Previous Previous:
From The Merchant's Tale, lines 571-582:
January doesn't know Damian likes Maia
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.

From The Canterbury Tales:
The Merchant's Tale
lines 583-653: The consummation of the marriage

       Parfourned hath the sonne his ark diurne;
No lenger may the body of hym sojurne
585On th'orisonte, as in that latitude.
Night with his mantel, that is derk and rude,
Gan oversprede the hemysperie aboute;
For which departed is this lusty route
Fro Januarie, with thank on every syde.
590Hoom to hir houses lustily they ryde,
Where as they doon hir thynges as hem leste,
And whan they sye hir tyme, goon to reste.
Soone after than, this hastif Januarie
Wolde go to bedde, he wolde no lenger tarye.
595He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage
Of spices hoote, t'encreessen his corage;
And many a letuarie hath he ful fyn,
Swiche as the cursed monk, daun Constantyn,
Hath writen in his book De Coitu;
600To eten hem alle he nas no thyng eschu.
And to his privee freendes thus seyde he:
"For Goddes love, as soone as it may be,
Lat voyden al this hous in curteys wyse."
And they han doon right as he wol devyse.
605Men drynken, and the travers drawe anon.
The bryde was broght abedde as stille as stoon;
And whan the bed was with the preest yblessed,
Out of the chambre hath every wight hym dressed;
And Januarie hath faste in armes take
610His fresshe May, his paradys, his make.
He lulleth hire, he kisseth hire ful ofte;
With thikke brustles of his berd unsofte,
Lyk to the skyn of houndfyssh, sharp as brere -
For he was shave al newe in his manere -
615He rubbeth hire aboute hir tendre face,
And seyde thus, "Allas! I moot trespace
To yow, my spouse, and yow greetly offende,
Er tyme come that I wil doun descende.
But nathelees, considereth this," quod he,
620"Ther nys no werkman, whatsoevere he be,
That may bothe werke wel and hastily;
This wol be doon at leyser parfitly.
It is no fors how longe that we pleye;
In trewe wedlok coupled be we tweye;
625And blessed be the yok that we been inne,
For in oure actes we mowe do no synne.
A man may do no synne with his wyf,
Ne hurte hymselven with his owene knyf;
For we han leve to pleye us by the lawe."
630Thus laboureth he til that the day gan dawe;
And thanne he taketh a sop in fyn clarree,
And upright in his bed thanne sitteth he,
And after that he sang ful loude and cleere,
And kiste his wyf, and made wantown cheere
635He was al coltissh, ful of ragerye,
And ful of jargon as a flekked pye.
The slakke skyn aboute his nekke shaketh,
Whil that he sang, so chaunteth he and craketh.
But God woot what that may thoughte in hir herte,
640Whan she hym saugh up sittynge in his sherte,
In his nyght-cappe, and with his nekke lene;
She preyseth nat his pleyyng worth a bene.
Thanne seide he thus, "My reste wol I take;
Now day is come, I may no lenger wake."
645And doun he leyde his heed, and sleep til pryme.
And afterward, whan that he saugh his tyme,
Up ryseth Januarie; but fresshe May
Heeld hire chambre unto the fourthe day,
As usage is of wyves for the beste.
650For every labour somtyme moot han reste,
Or elles longe may he nat endure;
This is to seyn, no lyves creature,
Be it of fyssh, or bryd, or beest, or man.
       When traversed has the sun his are of day,
No longer may the body of him stay
585On the horizon, in that latitude.
Night with his mantle, which is dark and rude,
Did overspread the hemisphere about;
And so departed had this joyous rout
From January, with thanks on every side.
590Home to their houses happily they ride,
Whereat they do what things may please them best,
And when they see the time come, go to rest.
Soon after that this hasty January
Would go to bed, he would no longer tarry.
595He drank of claret, hippocras, vernage,
All spiced and hot to heighten his love's rage;
And many an aphrodisiac, full and fine,
Such as the wicked monk, Dan Constantine,
Has written in his book De Coitu
600Not one of all of them he did eschew.
And to his friends most intimate, said he:
"For God's love, and as soon as it may be,
Let all now leave this house in courteous wise."
And all they rose, just as he bade them rise.
605They drank good-night, and curtains drew anon;
The bride was brought to bed, as still as stone;
And when the bed had been by priest well blessed,
Out of the chamber everyone progressed.
And January lay down close beside
610His fresh young May, his paradise, his bride.
He soothed her, and he kissed her much and oft,
With the thick bristles of his beard, not soft,
But sharp as briars, like a dogfish skin,
For he'd been badly shaved before he came in.
615He stroked and rubbed her on her tender face,
And said: "Alas! I fear I'll do trespass
Against you here, my spouse, and much offend
Before the time when I will down descend.
But nonetheless, consider this," said he,
620"There is no workman, whosoe'er he be,
That may work well, if he works hastily;
This will be done at leisure, perfectly.
It makes no difference how long we two play;
For in true wedlock were we tied today;
625And blessed be the yoke that we are in,
For in our acts, now, we can do no sin.
A man can do no sin with his own wife,
Nor can he hurt himself with his own knife;
For we have leave most lawfully to play."
630Thus laboured he till came the dawn of day;
And then he took in wine a sop of bread,
And upright sat within the marriage bed,
And after that he sang full loud and clear
And kissed his wife and made much wanton cheer.
635He was all coltish, full of venery,
And full of chatter as a speckled pie.
The slackened skin about his neck did shake
The while he sang and chanted like a crake.
But God knows what thing May thought in her heart
640When up she saw him sitting in his shirt,
In his nightcap, and with his neck so lean;
She valued his playing not worth a bean.
Then said he thus: "My rest now will I take;
Now day is come, I can no longer wake."
645And down he laid his head and slept till prime.
And afterward, when saw he it was time,
Up rose this January; but fresh May,
She kept her chamber until the fourth day,
As custom is of wives, and for the best.
650For every worker sometime must have rest,
Or else for long he'll certainly not thrive,
That is to say, no creature that's alive,
Be it of fish, or bird, or beast, or man.

Next Next:
From The Merchant's Tale, lines 654-672:
Lovesick Damian writes a letter and puts it in his shirt pocket