Geoffrey Chaucer

The Miller’s Tale

       1 -  Whilom ther was dwellynge at Oxenford
             There was once dwelling at Oxford

2 - A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
     A rich churl, who took in boarders,

3 - And of his craft he was a carpenter.
     And of his craft he was a carpenter.

4 - With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
     With him there was dwelling a poor scholar,

5 - Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
     Who had learned the arts curriculum, but all his desire

6 - Was turned for to lerne astrologye,
      Was turned to learning astrology,

7 - And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns,
      And he knew a certain (number of) of astronomical operations,

8 - To demen by interrogaciouns,
     To determine by scientific calculations,

9 - If that men asked hym, in certein houres
     If men asked him, in specific (astronomical) hours

10 - Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures,
       When men should have drought or else showers,

11 - Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle
      Or if people asked him what should happen

12 - Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle.
       Concerning every thing; I can not reckon them all.

13 - This clerk was cleped hende Nicholas.
        This clerk was called clever Nicholas.

14 - Of deerne love he koude and of solas;
        Of secret love he knew and of its satisfaction;

15 - And therto he was sleigh and ful privee,
         And moreover he was sly and very discreet,

16 - And lyk a mayden meke for to see.
        And like a maiden meek in appearance.

17 - A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
       A room had he in that hostelry

18 - Allone, withouten any compaignye,
       Alone, without any company,

19- Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote;
      Very elegantly strewn with sweet-smelling herbs;

20 - And he hymself as sweete as is the roote
     And he himself as sweet as is the root

21 - Of lycorys or any cetewale.
        Of licorice or any zedoary (a ginger-like herb).

22 - His Almageste, and bookes grete and smale,
        His Almagest, and books large and small,

23 - His astrelabie, longynge for his art,
        His astrolabe, belonging to his art (of astronomy),

24 - His augrym stones layen faire apart,
       His counting stones (for his abacus) lie neatly apart,

25 - On shelves couched at his beddes heed;
       Arranged on shelves at his bed's head;

26 - His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed;
       His linen press covered with a red woolen cloth;

27 - And al above ther lay a gay sautrie,
       And all above there lay a fine psaltery,

28 - On which he made a-nyghtes melodie
       On which at night he made melody

29 - So swetely that all the chambre rong;
       So sweetly that all the room rang;

30 - And Angelus ad virginem he song;
       And "The Angel to the Virgin" he sang;

31 - And after that he song the Kynges Noote.
       And after that he sang the King's Tune.

32 - Ful often blessed was his myrie throte.
       Very often his merry throat was blessed.

33 - And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente
       And thus this sweet clerk spent his time 

34 - After his freendes fyndyng and his rente.
       Living on his friends' support and his (own) income.

       35 - This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf,
              This carpenter had recently wedded a wife,

36 - Which that he lovede moore than his lyf;
       Whom he loved more than his life;

37 - Of eighteteene yeer she was of age.
       She was eighteen years of age.

38 - Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage,
       Jealous he was, and held her narrowly in confinement,

39 - For she was wylde and yong, and he was old
       For she was wild and young, and he was old

40 - And demed hymself been lik a cokewold.
       And believed himself likely to be a cuckold.

41 - He knew nat Catoun, for his wit was rude,
       He knew not Cato, for his wit was rude,

42 - That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude.
       Who advised that man should wed his equal.

43 - Men sholde wedden after hire estaat,
       Men should wed according to their status in life,

44 - For youthe and elde is often at debaat.
       For youth and old age are often in conflict.

45 - But sith that he was fallen in the snare,
       But since he was fallen in the snare,

46 - He moste endure, as oother folk, his care.
       He must endure, like other folk, his troubles.

       47 - Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
              Fair was this young wife, and moreover

48 - As any wezele hir body gent and smal.
       As any weasel was her body graceful and slender.

49 - A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk,
       A belt she wore, with decorative strips all of silk,

50 - A barmclooth as whit as morne milk
       An apron as white as morning milk

51 - Upon hir lendes, ful of many a goore.
       Upon her loins, full of many a flounce.

52 - Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore
       White was her smock, and embroidered all in front

53 - And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute,
       And also behind, around her collar,

54 - Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
       With coal-black silk, within and also without.

55 - The tapes of hir white voluper
       The ribbons of her white cap

56 - Were of the same suyte of hir coler;
       Were of the same color as her collar;

57 - Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye.
       Her headband broad of silk, and set very high.

58 - And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye;
       And surely she had a wanton eye;

59 - Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two,
       Her two eyebrows were plucked very thin,

60 - And tho were bent and blake as any sloo.
       And those were bent and black as any sloe.

61 - She was ful moore blisful on to see
       She was much more blissful to look upon

62 - Than is the newe pere-jonette tree,
       Than is the new early-ripe pear tree,

63 - And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
       And softer than the wool is of a sheep.

64 - And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether,
       And by her girdle hung a purse of leather,

65 - Tasseled with silk and perled with latoun.
       Tasseled with silk and ornamented with latten "pearls."

66 - In al this world, to seken up and doun,
       In all this world, to seek up and down,

67 - There nys no man so wys that koude thenche
       There is no man so wise that he could imagine

68 - So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.
       So lovely a little doll or such a wench.

69 - Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe
       Much brighter was the shining of her complexion

70 - Than in the Tour the noble yforged newe.
       Than the newly minted noble in the Tower.

71 - But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne
        But of her song, it was as loud and lively

72 - As any swalwe sittynge on a berne.
       As any swallow sitting on a barn.

73 - Therto she koude skippe and make game,
       Moreover she could skip and play,

74 - As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame.
       Like any kid or calf following its mother.

75 - Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,
       Her mouth was sweet as ale and honey or mead,

76 - Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth.
       Or a hoard of apples laid in hay or heather.

77 - Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt,
       Skittish she was, as is a spirited colt,

78 - Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
       Tall as a mast, and straight as an arrow.

79 - A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler,
       A brooch she wore upon her low collar,

80 - As brood as is the boos of a bokeler.
       As broad as is the boss of a shield.

81 - Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.
       Her shoes were laced high on her legs.

82 - She was a prymerole, a piggesnye,
       She was a primrose, a pig's eye (a flower),

83 - For any lord to leggen in his bedde,
       For any lord to lay in his bed,

84 - Or yet for any good yeman to wedde.
       Or yet for any good yeoman to wed. 

