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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/A Tale of Chaucer

A TALE OF CHAUCER.


LATELY FOUND IN AN OLD MANUSCRIPT.

WOMEN, though nat sans leacherie,
Ne swinken but with secrecie:
This in our tale is plain y-fond,
Of clerk that wonneth in Irelond;
Which to the fennes hath him betake
To filch the gray ducke fro the lake.
Right then there passen by the way
His aunt, and eke her daughters tway:
Ducke in his trowzes hath he hent,
Not to be spied of ladies gent.
"But ho! our nephew (crieth one)
"Ho: (quoth another) couzen John;"
And stoppen, and lough, and callen out,
This sely clerk full low doth lout.
They asken that and talken this,
"Lo here is coz, and here is miss."
But, as he gloz'd with speeches soote.
The ducke sore tickleth his erse roote:
Forepiece and buttons all to-brest,
Forth thrust a white neck and red crest.
"Te-he," cried ladies; clerke nought spake;
Miss star'd; and gray ducke crieth "quaake."
"O moder, moder (quoth the daughter)
Be thilke same thing maids longen a'ter?
Bette is to pyne on coals and chalke,
Then trust on mon, whose yerde can talke."