Whilom there was dwelling in Oxenford
A riche gnof, that guestes held to board,
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
With him there was dwelling a poor scholer,
Had learned art, but all his fantasy
Was turned for to learn astrology.
He coude a certain of conclusions
To deeme by interrogations,
If that men asked him in certain hours,
When that men should have drought or elles show'rs:
Or if men asked him what shoulde fall
Of everything, I may not reckon all.
This clerk was called Hendy Nicholas;
Of derne love he knew and of solace;
And therewith he was sly and full privy,
And like a maiden meek for to see.
A chamber had he in that hostelry
Alone, withouten any company,
Full fetisly y-dight with herbes swoot,
And he himself was sweet as is the root
Of liquorice, or any setewall.
His Almagest, and bookes great and small,
His astrolabe, belonging to his art,
His augrim stones, layed fair apart
On shelves couched at his bedde's head,
His press y-cover'd with a falding red.
And all above there lay a gay psalt'ry
On which he made at nightes melody,
So sweetely, that all the chamber rang:
And Angelus ad virginem he sang.
And after that he sung the kinge's note;
Full often blessed was his merry throat.
And thus this sweete clerk his time spent
After his friendes finding and his rent.
This carpenter had wedded new a wife,
Which that he loved more than his life:
Of eighteen year, I guess, she was of age.
Jealous he was, and held her narr'w in cage,
For she was wild and young, and he was old,
And deemed himself belike a cuckold.
He knew not Cato, for his wit was rude,
That bade a man wed his similitude.
Men shoulde wedden after their estate,
For youth and eld are often at debate.
But since that he was fallen in the snare,
He must endure (as other folk) his care.
Fair was this younge wife, and therewithal
As any weasel her body gent and small.
A seint she weared, barred all of silk,
A barm-cloth eke as white as morning milk
Upon her lendes, full of many a gore.
White was her smock, and broider'd all before,
And eke behind, on her collar about
Of coal-black silk, within and eke without.
The tapes of her white volupere
Were of the same suit of her collere;
Her fillet broad of silk, and set full high:
And sickerly she had a likerous eye.
Full small y-pulled were her browes two,
And they were bent, and black as any sloe.
She was well more blissful on to see
Than is the newe perjenete tree;
And softer than the wool is of a wether.
And by her girdle hung a purse of leather,
Tassel'd with silk, and pearled with latoun.
In all this world to seeken up and down
There is no man so wise, that coude thenche
So gay a popelot, or such a wench.
Full brighter was the shining of her hue,
Than in the Tower the noble forged new.
But of her song, it was as loud and yern,
As any swallow chittering on a bern.
Thereto she coulde skip, and make a game
As any kid or calf following his dame.
Her mouth was sweet as braket, or as methe
Or hoard of apples, laid in hay or heath.
Wincing she was as is a jolly colt,
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
A brooch she bare upon her low collere,
As broad as is the boss of a bucklere.
Her shoon were laced on her legges high;
She was a primerole, a piggesnie ,
For any lord t' have ligging in his bed,
Or yet for any good yeoman to wed.
Now, sir, and eft sir, so befell the case,
That on a day this Hendy Nicholas
Fell with this younge wife to rage and play,
While that her husband was at Oseney,
As clerkes be full subtle and full quaint.
And privily he caught her by the queint,
And said; "Y-wis, but if I have my will,
For derne love of thee, leman, I spill."
And helde her fast by the haunche bones, my mistress, I perish
And saide "Leman, love me well at once,
Or I will dien, all so God me save."
And she sprang as a colt doth in the trave:
And with her head she writhed fast away,
And said; "I will not kiss thee, by my fay.
Why let be," quoth she, "let be, Nicholas,
Or I will cry out harow and alas!
Do away your handes, for your courtesy."
This Nicholas gan mercy for to cry,
And spake so fair, and proffer'd him so fast,
That she her love him granted at the last,
And swore her oath by Saint Thomas of Kent,
That she would be at his commandement,
When that she may her leisure well espy.
"My husband is so full of jealousy,
That but ye waite well, and be privy,
I wot right well I am but dead," quoth she.
"Ye muste be full derne as in this case."
"Nay, thereof care thee nought," quoth Nicholas:
"A clerk had litherly beset his while,
But if he could a carpenter beguile."
And thus they were accorded and y-sworn
To wait a time, as I have said beforn.