       85 - Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas
              Now, sir, and again, sir, it so happened

86 - That on a day this hende Nicholas
       That one day this clever Nicholas

87- Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
       Happened with this young wife to flirt and play,

88 - Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye,
       While her husband was at Oseneye,

89 - As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
       For clerks are very subtle and very clever;

90 - And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
       And intimately he caught her by her crotch,

91 - And seyde, "Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
       And said, "Indeed, unless I have my will,

92 - For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille."
       For secret love of thee, sweetheart, I die."

93 - And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones,
       And held her hard by the thigh,

94 - And seyde, "Lemman, love me al atones,
       And said, "Sweetheart, love me immediately

95 - Or I wol dyen, also God me save!"
       Or I will die, so save me God!"

96 - And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave,
        And she sprang as a colt does when restrained,

97 - And with hir heed she wryed faste awey,
        And with her head she twisted fast away,

98 - And seyde, "I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey!
       And said, "I will not kiss thee, by my faith!

99 - Why, lat be!" quod she. "Lat be, Nicholas,
       Why, let me be!" said she. "Let me be, Nicholas,

100 - Or I wol crie `out, harrow' and `allas'!
          Or I will cry `out, help' and `alas'!

101 - Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye!"
          ake away your hands, for your courtesy!"

       102 - This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
                This Nicholas began to cry for mercy,

103 - And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
         And spoke so fair, and pressed his suit so fast,

104 - That she hir love hym graunted atte laste,
         That she granted him her love at the last,

105 - And swoor hir ooth, by Seint Thomas of Kent,
         And swore her oath, by Saint Thomas of Kent,

106 - That she wol been at his comandement,
         That she will be at his commandment,

107 - Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie.
         When she may well espy her opportunity.

108 - "Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie
         "My husband is so full of jealousy

109 - That but ye wayte wel and been privee,
         That unless you wait patiently and are secretive,

110 - I woot right wel I nam but deed," quod she.
         I know right well I am as good as dead," said she.

111 - "Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas."
         "You must been very secret in this matter."

       112 - "Nay, therof care thee noght," quod Nicholas.
                "No, care thee not about that," said Nicholas.

113 - "A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle,
         "A clerk had badly wasted his time (studying),

114 - But if he koude a carpenter bigyle."
         If he could not outwit a carpenter."

115 - And thus they been accorded and ysworn
         And thus they are agreed and sworn

116 - To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
         To wait for a time, as I have told before.

       117 - Whan Nicholas had doon thus everideel
                When Nicholas had done thus every bit

118 - And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
         And well patted her about the loins,

119 - He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie,
         He kissed her sweetly and takes his psaltery,

120 - And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie.
         And plays fast, and makes melody.

       121 - Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche,
                Then it thus happened, that to the parish church,

122 - Cristes owene werkes for to wirche,
         Christ's own works to do,

123 - This goode wyf went on an haliday.
         This good wife went on a holiday.

124 - Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,
         Her forehead shone as bright as any day,

125 - So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk.
         It was so washed when she left her work.

126 - Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
         Now was there of that church a parish clerk,

127 - The which that was ycleped Absolon.
         Who was called Absolon.

128 - Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
         Curly was his hair, and as the gold it shone,

129 - And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
         And stretched out like a fan large and broad;

130 - Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode.
         Very straight and even lay his elegant parted hair.

131 - His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos.
         His complexion was ruddy, his eyes gray as a goose.

132 - With Poules wyndow corven on his shoos,
         With St. Paul's window carved on his shoes,

133 - In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
         In red hose he went elegantly.

134 - Yclad he was ful smal and proprely
         Clad he was very trimly and properly

135 - Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget;
         All in a tunic of a light blue;

136 - Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set.
         Very fair and thick are the laces set.

137 - And therupon he hadde a gay surplys
         And over that he had a gay surplice

138 - As whit as is the blosme upon the rys.
         As white as is the blossom upon the branch.

139 - A myrie child he was, so God me save.
         A merry lad he was, so save me God.

140 - Wel koude he laten blood, and clippe and shave,
         Well could he draw blood, and cut hair and shave,

141 - And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce.
         And make a charter of land or a legal release. 

142 - In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce
         In twenty different ways could he trip and dance

143 - After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
         After the school of Oxford as it was then,

144 - And with his legges casten to and fro,
         And with his legs kick to and fro,

145 - And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
         And play songs on a small fiddle,

146 - Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble;
         To which he some times sang a loud high treble;

147 - And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne.
         And he could play as well on a guitar.

148 - In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
         In all the town there was no brew house nor tavern

149 - That he ne visited with his solas,
         That he did not visit with his entertainment,

150 - Ther any gaylard tappestere was.
         Where any merry barmaid was.

151 - But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous
         But to say the truth, he was somewhat squeamish

152 - Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
         About farting, and fastidious in his speech.

       153 - This Absolon, that jolif was and gay,
                This Absolon, who was elegant and gay,

154 - Gooth with a sencer on the haliday,
         Goes with a censer on the holiday,

155 - Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste;
         Censing the wives of the parish eagerly;

156 - And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
         And many a lovely look he cast on them,

157 - And namely on this carpenteris wyf.
         And especially on this carpenter's wife.

158 - To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf,
         To look on her he thought a merry life,

159 - She was so propre and sweete and likerous.
         She was so attractive and sweet and flirtatious.

160 - I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous,
         I dare well say, if she had been a mouse,

161 - And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon.
         And he a cat, he would have grabbed her at once.

162 - This parissh clerk, this joly Absolon,
         This parish clerk, this elegant Absolon,

163 - Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge
         Has in his heart such a love-longing

164 - That of no wyf took he noon offrynge;
         That of no wife took he any offering;

165 - For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon.
         For courtesy, he said, he would have none.

       166 - The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon,
                 The moon, when it was night, very brightly shone,

167 - And Absolon his gyterne hath ytake;
         And Absolon his guitar has taken;

168 - For paramours he thoghte for to wake.
         For the sake of love he intended to stay awake.

169 - And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous,
         And forth he goes, elegant and amorous,

170 - Til he cam to the carpenteres hous
         Until he came to the carpenter's house

171 - A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe,
         A little after cocks had crowed,

172 - And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe
         And took his place up by a casement window

173 - That was upon the carpenteris wal.
         That was upon the carpenter's wall.

174 - He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal,
         He sings in his voice gentle and high,

175 - "Now, deere lady, if thy wille be,
         "Now, dear lady, if it be thy will,

176 - I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me,"
         I pray yow that you will have pity on me,"

177 - Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge.
         Very well in harmony with his guitar-playing.

