Canterbury Tales: The Merchant’s Prologue

Author: Geoffrey Chaucer  | Date: 1380


Of weeping and wailing, care and other sorrow

I know enough, at eventide and morrow,"

The merchant said, "and so do many more

Of married folk, I think, who this deplore,

For well I know that it is so with me.

I have a wife, the worst one that can be;

For though the foul Fiend to her wedded were,

She’d overmatch him, this I dare to swear.

How could I tell you anything special

Of her great malice? She is shrew in all.

There is a long and a large difference

Between Griselda’s good and great patience

And my wife’s more than common cruelty.

Were I unbound, as may I prosperous be!

I’d never another time fall in the snare.

We wedded men in sorrow live, and care;

Try it who will, and he shall truly find

I tell the truth, by Saint Thomas of Ind,

As for the greater part, I say not all.

Nay, God forbid that it should so befall!

"Ah, good sir host! I have been married, lad,

These past two months, and no day more, by gad;

And yet I think that he whose days alive

Have been all wifeless, although men should rive

Him to the heart, he could in no wise clear

Tell you so much of sorrow as I here

Could tell you of my spouse’s cursedness."

"Now," said our host, "merchant, so God you bless,

Since you’re so very learned in that art,

Full heartily, I pray you, tell us part."

"Gladly," said he, "but of my own fresh sore,

For grief of heart I may not tell you more."

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Chicago: Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales: The Merchant’s Prologue Original Sources, accessed May 20, 2024,

MLA: Chaucer, Geoffrey. Canterbury Tales: The Merchant’s Prologue, Original Sources. 20 May. 2024.

Harvard: Chaucer, G, Canterbury Tales: The Merchant’s Prologue. Original Sources, retrieved 20 May 2024, from