When Nicholas had done thus every deal,
And thwacked her about the lendes well,
He kiss'd her sweet, and taketh his psalt'ry
And playeth fast, and maketh melody.
Then fell it thus, that to the parish church,
Of Christe's owen workes for to wirch,
This good wife went upon a holy day;
Her forehead shone as bright as any day,
So was it washen, when she left her werk.
Now was there of that church a parish clerk,
The which that was y-cleped Absolon.
Curl'd was his hair, and as the gold it shone,
And strutted as a fanne large and broad;
Full straight and even lay his jolly shode.
His rode was red, his eyen grey as goose,
With Paule's windows carven on his shoes
In hosen red he went full fetisly.
Y-clad he was full small and properly,
All in a kirtle of a light waget;
Full fair and thicke be the pointes set,
And thereupon he had a gay surplice,
As white as is the blossom on the rise.
A merry child he was, so God me save;
Well could he letten blood, and clip, and shave,
And make a charter of land, and a quittance.
In twenty manners could he trip and dance,
After the school of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges caste to and fro;
And playen songes on a small ribible;
Thereto he sung sometimes a loud quinible
And as well could he play on a gitern.
In all the town was brewhouse nor tavern,
That he not visited with his solas,
There as that any garnard tapstere was.
But sooth to say he was somedeal squaimous
Of farting, and of speeche dangerous.
This Absolon, that jolly was and gay,
Went with a censer on the holy day,
Censing the wives of the parish fast;
And many a lovely look he on them cast,
And namely on this carpenter's wife:
To look on her him thought a merry life.
She was so proper, and sweet, and likerous.
I dare well say, if she had been a mouse,
And he a cat, he would her hent anon.
This parish clerk, this jolly Absolon,
Hath in his hearte such a love-longing!
That of no wife took he none offering;
For courtesy he said he woulde none.
The moon at night full clear and brighte shone,
And Absolon his gitern hath y-taken,
For paramours he thoughte for to waken,
And forth he went, jolif and amorous,
Till he came to the carpentere's house,
A little after the c*ck had y-crow,
And dressed him under a shot window ,
That was upon the carpentere's wall.
He singeth in his voice gentle and small;
"Now, dear lady, if thy will be,
I pray that ye will rue on me;"
Full well accordant to his giterning.
This carpenter awoke, and heard him sing,
And spake unto his wife, and said anon,
What Alison, hear'st thou not Absolon,
That chanteth thus under our bower wall?"
And she answer'd her husband therewithal;
"Yes, God wot, John, I hear him every deal."
This passeth forth; what will ye bet than well?
From day to day this jolly Absolon
So wooeth her, that him is woebegone.
He waketh all the night, and all the day,
To comb his lockes broad, and make him gay.
He wooeth her by means and by brocage,
And swore he woulde be her owen page.
He singeth brokking as a nightingale.
He sent her piment , mead, and spiced ale,
And wafers piping hot out of the glede:
And, for she was of town, he proffer'd meed.
For some folk will be wonnen for richess,
And some for strokes, and some with gentiless.
Sometimes, to show his lightness and mast'ry,
He playeth Herod on a scaffold high.
But what availeth him as in this case?
So loveth she the Hendy Nicholas,
That Absolon may blow the bucke's horn:
He had for all his labour but a scorn.
And thus she maketh Absolon her ape,
And all his earnest turneth to a jape.
Full sooth is this proverb, it is no lie;
Men say right thus alway; the nighe sly
Maketh oft time the far lief to be loth.
For though that Absolon be wood
Because that he far was from her sight,
This nigh Nicholas stood still in his light.
Now bear thee well, thou Hendy Nicholas,
For Absolon may wail and sing "Alas!"
And so befell, that on a Saturday
This carpenter was gone to Oseney,
And Hendy Nicholas and Alison
Accorded were to this conclusion,
That Nicholas shall shape him a wile
The silly jealous husband to beguile;
And if so were the game went aright,
She shoulde sleepen in his arms all night;
For this was her desire and his also.
And right anon, withoute wordes mo',
This Nicholas no longer would he tarry,
But doth full soft unto his chamber carry
Both meat and drinke for a day or tway.
And to her husband bade her for to say,
If that he asked after Nicholas,
She shoulde say, "She wist not where he was;
Of all the day she saw him not with eye;
She trowed he was in some malady,
For no cry that her maiden could him call
He would answer, for nought that might befall."