178 - This carpenter awook, and herde him synge,
         This carpenter awoke, and heard him sing,

179 - And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon,
         And spoke unto his wife, and said at once,

180 - "What! Alison! Herestow nat Absolon,
         "What! Alison! Hearest thou not Absolon,

181 - That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal?"
         That chants thus next to our bedroom's wall?"

182 - And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal,
         And she answered her husband immediately,

183 - "Yis, God woot, John, I heere it every deel."
         "Yes indeed, God knows, John, I hear it every bit."

       184 - This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel?
                This goes on; what more would you have?

185 - Fro day to day this joly Absolon
         From day to day this elegant Absolon

186 - So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon.
         So woos her that he is in a sorry state.

187 - He waketh al the nyght and al the day;
         He stays awake all the night and all the day;

188 - He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay;
         He combs his flowing locks, and dressed himself elegantly;

189 - He woweth hire by meenes and brocage,
         He woos her by go-betweens and agents,

190 - And swoor he wolde been hir owene page;
         And swore he would be her own servant;

191 - He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale;
         He sings, trilling like a nightingale;

192 - He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale,
         He sent her sweetened wine, mead, and spiced ale,

193 - And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede;
         And wafers, piping hot out of the fire;

194 - And, for she was of town, he profred meede;
         And, because she was a townie, he offered money;

195 - For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
         For some folk will be won for riches,

196 - And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse.
         And some by force, and some for noble character.

197 - Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
         Sometimes, to show his agility and skill,

198 - He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye.
         He plays Herod upon a high stage.

199 - But what availleth hym as in this cas?
         But what good does it do him in this case?

200 - She loveth so this hende Nicholas
         She so loves this clever Nicholas

201 - That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn;
         That Absolon may go whistle;

202 - He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn.
         He had for his labor nothing but scorn.

203 - And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
         And thus she makes Absolon her fool,

204 - And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
         And turns all his earnestness into a joke.

205 - Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
         Very true is this proverb, it is no lie,

206 - Men seyn right thus: "Alwey the nye slye
         Men say right thus: "Always the nearby sly one

207 - Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth."
         Makes the distant loved one to be disliked."

208 - For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth,
         For though Absolon be crazed or angry,

209 - By cause that he fer was from hire sight,
         Because he was far from her sight,

210 - This nye Nicholas stood in his light.
         This nearby Nicholas cast him in the shadow.

       211 - Now ber thee wel, thou hende Nicholas,
                Now bear thyself well, thou clever Nicholas,

212 - For Absolon may waille and synge "allas."
         For Absolon may wail and sing "alas." 

213 - And so bifel it on a Saterday,
         And so it happened on a Saturday,

214 - This carpenter was goon til Osenay;
         This carpenter was gone to Osenay;

215 - And hende Nicholas and Alisoun
         And clever Nicholas and Alisoun

216 - Acorded been to this conclusioun,
         Are agreed on this plan,

217 - That Nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle
         That Nicholas shall devise a trick

218 - This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle;
         To beguile this hapless jealous husband;

219 - And if so be the game wente aright,
         And if it so be the game went right,

200 - She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght,
         She should sleep in his arms all night,

221 - For this was his desir and hire also.
         For this was his desire and hers also.

222 - And right anon, withouten wordes mo,
         And right away, without more words,

223 - This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarie,
         This Nicholas no longer would tarry,

224 - But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie
         But has carried very quietly unto his chamber

225 - Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye,
         Both food and drink for a day or two,

226 - And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye,
         And told her to say to her husband,

227 - If that he axed after Nicholas,
         If he asked about Nicholas,

228 - She sholde seye she nyste where he was;
         She should say she knew not where he was;

229 - Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye;
         Of all that day she saw him not with eye;

230 - She trowed that he was in maladye,
         She believed that he was ill,

231 - For, for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle,
         Because, for no shout could her maid call him,

232 - He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle.
         He would not answer for anything that might befall.

       233 - This passeth forth al thilke Saterday,
                This goes on all that same Saturday,

234 - That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
         That Nicholas still in his chamber lay,

235 - And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste,
         And ate and slept, or did what he pleased,

236 - Til Sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste.
         Until Sunday, when the sun goes to rest.

237 - This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle
         This hapless carpenter has great marvel

238 - Of Nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle,
         About Nicholas, or what thing might ail him,

239 - And seyde, "I am adrad, by Seint Thomas,
         And said, "I am afraid, by Saint Thomas,

240 - It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas.
         Things are not right with Nicholas.

241 - God shilde that he deyde sodeynly!
         God forbid that he should suddenly die!

242 - This world is now ful tikel, sikerly.
         This world is now very ticklish, surely.

243 - I saugh today a cors yborn to chirche
         I saw today a corpse carried to church

244 - That now, on Monday last, I saugh hym wirche.
         That just now, on last Monday, I saw him work.

       245 -  "Go up," quod he unto his knave anoon,
                 "Go up," he said unto his servant at once,

246 - "Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon.
         "Call at his door, or knock with a stone.

247 - Looke how it is, and tel me boldely."
         Look how it is, and tell me quickly."

       248 - This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily,
                This servant goes up very resolutely,

249 - And at the chambre dore whil that he stood,
         And at the chamber door while he stood,

250 - He cride and knokked as that he were wood,
         He cried and knocked as if he were crazy,

251 - "What, how! What do ye, maister Nicholay?
         "What, hey! What do you, master Nicholay?

252 - How may ye slepen al the longe day?"
         How can you sleep all the long day?"

       253 - But al for noght; he herde nat a word.
                But all for naught; he heard not a word.

254 - An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord,
         He found a hole, very low upon a board,

255 - Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
         Where the cat was accustomed to creep in,

256 - And at that hole he looked in ful depe,
         And through that hole he looked in very carefully,

257 - And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight.
         And at the last he had a sight of him.

258 - This Nicholas sat evere capyng upright,
         This Nicholas sat ever gaping upward,

259 - As he had kiked on the newe moone.
         As if he were gazing on the new moon.

260 - Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone
         Down he goes, and told his master immediately

261 - In what array he saugh this ilke man.
         In what condition he saw this same man.

       262 - This carpenter to blessen hym bigan,
                This carpenter began to bless himself,

263 - And seyde, "Help us, Seinte Frydeswyde!
         And said, "Help us, Saint Frideswide!

264 - A man woot litel what hym shal bityde.
         A man knows little what shall happen to him.

