Previous Previous:
From The Merchant's Tale, lines 425-442:
"How do I get to heaven when marriage is already heaven on earth?"
Previous
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Merchant's Tale
lines 443-476: Justinus puts marriage as heaven on earth in perspective


       Justinus, which that hated his folye,
Answerde anon right in his japerye;
445And for he wolde his longe tale abregge,
He wolde noon auctoritee allegge,
But seyde, "Sire, so ther be noon obstacle
Oother than this, God of his hygh myracle
And of his mercy may so for yow wirche
450That, er ye have youre right of hooly chirche,
Ye may repente of wedded mannes lyf,
In which ye seyn ther is no wo ne stryf.
And elles, God forbede but he sente
A wedded man hym grace to repente
455Wel ofte rather than a sengle man!
And therfore, sire - the beste reed I kan -
Dispeire yow noght, but have in youre memorie,
Paraunter she may be youre purgatorie!
She may be Goddes meene and Goddes whippe;
460Thanne shal youre soule up to hevene skippe
Swifter than dooth and arwe out of bowe.
I hope to God, herafter shul ye knowe
That ther nys no so greet felicitee
In mariage, ne nevere mo shal bee,
465That yow shal lette of youre savacion,
So that ye sue, as skile is an reson,
The lustes of youre wyf attemprely,
And that ye plese hire nat to amorously,
And that ye kepe yow eek from oother synne.
470My tale is doon, for my wit is thynne.
Beth nat agast herof, my brother deere,
But lat us waden out of this mateere.
The Wyf of Bathe, if ye han understonde,
Of mariage, which we have on honde,
475Declared hath ful wel in litel space.
Fareth now wel, God have yow in his grace."
       Justinus, who so hated this folly,
Answered at once in jesting wise and free;
445And since he would his longish tale abridge,
He would no old authority allege,
But said: "Sir, so there is no obstacle
Other than this, God, of high miracle
And of his mercy, may so for you work
450That, before you have your right of holy church,
You'll change your mind on wedded husband's life,
Wherein you say there is no woe or strife.
And otherwise, God grant that there be sent
To wedded man the fair grace to repent
455Often, and sooner than a single man!
And therefore, sir, this is the best I can:
Despair not, but retain in memory,
Perhaps she may your purgatory be!
She may be God's tool, she may be God's whip;
460Then shall your spirit up to Heaven skip
Swifter than does an arrow from the bow!
I hope to God, hereafter you shall know
That there is none so great felicity
In marriage, no nor ever shall there be,
465To keep you from salvation that's your own,
So that you use, with reason that's well known,
The charms of your wife's body temperately,
And that you please her not too amorously,
And that you keep as well from other sin.
470My tale is done now, for my wit is thin.
Be not deterred hereby, my brother dear" -
But let us pass quite over what's said here.
The wife of Bath, if you have understood,
Has treated marriage, in its likelihood,
475And spoken well of it in little space -
"Fare you well now, God have you in His grace."




Next Next:
From The Merchant's Tale, lines 477-496:
January the knight and Maia the virgin are married
Next