The Miller’s Tale, Nicholas Seduces Alisoun

Read by Alfred David
as edited by E. Talbot Donaldson
in The Norton Anthology of English Literature
ll. 163-199 in Norton; ll. 3271-3306 in The Riverside Chaucer)

The Miller’s Tale, Nicholas Seduces Alisoun in MP3 format

Now sire, and eft sire, so bifel the cas
That on a day this hende Nicholas
Fil with this yonge wif to rage and playe,
Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye
(As clerkes been ful subtil and ful quainte),
And prively he caughte hire by the queinte,
And saide, “Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
For derne love of thee, lemman, I spille,”
And heeld hire harde by the haunche-bones,
And saide, “Lemman, love me al atones,
Or I wol dien, also God me save.”
And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave,
And with hir heed she wried faste away;
She saide, “I wol nat kisse thee, by my fay.
Why, lat be,” quod she, “lat be, Nicholas!
Or I wol crye, ‘Out, harrow, and allas!’
Do way youre handes, for youre curteisye!”

This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
That she hir love hIm graunted atte laste,
And swoor hir ooth by Saint Thomas of Kent
That she wolde been at his comandement,
Whan that she may hir leiser wel espye.
“Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousye
That but ye waite wel and been privee
I woot right wel I nam but deed,” quod she.
“Ye moste been ful derne, as in this cas.”

“Nay, therof care thee nought,” quod Nicholas.
“A clerk hadde litherly biset his while,
But if he coude a carpenter bigile.”
And thus they been accorded and ysworn
To waite a tyme, as I have told biforn.
Whan Nicholas had doon this everydeel,
And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
He kiste hire sweete, and taketh his sautrye,
And playeth faste, and maketh melodye.