by Geoffrey Chaucher
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 Ghent.
In all the parish not a dame dared stir
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,
The ones she wore on Sunday, on her head.
Her hose were of the finest scarlet red
And garthered 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
She'd 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;
She'd been to Rome and also to Boulogne,
St James of Campostella and Cologne,
And she was skilled in wandering by the way.
She had gap-teeth, set widely, thruth to say.
Easely on an ambling horse she sat
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
and knew the remedies for love's mischances,
An art in which she knew the oldest dances.
The character of this story is a woman who came from the town of Bath and is here called: "The Wife of Bath". She was a very beautiful woman, even if she had a gap between her front teeth which in the Middle Ages was a sign of charm. She was a very skilled woman in making cloth, in fact, she was always well-dressed, especially on Sundays when she went to church. She wore very beautiful and precious clothes, like soft head scarves and stocking made of the finest scarlet red cloth which she wore with garters. She had also very beautiful shoes. Any dame was worried to move towards the altar steps before her, because she was a very respectable person. Her only misfortune was her little deafness that, anyway, did not stop her great life-style. In fact in youth she had had many lovers and later she married five times, always in church. She also travelled a lot, she had been to Rome in Italy, to Boulogne in France, to St James of Compostela in Spain and last to Cologne in Germany, all places of pilgrimage. She used to ride and she looked like a real knight, but she also liked being in company, chatting, laughing or suggesting some remedies for love's misfortunes, a topic of which she knew all the oldest tricks.