Anonymous Olde English

The Wright's Chaste Wife - Poem by Anonymous Olde English

Allemyghty god, maker of alle,
Saue you my souereyns in towre & halle,
And send you good grace!
If ye wylle a stounde blynne,
Of a story I wylle begynne,
And telle you alle the cas,
Meny farleyes ?aue herde,
Ye would haue wondyr how yt ferde;
Lystyn, and ye schalle here;
Of a wryght I wylle you telle
That some tyme in thys land gan dwelle,
And lyued by hys myster.
Whether that he were yn or oute,
Of erthely man hadde he no dowte,
To werke hows, harowe, nor plowgh,
Or other werkes, what so they were,
Thous wrought he hem farre and nere,
And dyd tham wele I-nough.
Thys wryght would wedde no wyfe,
Butt yn yougeth to lede hys lyfe
In myrthe and o?ody;
Ouer alle where he gan wende,
Alle they seyd 'welcome, frende,
Sytt downe, and do gla[d]ly.'
Tylle on a tyme he was wyllyng,
As tyme comyth of alle thyng,
(So seyth the profesye,)
A wyfe for to wedde & haue
That myght hys goodes kepe & saue,
And for to leue alle foly.
Ther dwellyd a wydowe in ?tre
That hadde a doughter feyre & fre;
Of her, word sprang wyde,
For sche was bothe stabylle & trewe,
Meke of maners, and feyre of hewe;
So seyd men in that tyde.
The wryght seyde, 'so god me saue,
Such a wyfe would I haue
To lye nyghtly by my syde.'
He ?to speke wyth ?,
And rose erly on a daye
And ?an he to ryde.
The wryght was welcome to ?,
And her saluyd alle so blyve,
And so he dyd her doughter fre:
For the erand that he for came
Tho he spake, ?d yemane;
Than to hym seyd sche:
The wydow seyd, 'by heuen kyng,
I may geue wyth her no ?r> (And ?thynketh me
Saue a garlond I wylle the geue,
Ye schalle neuer see, whyle ye lyve,
None such in thys contre:
Haue here thys garlond of roses ryche,
In alle thys lond ys none yt lyche,
For ytt wylle euer be newe,
Wete ?e withowtyn fable,
Alle the whyle thy wyfe ys stable
The chaplett wolle hold hewe;
And yf thy wyfe vse putry,
Or tolle eny man to lye her by,
Than wolle yt change hewe,
And by the garlond ? see,
Fekylle or fals yf ?e be,
Or ellys yf sche be trewe.'
Of thys chaplett hym was fulle fayne,
And of hys wyfe, was nott to layne;
He weddyd her fulle sone,
And ladde her home wyth solempnite,
And hyld her brydalle dayes thre.
Whan they home come,
Thys wryght in hys hart cast,
If that he walkyd est or west
As he was wonte to done,
'My wyfe ?so bryght of ble
Men wolle desyre here fro me,
And ?tly and sone;'
Butt sone he hym by?br> That a chambyr schuld be wrought
Bothe of lyme and stone,
Wyth wallys strong as eny stele,
And dorres sotylly made and wele,
He owte framyd yt sone;
The chambyr he lett make fast,
Wyth plaster of parys ?le last,
Such ous know I neuer none;
Ther ys kyng ne emperoure,
And he were lockyn in ?re,
That cowde gete owte of ?ne.
Nowe hath he done as he ?
And in the myddes of the flore wrought
A wondyr strange gyle,
A trapdoure rounde abowte
That no man myght come yn nor owte;
It was made wyth a wyle,
That who-so touchyd yt eny thyng,
In to ? he schuld flyng
Wythyn a lytylle whyle.
For hys wyfe he made that place,
That no man schuld beseke her of grace,
Nor her to begyle.

By ?e ? of the towne
Hadde ordeynyd tymbyr redy bowne,
An halle to make of tre.
After the wryght the lord lett sende
For ?schuld wyth hym lende
Monythys two or thre.
The lord seyd, 'woult ?e ??
I wylle send after her blyve
That sche may com to the.'
The wryght hys garlond hadde take wyth hym,
That was bryght and no ?mme,
Yt wes feyre on to see.