Thus passed forth all thilke Saturday,
That Nicholas still in his chamber lay,
And ate, and slept, and didde what him list
Till Sunday, that the sunne went to rest.
This silly carpenter had great marvaill
Of Nicholas, or what thing might him ail,
And said; "I am adrad, by Saint Thomas!
It standeth not aright with Nicholas:
God shielde that he died suddenly.
This world is now full fickle sickerly.
I saw to-day a corpse y-borne to chirch,
That now on Monday last I saw him wirch.
"Go up," quod he unto his knave, "anon;
Clepe at his door, or knocke with a stone:
Look how it is, and tell me boldely."
This knave went him up full sturdily,
And, at the chamber door while that he stood,
He cried and knocked as that he were wood:
"What how? what do ye, Master Nicholay?
How may ye sleepen all the longe day?"
But all for nought, he hearde not a word.
An hole he found full low upon the board,
Where as the cat was won't in for to creep,
And at that hole he looked in full deep,
And at the last he had of him a sight.
This Nicholas sat ever gaping upright,
As he had kyked on the newe moon.
Adown he went, and told his master soon,
In what array he saw this ilke man.
This carpenter to blissen him began,
And said: "Now help us, Sainte Frideswide.
A man wot little what shall him betide.
This man is fall'n with his astronomy
Into some woodness or some agony.
I thought aye well how that it shoulde be.
Men should know nought of Godde's privity.
Yea, blessed be alway a lewed man,
That nought but only his believe can.
So far'd another clerk with astronomy: than his "credo."
He walked in the fieldes for to
Upon the starres, what there should befall,
Till he was in a marle pit y-fall.
He saw not that. But yet, by Saint Thomas!
Me rueth sore of Hendy Nicholas:
He shall be rated of his studying,
If that I may, by Jesus, heaven's king!
Get me a staff, that I may underspore
While that thou, Robin, heavest off the door:
He shall out of his studying, as I guess."
And to the chamber door he gan him dress
His knave was a strong carl for the nonce,
And by the hasp he heav'd it off at once;
Into the floor the door fell down anon.
This Nicholas sat aye as still as stone,
And ever he gap'd upward into the air.
The carpenter ween'd he were in despair,
And hent him by the shoulders mightily,
And shook him hard, and cried spitously;
"What, Nicholas? what how, man? look adown:
Awake, and think on Christe's passioun.
I crouche thee from elves, and from wights.
Therewith the night-spell said he anon rights,
On the four halves of the house about, corners
And on the threshold of the door without.
"Lord Jesus Christ, and Sainte Benedight,
Blesse this house from every wicked wight,
From the night mare, the white Pater-noster;
Where wonnest thou now, Sainte Peter's sister?"
And at the last this Hendy Nicholas
Gan for to sigh full sore, and said; "Alas!
Shall all time world be lost eftsoones now?"
This carpenter answer'd; "What sayest thou?
What? think on God, as we do, men that swink.
This Nicholas answer'd; "Fetch me a drink;
And after will I speak in privity
Of certain thing that toucheth thee and me:
I will tell it no other man certain."
This carpenter went down, and came again,
And brought of mighty ale a large quart;
And when that each of them had drunk his part,
This Nicholas his chamber door fast shet,
And down the carpenter by him he set,
And saide; "John, mine host full lief and dear,
Thou shalt upon thy truthe swear me here,
That to no wight thou shalt my counsel wray:
For it is Christes counsel that I say,
And if thou tell it man, thou art forlore:
For this vengeance thou shalt have therefor,
That if thou wraye me, thou shalt be wood."
"Nay, Christ forbid it for his holy blood!"
Quoth then this silly man; "I am no blab,
Nor, though I say it, am I lief to gab.
Say what thou wilt, I shall it never tell
To child or wife, by him that harried Hell."
"Now, John," quoth Nicholas, "I will not lie,
I have y-found in my astrology,
As I have looked in the moone bright,
That now on Monday next, at quarter night,
Shall fall a rain, and that so wild and wood,
That never half so great was Noe's flood.
This world," he said, "in less than half an hour
Shall all be dreint, so hideous is the shower:
Thus shall mankinde drench, and lose their life."
This carpenter answer'd; "Alas, my wife!
And shall she drench? alas, mine Alisoun!"
For sorrow of this he fell almost adown,
And said; "Is there no remedy in this case?"
