The Wife of BathThere was a housewife come from Bath, or near,
Who—sad to say—was deaf in either ear.
At making cloth she had so great a bent
She bettered those of Ypres and even of Ghent.
Her kerchiefs were of finest weave and ground;(5)
I dare swear that they weighed a full ten pound
Which, of a Sunday, she wore on her head.
Her hose were of the choicest scarlet red,
Close gartered, and her shoes were soft and new.
Bold was her face, and fair, and red of hue.(10)
She’d been respectable throughout her life,
With five churched husbands bringing joy and strife,
Not counting other company in youth;
But thereof there’s no need to speak, in truth.
Three times she’d journeyed to Jerusalem;(15)
And many a foreign stream she’d had to stem;
At Rome she’d been, and she’d been in Boulogne,
In Spain at Santiago, and at Cologne.
She could tell much of wandering by the way:
Gap-toothed was she, it is no lie to say.(20)
Upon an ambler easily she sat,
Well wimpled, aye, and over all a hat
As broad as is a buckler or a targe,
A rug was tucked around her buttocks large,
And on her feet a pair of spurs quite sharp.(25)
In company well could she laugh and carp.
The remedies of love she knew, perchance,
For of that art she’d learned the old, old dance.
city in southwest England
Ypres and Ghent were towns in Flanders famous for their cloth
most important pilgrimage site because it was supposed to be the area in which Jesus preached, was crucified and buried
seat of the Pope
pilgrimage site in France
site of the shrine to Saint James de Compostela
city in Germany that was also an important destination for religious pilgrims
in Chaucer’s time, good Christians were supposed to make a yearly pilgrimage to a significant religious site. Some of these locations, like Canterbury Cathedral, were places where martyrs for the Christian faith had died.
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