The lord axyd hym as he satt,
'Felowe, where hadyst ? hatte
That ys so feyre and newe?'
The wryght answerd alle so blyue,
And seyd, 'syr, I hadde yt wyth my wyfe,
And ?e me neuere rewe;
Syr, by my garlond I may see
Fekylle or fals yf ?e be,
Or yf ?e be trewe;
And yf my wyfe loue a paramoure,
Than wylle my garlond vade coloure,
And change wylle yt the hewe.'
The lord ?'by godys myght,
That wylle I wete thys same nyght
Whether thys tale be trewe.'
To the wryghtys howse anon he went,
He fonde the wyfe ther-in presente
That was so bryght and schene;
Sone he hayled her trewly,
And so dyd sche the lord curtesly:
Sche seyd, 'welcome ye be;'
Thus seyd the wyfe of the hows,
'Syr, howe faryth my swete spowse
That hewyth vppon youre tre?'
'Sertes, dame,' he seyd, 'wele,
And I am come, so haue I hele,
To wete the wylle of the;
My loue ys so vppon the cast
That me thynketh my hert wolle brest,
It wolle none otherwyse be;
Good dame, graunt me thy grace
To pley with the in some preuy place
For gold and eke for fee.'
'Good syr, lett be youre fare,
And of such wordes speke no mare
For hys loue ?d on tre;
Hadde we onys begonne ?,
My husbond by his garlond myght see;
For sorowe he would wexe woode.'
'Certes, dame,' he seyd, 'naye;
Loue me, I pray you, in ?maye:
For godys loue change thy mode,
Forty marke schalle be youre mede
Of syluer and of gold [so] rede,
And that schalle do the good.'
'Syr, that deede schalle be done;
Take me that mony here anone.'
'I swere by the holy rode
I thought when I cam hyddere
For to bryng yt alle to-gyddere,
As I mott breke my heele.'
Ther sche toke xl marke
Of syluer and gold styff and sterke:
Sche toke yt feyre and welle;
Sche seyd, 'in to the chambyr wylle we,
Ther no man schalle vs see;
No lenger wylle we spare.'
Vp the steyer they gan hye:
The stepes were made so queyntly
That farther myght he nott fare.
The lord stumbyllyd as he went in hast,
He felle doune in to ?ste
Forty fote and somedele more.
The lord began to crye;
The wyfe seyd to hym in hye,
'Syr, what do ye there?'
'Dame, I can nott seye howe
That I am come hydder nowe
To thys hows ?so newe;
I am so depe in thys sure flore
That I ne can come owte att no dore;
Good dame, on me ?e!'
'Nay,' sche seyd, 'so mut y the,
Tylle myne husbond come and se,
I schrewe hym ??'
The lord arose and lokyd abowte
If he myght eny where gete owte,
But yt holpe hym ryght noght,
The wallys were so thycke wythyn,
That he no where myght owte wynne
But helpe to hym were brought;
And euer the lord made euylle chere,
And seyd, 'dame, ?alt by thys dere.'
Sche seyd that sche ne rought;
Sche seyd 'I recke nere
Whyle I am here and ? there,
I schrewe herre ?doth drede.'
The lord was sone owte of her ?
The wyfe went in to her lofte,
Sche satte and dyd here dede.
Than yt felle on ?r daye
Of mete and drynke he gan her pray,
There of he hadde gret nede.
He seyd, 'dame, for seynt charyte,
Wyth some mete ?fort me.'
Sche seyd, 'nay, so god me spede,
For I swere by swete seynt Iohne,
Mete ne drynke ne getyst ?e
Butt ?t swete or swynke;
For I haue both hempe and lyne,
And a betyngstocke fulle fyne,
And a swyngylle good and grete;
If ?t worke, tell me sone.'
'Dame, bryng yt forthe, yt schalle be done,
Fulle gladly would I ete.'
Sche toke the stocke in her honde,
And in to the pytt sche yt sclang
Wyth a grete hete:
Sche brought the lyne and hempe on her backe,
'Syr lord,' sche seyd, 'haue ?,
And lerne for to swete.'
