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I wot wel Abraham was an holy man, ■•

And Jacob eke, as fer as ever I can,

And eche of hem had wives mo than two,

And many another holy man alio. '. ¿646

Whercan yc feen in any maner age

That highe God defended mariage

By eHpreffe word ? 1 pray you telleth me,

Or wher commanded he virgin itee?

I wel as ye, it is no drede, 5&4$

The apoftle, whan he fpake of maidenhede,
He faid that precept therof had he non;
Men may confeille a woman to ben on,
But confeilliug is no commandement;
He put it in our owen jugement. 5^5*

For hadde God commanded maidenhede,
Than had he dampned wedding out of drede;
And certes if ther were no fede yfowe
Virginitee than wherof fhuld it growe?

Poule dorfte not commanden at the left ¡ 6¡¡
A thing of which his maifter yaf non heft.
The dart is fette up for virginitee,
Catch who fo may, who renneth bell let fee.
But this word is not take of every wight,
But ther as God wol yeve it of his might. 5660

I wot wel that the apoille was a maid,
But natheles, though that he wrote and faid
He wold that every wight were fwiche as he,
All n'is but confeil to virginitee.

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And everich hath of God a propre gift, 5685

Som this, fom that, as that him liketh fhift.

Virginitee is gret perfeñion,

And continence eke with devotion;

But Crift, that of perfection is welle,

Ne bade not every wight he fhuld go feile 5Í90

All that he had and yeve it to the poure,

And in fwiche wife follow him and his lore:

He fpake to hem that wold live parfitly,

And, Lordings, (by your leve) that am nat I:

I wol beftow the flour of all myn age ¡ 695

In tli' actus and the fruit of mariage.

Tell me alfo to what conelufion
Were membres made of generation,
And of fo parfît wife a wight ywrought? 569 J

Trufteth me wel they were nat made for nought.
Glofe who fo wol, and fay bothe up and Uoun,
That they were made for purgatioun
Of urine, and of other thinges fmale,
And eke to know a female from a male:
And for non other caufe ? fay ye no? j 7cj

The experience wot wel it is not fo.
So that the elerkesbe not with me wroth
I fay this, that they maked ben for both,
This is to fayn, for office and for efe
Of engendrure, ther we not God difplefe. 5710

Why fhuld men elles in hir bonkes fette
That man fhal yelden to his wif hire dette i
Now wherwith fhuld he make his payement
If he ne ufed his fely inftrument?
Than were they made upon a ereature 5 715

To purge urine, and eke for engendrure.
But I fay not that every wight is hold,
That hath fwiche harneis as I to you told,
To gon and ufen hem in engendrure;
Than fhuld men take of chaftitee no cure. 5 720

Crift was a maide, and fhapen as a man,
And many a feint, fith that this world began,
Yet lived they ever in parfit chaftitee?
1 n'ill envie with no virginitee.
Let hem with bred of pured whete be fed, 5 725
And let us wives eten barly bred:
And yet with barly bred, Mark teilen can,
Our Lord Jefu refrtfhed many a man.
In fwiche eitat as God hath eleped us
1 wol perfever, I n'am not precious. .5 730

In wifhode wol I ufe min infiniment
As frely as my Maker hath it fent.
If I be dangerous God yeve me forwe,
Min hufbond fhai it have both even and morwe,
Whan that him I i ¡I come forth and pay his dette, ¡ 735
An hufbond wol I have, I wol not lette,
Which fhal be both my dettour and my thrall,
And have his tribulation withall
Upon his flefh, while that I am his wif,
I have the power during all my lif 5 740

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