265 - This man is falle, with his astromye,
         This man is fallen, because of his astronomy,

266 - In some woodnesse or in som agonye.
         In some madness or in some fit.

267 - I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be!
         I always thought well how it should be!

268 - Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee.
         Men should not know of God's secrets.

269 - Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
         Yes, blessed be always an unlearned man

270 - That noght but oonly his bileve kan!
         Who knows nothing but only his belief!

271 - So ferde another clerk with astromye;
         So fared another clerk with astronomy;

272 - He walked in the feeldes for to prye
         He walked in the fields to look 

273 - Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle,
         Upon the stars, (to find) there what should happen,

274- Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle;
         Until he was fallen in a fertilizer pit;

275 - He saugh nat that. But yet, by Seint Thomas,
         He did not see that. But yet, by Saint Thomas,

276 - Me reweth soore of hende Nicholas.
         I feel very sorry for clever Nicholas.

277 - He shal be rated of his studiyng,
         He shall be scolded for his studying,

278 - If that I may, by Jhesus, hevene kyng!
         If that I may, by Jesus, heaven's king!

279 - Get me a staf, that I may underspore,
         Get me a staff, that I may pry up from below, 

280 - Whil that thou, Robyn, hevest up the dore.
         While thou, Robyn, lift up the door.

281 - He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse."
         He shall (come) out of his studying, as I guess."

282 - And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse.
         And to the chamber door he turned his attention.

283 - His knave was a strong carl for the nones,
         His servant was a strong fellow for this purpose,

284 - And by the haspe he haaf it of atones;
         And by the hasp he heaved it off at once;

285 - Into the floor the dore fil anon.
         Onto the floor the door fell straightway.

286 - This Nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon,
         This Nicholas sat ever as still as stone,

287 - And evere caped upward into the eir.
         And ever gaped upward into the air.

288 - This carpenter wende he were in despeir,
         This carpenter supposed he was in despair,

289 - And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily,
         And seized him by the shoulders vigorously,

290 - And shook hym harde, and cride spitously,
         And shook him hard, and cried loudly,

291 - "What! Nicholay! What, how! What, looke adoun!
         "What! Nicholay! What, how! What, look down!

292 - Awak, and thenk on Cristes passioun!
         Awake, and think on Christ's passion!

293 - I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes."
         I bless thee from elves and from evil creatures."

294 - Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes
         Therewith the night-charm he said straightway

295 - On foure halves of the hous aboute,
          On four corners of the house about,

296 - And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute:
         And on the threshold of the door outside:

297 - "Jhesu Crist and Seinte Benedight,
         "Jesus Christ and Saint Benedict,

298 - Blesse this hous from every wikked wight,
         Bless this house from every wicked creature,

299 - For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster!
         For evil spirits of the nights, the white pater-noster!

300 - Where wentestow, Seinte Petres soster?"
         Where went thou, Saint Peter's sister?"

       301 - And atte laste this hende Nicholas
                And at the last this clever Nicholas

302 - Gan for to sik soore, and seyde, "Allas!
         Began to sigh deeply, and said, "Alas!

303 - Shal al the world be lost eftsoones now?"
         Shall all the world be lost right now?"

       304 - This carpenter answerde, "What seystow?
                 This carpenter answered, "What sayest thou?

305 - What! Thynk on God, as we doon, men that swynke."
         What! Think on God, as we do, men who work."

306 - This Nicholas answerde, "Fecche me drynke,
         This Nicholas answered, "Fetch me drink,

307 - And after wol I speke in pryvetee
         And after will I speak in private

308 - Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee.
         About a certain matter that concerns me and thee.

309 - I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn."
         I will tell it to no other man, certainly."

       310 - This carpenter goth doun, and comth ageyn,
                This carpenter goes down, and comes again,

311 - And broghte of myghty ale a large quart;
         And brought of strong ale a large quart;

312 - And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part,
         And when each of them had drunk his part,

313 - This Nicholas his dore faste shette,
         This Nicholas shut fast his door,

314 - And doun the carpenter by hym he sette.
         And the carpenter sat down by him.

       315 - He seyde, "John, myn hooste, lief and deere,
                He said, "John, my host, beloved and dear,

316 - Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere
         Thou shalt upon thy pledged word swear to me here

317 - That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye,
         That to no person thou shalt this counsel reveal,

318 - For it is Cristes conseil that I seye,
         For it is Christ's secrets that I say,

319 - And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore;
         And if thou tell it to anyone, thou art completely lost;

320 - For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore,
         For this vengeance thou shalt have therefore,

321 - That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood."
         That if thou betray me, thou shalt go mad."

322 - "Nay, Crist forbede it, for his hooly blood!"
         "Nay, Christ forbid it, for his holy blood!"

323 - Quod tho this sely man, "I nam no labbe,
         Said then this hapless man, "I am no blabbermouth,

324 - Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe.
         And, though I say it, I do not like to gab.

325 - Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle
         Say what thou will, I shall never tell it 

326 - To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle!"
         To child nor wife, by Him that rescued souls from hell!"

       327 - "Now John," quod Nicholas, "I wol nat lye;
                "Now John," said Nicholas, "I will not lie;

328 - I have yfounde in myn astrologye,
         I have found in my astrology,

329 - As I have looked in the moone bright,
         As I have looked on the bright moon,

330 - That now a Monday next, at quarter nyght,
         That now on Monday next, after midnight,

331 - Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood
         Shall fall a rain, and that so wild and raging

332 - That half so greet was nevere Noes flood.
         That Noah's flood was never half so large.

333 - This world," he seyde, "in lasse than an hour
         This world," he said, "in less than an hour

334 - Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour.
         Shall all be drowned, so hideous is the shower.

335 - Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf."
         Thus shall mankind drown, and lose their lives."

       336 - This carpenter answerde, "Allas, my wyf!
                This carpenter answered, "Alas, my wife!

337 - And shal she drenche? Allas, myn Alisoun!"
         And shall she drown? Alas, my Alisoun!"

338 - For sorwe of this he fil almoost adoun,
         For sorrow of this he almost fell down,

339 - And seyde, "Is ther no remedie in this cas?"
         And said, "Is there no remedy in this case?"

       340 - "Why, yis, for Gode," quod hende Nicholas,
                "Why, yes indeed, by God," said clever Nicholas,

341 - "If thou wolt werken after loore and reed.
         "If thou will act in accordance with learning and (good) advice.

