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Poem by William Langland


The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 2


Yet I courbed on my knees and cried hire of grace,
And seide, " Mercy, madame, for Marie love of hevene,
That bar that blisful barn that boughte us on the Rode Ч
Kenne me by sorn craft to knowe the false.'
Loke upon thi let-t half, and lo where he stondeth Ч
Bothe Fals and Favel, and hire feeres manye!'
I loked on my left half as the Lady me taughte,
And was war of a womman wonderliche yclothed Ч
Purfiled with pelure, the pureste on erthe,
Ycorouned with a coroune, the Kyng hath noon bettre.
Fetisliche hire fyngres were fretted with gold wyr,
And thereon rede rubies as rede as any gleede,
And diamaundes of derrest pris and double manere saphires,
Orientals and ewages envenymes to destroye.
Hire robe was ful riche, of reed scarlet engreyned,
With ribanes of reed gold and of riche stones.
Hire array me ravysshed, swich richesse saugh I newere.
I hadde wonder what she was and whos wif she were.
"What is this womman,' quod I, so worthili atired?'
"That is Mede the mayde.' quod she, hath noyed me ful ofte,
And ylakked my lemman that Leautee is hoten,
And bilowen h[ym] to lordes that lawes han to kepe.
In the Popes paleis she is pryvee as myselve,
But soothnesse wolde noght so Ч for she is a bastard,
For Fals was hire fader that hath a fikel tonge,
And nevere sooth seide sithen he com to erthe;
And Mede is manered after hym, right as [asketh kynde]
Qualis pater, talis filius. Bona arbor bonum fructum facit.

"I oughte ben hyere than [heo] Ч I kam of a bettre.
My fader the grete God is and ground of alle graces,
Oo God withouten gynnyng, and I his goode doughter,
And hath yeven me Mercy to marie with myselve;
And what man be merciful and leelly me love
Shal be mylord and I his leef in the heighe hevene;
And what man taketh Mede. myn heed dar I legge
That he shal lese for hire love a lappe of Caritatis.
"How construeth David the King of men that [cacch]eth Mede,
And men of this moolde that maynteneth truthe,
And how ye shul save yourself? The Sauter bereth witnesse
Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo, &c.
"And now worth this Mede ymaried to a mansed sherewe,
To oon Fals Fikel-tonge, a fendes biyete.
Favel thorugh his faire speche hath this folk enchaunted,
And al is Lieres ledynge that [lady] is thus ywedded.
Tomorwe worth ymaked the maydenes bridale;
And there myghtow witen if thow wilt whiche thei ben alle
That longen to that lordshipe, the lasse and the moore.
Knowe hem there if thow kanst, and kepe [thee from hem alle],
And lakke hem noght but lat hem worthe, til Leaute oe Justice
And have power to punysshe hem Ч thanne put forth thi reson.
Now I bikenne thee Crist,' quod she, "and his clene moder,
And lat no conscience acombre thee for coveitise of Mede.'
Thus lefte me that lady liggynge aslepe,
And how Mede was ymaried in metels me thoughte Ч
That al the riche retenaunce that regneth with the False
Were boden to the bridale on bothe two sides,
Of alle manere of men, the meene and the riche.
To marien this mayde was many man assembled,
As of knyghtes and of clerkes and oother commune peple,
As sisours and somonours, sherreves and hire clerkes,
Bedelles and baillifs and brocours of chaffare,

