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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 845-856:
About January's mental blindness
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Merchant's Tale
lines 857-898: January becomes physically blind but observes his wife Maia closely


       Allas! this noble Januarie free,
Amydde his lust and his prosperitee,
Is woxen blynd, and that al sodeynly,
860He wepeth and he wayleth pitously;
And therwithal the fyr of jalousie,
Lest that his wyf sholde falle in som folye,
So brente his herte that he wolde fayn
That som man bothe hire and hym had slayn.
865For neither after his deeth, nor in his lyf,
Ne wolde he that she were love ne wyf,
But evere lyve as wydwe in clothes blake,
Soul as the turtle that lost hath hire make,
But atte laste, after a month or tweye
870His sorwe gan aswage, sooth to seye;
For whan he wiste it may noon oother be,
He paciently took his adversitee,
Save, out of doute, he may nat forgoon
That he nas jalous everemoore in oon;
875Which jalousye it was so outrageous,
That neither in halle, n'yn noon oother hous,
Ne in noon oother place, neverthemo,
He nolde suffre hire for to ryde or go,
But if that he had hond on hire alway;
880For which ful ofte wepeth fresshe May,
That loveth Damyan so benyngnely
That she moot outher dyen sodeynly,
Or elles she moot han hym as hir leste.
She wayteth whan hir herte wolde breste.
885Upon that oother syde Damyan
Bicomen is the sorwefulleste man
That evere was; for neither nyght ne day
Ne myghte he speke a word to fresshe May,
As to his purpos, of no swich mateere,
890But if that Januarie moste it heere,
That hadde an hand upon hire everemo.
But nathelees, by writyng to and fro,
And privee signes, wiste he what she mente,
And she knew eek the fyn of his entente.
895O Januarie, what myghte it thee availle,
Thogh thou myghte se as fer as shippes saille?
For as good is blynd deceyved be
As to be deceyved whan a man may se.
       Alas! This noble January free,
In all his pleasure and prosperity,
Is fallen blind, and that all suddenly.
860He wept and he lamented, pitifully;
And therewithal the fire of jealousy
Lest that his wife should fall to some folly,
So burned within his heart that he would fain
Both him and her some man had swiftly slain.
865For neither after death nor in his life
Would he that she were other's love or wife,
But dress in black and live in widow's state,
Lone as the turtle-dove that's lost her mate.
But finally, after a month or twain,
870His grief somewhat abated, to speak plain;
For when he knew it might not elsewise be,
He took in patience his adversity,
Except, doubtless, he could not renounce, as done,
His jealousy, from which he never won.
875For this his passion was so outrageous
That neither in his hall nor other house
Nor any other place, not ever, no,
He suffered her to ride or walking go,
Unless he had his hand on her alway;
880For which did often weep this fresh young May,
Who loved her Damian so tenderly
That she must either swiftly die or she
Must have him as she willed, her thirst to slake;
Biding her time, she thought her heart would break.
885And on the other side this Damian
Was now become the most disconsolate man
That ever was; for neither night nor day
Might he so much as speak a word to May
Of his desire, as I am telling here,
890Except it were said to January's ear,
Who never took his blind hand off her, no.
Nevertheless, by writing to and fro
And secret signals, he knew what she meant;
And she too knew the aim of his intent.
895O January, what might it now avail
Could your eyes see as far as ships can sail?
For it's as pleasant, blind, deceived to be
As be deceived while yet a man may see.




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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 899-912:
A wax impression is made of the key to the garden
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