342 - Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed;
         Thou mayst not act according to thine own ideas;

343 - For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe:
         For thus says Solomon, which was very true:

344 - 'Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe.'
         'Do all in accordance with good advice, and thou shalt not rue (it).'

345 - And if thou werken wolt by good conseil,
         And if thou will act in accordance with good advice,

346 - I undertake, withouten mast and seyl,
         I guarantee, without mast and sail,

347 - Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me.
         Yet shall I save her and thee and me.

348 - Hastow nat herd hou saved was Noe,
         Hast thou not heard how Noah was saved,

349 - Whan that oure Lord hadde warned hym biforn
         When our Lord had warned him before

350 - That al the world with water sholde be lorn?"
         That all the world should be destroyed by water?"

       351 - "Yis," quod this Carpenter, "ful yoore ago."
                "Yes indeed," said this Carpenter, "very long ago."

       352 - "Hastou nat herd," quod Nicholas, "also
                "Hast thou not heard," said Nicholas, "also

353 - The sorwe of Noe with his felaweshipe,
         The sorrow of Noah with his fellowship,

354 - Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe?
         Before he could get his wife onto the ship?

355 - Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake,
         He would rather, I dare well guarantee,

356 - At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake
         At that time, than have all his black sheep

357 - That she hadde had a ship hirself allone.
         That she had had a ship for herself alone.

358 - And therfore, woostou what is best to doone?
         And therefore, knowest thou what is best to do?

359- This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng
         This needs haste, and of a hasty thing

360 - Men may nat preche or maken tariyng.
         Men may not preach nor make tarrying.

       361 - "Anon go gete us faste into this in
                "Right now go bring us quickly into this dwelling

362 - A knedyng trogh, or ellis a kymelyn,
         A kneading trough, or else a large vat,

363 - For ech of us, but looke that they be large,
         For each of us, but see that they be large,

364 - In which we mowe swymme as in a barge,
         In which we may float as in a barge,

365 - And han therinne vitaille suffisant
         And have therein sufficient victuals

366 - But for a day -- fy on the remenant!
         But for a day -- fie on the remnant!

367 - The water shal aslake and goon away
         The water shall recede and go away

368 - Aboute pryme upon the nexte day.
         About nine a.m. on the next day.

369 - But Robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave,
         But Robin, thy knave, may not know of this, 

370 - Ne eek thy mayde Gille I may nat save;
         And also thy maid Gille I can not save;

371 - Axe nat why, for though thou aske me,
         Ask not why, for though thou ask me,

372 - I wol nat tellen Goddes pryvetee.
         I will not tell God's secrets.

373 - Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde,
         It suffices thee, unless thy wits go mad,

374 - To han as greet a grace as Noe hadde.
         To have as great a grace as Noah had.

375 - Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute.
         Thy wife shall I well save, beyond doubt.

376 - Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute.
         Go now thy way, and speed thee on this business.

       377 - "But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me,
                "But when thou hast, for her and thee and me,

378 - Ygeten us thise knedyng tubbes thre,
         Got us these three kneading tubs,

379 - Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye,
         Then shalt thou hang them in the roof very high,

380 - That no man of oure purveiaunce espye.
          In a way that no man may espy our preparations.

381 - And whan thou thus hast doon as I have seyd,
         And when thou thus hast done as I have said,

382 - And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd,
         And hast laid our victuals carefully in them,

384 - And eek an ax to smyte the corde atwo,
         And also an axe to smite the cord in two,

385 - Whan that the water comth, that we may go
         When the water comes, so that we may go

386 - And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable,
         And break a hole on high, upon the gable,

387 - Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable,
         Toward the garden, over the stable,

388 - That we may frely passen forth oure way,
         That we may freely pass forth on our way,

389 - Whan that the grete shour is goon away.
         When the great shower is gone away.

390 - Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake,
         Then shalt thou float as merry, I guarantee,

391 - As dooth the white doke after hire drake.
         As does the white duck after her drake.

392 - Thanne wol I clepe, 'How, Alison! How, John!
         Then will I call, 'How, Alison! How, John!

393 - Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon.'
         Be merry, for the flood will soon pass.'

394 - And thou wolt seyn, 'Hayl, maister Nicholay!
         And thou will say, 'Hail, master Nicholay!

395 - Good morwe, I se thee wel, for it is day.'
         Good morrow, I see thee well, for it is day.'

396 - And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf
         And then shall we be lords all our life

397 - Of al the world, as Noe and his wyf.
         Of all the world, like Noah and his wife.

       398 - "But of o thyng I warne thee ful right:
                "But of one thing I warn thee very sternly:

399 - Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght
         Be well advised on that same night

400 - That we ben entred into shippes bord,
         On which we are entered onto shipboard,

401 - That noon of us ne speke nat a word,
         That not one of us speak a word,

402 - Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere;
         Nor call, nor cry, but be in his prayer;

403 - For it is Goddes owene heeste deere.
         For it is God's own dear command.

       404 - "Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne,
                "Thy wife and thou must hang far apart,

405 - For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne,
         So that between yow shall be no sin,

406 - Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede.
         No more in looking than there shall be in deed.

407 - This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede!
         This ordinance is said. Go, God give thee success!

408 - Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe,
         Tomorrow at night, when people are all asleep,

409 - Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe,
         Into our kneading-tubs will we creep,

410 - And sitten there, abidyng Goddes grace.
         And sit there, awaiting God's grace.

411 - Go now thy wey; I have no lenger space
         Go now thy way; I have no more time

412 - To make of this no lenger sermonyng.
         To make of this any longer preaching.

413 - Men seyn thus, 'sende the wise, and sey no thyng.'
         Men say thus, 'send the wise, and say nothing.'

414 - Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche.
         Thou art so wise, one needs not teach thee.

415 - Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche.'
         Go, save our life, and that I beseech thee."

       416 - This sely carpenter goth forth his wey.
                This hapless carpenter goes forth his way.

417 - Ful ofte he seide 'Allas and weylawey,'     
         Very often he said "Alas and woe is me,"

418 - And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee,
         And to his wife he told his secret,

419 - And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
         And she was aware, and knew it better than he,

420 - What al this queynte cast was for to seye.
         What all this ingenious scheme meant.

421 - But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye,
         But nonetheless she acted as if she would die,

422 - And seyde, "Allas! go forth thy wey anon,
         And said, "Alas! go forth thy way quickly,

423 - Help us to scape, or we been dede echon!
         Help us to escape, or we are dead each one of us!

