The Miller’s Tale Translation of lines 3601-3642
by Cathy Cupitt

This hapless carpenter goes on his way. He very often
said “Alas and Alas”. He told his secret to his wife. She was aware of
it, and knew better than he did what this ingenious plot meant. But
nevertheless, she feared as if she would die.

She said, “Alas! Go on your way at once and help us to
escape, or each one of us will be dead! I am your true, faithful wedded
wife. Go, dear spouse, and help to save our lives”.

Look! What an awesome thing is emotion. Such a deep impression may be taken that men may die of fantasies.

This hapless carpenter begins to quake. He truly thinks
that he may see Noah’s flood come surging like the sea, to drown
Alisoun, his honey dear.
He weeps, wails, and looks wretched.

He sighs, with many a sad groan.

He goes and gets a kneeding trough, and after that a tub and a beer brewing tub. Secretly he sent them to his lodging, and in
secrecy he hung them in the roof. With his own hand he made three ladders (in order) to climb by the rungs and the uprights
up to the tubs hanging in the roof beams. And he stocked them – both trough and tub – with provisions. With enough bread
and cheese and good ale in a jug sufficient for a day.

But before he had made all these preparations he sent his
male servant, and also his servant girl, to go to London upon his

On the Monday, when night drew in, he shut his door without candle-light and arranged everything as it should be. And
shortly up all three of them climbed.
They sat still a good couple of minutes.

“Now say the Lord’s Prayer and then hush!” said Nicholas.

And “Hush!” said John.

And “Hush!” said Alisoun.

This carpenter said his devotions. Yet still he sits, and prays his prayer. Awaiting the rain – if rain he hears.

A commentary discussing this passage from the Miller’s Tale is also available online.

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