Forgoers and vitaillers and vokettes of the Arches;
I kan noght rekene the route that ran aboute Mede.
Ac Symonie and Cyvylle and sisours of courtes
Were moost pryvee with Mede of any men, me thoughte.
Ac Favel was the firste that fette hire out of boure
And as a brocour broughte hire to be with Fals enjoyned.
Whan Symonye and Cyvylle seighe hir bother wille,
Thei assented for silver to seye as bothe wolde.
Thanne leep Liere forth and seide, "Lo! here a chartre
That Gile with his grete othes gaf hem togidere,' Ч
And preide Cyvylle to see and Symonye to rede it.
Thanne Symonye and Cyvylle stonden forth bothe
And unfoldeth the feffement that Fals hath ymaked,
And thus bigynnen thise gomes to greden ful heighe
"Sciant presentes & futuri, &c.
Witeth and witnesseth, that wonieth upon this erthe,
That Mede is ymaried moore for hire goodes
Than for any vertue or fairnesse or any free kynde.
Falsnesse is fayn of hire for he woot hire riche;
And Favel with his fikel speche feffeth by this chartre
To be Princes in Pride, and poverte to despise,
To bakbite and to bosten and bere fals witnesse,
To scorne and to scolde and sclaundre to make,
Unbuxome and bolde to breke the ten hestes.
And the erldom of Envye and Wrathe togideres,
With the chastilet of cheste and chaterynge out of reson.
The countee of Coveitise and alle the costes about Ч
That is usure and avarice Ч al I hem graunte
In bargaynes and in brocages with al the burghe of thefte,
And al the lordshipe of Leccherie in lengthe and in brede Ч
As in werkes and in wordes and in waitynges with eighes,
And in wedes and in wisshynges and with ydel thoughtes
Ther as wil wolde and werkmanshipe faylith.'
Glotonye he gaf hem ek and grete othes togidere,
And al day to drynken at diverse tavernes,

And there to jangle and jape and jugge hir evencristen,
And in fastynge dayes to frete er ful tyme were.
And thanne to sitten and soupen til sleep hem assaille,
And breden at burgh swyn, and bedden hem esily,
Til Sleuthe and sleep sliken hise sydes;
And thanne wanhope to awaken hym so with no wil to amende,
For he leveth be lost Ч this is his laste ende.
"And thei to have and to holde, and hire heires after,
A dwellynge with the devel, and dampned be for evere,
With alle the appurtinaunces of Purgatorie into the pyne of helle-
Yeldynge for this thyng at one yeres ende
Hire soules to Sathan, to suffre with hym peynes,
And with hym to wonye with wo while God is in hevene.'
In witnesse of which thyng Wrong was the firste,
And Piers the Pardoner of Paulynes doctrine,
Bette the Bedel of Bokynghamshire,
Reynald the Reve of Rutland Sokene,
Munde the Millere Ч and many mo othere.
"In the date of the devel this dede I assele
By sighte of Sire Symonie and Cyvyles leeve.'
Thanne tened hym Theologie whan he this tale herde,-
And seide to Cyvyle, "Now sorwe mote thow have Ч
Swiche weddynges to werche to wrathe with Truthe!
And er this weddynge be wroght, wo thee bitide!
For Mede is muliere, of Amendes engendred;
And God graunted to gyve Mede to truthe,
And thow hast gyven hire to a gilour Ч now God gyve thee sorwe!
The text telleth thee noght so, Truthe woot the sothe,
For Dignus est operarius his hire to have Ч
And thow hast fest hire to Fals; fy on thi lawe!
For al bi lesynges thow lyvest and lecherouse werkes.
Symonye and thiself shenden Holi Chirche,
The notaries and ye noyen the peple.
Ye shul abiggen bothe, by God that me made!
" Wel ye witen, wernardes, but if youre wit faille,

That Fals is feithlees and fikel in hise werkes
And as a bastarde ybore of Belsabubbes kynne.
And Mede is muliere, a maiden of goode,
And myghte kisse the Kyng for cosyn and she wolde.
Forthi wercheth by wisdom and by wit also,
And ledeth hire to Londoun, there lawe is yshewed,
If any lawe wol loke thei ligge togideres.
And though justices juggen hire to be joyned with Fals,
Yet be war of the weddynge Ч for witty is Truthe,
And Conscience is of his counseil and knoweth yow echone,
And if he fynde yow in defaute and with the false holde,
It shal bisitte youre soules ful soure at the laste.'
Herto assenteth Cyvyle, ac Symonye ne wolde,
Til he hadde silver for his se[el] and [signes] of notaries.
Thanne fette Favel forth floryns ynowe
And bad Gile, "Go gyve gold al aboute,
And namely to the notaries, that hem noon faille;
And feffe Fals-witnesse with floryns ynowe,
For he may Mede amaistrye and maken at my wille.'
Tho this gold was ygyve, gret was the thonkyng
To Fals and to Favel for hire faire yiftes,
And comen to conforten from care the-False,
And seiden, "Certes, sire, cessen shul we nevere,
Til Mede be thi wedded wif thorugh wit of us alle;
For we have Mede amaistried with oure murie speche,
That she graunteth to goon with a good wille
To London, to loken if the lawe wolde
Juggen yow joyntly in joie for evere.'
Thanne was Falsnesse fayn and Favel as blithe,
And leten somone alle segges in shires aboute,
And bad hem alle be bown, beggers and othere,
To wenden with hem to Westmynstre to witnesse this dede.
Ac thanne cared thei for caples to carien hem thider;
And Favel fette forth thanne foles ynowe
And sette Mede upon a sherreve shoed al newe,
And Fals sat on a sisour that softeli trotted
And Favel on a flaterere fetisly atired.