424 - I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf;
         I am thy faithful, truly wedded wife;

425 - Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf."
         Go, dear spouse, and help to save our lives."

       426 - Lo, which a greet thyng is affeccioun!
                Lo, what a great thing is emotion!

427 - Men may dyen of ymaginacioun,
         One can die of imagination,

428 - So depe may impressioun be take.
         So deeply may a mental image be taken.

429 - This sely carpenter bigynneth quake;
         This hapless carpenter begins to tremble;

430 - Hym thynketh verraily that he may see
         He thinks truly that he can see

431 - Noees flood come walwynge as the see
         Noah's flood come surging like the sea

432 - To drenchen Alisoun, his hony deere.
         To drown Alisoun, his honey dear.

433 - He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere;
         He weeps, wails, looks wretched;

434 - He siketh with ful many a sory swogh;
         He sighs with very many a sorry groan;

435 - He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng trogh,
         He goes and gets him a kneading trough,

436 - And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn,
         And after that a tub and a large vat,

437 - And pryvely he sente hem to his in,
         And secretly he sent them to his dwelling,

438 - And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee.
         And hanged them in the roof secretly.

439 - His owene hand he made laddres thre,
         With his own hand he made three ladders,

440 - To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes
         To climb by the rungs and the uprights

441 - Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes,
         Unto the tubs hanging in the beams,

442 - And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe,
         And provisioned them, both trough and tub,

443 - With breed, and chese, and good ale in a jubbe,
         With bread, and cheese, and good ale in a jug,

444 - Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day.
         Sufficing just enough for a day.

445 - But er that he hadde maad al this array,
         But before he had made all this preparation,

446 - He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also,
         He sent his servant, and also his servant girl,

447 - Upon his nede to London for to go.
         Upon his business to go to London.

448 - And on the Monday, whan it drow to nyght,
         And on the Monday, when it drew toward night,

449 - He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght,
         He shut his door without candlelight,

450 - And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be.
         And prepared everything as it should be.

451 - And shortly, up they clomben alle thre;
         And shortly, up they climbed all three;

452 - They seten stille wel a furlong way.
         They sat still a good two and one-half minutes.

       453 - "Now, Pater-noster, clom!" seyde Nicholay,
                "Now, Pater-noster, quiet!" said Nicholay,

454 - And "Clom!" quod John, and "Clom!" seyde Alisoun.
         And "Quiet!" said John, and "Quiet!" said Alisoun.

455 - This carpenter seyde his devocioun,
         This carpenter said his devotion,

456 - And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere,
         And still he sits, and says his prayer,

457 - Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere.
         Awaiting the rain, if he might hear it.

       458 - The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse,
                The dead sleep, for weary business,

459 - Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse,
         Fell on this carpenter right, as I guess,

460 - Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore;
         About curfew time, or a little more;

461 - For travaille of his goost he groneth soore,
         For suffering of his spirit he groans deeply,

462 - And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay.
         And also he snores, for his head lay wrong.

463 - Doun of the laddre stalketh Nicholay,
         Down on the ladder stalks Nicholay,

464 - And Alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde;
         And Alisoun very quietly down she sped;

465 - Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde,
         Without more words they go to bed,

466 - Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye.
         Where the carpenter is accustomed to lie.

467 - Ther was the revel and the melodye;
         There was the revel and the sounds of festivity;

468 - And thus lith Alison and Nicholas,
         And thus lie Alison and Nicholas,

469 - In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas,
         In business of mirth and of pleasure,

470 - Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge,
         Until the bell of the early morning service began to ring,

471 - And freres in the chauncel gonne synge.
         And friars in the chapel began to sing.

       472 - This parissh clerk, this amorous Absolon,
                This parish clerk, this amorous Absolon,

473 - That is for love alwey so wo bigon,
         That is for love always so woebegone,

474 - Upon the Monday was at Oseneye
         Upon the Monday was at Oseneye

475 - With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye,
         With company, to be merry and amuse himself,

476 - And axed upon cas a cloisterer
         And by chance asked a cloistered monk

477 - Ful prively after John the carpenter;
         Very discreetly about John the carpenter;

478 - And he drough hym apart out of the chirche,
         And he drew him apart out of the church,

479 - And seyde, "I noot; I saugh hym heere nat wirche
         And said, "I know not; I have not seen him working here

480 - Syn Saterday; I trowe that he be went
         Since Saturday; I suppose that he is gone

481 - For tymber, ther oure abbot hath hym sent;
         For timber, where our abbot has sent him;

482 - For he is wont for tymber for to go
         For he is accustomed to go for timber 

483 - And dwellen at the grange a day or two;
         And dwell at the granary a day or two;

484 - Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn.
         Or else he is at his house, certainly.

485 - Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn."
         Where he may be, I can not truly say."

       486 - This Absolon ful joly was and light,
                This Absolon very was jolly and happy,

487 - And thoghte, "Now is tyme to wake al nyght,
         And thought, "Now is time to stay awake all night,

488 - For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge
         For surely I saw him not stirring

489 - Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge.
         About his door, since day began to spring.

       490 - 'So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe,
                'As I may prosper, I shall, at cock's crow,

491 - Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe
         Very quietly knock at his window

492 - That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal.
         That stands very low upon his bedroom's wall.

493 - To Alison now wol I tellen al
         To Alison now I will tell all

494 - My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse
         My love-longing, for yet I shall not miss

495 - That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse.
         That at the very least I shall her kiss.

496 - Som maner confort shal I have, parfay.
         Some sort of comfort shall I have, by my faith.

497 - My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
         My mouth has itched all this long day;

498 - That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste.
         That is a sign of kissing at the least.

499 - Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste.
         All night I dreamed also I was at a feast.

500 - Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye,
         Therefore I will go sleep an hour or two,

501 - And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye.'
         And all the night then will I stay awake and play.'

       502 - Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon
                When the first cock has crowed (about midnight), at once

503 - Up rist this joly lovere Absolon,
         Up rises this elegant lover Absolon,

504 - And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys.
         And dresses himself handsomely, in every detail.

505 - But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys,
         But first he chews cardamom and licorice,

506 - To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer.
         To smell sweet, ere he had combed his hair.

507 - Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer,
         Under his tongue he had a true-love herb,

508 - For therby wende he to ben gracious.
         For thus he thought he would be gracious.

