We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

The Wife of Bath's Tale

from The Rap Canterbury Tales by Baba Brinkman



Back in the days of the dark ages,
When King Arthur made his mark, and courageous
Knights – with tight young pages – embarked
On outrageous quests and fought for ladies’ hearts,
The shady parts among the hills and knolls
Were filled with fairies, elves and trolls,
And dwarves were known to dwell in holes,
And nymphs to succor willing souls.
These thrilling folds, in time, emerged as
Badly out of line with churches,
Which cursed all fairy-kind and purged us,
To cleanse us of our primal urges.
To try and discourage us from growing tense,
The hills were filled with “holy men,”
And now women could lie alone, content
Without the old incubi, only them.

And so it went that from King Arthur’s court,
A strong young warrior marched his horse,
And through the woods he charted his course,
And he met a young girl in the heart of the forest,
And with heartless force, in less than a minute he
Committed an act of criminal obscenity,
And since there was no one else in the vicinity,
No one prevented him from taking her virginity.

This sinister deed was so repugnant,
That the knight was thrown in the castle dungeon
To await judgement, but what should be done with him?
King Arthur favoured capital punishment,
A tactic of governments that live in fear,
But the Queen, Gwenevere, whispered in his ear:
“My Lord, his remorse is not insincere;
I suggest we let the poor kid live a year.
In fact, give him here; let me deal with him.”
And King Arthur granted her appeal, a decision
That revealed he was a man of vision and real wisdom,
That is, a husband able to still listen.

And from his steel prison the knight was brought
To the Queen, who said, “Boy, you’re in a tight spot.
Your guilt is certain, but your life is not.
Your head might head right to the chopping block,
Or you might just walk, and get clemency,
But only if you can tell me what women need.

“Answer me what it is every woman’s tendency
To want, and I’ll suspend sentencing.
Now let your penance bring you some cheer;
Come here again after one year,
And then I want to hear from you some clear
Response; now, I suggest you run, dear.”
And Gwenevere gave him his walking papers,
And the knight thanked her, and set off on this caper
To save his life, and began to talk to his neighbours’
Wives, and got them to list off their favourites,
Like a census taker; he took to the streets,
And spent a year asking every woman he’d meet:
“If you could have just one thing, what would it be?”

But you wouldn’t believe the diversity;
They just couldn’t agree; once asked,
Some said this, and some said that.
They said: confidence, compliments, comfort, class,
Compassion, fashion, or for their passion to come back,

And as the months passed, the knight realized
That he would soon be deceased unless he arrived
At a conclusion, and he badly needed to be advised,
‘Cause with all this confusion he could only theorize,
And he wouldn’t be alive to end the debate;
And after eleven months and twenty-six days,
He still wasn’t sure what he intended to say,
As he headed back to the court to be handed his fate,
And what could stand in his way? On the road home,
The knight ran into an ugly old crone,
Whose face was so wrinkled he thought it had no bones,
And as he passed, she heard a low moan
And asked, “So alone, without any company?
Something’s eating you, boy, anyone can see,
But what could upset someone so young and sweet?
It’s gonna be okay, son; you can come to me
If you need comforting.”

And the knight was so distressed,
That he lowered his defenses and took a load off his chest,
And wept, and told the oldest woman he’d met
The whole messy story of his hopeless quest
And the approach of his death, and when she got the gist
Of his predicament, she said, “Promise me this:
The next thing I ask for, you’ll honestly give,
And I’ll tell you what the answer to your quandary is.”
“As long as I live,” the knight frantically stressed,
“I promise, if I can, I’ll grant your request!”
And with that, she laid the man’s panic to rest,
And taught him the bottom line, the way to answer best
The standing question that had been on his mind:
Like, “how in God’s name do you please womankind?”
The knight had spent a year listening blind
To opinions, and found all women differently inclined.
But when his time was finally expired,
Again the knight stood in the line of fire,
Before the court and Queen, in their fine attire,
And he said, “Strike me dead if you think I’m a liar;
Women desire to have sovereignty
Over their loves, and to have their husbands be
Happy if wives live above them, free.
Now, is there any woman here who doesn’t agree?”

And everyone could see that the knight had it right,
And he didn’t deserve to be sacrificed,
And the Queen was about to give him back his life,
When at that precise moment, that old nasty wife
Who just last night was so happy to save him,
She stood up and smiled with the face of a raisin,
And said, “He just recited the answer I gave him,
Now he owes me a favour, and I’m ready for payment!”

