My maister Bukton, whan of Criste our kinge · Was axed, what is trouthe or sothfastness, · he nat a word answerde to that axinge – When my master Bukton was asked, regarding Christ, what is the truth, not a word did he answer in reply; like someone who might have wished to say, 'No man is all true,' I guess. And therefore, although I promise to express the sorrow and woe that is in marriage, I dare not write wickedly of it, lest I myself soon fall into such foolishness. I will not liken it to the chain with which Satan was bound, and on which he gnawed unendingly, but I dare say, were he released from this torture, he would never freely be bound again. But the weak-headed fool who would rather be chained in prison than escape from it, let God never release him from his woe, nor any one cry in sympathy for him.
But yet, lest you do worse, take a wife. Better it is to wed than to burn. But you shall have sorrow all your life and be your wife's anxious servant, as has been seen. And if Holy Scripture does nothing for you, experience may teach you, perhaps, that it would be better to be captured in free Fresia 1∩ than to fall into the trap of marriage.
This little guiding metaphor I send you and I advise you to keep it safe. Unwise is he who can suffer no happiness. If you are sure and steady, then there is no need to fear. Read in my 'Wife of Bath' of this matter that we have in hand. God grant you your life to live freely, for it is unpleasant to suffer imprisonment.' 2∩
Translation and retelling of Chaucer's poem 'Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton' copyright © 2000, 2016 by Richard Scott-Robinson