509 - He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
         He goes to the carpenter's house,

510 - And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe --
         And he stands still under the casement window --

511 - Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe --
         Unto his breast it reached, it was so low --

512 - And softe he cougheth with a semy soun:
         And softly he coughs with a gentle sound:

513 - "What do ye, hony-comb, sweete Alisoun,
         "What do you, honey-comb, sweet Alisoun,

514 - My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome?
         My fair bird, my sweet cinnamon?

515 - Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me!
         Awake, sweetheart mine, and speak to me!

516 - Wel litel thynken ye upon my wo,
         Well little you think upon my woe,

517 - That for youre love I swete ther I go.
         That for your love I sweat wherever I go.

518 - No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete;
         No wonder is though that I swelter and sweat;
519 - I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete.
         I mourn as does a lamb after the tit.

520 - Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge
         Indeed, sweetheart, I have such love-longing

521 - That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge.
         That like a true turtledove is my mourning.

522 - I may nat ete na moore than a mayde."
         I can eat no more than a maiden."

       523 - 'Go fro the wyndow, Jakke fool,' she sayde;
                "Go from the window, you idiot," she said;

524 - 'As help me God, it wol nat be 'com pa me.'
          'So help me God, it will not be `come kiss me.'

525 - I love another -- and elles I were to blame --
         I love another -- and else I were to blame --

526 - Wel bet than thee, by Jhesu, Absolon.
         Well better than thee, by Jesus, Absolon.

527 - Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston,
         Go forth thy way, or I will cast a stone,

528 - And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey!"
         And let me sleep, in the name of twenty devils!"

       529 - "Allas," quod Absolon, "and weylawey,
                "Alas," said Absolon, "and woe is me,

530 - That trewe love was evere so yvel biset!
         That true love was ever in such miserable circumstances!

531 - Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet,
         Then kiss me, since it can be no better,

532 - For Jhesus love, and for the love of me."
         For Jesus' love, and for the love of me."

       533 - "Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith?" quod she.
                "Wilt thou then go thy way with that?" said she.

       534 - "Ye, certes, lemman," quod this Absolon.
                "Yes, certainly, sweetheart," said this Absolon.

       535 - "Thanne make thee redy," quod she, "I come anon."
                "Then make thee ready," said she, "I come right now." 

536 - And unto Nicholas she seyde stille,
         And unto Nicholas she said quietly,

537 - "Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille."
         "Now hush, and thou shalt laugh all thy fill."

       538 - This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees
                This Absolon set himself down on his knees

539 - And seyde, "I am a lord at alle degrees;
         And said, "I am a lord in every way;

540 - For after this I hope ther cometh moore.
         For after this I hope there comes more.

541 - Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore!"
         Sweetheart, thy grace, and sweet bird, thy mercy!"

       542 - The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste.
                The window she undoes, and that in haste.

543 - "Have do," quod she, "com of, and speed the faste,
         "Get done with it," said she, "come on, and hurry up,

544 - Lest that oure neighebores thee espie."
         Lest our neighbors espy thee."

       545 - This Absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie.
                This Absolon wiped his mouth very dry.

546 - Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole,
         Dark was the night as pitch, or as the coal,

547 - And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
         And at the window out she put her hole,

548 - And Absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers,
         And Absolon, to him it happened no better nor worse,

549 - But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
         But with his mouth he kissed her naked ass

550 - Ful savourly, er he were war of this.
         With great relish, before he was aware of this.

551 - Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
         Back he jumped, and thought it was amiss,

552 - For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
         For well he knew a woman has no beard.

553 - He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
         He felt a thing all rough and long haired,

554 - And seyde, "Fy! allas! what have I do?"
         And said, "Fie! alas! what have I done?"

       555 - "Tehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to,
                "Tehee!" said she, and clapped the window to,

556 - And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
         And Absolon goes forth walking sadly.

       557 - "A berd! A berd!" quod hende Nicholas,
                "A beard! A beard!" said clever Nicholas,

558 - "By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel."
         "By God's body, this goes fair and well."

       559 - This sely Absolon herde every deel,
                This hapless Absolon heard every bit,

560 - And on his lippe he gan for anger byte,
         And on his lip he began for anger to bite,

561 - And to hymself he seyde, "I shal thee quyte."
         And to himself he said, "I shall pay thee back." 

       562 - Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes
                Who rubs now, who now scrubs his lips

563 - With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes,
         With dust, with sand, with straw, with cloth, with chips,

564 - But Absolon, that seith ful ofte, "Allas!"
         But Absolon, who says very often, "Alas!"

565 - "My soule bitake I unto Sathanas,
         "My soul I entrust to Satan,

566 - But me were levere than al this toun," quod he,
         If I would not rather than (have) all this town," said he,

567 - "Of this despit awroken for to be.
         "Be avenged for this insult.

568 - Allas," quod he, "allas, I ne hadde ybleynt!"
         Alas," said he, "alas, I did not turn away!"

569 - His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt;
         His hot love was cold and all extinguished;

570 - For fro that tyme that he hadde kist hir ers,
         For from that time that he had kissed her ass,

571 - Of paramours he sette nat a kers,
         Love-making he thought not worth not a watercress,

572 - For he was heeled of his maladie.
         For he was healed of his malady.

573 - Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie,
         Very often he did renounce love-making,

574 - And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.
         And wept as does a child that is beaten.

575 - A softe paas he wente over the strete
         At a slow pace he went down the street

576 - Until a smyth men cleped daun Gerveys,
         To a smith men called dan Gerveys,

577 - That in his forge smythed plough harneys;
         Who in his forge made plowing equipment; 

578 - He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily.
         He sharpens ploughshares and plough blades busily.

579 - This Absolon knokketh al esily,
         This Absolon knocked all gently,

580 - And seyde, "Undo, Gerveys, and that anon."
         And said, "Open up, Gerveys, and that right now."

       581 - "What, who artow?" "It am I, Absolon."
                "What, who art thou?" "It am I, Absolon."

582 - "What, Absolon! for Cristes sweete tree,
         "What, Absolon! for Christ's sweet cross,

583 - Why rise ye so rathe? Ey, benedicitee!
         Why rise you so early? Ay, bless me!

584 - What eyleth yow? Som gay gerl, God it woot,
         What ails yow? Some pretty girl, God knows it,

585 - Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot.
         Hath brought you to be running around like this.

586 - By Seinte Note, ye woot wel what I mene."
         By Saint Note, you know well what I mean."

