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The Wife of Bath
455     A worthy woman from beside Bath city 
Was with us, somewhat deaf, which was a pity. 
In making cloth she showed so great a bent 
She bettered those of Ypres and of Ghent.°
In all the parish not a dame dared stir 
460  Towards the altar steps in front of her, 
And if indeed they did, so wrath was she 
As to be quite put out of charity. 
Her kerchiefs were of finely woven ground;°
I dared have sworn they weighed a good ten pound, 
465  The ones she wore on Sunday, on her head. 
Her hose were of the finest scarlet red 
And gartered tight; her shoes were soft and new. 
Bold was her face, handsome, and red in hue. 
A worthy woman all her life, what’s more 
470  She’d had five husbands, all at the church door, 
Apart from other company in youth; 
No need just now to speak of that, forsooth. 
And she had thrice been to Jerusalem, 
Seen many strange rivers and passed over them; 
475  She’d been to Rome and also to Boulogne, 
St. James of Compostella and Cologne, 
And she was skilled in wandering by the way. 
She had gap-teeth,° set widely, truth to say. 
Easily on an ambling horse she sat 
480  Well wimpled° up, and on her head a hat 
As broad as is a buckler or a shield; 
She had a flowing mantle that concealed 
Large hips, her heels spurred sharply under that. 
In company she liked to laugh and chat 
485  And knew the remedies for love’s mischances, 
An art in which she knew the oldest dances.

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