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Geoffrey Chaucer (c.

1343 – 25 October 1400)

From The Canterbury Tales:

The Wife of Bath's Prologue


lines 141-168: How a husband should pay his wife

But I seye noght that every wight is holde, But I say not that every one is bound,
That hath swich harneys as I to yow tolde, Who's fitted out and furnished as I've found,
To goon and usen hem in engendrure. To go and use it to beget an heir;
Thanne sholde men take of chastitee no cure. Then men would have for chastity no care.
145 Crist was a mayde, and shapen as a man, 145 Christ was a maid, and yet shaped like a man,
And many a seint, sith that the world bigan; And many a saint, since this old world began,
Yet lyved that evere in parfit chastitee. Yet has lived ever in perfect chastity.
I nyl envye no virginitee. I bear no malice to virginity;
Lat hem be breed of pured whete-seed, Let such be bread of purest white wheat-seed,
150 And lat us wyves hoten barly-breed; 150 And let us wives be called but barley bread;
And yet with barly-breed, Mark telle kan, And yet with barley bread, if Mark you scan
Oure Lord Jhesu refresshed many a man. Jesus Our Lord refreshed full many a man.
In swich estaat as God hath cleped us In such condition as God places us
I wol persevere; I nam nat precius. I'll persevere, I'm not fastidious.
155 In wyfhod I wol use myn instrument 155 In wifehood I will use my instrument
As frely as my Makere hath it sent. As freely as my Maker has it sent.
If I be daungerous, God yeve me sorwe! If I be niggardly, God give me sorrow!
Myn housbonde shal it have bothe eve and My husband he shall have it, eve and
morwe, morrow,
Whan that hym list come forth and paye When he's pleased to come forth and pay his
his dette. debt.
160 An housbonde I wol have, I wol nat lette, 160 I'll not delay, a husband I will get
Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral, Who shall be both my debtor and my thrall
And have his tribulacioun withal And have his tribulations therewithal
Upon his flessh whil that I am his wyf. Upon his flesh, the while I am his wife.
I have the power durynge al my lyf I have the power during all my life
165 Upon his propre body, and noght he. 165 Over his own good body, and not he.
Right thus the Apostel tolde it unto me, For thus the apostle told it unto me;
And bad oure housbondes for to love us weel. And bade our husbands that they love us well.
Al this sentence me liketh every deel." And all this pleases me whereof I tell."

The complete text at: http://www.librarius.com/canttran/wftltrfs.htm


John Bunyan (baptised 30 November 1628 – 31 August 1688)

From The Pilgrim's Progress (1678):

The Pilgrim's Progress


Section II.

Then Christian fell down at his foot as dead, crying, Wo is me, for I am
undone: At the sight of which, Evangelist caught him by the right hand,
saying, All manner of sin and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto men; be not
faithless, but believing. Then did Christian again a little revive, and stood
up trembling, as at first, before Evangelist.

Then Evangelist proceeded, saying, Give more earnest heed to the things
that I shall tell thee of. I will now shew thee who it was that deluded thee,
and who it was also to whom he sent thee. The man that met thee is one Worldly
Wiseman, and rightly is he so called: partly because he savoureth only the
doctrine of this world, (therefore he always goes to the Town of Morality to
church); and partly because he loveth that doctrine best, for it saveth him
from the Cross. And because he is of this carnal temper, teerefore he seeketh
to prevent my ways, though right. Now there are three things in this man's
counsel that thou must utterly abhor.

1. His turning thee out of the way.

2. His labouring to render the Cross odious to thee.

3. And his setting thy feet in that way that leadeth unto the
administration of Death.

First, Thou must abhor his turning thee out of the way; yea, and thine
own consenting thereto, because this is to reject the counsel of God for the
sake of the counsel of a Worldly Wiseman. The Lord says, Strive to enter in at
the strait gate, the gate to which I sent thee; for strait is the gate that
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. From this little Wicket -
gate, and from the way thereto, hath this wicked man turned thee, to the
bringing of thee almost to destruction; hate therefore his turning thee out of
the way, and abhor thyself for hearkening to him.

Secondly, Thou must abhor his labouring to render the Cross odious unto
thee; for thou art to prefer it before the treasures of Egypt. Besides, the
King of Glory hath told thee, that he that will save his life shall lose it:
and He that comes after him, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife,
and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot
be my Disciple. I say therefore, for a man to labour to persuade thee, that
that shall be thy death, without which, the Truth hath said, thou canst not
have eternal life; This doctrine thou must abhor.

From the Guttenberg Project


William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Shall I compare you to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate: You are more lovely and more constant:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, Rough winds shake the beloved buds of May

And summer's lease hath all too short a date: And summer is far too short:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, At times the sun is too hot,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; Or often goes behind the clouds;

And every fair from fair sometime declines, And everything beautiful sometime will lose its beauty,

By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd; By misfortune or by nature's planned out course.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade But your youth shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st; Nor will you lose the beauty that you possess;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, Nor will death claim you for his own,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st; Because in my eternal verse you will live forever.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long as there are people on this earth,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee. So long will this poem live on, making you immortal.

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/18.html
John Donne (22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631)

The Undertaking

I HAVE done one braver thing


Than all the Worthies did ;
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.

It were but madness now to impart


The skill of specular stone,
When he, which can have learn'd the art
To cut it, can find none.
So, if I now should utter this,
Others—because no more
Such stuff to work upon, there is—
Would love but as before.

But he who loveliness within


Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who color loves, and skin,
Loves but their oldest clothes.
10
If, as I have, you also do
Virtue in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
And forget the He and She ;

And if this love, though placèd so,


From profane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
Or, if they do, deride ;

Then you have done a braver thing


Than all the Worthies did ;
And a braver thence will spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.
Andrew Marvell (31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678)

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough and time, Thy beauty shall no more be found;
This coyness, lady, were no crime. Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
We would sit down, and think which way My echoing song; then worms shall try
To walk, and pass our long love’s day. That long-preserved virginity,
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side And your quaint honour turn to dust,
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide And into ashes all my lust;
Of Humber would complain. I would The grave’s a fine and private place,
Love you ten years before the flood, But none, I think, do there embrace.
And you should, if you please, refuse Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Till the conversion of the Jews. Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
My vegetable love should grow And while thy willing soul transpires
Vaster than empires and more slow; At every pore with instant fires,
An hundred years should go to praise Now let us sport us while we may,
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Two hundred to adore each breast, Rather at once our time devour
But thirty thousand to the rest; Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
An age at least to every part, Let us roll all our strength and all
And the last age should show your heart. Our sweetness up into one ball,
For, lady, you deserve this state, And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Nor would I love at lower rate. Through the iron gates of life:
But at my back I always hear Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near; Stand still, yet we will make him run.
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
John Milton (1608–1674).
From Complete Poems, The Harvard Classics (1909–14)

On Time
(1633-34)

FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy race:


Call on the lazy leaden-stepping Hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet’s pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain, 5
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain!
For, whenas each thing bad thou hast entombed,
And, last of all, thy greedy Self consumed, 10
Then long eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss,
And joy shall undertake us as a flood;
When everything that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine, 15
With Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Of Him, to whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,
Then, all this earthly grossness quit, 20
Attired with stars we shall forever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee,
O Time!