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Modern Text

‘Nay ther-of care thee noght,’ quod Nicholas,
‘A clerk had litherly biset his whyle,
But-if he coude a carpenter bigyle.’
And thus they been acorded and y-sworn
To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
Whan Nicholas had doon thus everydeel,
And thakked hir aboute the lendes weel,
He kist hir swete, and taketh his sautrye,
120And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodye.
“Oh don’t worry about that,” Nicholas replied. “All that time I spent studying would be a waste if I couldn’t fool a simple carpenter.” And so they promised each other to bide their time and wait for the right opportunity to sleep with each other. And when everything was settled, he kissed her sweetly and caressed her a while between her legs before playing a fast but sweet song on his guitar.
Than fil it thus, that to the parish-chirche,
Cristes owne werkes for to wirche,
This gode wyf wente on an haliday;
Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,
So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk.
Well, one day this young, good wife went to church on a holy day to pray. Her face was so radiant because she’d done herself up nicely before leaving the house.
Now was ther of that chirche a parish-clerk,
The which that was y-cleped Absolon.
Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
130Ful streight and even lay his Ioly shode.
His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos;
With Powles window corven on his shoos,
In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
Y-clad he was ful smal and proprely,
Al in a kirtel of a light wachet;
Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set.
And ther-upon he hadde a gay surplys
As whyt as is the blosme upon the rys.
A mery child he was, so God me save,
140Wel coude he laten blood and clippe and shave,
And make a chartre of lond or acquitaunce.
In twenty manere coude he trippe and daunce
After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges casten to and fro,
And pleyen songes on a small rubible;
Ther-to he song som-tyme a loud quinible;
And as wel coude he pleye on his giterne.
In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
That he ne visited with his solas,
150Ther any gaylard tappestere was.
But sooth to seyn, he was somdel squaymous
Of farting, and of speche daungerous.
Now, the

parish clerk

Generally a trusted young man in his twenties who performed a variety of minor tasks for the presiding clergyman.

parish clerk
at this church was a guy named Absalom. He had curly blond hair that shone like gold, and he kept it parted down the middle of his head so that large locks fell down from his head like a fan. He had a ruddy complexion and eyes as grey as a goose. He wore red leggings with latticed shoes that went high up his leg and a light blue shirt that fit him smartly. On top of this he wore a surplice, which is a long white tunic that parish clerks often wear. God knows he was as giddy as a schoolboy. He was also pretty knowledgeable, though: He could cut hair well and give good shaves, and he was good at bloodletting too. He could also write legal contracts for property sales or other agreements. And he knew how to sing, dance all the new songs and styles that were all the rage with the students at Oxford, and play the fiddle. He also knew how to fiddle around with the ladies, if you know what I mean. In fact, there wasn’t a bar or tavern in town where he wouldn’t play, especially if they had cute little waitresses there. Truth be told, though, he was a little too prim and proper and squeamish, especially when it came to farting or loose speech.