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From The Wife of Bath's Tale, lines 905-918:
The queen sends the criminal knight on a quest
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Wife of Bath's Tale
lines 919-957: The knight searches the land


       Wo was this knyght, and sorwefully he siketh;
920But what! He may nat do al as hym liketh.
And at the laste he chees hym for to wende,
And come agayn right at the yeres ende,
With swich answere as God wolde hym purveye;
And taketh his leve, and wendeth forth his weye.
925       He seketh every hous and every place
Where as he hopeth for to fynde grace
To lerne what thyng wommen loven moost;
But he ne koude arryven in no coost
Wher as he myghte fynde in this mateere
930Two creatures accordynge in-feere.
Somme seyde, wommen loven best richesse,
Somme seyde honour, somme seyde jolynesse,
Somme riche array, somme seyden lust abedde,
And oftetyme to be wydwe and wedde.
935Somme seyde, that oure hertes been moost esed
Whan that we been yflatered and yplesed.
He gooth ful ny the sothe, I wol nat lye,
A man shal wynne us best with flaterye;
And with attendance and with bisynesse
940Been we ylymed, bothe moore and lesse.
       Grieved was this knight, and sorrowfully he sighed;
920But there! He could not do as pleased his pride.
And at the last he chose that he would wend
And come again upon the twelvemonth's end,
With such an answer as God might purvey;
And so he took his leave and went his way.
925He sought out every house and every place
Wherein he hoped to find that he had grace
To learn what women love the most of all;
But nowhere ever did it him befall
To find, upon the question stated here,
930Two, persons who agreed with statement clear.
Some said that women all loved best riches,
Some said, fair fame, and some said, prettiness;
Some, rich array, some said 'twas lust abed
And often to be widowed and re-wed.
935Some said that our poor hearts are aye most eased
When we have been most flattered and thus pleased
And he went near the truth, I will not lie;
A man may win us best with flattery;
And with attentions and with busyness
940We're often limed, the greater and the less.
       And somme seyen, how that we loven best
For to be free, and do right as us lest,
And that no man repreve us of oure vice,
But seye that we be wise, and nothyng nyce.
945For trewely, ther is noon of us alle,
If any wight wol clawe us on the galle,
That we nel kike; for he seith us sooth;
Assay, and he shal fynde it that so dooth.
For, be we never so vicious withinne,
950We sol been holden wise, and clene of synne.
       And somme seyn, that greet delit han we
For to been holden stable and eek secree,
And in o purpos stedefastly to dwelle,
And nat biwreye thyng that men us telle.
955But that tale is nat worth a rake-stele,
Pardee, we wommen konne no thyng hele.
Witnesse on Myda, - wol ye heere the tale?
       And some say, too, that we do love the best
To be quite free to do our own behest,
And that no man reprove us for our vice,
But saying we are wise, take our advice.
945For truly there is no one of us all,
If anyone shall rub us on a gall,
That will not kick because he tells the truth.
Try, and he'll find, who does so, I say sooth.
No matter how much vice we have within,
950We would be held for wise and clean of sin.
And some folk say that great delight have we
To be held constant, also trustworthy,
And on one purpose steadfastly to dwell,
And not betray a thing that men may tell.
955But that tale is not worth a rake's handle;
By God, we women can no thing conceal,
As witness Midas. Would you hear the tale?




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From The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 958-988:
Ovid's tale about Midas: a women cannot keep a secret
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