Hans Sachs

Hans Sachs (1494-1576)

The Smith in the Kneading Tub






In Dettelbach there was a smith, a simple man;
He had a beautiful wife, whom the chaplain wooed.
Now the smith was at home night and day,
So that the priest couldn't pay his visit;
Therefore he devised a strange adventure.
Sunday morning, when the sermon was over,
He said: "Dear children, hearken!
A great cloudburst will come down
Today between day and night.
Flee to the mountain or wherever you can escape."
The smith's house was at the brook;
How quickly he thought of a plan
And up under his roof
He hung his kneading tub on four strong ropes
And secretly lay down in it
So that as soon as the water came,
He would only have to cut it down
And neat as you please
Fall down in his kneading tub
And float on the water.

At night the smith's wife thought the smith was out
And secretly sent her maid to the chaplain,
Who slipped into her chamber secretly.
The smith's wife had also had amorous doings with the smith's apprentice,
Who thought he was the only candidate
And thought the smith had left the house.
As soon as the smith's wife had lain down,
The apprentice came knocking on her chamber door
And aroused her with his begging.
She said: "Just go away from me, you fool,
For today we must die."
He said: "But kiss me before we die."
The chamber had a little window,
The priest jumped up and held his rump out for him;
The smith's apprentice kissed him on the hole;
There was a villainous stink.
The smith's apprentice was very grieved
But thought
It came from the priest
And devised a trick against him.

He went to the forge and made an iron rod hot,
Went with it to the window and opened it
And said: "Kiss me one last time, don't heed the envious!"
The priest stuck his arse out and let a wind at the apprentice.
He thrust the redhot iron in his rump.
The priest cried: "Water ho, water, oh water!"
The good smith heard the cry
At ease in the kneading tub under the roof;
He jumped up and cut the rope
And fell down as if thunder had hit the house.
The priest crept naked out the back door
And thought he heard a thunderclap.
The smith lay below in the house
And had broken all the ribs in his body.
The smith was far too gullible
And had to bear thg brunt.
The priest was all too crafty
And was paid
In his own currency forsooth
And could not complain to anyone.

The year of our Lord 1537, on the 20th day of January.

From Larry D. Benson and Theodore M. Andersson,

The Literary Context of Chaucer's Fabliaux.

New York and Indianapolis, 1971, pp. 61-63.