Ther sche toke hym a bonde
For to occupy hys honde,
And bade hym fast on to bete.
He leyd yt downe on the stone,
And leyd on strockes welle good wone,
And sparyd nott on to leyne.
Whan ?hadde wrought a thraue,
Mete and drynke he gan to craue,
And would haue hadde yt fayne;
'That I hadde somewhat for to ete
Now after my gret swete;
Me thynketh yt were ryght,
For I haue labouryd nyght and daye
The for to plese, dame, I saye,
And therto putt my myght.'
The wyfe seyd 'so mutt I haue hele,
And yf ?e be wrought wele
Thou schalt haue to dyne.'
Mete and drynke sche hym bare,
Wyth a thrafe of flex mare
Of fulle long boundyn lyne.
So feyre the wyfe the lord gan praye
That he schuld be werkyng aye,
And nought ?schuld blynne;
The lord was fayne to werke tho,
Butt hys men knewe nott of hys woo
Nor of ?des pyne.

The stuard to ?ht gan saye,
'Sawe ?e of my lord to-daye,
Whether that he ys wende?'
The wryght answerde and seyd 'naye;
I sawe hym nott syth yesterdaye;
I trowe ?be schent.'
The stuard stode ?ht by,
And of hys garlond hadde ferly
What ?be-mente.
The stuard seyd, 'so god me saue,
Of thy garlond wondyr I haue,
And who yt hath the sent.'
'Syr,' he seyd, 'be the same hatte
I can knowe yf my wyfe be badde
To me by eny other man;
If my floures ou?e or falle,
Then doth my wyfe me wrong wyth-alle,
As many a woman can.'
The stuard ?'by godes myght,
That schalle I preue thys same nyght
Whether ?s or banne,'
And in to hys chambyr he gan gone,
And toke tresure fulle good wone,
And forth he spedde hem than.
Butt he ne stynt att no stone
Tylle he vn-to ?htes hows come
That ylke same nyght.
He mett the wyfe amydde the gate,
Abowte ?e he gan her take,
And seyd 'my dere wyght,
Alle the good ?myne
I wylle the geue to be thyne
To lye by the alle nyght.'
Sche seyd, 'syr, lett be thy fare,
My husbond wolle wete wyth-owtyn mare
And I hym dyd that vnryght;
I would nott he myght yt wete
For alle the good that I myght gete,
So Ihesus mutt me spede;
For, and eny man lay me by,
My husbond would yt wete truly,
It ys wythowtyn eny drede.'
The stuard seyd 'for hym ?wrought,
There-of, dame, drede the noght
Wyth me to do that dede;
Haue here of me xx marke
Of gold and syluer styf and starke,
Thys tresoure schalle be thy mede.'
'Syr, and I graunt ?you,
Lett no man wete butt we two nowe.'
He seyd, 'nay, wythowtyn drede.'
The stuard ? 'sykerly
Women beth both queynte & slye.'
The mony he gan her bede;
He ?wele to haue be spedde,
And of his erand he was onredde
Or he were fro hem I-gone.
Vp the sterys sche hym leyde
Tylle he saw the wryghtes bedde:
Of tresoure rought he none;
He went and stumblyd att a stone,
In to ?ere he fylle sone
Downe to the bare flore.
The lord seyd 'what deuylle art ?> And ?est falle on me nowe,
Thowe hadest hurt me fulle sore.'
The stuard stert and staryd abowte
If he myght ower gete owte
Att hole lesse or mare.
The lord seyd, 'welcome, and sytt be tyme,
For ?alt helpe to dyght thys lyne
For alle thy fers fare.'
The stuard lokyd on the knyght,
He seyd, 'syr, for godes myght,
My lord, what do you here?'
He seyd 'felowe, wyth-owtyn oth,
For o erand we come bothe,
The sothe wolle I nott lete.'
Tho cam the wyfe them vn-to,
And seyd, 'syres, what do you to,
Wylle ye nott lerne to swete?'
Than seyd ? her vn-to,
'Dame, youre lyne ys I-doo,
Nowe would I fayne ete:
And I haue made yt alle I-lyke,
Fulle clere, and no ?ycke,
Me thynketh yt gret payne.'
