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From The Wife of Bath's Tale, lines 1171-1212:
Reflections on poverty and gentility
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Wife of Bath's Tale
lines 1213-1241: The two choices of the knight


       Now sire, of elde ye repreve me,
And certes, sire, thogh noon auctoritee
1215Were in no book, ye gentils of honour
Seyn, that men sholde an oold wight doon favour,
And clepe hym fader for youre gentillesse;
And auctours shal I fynden, as I gesse.
       Now, ther ye seye that I am foul and old,
1220Than drede you noght to been a cokewold;
For filthe and eelde, al so moot I thee,
Been grete wardeyns upon chastitee;
But nathelees, syn I knowe youre delit,
I shal fulfille youre worldly appetit."
       Now, sir, with age you have upbraided me;
And truly, sir, though no authority
1215Were in a book, you gentles of honour
Say that men should the aged show favour,
And call him father, of your gentleness;
And authors could I find for this, I guess.
       Now since you say that I am foul and old,
1220Then fear you not to be made a cuckold;
For dirt and age, as prosperous I may be,
Are mighty wardens over chastity.
Nevertheless, since I know your delight,
I'll satisfy your worldly appetite.
1225        "Chese now," quod she, "oon of thise thynges tweye:
To han me foul and old til that I deye,
And be to yow a trewe humble wyf,
And nevere yow displese in al my lyf;
Or elles ye wol han me yong and fair,
1230And take youre aventure of the repair
That shal be to youre hous, by cause of me,
Or in som oother place may wel be.
Now chese yourselven wheither that yow liketh."
       This knyght avyseth hym and sore siketh,
1235But atte laste, he seyde in this manere:
"My lady and my love, and wyf so deere,
I put me in youre wise governance.
Cheseth yourself, which may be moost plesance
And moost honour to yow and me also.
1240I do no fors the wheither of the two;
For, as yow liketh, it suffiseth me."
1225        "Two choices," said she, "which one will you try,
To have me foul and old until I die,
And be to you a true and humble wife,
And never anger you in all my life;
Or else to have me young and very fair
1230And take your chance with those who will repair
Unto your house, and all because of me,
Or in some other place, as well may be.
Now choose which you like better and reply."
       This knight considered, and did sorely sigh,
1235But at the last replied as you shall hear:
"My lady and my love, and wife so dear,
I put myself in your wise governing;
Do you choose which may be the more pleasing,
And bring most honour to you, and me also.
1240I care not which it be of these things two;
For if you like it, that suffices me."




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From The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 1242-1270:
A happy end
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