       587 - This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene
                This Absolon cared not a bean

588 - Of al his pley; no word agayn he yaf;
         For all his joking; no word he gave in reply;

589 - He hadde moore tow on his distaf
         He had more business on hand 

590 - Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, "Freend so deere,
         Than Gerveys knew, and said, "Friend so dear,

591 - That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere,
         That hot plough blade in the hearth here,

592 - As lene it me; I have therwith to doone,
         Lend it to me; I have something to do with it,

593 - And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone."
         And I will bring it back to thee very soon."

       594 - Gerveys answerde, "Certes, were it gold,
                Gerveys answered, "Certainly, were it gold,

595 - Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
         Or in a sack countless silver coins,

596 - Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth.
         Thou sholdest have it, as I am true smith.

597 - Ey, Cristes foo! What wol ye do therwith?"
         Ay, Christ's foe! What will you do with it?"

       598 - "Therof," quod Absolon, "be as be may.
                "Concerning that," said Absolon, "be as be may.

599 - I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day" --
         I shall well tell it to thee to-morrow" --

600 - And caughte the kultour by the colde stele.
         And caught the plough blade by the cold handle.

601 - Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
         Very softly out at the door he began to steal,

602 - And wente unto the carpenteris wal.
         And went unto the carpenter's wall. 

603 - He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal
         He coughs first, and knocks then

604 - Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er.
         Upon the window, just as he did before.

       605 - This Alison answerde, "Who is ther
                This Alison answered, "Who is there

606 - That knokketh so? I warante it a theef."
         That knocks so? I swear it is a thief."

       607 - "Why, nay," quod he, "God woot, my sweete leef,
                "Why, nay," said he, "God knows, my sweet beloved,

608 - I am thyn Absolon, my deerelyng.
         I am thy Absolon, my darling.

609 - Of gold," quod he, "I have thee broght a ryng.
         Of gold," said he, "I have brought thee a ring.

610 - My mooder yaf it me, so God me save;
         My mother gave it to me, as God may save me;

611 - Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave.
         Very fine it is, and also nicely engraved.

612 - This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse."
         This will I give thee, if thou kiss me."

       613 - This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
                This Nicholas was risen to piss,

614 - And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
         And thought he would make the joke even better;

615 - He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
         He should kiss his ass before he escapes.

616 - And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
         And he opened up the window hastily,

617 - And out his ers he putteth pryvely
         And he puts out his ass stealthily

618 - Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
         Over the buttock, to the thigh;

619 - And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
         And then spoke this clerk, this Absolon,

620 - "Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art."
         "Speak, sweet bird, I know not where thou art."

       621 - This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
                This Nicholas immediately let fly a fart

622 - As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
         As great as if it had been a thunder-bolt,

623 - That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
         So that with the stroke he was almost blinded;

624 - And he was redy with his iren hoot,
         And he was ready with his hot iron,

625 - And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.
         And he smote Nicholas in the middle of the ass.

       626 - Of gooth the skyn an hande-brede aboute,
                Off goes the skin a hand's breadth about,

627 - The hoote kultour brende so his toute,
         The hot plough blade so burned his rump

628 - And for the smert he wende for to dye.
         And for the pain he thought he would die.

629 - As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye,
         As if he were crazy, for woe he began to cry,

631 - "Help! Water! Water! Help, for Goddes herte!"
         "Help! Water! Water! Help, for God's heart!"

       632 - This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
                This carpenter woke suddenly out of his slumber,

633 - And herde oon crien "water!" as he were wood,
         And heard someone cry "water!" as if he were crazy,

634 - And thoughte, "Allas, now comth Nowelis flood!"
         And thought, "Alas, now comes Nowell's flood!"

635 - He sit hym up withouten wordes mo,
         He sits up without more words,

636 - And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo,
         And with his ax he smote the cord in two,

637 - And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle,
         And down goes all; he found nothing to sell (wasted no time),

638 - Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle
         Neither bread nor ale, until he came to the pavement

639 - Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay.
         Upon the floor, and there he lay in a swoon.

       640 - Up stirte hire Alison and Nicholay,
                Up started Alison and Nicholay,

641 - And criden "Out" and "Harrow" in the strete.
         And cried "Out" and "Help" in the street.

642 - The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
         The neighbors, both low-ranking and high,

643 - In ronnen for to gauren on this man,
         Run in to gawk at this man,

644 - That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan,
         Who yet lay in a swoon, both pale and wan,

645 - For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm.
         For with the fall he had broken his arm.

646 - But stonde he moste unto his owene harm;
         But he had to stand up for himself, though it went badly;

647 - For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun
         For when he spoke, he was immediately put down

648 - With hende Nicholas and Alisoun.
         By clever Nicholas and Alisoun.

649 - They tolden every man that he was wood;
         They told every one that he was crazy;

650 - He was agast so of Nowelis flood
         He was so afraid of Nowell's flood

651 - Thurgh fantasie that of his vanytee
         Because of his imagination that in his foolishness

652 - He hadde yboght hym knedyng tubbes thre,
         He had bought himself three kneading tubs,

653 - And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
         And had hanged them in the roof above;

654 - And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love,
         And that he begged them, for God's love,

655 - To sitten in the roof, par compaignye.
         To sit in the roof, to keep him company.

       656 - The folk gan laughen at his fantasye;
                The folk did laugh at his foolishness;

657 - Into the roof they kiken and they cape,
         Into the roof they stare and they gape,

658 - And turned al his harm unto a jape.
         And turned all his harm into a joke.

659 - For what so that this carpenter answerde,
         For whatever this carpenter answered,

660 - It was for noght; no man his reson herde.
         It was for naught; no one listened to his explanation,

661 - With othes grete he was so sworn adoun
         With oaths great he was so sworn down

662 - That he was holde wood in al the toun;
         That he was considered crazy in all the town;

663 - For every clerk anonright heeld with oother.
         For every clerk immediately agreed with the other.

664 - They seyde, "The man is wood, my leeve brother";
         They said, "The man is crazy, my dear brother";

665 - And every wight gan laughen at this stryf.
         And every person did laugh at this strife.

666 - Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf,
         Thus screwed was this carpenter's wife,

667 - For al his kepyng and his jalousye,
         In spite of all his guarding and his jealousy,

668 - And Absolon hath kist hir nether ye,
         And Absolon has kissed her lower eye,

669 - And Nicholas is scalded in the towte.
         And Nicholas is scalded in the rump.

670 - This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte!
         This tale is done, and God save all this company!

spoken =Brian Ó Broin