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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 354-364:
The purpose of January
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Merchant's Tale
lines 365-410: January chooses a bride and calls his brothers


365        Heigh fantasye and curious bisynesse
Fro day to day gan in the soule impresse
Of Januarie aboute his mariage.
Many fair shap and many a fair visage
Ther passeth thurgh his herte nyght by nyght,
370As whoso tooke a mirour, polisshed bryght,
And sette it in a commune market-place,
Thanne sholde he se ful many a figure pace
By his mirour; and in the same wyse
Gan Januarie inwith his thoght devyse
375Of maydens whiche that dwelten hym bisyde.
He wiste nat wher that he myghte abyde.
For if that oon have beaute in hir face,
Another stant so in the peples grace
For hire sadnesse and hire benyngnytee
380That of the peple grettest voys hath she;
And somme were riche, and hadden badde name.
But nathelees, bitwixe ernest and game,
He atte laste apoynted hym on oon,
And leet alle othere from his herte goon,
385And chees hire of his owene auctoritee;
For love is blynd alday, and may nat see.
And whan that he was in his bed ybroght,
He purtreyed in his herte and in his thoght
Hir fresshe beautee and hir age tendre,
390Hir myddel smal, hire armes longe and sklendre,
Hir wise governaunce, hir gentillesse,
Hir wommanly berynge, and hire sadnesse.
And whan that he on hire was condescended,
Hym thoughte his choys myghte nat ben amended.
395For whan that he hymself concluded hadde,
Hym thoughte ech oother mannes wit so badde
That inpossible it were to repplye
Agayn his choys, this was his fantasye.
His freendes sente he to, at his instaunce,
400And preyed hem to doon hym that plesaunce,
That hastily they wolden to hym come;
He wolde abregge hir labour, alle and some.
Nedeth namoore for hym to go ne ryde;
He was apoynted ther he wolde abyde.
405Placebo cam, and eek his freendes soone,
And alderfirst he bad hem alle a boone,
That noon of hem none argumentes make
Agayn the purpos which that he hath take,
Which purpos was plesant to God, seyde he,
410And verray ground of his prosperitee.
365       Imagination and his eagerness
Did in the soul of January press
As he considered marriage for a space.
Many fair shapes and many a lovely face
Passed through his amorous fancy, night by night.
370As who might take mirror polished bright
And set it in the common market-place
And then should see full many a figure pace
Within the mirror; just in that same wise
Did January within his thought surmise
375Of maidens whom he dwelt in town beside.
He knew not where his fancy might abide.
For if the one have beauty of her face,
Another stands so in the people's grace
For soberness and for benignity,
380That all the people's choice she seems to be;
And some were rich and had an evil name.
Nevertheless, half earnest, half in game,
He fixed at last upon a certain one
And let all others from his heart be gone,
385And chose her on his own authority;
For love is always blind and cannot see.
And when in bed at night, why then he wrought
To portray, in his heart and in his thought,
Her beauty fresh and her young age, so tender,
390Her middle small, her two arms long and slender,
Her management full wise, her gentleness,
Her womanly bearing, and her seriousness.
And when to her at last his choice descended,
He thought that choice might never be amended.
395For when he had concluded thus, egad,
He thought that other men had wits so bad
It were impossible to make reply
Against his choice, this was his fantasy.
His friends he sent to, at his own instance,
400And prayed them give him, in this wise, pleasance,
That speedily they would set forth and come:
He would abridge their labour, all and some.
He need not more to walk about or ride,
For he'd determined where he would abide.
405Placebo came, and all his friends came soon,
And first of all he asked of them the boon
That none of them an argument should make
Against the course he fully meant to take;
'Which purpose pleasing is to God,' said he,
410'And the true ground of my felicity.'




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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 411-424:
January says he likes her but has one urgent question
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