Fair was the yonge wyf, and therwithal
As eny wesil hir body gent and smal.
A seynt sche werede, barred al of silk;
A barm-cloth eek as whit as morne mylk
Upon hir lendes, ful of many a gore.
Whit was hir smok, and browdid al byfore
And eek byhynde on hir coler aboute,
Of cole-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
The tapes of hir white voluper
Weren of the same sute of hire coler;
Hir filet brood of silk y-set ful heye.
And certeynly sche hadd a licorous eyghe;
Ful smal y-pulled weren hir browes two,
And tho were bent, as blak as any slo.
Sche was wel more blisful on to see
Than is the newe perjonette tree;
And softer than the wol is of a wethir.
And by hir gurdil hyng a purs of lethir,
Tassid with silk, and perled with latoun.
In al this world to seken up and doun
There nys no man so wys, that couthe thenche
So gay a popillot, or such a wenche.
For brighter was the schynyng of hir hewe,
Than in the Tour the noble i-forged newe.
But of hir song, it was as lowde and yerne
As eny swalwe chiteryng on a berne.
Therto sche cowde skippe, and make a game,
As eny kyde or calf folwyng his dame.
Hir mouth was sweete as bragat is or meth,
Or hoord of apples, layd in hay or heth.
Wynsyng sche was, as is a joly colt;
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
A broch sche bar upon hir loue coleer,
As brod as is the bos of a bocleer.
Hir schos were laced on hir legges heyghe;
Sche was a primerole and a piggesneyghe,
For eny lord have liggyng in his bedde,
Or yet for eny good yeman to wedde.

Now sir, and eft sir, so bifel the cas,
That on a day this heende Nicholas
Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye
Whil that hir housbond was at Oseneye,
As clerkes ben ful sotil and ful queynte.
And pryvely he caught hir by the queynte,
And seyde, “I-wis, but if I have my wille,
For derne love of the, lemman, I spille.”
And heeld hir harde by the haunche boones,
And seyde, “Lemman, love me wel at ones,
Or I wol dye, as wisly God me save.”

And sche sprang out as doth a colt in trave:
And with hir heed sche wriede fast awey,
And seyde, “I wol nat kisse the, by my fey!
Why let be,” quod sche, “lat be thou, Nicholas
Or I wol crye out harrow and allas!
Do wey youre handes for youre curtesye!”
This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
That sche hir love him graunted atte laste,
And swor hir oth by seynt Thomas of Kent,
That sche wolde be at his commaundement,
When that sche may hir leysir wel aspye.
“Myn housbond is so ful of jelousie,
That but ye wayten wel, and be pryvé,
I woot right wel I am but deed,” quod sche:
“Ye mosten be ful derne as in this caas.”
“Thereof ne care the nought,” quod Nicholas:
“A clerk hath litherly byset his while,
But if he cowde a carpenter bygyle.”
And thus they ben acorded and i-sworn
To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.

Whan Nicholas hadde doon thus every del,
And thakked hire aboute the lendys wel,
He kist hir sweet, and taketh his sawtrye,
And pleyeth fast, and maketh melodye.
Than fyl it thus, that to the parisch chirche
Cristes owen workes for to wirche,
This goode wyf went on an haly day;
Hir forheed schon as bright as eny day,
So was it waisschen, when sche leet hir werk.

Now ther was of that chirche a parisch clerk,
The which that was i-cleped Absolon.
Crulle was his heer, and as the gold it schon,
And strowted as a fan right large and brood;
Ful streyt and evene lay his joly schood.
His rode was reed, his eyghen gray as goos,
With Powles wyndowes corven in his schoos.
In his hoses reed he wente fetusly.
I-clad he was ful smal and propurly,
Al in a kirtel of a fyn wachet,
Schapen with goores in the newe get.
And therupon he had a gay surplys,
As whyt as is the blosme upon the rys.
A mery child he was, so God me save;
Wel couthe he lete blood, and clippe and schave,
And make a chartre of lond and acquitaunce.
In twenty maners he coude skippe and daunce,
After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges casten to and fro;
And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
Ther-to he sang som tyme a lowde quynyble.
And as wel coude he pleye on a giterne.
In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
That he ne visitede with his solas,
Ther as that any gaylard tapster was.
Bot soth to say he was somdel squaymous
Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
This Absolon, that joly was and gay,
Goth with a senser on the haly day,
Sensing the wyves of the parisch faste;
And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
And namely on this carpenteres wyf;
To loke on hire him thought a mery lyf;
Sche was so propre, sweete, and licorous.
I dar wel sayn, if sche hadde ben a mous,
And he a cat, he wold hir bent anoon.

This parisch clerk, this joly Absolon,
Hath in his herte such a love longyng,
That of no wyf ne took he noon offryng;
Aor curtesy, he seyde, he wolde noon.
The moone at night ful cleer and brighte schoon,

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