Previous Previous:
From The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 1-34:
The Wife of Bath mentions her five husbands
Previous
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Wife of Bath's Prologue
lines 35-82: The Wife of Bath's opinion about marriage and virginity


35        Lo, heere the wise kyng, daun Salomon;
I trowe he hadde wyves mo than oon-
As, wolde God, it leveful were to me
To be refresshed half so ofte as he!
Which yifte of God hadde he, for alle hise wyvys!
40No man hath swich that in this world alyve is.
God woot, this noble kyng, as to my wit,
The firste nyght had many a myrie fit
With ech of hem, so wel was hym on lyve!
Yblessed be God, that I have wedded fyve;
45(Of whiche I have pyked out the beste,
Bothe of here nether purs and of here cheste.
Diverse scoles maken parfyt clerkes,
And diverse practyk in many sondry werkes
Maketh the werkman parfyt sekirly;
50Of fyve husbondes scoleiyng am I.)
Welcome the sixte, whan that evere he shal.
For sothe I wol nat kepe me chaast in al.
Whan myn housbonde is fro the world ygon,
Som Cristen man shal wedde me anon.
55For thanne th'apostle seith that I am free,
To wedde, a Goddes half, where it liketh me.
He seith, that to be wedded is no synne,
Bet is to be wedded than to brynne.
What rekketh me, thogh folk seye vileynye
60Of shrewed Lameth and of bigamye?
I woot wel Abraham was an hooly man,
And Jacob eek, as ferforth as I kan,
And ech of hem hadde wyves mo than two,
And many another holy man also.
65Whanne saugh ye evere in any manere age,
That hye God defended mariage
By expres word? I pray you, telleth me,
Or where comanded he virginitee?
I woot as wel as ye it is no drede,
70Th'apostel, whan he speketh of maydenhede;
He seyde that precept therof hadde he noon.
Men may conseille a womman to been oon,
But conseillyng is no comandement;
He putte it in oure owene juggement.
75For hadde God comanded maydenhede,
Thanne hadde he dampned weddyng with the dede;
And certein, if ther were no seed ysowe,
Virginitee, wherof thanne sholde it growe?
Poul dorste nat comanden, atte leeste,
80A thyng of which his maister yaf noon heeste.
The dart is set up of virginitee;
Cacche who so may, who renneth best lat see.
35      Lo, there's the wise old king Dan Solomon;
I understand he had more wives than one;
And now would God it were permitted me
To be refreshed one half as oft as he!
Which gift of God he had for all his wives!
40No man has such that in this world now lives.
God knows, this noble king, it strikes my wit,
The first night he had many a merry fit
With each of them, so much he was alive!
Praise be to God that I have wedded five!
45(Of whom I did pick out and choose the best
Both for their nether purse and for their chest
Different schools make divers perfect clerks,
Different methods learned in sundry works
Make the good workman perfect, certainly.
50Of full five husbands tutoring am I.)
Welcome the sixth whenever come he shall.
Forsooth, I'll not keep chaste for good and all;
When my good husband from the world is gone,
Some Christian man shall marry me anon;
55For then, the apostle says that I am free
To wed, in God's name, where it pleases me.
He says that to be wedded is no sin;
Better to marry than to burn within.
What care I though folk speak reproachfully
60Of wicked Lamech and his bigamy?
I know well Abraham was holy man,
And Jacob, too, as far as know I can;
And each of them had spouses more than two;
And many another holy man also.
65Or can you say that you have ever heard
That God has ever by His express word
Marriage forbidden? Pray you, now, tell me.
Or where commanded he virginity?
I read as well as you no doubt have read
70The apostle when he speaks of maidenhead;
He said, commandment of the Lord he'd none.
Men may advise a woman to be one,
But such advice is not commandment, no;
He left the thing to our own judgment so.
75For had Lord God commanded maidenhood,
He'd have condemned all marriage as not good;
And certainly, if there were no seed sown,
Virginity, where then should it be grown?
Paul dared not to forbid us, at the least,
80A thing whereof his master'd no behest.
The dart is set up for virginity;
Catch it who can; who runs best let us see.




Next Next:
From The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 83-100:
About St. Paul's virginity
Next