"Why, yes, for God," quoth Hendy Nicholas;
"If thou wilt worken after lore and rede;
Thou may'st not worken after thine own head.
For thus saith Solomon, that was full true:
Work all by counsel, and thou shalt not rue.
And if thou worke wilt by good counseil,
I undertake, withoute mast or sail,
Yet shall I save her, and thee, and me.
Hast thou not heard how saved was Noe,
When that our Lord had warned him beforn,
That all the world with water should be lorn?"
"Yes," quoth this carpenter," full yore ago."
"Hast thou not heard," quoth Nicholas, "also
The sorrow of Noe, with his fellowship,
That he had ere he got his wife to ship?
Him had been lever, I dare well undertake,
At thilke time, than all his wethers black,
That she had had a ship herself alone.
And therefore know'st thou what is best to be done?
This asketh haste, and of an hasty thing
Men may not preach or make tarrying.
Anon go get us fast into this inn
A kneading trough, or else a kemelin,
For each of us; but look that they be large,
In whiche we may swim as in a barge:
And have therein vitaille suffisant
But for one day; fie on the remenant;
The water shall aslake and go away
Aboute prime upon the nexte day.
But Robin may not know of this, thy knave,
Nor eke thy maiden Gill I may not save:
Ask me not why: for though thou aske me
I will not telle Godde's privity.
Sufficeth thee, but if thy wit be mad,
To have as great a grace as Noe had; out of thy wits
Thy wife shall I well saven out of doubt.
Go now thy way, and speed thee hereabout.
But when thou hast for her, and thee, and me,
Y-gotten us these kneading tubbes three,
Then shalt thou hang them in the roof full high,
So that no man our purveyance espy:
And when thou hast done thus as I have said,
And hast our vitaille fair in them y-laid,
And eke an axe to smite the cord in two
When that the water comes, that we may go,
And break an hole on high upon the gable
Into the garden-ward, over the stable,
That we may freely passe forth our way,
When that the greate shower is gone away.
Then shalt thou swim as merry, I undertake,
As doth the white duck after her drake:
Then will I clepe, 'How, Alison? How, John?
Be merry: for the flood will pass anon.'
And thou wilt say, 'Hail, Master Nicholay,
Good-morrow, I see thee well, for it is day.'
And then shall we be lordes all our life
Of all the world, as Noe and his wife.
But of one thing I warne thee full right,
Be well advised, on that ilke night,
When we be enter'd into shippe's board,
That none of us not speak a single word,
Nor clepe nor cry, but be in his prayere,
For that is Godde's owen heste dear.
Thy wife and thou must hangen far atween,
For that betwixte you shall be no sin,
No more in looking than there shall in deed.
This ordinance is said: go, God thee speed
To-morrow night, when men be all asleep,
Into our kneading tubbes will we creep,
And sitte there, abiding Godde's grace.
Go now thy way, I have no longer space
To make of this no longer sermoning:
Men say thus: Send the wise, and say nothing:
Thou art so wise, it needeth thee nought teach.
Go, save our lives, and that I thee beseech."
This silly carpenter went forth his way,
Full oft he said, "Alas! and Well-a-day!,'
And to his wife he told his privity,
And she was ware, and better knew than he
What all this quainte cast was for to say.
But natheless she fear'd as she would dey, meant
And said: "Alas! go forth thy way anon.
Help us to scape, or we be dead each one.
I am thy true and very wedded wife;
Go, deare spouse, and help to save our life."
Lo, what a great thing is affection!
Men may die of imagination,
So deeply may impression be take.
This silly carpenter begins to quake:
He thinketh verily that he may see
This newe flood come weltering as the sea
To drenchen Alison, his honey dear.
He weepeth, waileth, maketh sorry cheer;
He sigheth, with full many a sorry sough.
He go'th, and getteth him a kneading trough,
And after that a tub, and a kemelin,
And privily he sent them to his inn:
And hung them in the roof full privily.
With his own hand then made he ladders three,
To climbe by the ranges and the stalks
Unto the tubbes hanging in the balks;
And victualed them, kemelin, trough, and tub,
With bread and cheese, and good ale in a jub,
Sufficing right enough as for a day.
But ere that he had made all this array,
He sent his knave, and eke his wench
Upon his need to London for to go.
And on the Monday, when it drew to night,
He shut his door withoute candle light,
And dressed every thing as it should be.
And shortly up they climbed all the three.
They satte stille well a furlong way.
