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Ful litel thinken ye upon my wo,
That for your love I swete ther as I go.
No wonder is though that I swelte and swete.
I mourne as doth a lamb after the tete.
Ywis, lemman, I have swiche love-longing,
That like a turtel trewe is my mourning.
I may not ete no more than a maid.
Go fro the window, jacke fool, she said:
As helpe me God, it wol not be, compame.
I love another, or elles I were to blame,
Wel bet than thee by Jesu, Absolon.
Go forth thy way, or I wol cast a ston;
And let me slepe; a twenty divel way.
Alas! (quod Absolon) and wala wa!
That trewe love was ever so yvel besette:
Than kisse me, sin that it may be no bette,
For Jesus love, and for the love of me.
Wilt thou than go thy way therwith? quod she.
Ya certes, lemman, quod this Absolon.
Than make thee redy, (quod she) I come anon.
This Absolon doun set him on his knees,
And saide; I am a lord at all degrees:
For after this I hope ther cometh more;
Lemman, thy grace, and, swete bird, thyn ore.
The window she undoth, and that in haste.
Have don, (quod she)come of, and spede thee faste,
Lest that our neigheboures thee espie.
This Absolon gan wipe his mouth ful drie.
Derke was the night, as pitch or as the cole,
And at the window she put out hire hole,
And Absolon him felle ne bet ne wers,
But with his mouth he kist hire naked ers
Ful savorly, er he was ware of this.
Abak he sterte, and thought it was amis,
For wel he wist a woman hath no berd.
He felt a thing all rowe, and long yherd,
And saide; fy, alas! what have I do?
Te he, quod she, and clapt the window to; And Absolon goth forth a sory pas.
A berd, a berd, said hendy Nicholas;
By goddes corpus, this goth faire and wel.
This sely Absolon herd every del,
And on his lippe he gan for anger bite;
And to himself he said, I shal thee quite.
Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes With dust, with sond, with straw, with cloth, with chippes,
But Absolon? that saith full oft, alas!
My soule betake I unto Sathanas,
But me were lever than all this toun (quod he) Of this despit awroken for to be.
Alas! alas! that I ne had yblent.
His hote love is cold, and all yqueint.
For fro that time that he had kist hire ers,
Of paramours ne raught he not a kers,
For he was heled of his maladie;
Ful often paramours he gan defie,
And wepe as doth a child that is ybete.
A softe pas he went him over the strete
Until a smith, men callen dan Gerveis,
That in his forge smithed plow-harneis;
He sharpeth share and cultre besily.
This Absolon knocketh all esily,
And said; Undo, Gerveis, and that anon.
What, who art thou? It am I Absolon.
What? Absolon, what? Cristes swete tre,
Why rise ye so rath? ey benedicite,
What eileth you? some gay girle, God it wote,
Hath brought you thus upon the viretote:
By Seint Neote, ye wote wel what I mene.
This Absolon ne raughte not a bene
Of all his play; no word again he yaf.
He hadde more tawe on his distaf
Than Gerveis knew, and saide; Frend so dere,
That hote culter in the cheminee here
As lene it me, I have therwith to don:
I wol it bring again to thee ful sone.
Gerveis answered; Certes, were it gold,
Or in a poke nobles all untold,
Thou shuldest it have, as I am trewe smith.
Ey, Cristes foot, what wol ye don therwith?
Therof, quod Absolon, be as be may;
I shal wel tellen thee another day:
And caught the culter by the colde stele.
Ful soft out at the dore he gan to stele,
And went unto the carpenteres wall.
He coughed first, and knocked therwithall
Upon the window, right as he did er.
This Alison answered; Who is ther
That knocketh so? I warrant him a thefe.
Nay, nay, (quod he) God wot, my swete lefe, I am thin Absolon, thy dereling.
Of gold (quod he) I have thee brought a ring,
My mother yave it me, so God me save,
Ful fine it is, and therto wel ygrave:
This wol I yeven thee, if thou me kisse.
This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
And thought he wolde amenden all the jape,
He shulde kisse his ers er that he scape:
And up the window did he hastily,
And out his ers he putteth prively
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 flood, He set him up withouten wordes mo,
And with his axe he 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 neighboures 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