The stuard seyd 'wyth-owtyn dowte,
And euer I may wynne owte,
I wyll breke her brayne.'
'Felowe, lett be, and sey nott so,
For ?alt worke or euer ?,
Thy wordes ?ne agayne,
Fayne ?alt be so to doo,
And thy good wylle put ?br> As a man buxome and bayne
Thowe schalt rubbe, rele, and spynne,
And ?t eny mete wynne,
That I geue to god a gyfte.'
The stuard seyd, 'then haue I wondyr;
Rather would I dy for hungyr
Wyth-owte hosylle or shryfte.'
The lord seyd, 'so haue I hele,
Thowe wylt worke, yf ?gyr welle,
What worke ? be brought.'
The lord satt and dyd hys werke,
The stuard drewe in to the derke,
Gret sorowe was in hys ?
The lord seyd, 'dame, here ys youre lyne,
Haue yt in godes blessyng and myne,
I hold yt welle I-wrought.'
Mete and drynke sche gaue hym yn,
'The stuard,' sche seyd, 'wolle he nott spynne,
Wylle he do ryght noght?'
The lord seyd, 'by swete sen Ione,
Of thys mete schalle he haue none
That ye haue me hydder brought.'
The lord ete and dranke fast,
The stuard hungeryd att ?,
For he gaue hym nought.
The stuard satt alle in a stody,
Hys lord hadde forgote curtesy:
Tho seyd ?rd, 'geue me some.'
The lord seyd, 'sorow haue ?elle or sope
That schalle come in thy throte;
Nott so much as a crome!
Butt ?t helpe to dyght ?e,
Much hungyr yt schalle be thyne
Though ?e much mone.'
Vp he rose, and went therto,
'Better ys me ?doo
Whyle yt must nedys be do.'
The stuard began fast to knocke,
The wyfe ?m a swyngelyng stocke,
Hys mete ? to wyn;
Sche brought a swyngylle at ?,
'Good syres,' sche seyd, 'swyngylle on fast;
For no ?at ye blynne.'
Sche gaue hym a stocke to sytt vppon,
And seyd 'syres, ?ke must nedys be done,
Alle that that ys here yn.'
The stuard toke vp a stycke to saye,
'Sey, seye, swyngylle better yf ye may,
Hytt wylle be the better to spynne.'
Were ? neuer so gret,
Yet was he fayne to werke for hys mete
Though he were neuer so sadde;
Butt ?rd ? so stowde,
Was fayne to swyngelle ?es owte,
Ther-of he was nott glad.
The lordys meyne ?e att home
Wyst nott where he was bycome,
They were fulle sore adrad.

The proctoure of ?sche chyrche ryght
Came and lokyd on ?ht,
He lokyd as he were madde;
Fast ?toure gan hym frayne,
'Where hadest ? garlond gayne?
It ys euer lyke newe.'
The wryght gan say 'felowe,
Wyth my wyfe, yf ?t knowe;
That dare me nott rewe;
For alle the whyle my wyfe trew ys,
My garlond wolle hold hewe I-wys,
And neuer falle nor fade;
And yf my wyfe take a paramoure,
Than wolle my garlond vade ?re,
That dare I ley myne hede.'
The proctoure ? 'in good faye
That schalle I wete thys same daye
Whether yt may so be.'
To the wryghtes hows he went,
He grete ? wyth feyre entente,
Sche seyd 'syr, welcome be ye.'
'A! dame, my loue ys on you fast
Syth the tyme I sawe you last;
I pray you yt may so be
That ye would graunt me of youre grace
To play wyth you in some priuy place,
Or ellys to deth mutt me.'
Fast ?toure gan to pray,
And euer to hym sche seyd 'naye,
That wolle I nott doo.
Hadest ?e ?e wyth me,
My spouse by hys garlond myght see,
That schuld torne me to woe.'
The proctoure seyd, 'by heuen kyng,
If he sey to the any ?> He schalle haue sorowe vnsowte;
Twenty marke I wolle ?,
It wolle ?e welle to lyue,
The mony here haue I brought.'
