Geoffrey Chaucer

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

L'Envoy Of Chaucer To Bukton

Poem by Geoffrey Chaucer

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.

Comments about L'Envoy Of Chaucer To Bukton by Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (3/24/2016 3:28:00 PM)

    The Envoy of Chaucer to Buckton

    The Counsel of Chaucer concerning Marriage, which was sent to Buckton.

    My master Buckton, when it was demanded of Christ our Lord, what is truth or truthfulness, he answered not a word; as who should say, I believe no man is all true. Therefore, though I promised to describe the sorrow and woe that is in wedlock, I dare write no evil of it, lest I fall myself into such dotage again. I will not say how it is the chain of Satan, on which he ever gnaws, but I dare to say that, were he out of his torment, he would never again willingly be bound. But that doting fool who had rather be chained again than crawl out of prison, God let him never part from his woe, and no man bewail his case, though he weep!

    Yet take a wife, lest you do worse. It is better to wed than to burn in worse style. But all your days you shall have sorrow upon your flesh and be your wife's servant, as wise men say. And if Holy Scripture be not enough, perchance experience shall teach you that it were better to be taken prisoner in Frisia than again to fall into that trap of marriage.

    This little writing, proverb, or allegory, I send you; heed it, I counsel you. He is unwise who cannot bear prosperity. If you are safe, put not yourself in jeopardy. I pray you read the Wife of Bath on this matter that we have in hand. God grant you to lead your life in freedom; it is very hard to be an indentured servant.

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Read poems about / on: wedding, marriage, sorrow, freedom, truth, god, pain, life

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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