til it be roten in mullok, or in stre.
We olde men, I drede, so faren we,
Til we be roten, can we not be ripe;
We hoppe alway, while that the world wol pipe;
For in our will ther stiketh ever a nayl,
To have an hore hed and a grene tayl,
As hath a leke; for though our might be gon,
Our will desireth folly ever in on:
For whan we may not don, than wol we speken,
Yet in our ashen cold is fire yreken.
Foure gledes han we, which I shal devise, Avaunting, lying, anger, and covetise. These foure sparkes longen unto elde. Our olde limes mow wel ben unwelde, But will ne shal not faillen, that is sothe. And yet have I alway a coltes tothe, As many a yere as it is passed henne, Sin that my tappe of lif began to renne. For sikerly, whan I was borne, anon Deth drow the tappe of lif, and let it gon: And ever sith hath so the tappe yronne, Til that almost all empty is the tonne. The streme of lif now droppeth on the chimbe. The sely tonge may wel ringe and chimbe Of wretchednesse, that passed is ful yore: With olde folk, save dotage, is no more.
Whan that our Hoste had herd this sermoning,
He gan to speke as lordly as a king,
And sayde; What amounteth all this wit?
What? shall we speke all day of holy writ?
The divel made a Reve for to preche,
Or of a souter a shipman, or a leche.
Say forth thy tale, and tary not the time:
Lo Depeford, and it is half way prime:
Lo Grenewich, ther many a shrew is inne.
It were al time thy tale to beginne.
Now, sires, quod this Osewold the Reve,
I pray you alle, that ye not you greve,
Though I answere, and somdel set his howve,
For leful is with force force off to showve.
This dronken Miller hath ytold us here,
How that begiled was a carpentere,
Paraventure in scorne, for I am on:
And by your leve, I shal him quite anon,
Right in his cherles termes wol I speke.
to God his necke mote to-breke. He can wel in min eye seen a stalk, But in his owen he cannot seen a balk,
At Trompington, not fer fro Cantebrigge,
Ther goth a brook, and over that a brigge,
Upon the whiche brook ther stont a melle:
And this is veray sothe, that I
telle. A miller was ther dwelling many a day, As any peacok he was proude and gay:
Pipen he coude, and fishe, and nettes bete,
And turnen cuppes, and wrastlen wel, and shete.
Ay by his belt he bare a long pavade,
And of a swerd ful trenchant was the blade.
A joly popper bare he in his pouche;
Ther n'as no man for peril dorst him touche.
A Shefeld thwitel bare he in his hose.
Round was his face, and camuse was his nose.
As pilled as an ape was his skull.
He was a market-beter at the full.
Ther dorste no wight hond upon him legge,
That he ne swore he shuld anon abegge.
A thefe he was forsoth, of corn and mele,
And that a slie, and usant for to stele.
His name was hoten deinous Simekin.
A wif he hadde, comen of noble kin:
The person of the toun hire father was.
With hire he yaf ful many a panne of bras,
For that Simkin shuld in his blood allie.
She was yfostered in a nonnerie:
For Simkin wolde no wif, as he sayde,
But she were wel ynourished, and a mayde,
To saven his estat of yemanrie:
And she was proud, and pert as is a pie.
A ful faire sight was it upon hem two.
On holy dayes beforne hire wold he go
With his tipet ybounde about his hed;
And she came after in a gite of red,
And Simkin hadde hosen of the same.
Ther dorste no wight clepen hire but dame:
Was non so hardy, that went by the
That with hire dorste rage or ones play,
But if he wold be slain of Simekin
With pavade, or with knif, or bodekin.