The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
How we cite our quotes:
Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
The which that was ycleped Absolon.
. . .
His rode was reed, his eyen greye as good.
With Poules wyndow corven on his shoos.
As a sort of apprentice priest, Absolon should probably be celibate. That vow, however, is as artificial as the fancy but fake stained-glass windows carved on his shoes.
Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye.
In yet another case of piety being used and abused in the service of lust, Absolon takes the role of Herod in the local miracle play. A miracle play was a theatrical production depicting events from the Bible, designed both to entertain and inspire piety in the players and spectators.
I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be!
Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee.
The pun on "pryvetee" here capitalizes on its meaning as both secrets and genitals. Some commentators have interpreted the formation John erects on his roof, with one long tub in the middle of two round ones, as representing the "Goddes pryvetee" he speaks of here. This moment also harkens back to the Miller's assertion in the Prologue that men should not inquire too deeply into their wives' secrets – appropriate here given the dirt John could dig up on Alisoun were he looking for it.