"Now, Pater noster, clum," said Nicholay, to walk a furlong
And "clum," quoth John; and "clum," said Alison:
This carpenter said his devotion,
And still he sat and bidded his prayere,
Awaking on the rain, if he it hear.
The deade sleep, for weary business,
Fell on this carpenter, right as I guess,
About the curfew-time, or little more,
For travail of his ghost he groaned sore,
And eft he routed, for his head mislay.
Adown the ladder stalked Nicholay; for his head lay awry
And Alison full soft adown she sped.
Withoute wordes more they went to bed,
There as the carpenter was won't to lie:
There was the revel, and the melody.
And thus lay Alison and Nicholas,
In business of mirth and in solace,
Until the bell of laudes gan to ring,
And friars in the chancel went to sing.
This parish clerk, this amorous Absolon,
That is for love alway so woebegone,
Upon the Monday was at Oseney
With company, him to disport and play;
And asked upon cas a cloisterer
Full privily after John the carpenter;
And he drew him apart out of the church,
And said, "I n'ot; I saw him not here wirch
Since Saturday; I trow that he be went
For timber, where our abbot hath him sent.
And dwellen at the Grange a day or two:
For he is won't for timber for to go,
Or else he is at his own house certain.
Where that he be, I cannot soothly sayn.
This Absolon full jolly was and light,
And thought, "Now is the time to wake all night,
For sickerly I saw him not stirring
About his door, since day began to spring.
So may I thrive, but I shall at c*ck crow
Full privily go knock at his window,
That stands full low upon his bower
To Alison then will I tellen all
My love-longing; for I shall not miss
That at the leaste way I shall her kiss.
Some manner comfort shall I have, parfay,
My mouth hath itched all this livelong day:
That is a sign of kissing at the least.
All night I mette eke I was at a feast.
Therefore I will go sleep an hour or tway,
And all the night then will I wake and play."
When that the first c*ck crowed had, anon
Up rose this jolly lover Absolon,
And him arrayed gay, at point devise.
But first he chewed grains and liquorice,
To smelle sweet, ere he had combed his hair.
Under his tongue a true love he bare,
For thereby thought he to be gracious.
Then came he to the carpentere's house,
And still he stood under the shot window;
Unto his breast it raught, it was so low;
And soft he coughed with a semisoun'.
"What do ye, honeycomb, sweet Alisoun?
My faire bird, my sweet cinamome,
Awaken, leman mine, and speak to me.
Full little thinke ye upon my woe,
That for your love I sweat there as I go.
No wonder is that I do swelt and sweat.
I mourn as doth a lamb after the teat
Y-wis, leman, I have such love-longing,
That like a turtle true is my mourning.
I may not eat, no more than a maid."
"Go from the window, thou jack fool," she said:
"As help me God, it will not be, 'come ba
I love another, else I were to blame",
Well better than thee, by Jesus, Absolon.
Go forth thy way, or I will cast a stone;
And let me sleep; a twenty devil way.
"Alas!" quoth Absolon, "and well away!
That true love ever was so ill beset:
Then kiss me, since that it may be no bet,
For Jesus' love, and for the love of me."
"Wilt thou then go thy way therewith?" , quoth she.
"Yea, certes, leman," quoth this Absolon.
"Then make thee ready," quoth she, "I come anon."
[And unto Nicholas she said full still:
"Now peace, and thou shalt laugh anon thy fill."]
This Absolon down set him on his knees,
And said; "I am a lord at all degrees:
For after this I hope there cometh more;
Leman, thy grace, and, sweete bird, thine ore.
The window she undid, and that in haste.
"Have done," quoth she, "come off, and speed thee fast,
Lest that our neighebours should thee espy."
Then Absolon gan wipe his mouth full dry.
Dark was the night as pitch or as the coal,
And at the window she put out her hole,
And Absolon him fell ne bet ne werse,
But with his mouth he kiss'd her naked erse
Full savourly. When he was ware of this,
Aback he start, and thought it was amiss;
For well he wist a woman hath no beard.
He felt a thing all rough, and long y-hair'd,
And saide; "Fy, alas! what have I do?"
"Te he!" quoth she, and clapt the window to;
And Absolon went forth at sorry pace.
"A beard, a beard," said Hendy Nicholas;
"By God's corpus, this game went fair and well."
This silly Absolon heard every deal,
And on his lip he gan for anger bite;
And to himself he said, "I shall thee quite.
