The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Sex Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
By this proverbe thou shalt understonde,
Have thou y-nogh, what that thee recche or care
How merily that othere folkes fare?
For certeyn, olde dotard, by youre leve,
Ye shul have queynte right y-nough at eve.
Here we have a very creative interpretation of a proverb from ancient Greek philosopher Ptolemy, which says a wise man doesn't worry about how successful others are. The Wife interprets this to mean that a husband shouldn't care if his wife is having sex with other people, as long as he's getting enough sex, or as she calls it, "queynte."
He is to greet a nigard that wol werne
A man to lighte a candle at his lanterne;
He shal have never the lasse light, pardee.
Have thou y-nough, thee nar nat pleyne thee.
The claim that, like a flame, sexual favors can be shared without diminishing them, accords nicely with the Wife's description of herself as up for it, all the time. It also corroborates the anti-feminist stereotype of women as excessively lustful (the idea being that they'll want to have sex with multiple men, without ever getting tired of it).
For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl,
A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl.
In wommen vinolent is no defense,
This knowen lecchours by experience.
There are two ways to interpret this quote: a "likerous mouth," or mouth that enjoys drinking alcohol, might have a "likerous tayl," or enjoy sex, because the person to whom both mouth and tail belong is inclined to pleasures of the flesh. The last two lines lend themselves to a more sobering interpretation, though, one in which a likerous mouth has a likerous tail because the drunk person is unable to resist a sexual assault.