The wife of Bath (1380)

Geoffrey Chaucer

This is the original text as written by Chaucer in Middle English. You may wish to recite this or alternatively to recite the modern translation by Nevill Coghill, available in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and Nevill Coghill, published by the Penguin Group. This is the only alternative translation which may be used for the competition.

A GOOD WIF was ther of biside BATHE,
But she was som-del deef and that was scathe.
Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt
She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.
In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon
That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon,
And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she,
That she was out of alle charitee.
Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground,—
I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound,—
That on a Sonday weren upon hir heed.
Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed
Ful streite y-teyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe;
Boold was hir face and fair and reed of hewe.
She was a worthy womman al hir lyve,
Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve,
Withouten oother compaignye in youthe,—
But ther-of nedeth nat to speke as nowthe,—
And thries hadde she been at Jerusalem;
She hadde passed many a straunge strem;
At Rome she hadde been and at Boloigne,
In Galice at Seint Jame, and at Coloigne,
She koude muchel of wandrynge by the weye.
Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye.
Upon an amblere esily she sat,
Y-wympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
As brood as is a bokeler or a targe;
A foot mantel aboute hir hipes large,
And on hir feet a paire of spores sharpe.
In felaweshipe wel koude she laughe and carpe;
Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce,
For she koude of that art the olde daunce.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

offering, n.  strait, adv.  company, n  buckler, n.2