Nowe hath sche the tresure tane,
And vp ?re be they gane,
(What helpyth yt to lye?)
The wyfe went the steyre be-syde,
The proctoure went a lytylle to wyde
He felle downe by and by.
Whan he in to ?er felle,
He wente to haue sonke in to helle,
He was in hart fulle sory.
The stuard lokyd on the knyght,
And seyd 'proctoure, for godes myght,
Come and sytt vs by.'
The proctoure began to stare,
For he was he wyst neuer whare,
Butt wele he knewe ?ht
And the stuard ?ngelyd ?.
He seyd 'syres, for godes pyne,
What do ye here thys nyght?'
The stuard seyd, 'god geue the care,
Thowe camyst to loke howe we fare,
Nowe helpe ?e were dyght.'
He stode stylle in a gret ?
What to answer he wyst noght:
'By mary fulle of myght,'
The proctoure seyd, 'what do ye in ?br> For to bete thys wyfes lyne?
For Jhesus loue, fulle of myght,'
The proctoure seyd ryght as he ?
'For me yt schalle be euylle wrought
And I may see aryght,
For I lernyd neuer in londe
For to haue a swyngelle in hond
By day nor be nyght.'
The stuard seyd, 'as good as ? We hold vs that be here now,
And lett preue yt be syght;
Yet must vs worke for owre mete,
Or ellys schalle we none gete,
Mete nor drynke to owre honde.'
The lord seyd, 'why flyte ye two?
I trowe ye wylle werke or ye goo
Yf yt be as I vndyrstond.'
Abowte he goys twyes or thryes;
They ete & drynke in such wyse
That ?e hym ryght noght.
The proctoure seyd, 'thynke ye no schame,
Yheue me some mete, (ye be to blame,)
Of that the wyfe ye brought.'
The stuard seyd 'euylle spede the soppe
If eny morcelle come in thy throte
Butt ?h vs hadest wrought.'
The proctoure stode in a stody
Whether he myght worke hem by;
And so to torne hys ?
To the lord he drewe nere,
And to hym seyd wyth myld chere,
'That mary mott the spede.'
The proctoure began to knocke,
The good wyfe rawte hym a rocke,
For therto hadde sche nede;
Sche seyd 'whan I was mayde att home,
Other werke cowde I do none
My lyfe ther-wyth to lede.'
Sche gaue hym in hande a rocke hynde,
And bade hem fast for to wynde
Or ellys to lett be hys dede.
'Yes, dame,' he seyd, 'so haue I hele,
I schalle yt worke both feyre & welle
As ye haue taute me.'
He wauyd vp a strycke of lyne,
And he span wele and fyne
By-fore the swyngelle tre.
The lord seyd '?nnest to grete,
Therfor ?alt haue no mete,
That ?alt welle see.'
Thus ?t and wrought fast
Tylle ? dayes were past;
Then the wryght, home came he,
And as he cam by hys hows syde
He herd noyse that was not ryde
Of persons two or thre;
One of hem knockyd lyne,
A-nothyr swyngelyd good and fyne
By-fore the swyngylle tre,
The thyrde did rele and spynne,
Mete and drynke ther-wyth to wynne,
Gret nede ther-of hadde he.
Thus ?ht stode herkenyng;
Hys wyfe was ware of hys comyng,
And ageynst hym went sche.
'Dame,' he seyd, 'what ys ?ne?
I here gret noyse here wythynne;
Telle me, so god the spede.'
'Syr,' sche seyd, 'workemen thre
Be come to helpe you and me,
Ther-of we haue gret nede;
Fayne would I wete what they were.'
But when he sawe hys lord there,
Hys hert bygan to drede
To see hys lord in ?ce,
He ?yt was a strange cas,
And seyd, 'so god hym spede,
What do ye here, my lord and knyght?
Telle me nowe for godes myght
Howe cam thys vn-to?'
The knyght seyd 'What ys best rede?
Mercy I aske for my mysdede,
My hert ys wondyr wo.'
'So ys myne, verament,
To se you among thys flex and hempe,
Fulle sore yt ruyth me;
To se you in such hevynes,
Fulle sore myne hert yt doth oppresse,
By god in trinite.'