Tho hadde notaries none; anoyed thei were
For Symonye and Cyvylle sholde on hire feet gange.
Ac thanne swoor Symonye and Cyvylle bothe
That somonours golde be sadeled and serven hem echone.
"And late apparaille thise provisours in palfreyes wise;
Sire Symonye hymself shal sitte upon hir bakkes.
Denes and southdenes, drawe yow togideres;
Erchedekenes and officials and alle youre registrers,
Lat sadle hem with silver oure synne to suffre Ч
As devoutrye and divorses and derne usurie Ч
To bere bisshopes aboute abrood in visitynge.
Paulynes pryvees for pleintes in consistorie
Shul serven myself that Cyvyle is nempned.
And cartsadle the commissarie Ч oure cart shal he [drawe],
And fecchen us vitailles at fornicatores,
And maketh of Lyere a lang cart to leden alle thise othere,
As fobberes and faitours that on hire feet rennen.'
And thus Fals and Favel fareth forth togideres,
And Mede in the middes and alle thise men after.
I have no tome to telle the tail that hem folweth,
Of many maner man that on this molde libbeth,
Ac Gyle was forgoer and gyed hem alle.
Sothnesse seigh hem wel, and seide but litel,
A[c] priked his palfrey and passed hem alle,
And com to the Kynges court and Conseience it tolde,
And Conseience to the Kyng carped it after.
" Now, by Cryst!' quod the Kyng, "and I cacche myghte
Fals or Favel or any of hise feeris,
I wolde be wroken of tho wrecches that wercheth so ille,
And doon hem hange by the hals and alle that hem maynteneth.
Shal nevere man of this molde meynprise the leeste,
But right as the lawe loke[th], lat falle on hem alle!'
And comaunded a constable that com at the firste,

To attachen tho tyraunts"For any [tresor], I hote,
Fettreth Falsnesse faste, for any kynnes yiftes,
And girdeth of Gyles heed Ч lat hym go no ferther;
And bringeth Mede to me maugree hem alle!
And if ye lacche Lyere, lat hym noght ascapen
Er he be put on the pillory, for any preyere, I hote.'
Drede at the dore stood and the doom herde,
And how the Kyng comaunded constables and sergeaunts
Falsnesse and his Felawship to fettren and to bynden.
Thanne Drede wente wyghtliche and warned the False,
And bad hym fle for fere, and hise feeris alle.
Falsnesse for fere thanne fleigh to the freres
And Gyle dooth hym to go, agast for to dye.
Ac marchaunts metten with hym and made hym abyde,
And bishetten hym in hire shoppes to shewen hire ware,
Apparailed hym as a prentice the peple to serve.
Lightliche Lyere leep awey thennes,
Lurkynge thorugh lanes, tolugged of manye.
He was nowher welcome for his manye tales,
Over al yhonted and yhote trusse,
Til pardoners hadde pite, and pulled hym into house.
They wesshen hym and wiped hym and wounden hym in cloutes,
And senten hym [on Sondayes with seles] to chirches,
And gaf pardoun for pens poundemele aboute.
Thanne lourede leches, and lettres thei sente
That he sholde wonye with hem watres to loke.
Spycers speken with hym to spien hire ware,
For he kouthe on hir craft and knew manye gommes.
Ac mynstrales and messagers mette with hym ones,
And [with]helden hym an half yeer and ellevene dayes.
Freres with fair speche fetten hymthen,
And for knowynge of comeres coped hym as a frere;
Ac he hath leve to lepen out as ofte as hym liketh,

And is welcome whan he wile, and woneth with hem ofte.
Alle fledden for fere and flowen into hernes;
Save Mede the mayde na mo dorste abide.
Ac trewely to telle, she trembled for fere,
And ek wepte and wrong whan she was attached.



                      William Langland


William Langland's other poems:
  1. The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 12
  2. The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 17
  3. The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 8
  4. The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 10
  5. The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 16


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