Who rubbeth now, who frotteth now his lips
With dust, with sand, with straw, with cloth, with chips,
But Absolon? that saith full oft, "Alas!
My soul betake I unto Sathanas,
But me were lever than all this town," quoth he
I this despite awroken for to be.
Alas! alas! that I have been y-blent."
His hote love is cold, and all y-quent.
For from that time that he had kiss'd her erse,
Of paramours he sette not a kers,
For he was healed of his malady;
Full often paramours he gan defy,
And weep as doth a child that hath been beat.
A softe pace he went over the street
Unto a smith, men callen Dan Gerveis,
That in his forge smithed plough-harness;
He sharped share and culter busily.
This Absolon knocked all easily,
And said; "Undo, Gerveis, and that anon."
"What, who art thou?" "It is I, Absolon."
"What? Absolon, what? Christe's sweete tree,
Why rise so rath? hey! Benedicite,
What aileth you? some gay girl, God it wote,
Hath brought you thus upon the viretote:
By Saint Neot, ye wot well what I mean."
This Absolon he raughte not a bean recked, cared
Of all his play; no word again he gaf,
For he had more tow on his distaff
Than Gerveis knew, and saide; "Friend so dear,
That hote culter in the chimney here
Lend it to me, I have therewith to don:
I will it bring again to thee full soon."
Gerveis answered; "Certes, were it gold,
Or in a poke nobles all untold, purse
Thou shouldst it have, as I am a true smith.
Hey! Christe's foot, what will ye do therewith?"
"Thereof," quoth Absolon, "be as be may;
I shall well tell it thee another day:"
And caught the culter by the colde stele.
Full soft out at the door he gan to steal,
And went unto the carpentere's wall
He coughed first, and knocked therewithal
Upon the window, light as he did ere.
This Alison answered; "Who is there
That knocketh so? I warrant him a thief."
"Nay, nay," quoth he, "God wot, my sweete lefe,
I am thine Absolon, my own darling.
Of gold," quoth he, "I have thee brought a ring,
My mother gave it me, so God me save!
Full fine it is, and thereto well y-grave:
This will I give to thee, if thou me kiss."
Now Nicholas was risen up to p*ss,
And thought he would amenden all the jape;
He shoulde kiss his erse ere that he scape:
And up the window did he hastily,
And out his erse he put full privily
Over the buttock, to the haunche bone.
And therewith spake this clerk, this Absolon,
"Speak, sweete bird, I know not where thou art."
This Nicholas anon let fly a fart,
As great as it had been a thunder dent;
That with the stroke he was well nigh y-blent;
But he was ready with his iron hot,
And Nicholas amid the erse he smote.
Off went the skin an handbreadth all about.
The hote culter burned so his tout, breech
That for the smart he weened he would die;
As he were wood, for woe he gan to cry,
"Help! water, water, help for Godde's heart!"
This carpenter out of his slumber start,
And heard one cry "Water," as he were wood,
And thought, "Alas! now cometh Noe's flood."
He sat him up withoute wordes mo'
And with his axe he smote the cord in two;
And down went all; he found neither to sell
Nor bread nor ale, till he came to the sell,
Upon the floor, and there in swoon he lay.
Up started Alison and Nicholay,
And cried out an "harow!" in the street.
The neighbours alle, bothe small and great
In ranne, for to gauren on this man,
That yet in swoone lay, both pale and wan:
For with the fall he broken had his arm.
But stand he must unto his owen harm,
For when he spake, he was anon borne down
With Hendy Nicholas and Alisoun.
They told to every man that he was wood;
He was aghaste so of Noe's flood,
Through phantasy, that of his vanity
He had y-bought him kneading-tubbes three,
And had them hanged in the roof above;
And that he prayed them for Godde's love
To sitten in the roof for company.
The folk gan laughen at his phantasy.
Into the roof they kyken and they gape,
And turned all his harm into a jape.
For whatsoe'er this carpenter answer'd,
It was for nought, no man his reason heard.
With oathes great he was so sworn adown,
That he was holden wood in all the town.
For every clerk anon right held with other;
They said, "The man was wood, my leve
And every wight gan laughen at his strife.
Thus swived was the carpentere's wife,
For all his keeping and his jealousy;
And Absolon hath kiss'd her nether eye;
And Nicholas is scalded in the tout.
This tale is done, and God save all the rout.