The wryght bade hys wyfe lett hym owte,
'Nay, ?owe come on my snowte
If they passe hens to-daye
Tylle that my lady come and see
Howe ?ld haue done wyth me,
Butt nowe late me saye.'
Anon sche sent after the lady bryght
For to fett home her lord and knyght,
Therto sche seyd noght;
Sche told her what they hadde ment,
And of ther purpos & ther intente
That they would haue wrought.
Glad was ?y of that tydyng;
When sche wyst her lord was lyuyng,
Ther-of sche was fulle fayne:
Whan sche came vn-to ?re abouen,
Sche lokyd vn-to ?er downe,
And seyd,-?nott to leyne,-
'Good syres, what doo you here?'
'Dame, we by owre mete fulle dere,
Wyth gret trauayle and peyne;
I pray you helpe ?were owte,
And I wylle swere wythowtyn dowte
Neuer to come here agayne.'
The lady spake the wyfe vn-tylle,
And seyd 'dame, yf yt be youre wylle,
What doo thes meyny here?'
The carpentarys wyfe her answerd sykerly,
'Alle they would haue leyne me by,
Euerych in ther manere,
Gold and syluer they me brought,
And forsoke yt, and would yt noght,
The ryche gyftes so clere.
Wyllyng ?e to do me schame,
I toke ther gyftes wyth-owtyn blame,
And ther they be alle thre.'
The lady answerd her anon,
'I haue thynges to do att home
Mo than two or thre;
I wyst my lord neuer do ryght noght
Of no ?t schuld be wrought,
Such as fallyth to me.'
The lady lawghed and made good game
Whan they came owte alle in-same
From the swyngylle tre.
The knyght seyd 'felowys in fere,
I am glad ?be here,
By godes dere pyte;
Dame, and ye hadde bene wyth vs,
Ye would haue wrought, by swete Ihesus,
As welle as dyd we.'
And when they cam vp abouen
They turnyd abowte and lokyd downe,
The lord seyd, 'so god saue me,
Yet hadde I neuer such a fytte
As I haue hadde in ?e pytte;
So mary so mutt me spede.'
The knyght and thys lady bryght,
Howe they would home that nyght,
For no thyng they would abyde;
And so they went home;
Thys seyd Adam of Cobsam.
By the weye as they rode
Throwe a wode in ther playeng,
For to here the fowlys syng
They hovyd stylle and bode.
The stuard sware by godes ore,
And so dyd the proctoure much more,
That neuer in ther lyfe
Would they no more come in ?ne
Whan they were onys thens come,
Thys forty yere and fyve.
Of the tresure that they brought
The lady would geue hem ryght noght,
Butt gaue yt to the wryghtes wyfe.
Thus the wryghtes garlond was feyre of hewe,
And hys wyfe bothe good and trewe:
There-of was he fulle blythe;
I take wytnes att gret and smalle,
Thus trewe bene good women alle
That nowe bene on lyve,
So come thryste on ther hedys
Whan they mombylle on ther bedys
Ther pater noster ryue.

Here ys wretyn a geste of the wryght
That hadde a garlond welle I-dyght,
The coloure wylle neuer fade.
Now god ?heuyn kyng
Graunt vs alle hys dere blessyng
Owre hertes for to glade;
And alle tho that doo her husbondys ryght,
Pray we to Ihesu fulle of myght,
That feyre mott hem byfalle,
And that they may come to heuen blys,
For thy dere moderys loue ther-of nott to mys,
Alle good wyues alle.
Now alle tho that thys tretys hath hard,
Ihesu graunt hem for her reward
As trew louers to be
As was the wryght vn-to hys wyfe
And sche to hym duryng her lyfe.
Amen, for charyte.

Here endyth the wryghtes processe trewe
Wyth hys garlond feyre of hewe
That neuer dyd fade the coloure.
It was made by the avyse
Of hys wywes moder wytty and wyse
Of flourys most of honoure,
Of roses whyte ?le nott fade,
Whych floure alle ynglond doth glade
Wyth trewloues medelyd in syght;
Vn-to the whych floure I-wys
The loue of god and of the comenys
Subdued bene of ryght.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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