And instead of evasion, the knight cheerfully
Agreed, “Fair is fair, what kind of care do you need?”
And she turned to the Queen and said, “Ooh, he’s very sweet,
And I’ll get all the care I need when he marries me!”
The knight stared in disbelief at the smiling face
Of this tiny old granny of at least ninety-eight,
Whose eye kept climbing his thighs in a slimy way,
And he realized there was no line of escape.
Though he still tried to beg, and barter and plead,
And he offered the deed to his father’s property,
And sobbed, “Take whatever you want, please;
Impoverish me, just let my body go free!”

But it was obvious she needed no persuading;
She said, “Oh baby, you know I’m an old lady,
Decades over eighty; there’s no way you can pay me
Enough, now take me before I go crazy!”
And since there was no debating, the knight refused to get
Too upset, for fear he might lose his head,
And that very same night the “I do’s” were said,
And with the Queen’s blessing the two were wed,
And went straight to their bed and began undressing,
But when his manly flesh felt those wrinkled hands caressing,
The knight decided he just couldn’t stand the rest,
And he cried, “I can’t handle this; it’s scandalous!”
And his wife grinned with lips like an empty cave,
And asked, “Is this how all men behave
On their wedding day, when their lives have been saved
By their wives, and they’ve escaped knives with thin blades?
Other knights have been brave when their freedom’s suspended,
But I can see by your face that you believe I’ve offended
You, though I never intended to; perhaps it can be mended;
Just tell me what I did, and I’ll try to amend it.”
“When this marriage is ended, then I think I’ll be happy!”
Said the knight, “‘Cause you’re low-class, wrinkled and nasty,
The type that would do anything to entrap me!”
And she asked, “Do you really find these things distracting
When we’re interacting?”
Said the knight, “How else would you expect it to be?”
And she said, “Then all I ask is that you listen to me,
And we’ll see if after you think differently.
“You’ve given me two reasons why you can’t love me;
You find me disgusting because I’m low-class and ugly;
Well, as for low-class, you can’t rashly judge me;
Class is just something that holds us back, and nothing
Goes bad as fast as the souls of nobility,
“Whose workloads leave them with gold, but no ability
To show compassion, cash but no humility,
“Besides, with the middle-class and upward-mobility,
The only gentility left with any importance
Proceeds from a person’s actions, not their fortunes,
So no more ill-inform class distortions!

“And as for the fact that I’m not exactly gorgeous,
Perhaps you’re just gonna have to be grateful
That you’re in a marriage that you’re actually able
To trust, ‘cause I pretty much have to be faithful;
But if you’d rather have me attractive, just say so,
‘Cause I can magically change to the shape of a blushing
Young maid with a face that’s both graceful and lovely,
But in that case you’ll never be able to trust me.
Would you rather a sexy, disgracefully lusty,
Insatiable slut, finding ways to annoy you,
Who raises up your jealous rage to a boil,
Or would you rather have me this age, and loyal?”

But the knight couldn’t say which would make this enjoyable,
And which would spoil the mood, and he sighed,

“You are truly wise, my toothless bride;
I think you should choose between the two sides,
And I’ll make do with whatever you decide.”
And as soon as the knight let his wife get control
Of his life, and truly decided to let go,
The next moment she changed from a gray, decrepit old
Creature to a young lady with such incredible
Features, the knight was speechless and stood in a trance,
More deeply enchanted each time he took in a glance,
And his wife saw his standing as stiff as a wooden lance,

And said, “Few understand the union of woman and man;
Common sense says we should be treated the same,
But what’s really needed to keep people sane
Is for men to treat women like queens with free domain.
And as soon as you agreed to give me the reigns,
It allowed me to change and become graceful and beautiful
And young, and still remain faithful and dutiful,
‘Cause you’ll never make me behave in an unsuitable
Way, now that you understand the undisputable
Root of all happy relationships!”
And with that she leaned forward and gave him a kiss,
And the knight was bathed in a sense of weightlessness,
And they lived out the rest of their days in bliss.

The End


from The Rap Canterbury Tales, released December 6, 2004


all rights reserved



Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Science rapper and inventor of several novel hip-hop variants. Canadian transplant to New York. Pathological optimist.

contact / help

Contact Baba Brinkman

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Report this track or account