11. CHAUCER’S ENVOY
Griselda’s dead, her patience, too, long since
Both buried in some far Italian vale.
And so I cry in open audience:
No husband should so hardily assail 1180
His spouse’s patience, trusting he will find
Griselda’s, for he certainly will fail.
O noble wives, in all your sapience,
Don’t meekly hold your tongue as with a nail,
Nor give a scholar reason to commence 1185
To write of you as marvelous a tale
As that about Griselda, patient, kind–
Lest Chichevache’s innards be your bale!
Like Echo be, who from no word relents,
Who answers back as if to countervail. 1190
Do not be hoodwinked in your innocence,
Take matters in your hands and do not pale.
Engrave this lesson well within your mind,
That for the common good it may avail.
Archwives, stand up and be your own defense, 1195
You’re strong as are big camels and as hale,
Don’t suffer that to you men do offense.
You slender wives who are in battle frail,
Be fierce as India’s tiger. Ever grind
And clatter like a mill and you’ll prevail. 1200
Don’t fear them, show for men no reverence,
For though your husband arm himself in mail,
The arrows of your crabbed eloquence
Will go right through his breastplate and ventail.
With jealousy keep him all in a bind 1205
And you will make him cower like a quail.
If you are fair, show folks as evidence
Your face and dress; if ugly, leave a trail
Of generosity, don’t spare expense;
Let winning friends be always your travail. 1210
Like a linden leaf be sprightly, unconfined,
And let him worry, wring his hands and wail!