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From The Shipman's Tale, lines 89-111:
Dan John the monk meets the merchant's wife in the garden
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Shipman's Tale
lines 112-142: The merchant's wife has a problem


       This faire wyf gan for to shake hir heed
And seyde thus, "Ye, God woot al," quod she.
"Nay, cosyn myn, it stant nat so with me;
115For, by that God that yaf me soule and lyf,
In al the reawme of France is ther no wyf
That lasse lust hath to that sory pley.
For I may synge 'allas and weylawey,
That I was born,' but to no wight," quod she,
120"Dar I nat telle how that it stant with me.
Wherfore I thynke out of this land to wende,
Or elles of myself to make an ende,
So ful am I of drede and eek of care."
       This pretty wife began to shake her head,
And answered thus: "Aye, God knows all!" said she:
"Nay, cousin mine, it stands not so with me.
115For by that God Who gave me soul and life,
In all the realm of France there is no wife
Who has less lust for that same sorry play.
For I may sing 'Alas!' and 'Welaway
That I was born!' but to no man," said she,
120"Dare I to tell how this thing stands with me.
Wherefore I'm thinking from this land to wend,
Or else of my own life to make an end,
I am so fearful and so full of care."
       This monk bigan upon this wyf to stare,
125And seyde, "Allas, my nece, God forbede
That ye, for any sorwe or any drede,
Fordo youreself; but telleth me youre grief.
Paraventure I may, in youre meschief,
Conseille or helpe; and therfore telleth me
130Al youre anoy, for it shal been secree.
For on my porthors I make an ooth
That nevere in my lyf, for lief ne looth,
Ne shal I of no conseil yow biwreye."
       This monk began, then, at the wife to stare,
125And said: "Alas, my niece, may God forbid
That you, for any care or fear morbid,
Destroy yourself! But tell me of your grief;
Perhaps I may, whatever the mischief,
Counsel or help, and therefore do tell me
130All the annoyance, for 'twill secret be;
For on my breviary I make oath
That never in my life, though lief or loath,
Shall I your secret whisper or betray."
       "The same agayn to yow," quod she, "I seye.
135By God and by this porthors I yow swere,
Though men me wolde al into pieces tere,
Ne shal I nevere, for to goon to helle,
Biwreye a word of thyng that ye me telle,
Nat for no cosynage ne alliance,
140But verraily, for love and affiance."
Thus been they sworn, and heerupon they kiste,
And ech of hem tolde oother what hem liste.
       "The same to you again," said she, "I say;
135By God and by this breviary, I swear,
Though men this body of mine a-pieces tear,
No I will never, though I go to Hell,
Betray a single word that you may tell,
And this, not for our kinship and alliance,
140But verily for love and true reliance."
Thus are they sworn, and thereupon they kissed,
And each told other such things as they list.




Next Next:
From The Shipman's Tale, lines 143-157:
Dan John reveals he is not really the merchant's cousin
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