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Geoffrey Chaucer

(c. 1343 – 25 October 1400 / London, England)

L'Envoy of Chaucer to Bukton


My Master Bukton, when of Christ our King
Was asked, What is truth or soothfastness?
He not a word answer'd to that asking,
As who saith, no man is all true, I guess;
And therefore, though I highte to express
The sorrow and woe that is in marriage,
I dare not write of it no wickedness,
Lest I myself fall eft in such dotage.

I will not say how that it is the chain
Of Satanas, on which he gnaweth ever;
But I dare say, were he out of his pain,
As by his will he would be bounden never.
But thilke doated fool that eft had lever
Y-chained be, than out of prison creep,
God let him never from his woe dissever,
Nor no man him bewaile though he weep!

But yet, lest thou do worse, take a wife;
Bet is to wed than burn in worse wise;
But thou shalt have sorrow on thy flesh thy life,
And be thy wife's thrall, as say these wise.
And if that Holy Writ may not suffice,
Experience shall thee teache, so may hap,
That thee were lever to be taken in Frise,
Than eft to fall of wedding in the trap.

This little writ, proverbes, or figure,
I sende you; take keep of it, I read!
"Unwise is he that can no weal endure;
If thou be sicker, put thee not in dread."
The Wife of Bath I pray you that you read,
Of this mattere which that we have on hand.
God grante you your life freely to lead
In freedom, for full hard is to be bond.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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