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Poem by William Langland


The Vision of Piers Plowman - Passus 5


The Kyng and hise knyghtes to the kirke wente
To here matyns of the day and the masse after.
Thanne w~ked I of my wynkyng and wo was withalle
That I ne hadde slept sadder and yseighen moore.
Ac er I hadde faren a furlong, feyntise me hente,
That I ne myghte ferther a foot for defaute of slepynge.
I sat softely adoun and seide my bileve,
And so I bablede on my bedes, thei broughte me aslepe.
And thanne saugh I muche moore than I bifore tolde--
For I seigh the feld ful of folk that I before of seide,
And how Reson gan arayen hym al the reaume to preche,
And with a cros afore the Kyng comsede thus to techen.
He preved that thise pestilences were For pure synne,
And the south-westrene wynd on Saterday at even
Was pertliche for pride and for no point ellis.
Pyries and plum-trees were puffed to the erthe
In ensample, ye segges, ye sholden do the bettre.
Beches and brode okes were blowen to the grounde
And turned upward here tail in tokenynge of drede
That dedly synne er domesday shal fordoon hem alle.
Of this matere I myghte mamelen ful longe,
Ac I shal seye as I saugh, so me God helpe,
How pertly afore the peple prechen gan Reson.
He bad Wastour go werche what he best kouthe
And wynnen his wastyng with som maner crafte.
He preide Pemele hir purfil to lete,
And kepe it in hire cofre for catel at hire nede.
Tomme Stowue he taughte to take two staves
And fecche Felice horn fro wyve pyne.
He warnede Watte his wif was to blame
For hire heed was worth half marc and his hood noght worth a grote,
And bad Bette kutte a bough outher tweye
And bete Beton therwith but if she wolde werche.
And thanne he chargede chapmen to chastisen hir children:
"Late no wynnyng forwanye hem while thei be yonge,
Ne for no poustee of pestilence plese hem noght out of reson.
My sire seide so to me, and so dide my dame,
That the levere child the moore loore bihoveth;
And Salamon seide the same, that Sapience made--
" Qui parcit virge odit fitium.
Whoso spareth the spryng spilleth hise children.'''
And sithen he preide prelates and preestes togideres,
" That ye prechen to the peple, preve it yowselve,
And dooth it in dede--it shal drawe yow to goode.
If ye leven as ye leren us, we shul leve yow the bettre.'
And sithen he radde Religion hir rule to holde--
" Lest the Kyng and his Conseil youre comunes apeire
And be stywards of youre stedes til ye be [stew]ed bettre.'
And sithen he counseiled the Kyng his commune to lovye:
"It is thi tresor, if treson ne were, and tryacle at thy nede.'
And sithen he preide the Pope have pite on Holy Chirche,
And er he gyve any grace, governe first hymselve.
"And ye that han lawes to kepe, lat Truthe be youre coveitise
Moore than gold outher giftes if ye wol God plese;
For whoso contrarieth Truthe. He telleth in the Gospel,
Amen dico vobis, nescio Vos.
And ye that seke Seynt James and seyntes of Rome,
Seketh Seynt Truthe, for he may save yow alle.
Qui cum Patre et Filio--that faire hem bifalle
That seweth my sermon'--and thus seyde Reson."
Thanne ran Repentaunce and reherced his teme
And gart Wille to wepe water with hise eighen.
Pernele Proud-herte platte hire to the erthe
And lay longe er she loked, and - Lord, mercy!' cryde,
And bihighte to Hym that us alle made
She sholde unsowen hir serk and sette there an heyre
To affaiten hire flessh that fiers was to synne.
" Shal nevere heigh herte me hente, but holde me lowe
And suffre to be mysseyd--and so dide I nevere.
But now wole I meke me and mercy biseche
For al that I have hated in myn herte.'
Thanne Lechour seide "Allas!' and on Oure Lady cryde,
To maken mercy for hise mysdedes bitwene God and his soule
With that he sholde the Saterday seven yer therafter
Drynke but myd the doke and dyne but ones.
Envye with hevy herte asked after shrifte
And carefully mea culpa he comsed to shewe.
He was as pale as a pelet, in the palsy he semed,
And clothed in a kaurymaury--l kouthe it nought discryve--
In kirtel and courtepy, and a knyf by his syde;
Of a freres frokke were the foresleves.
And as a leek that hadde yleye longe in the sonne,
So loked he with lene chekes, lourynge foule.
His body was to-bollen for wrathe, that he boot hise lippes,
And wryngynge he yede with the fust--to wreke hymself he thoughte
With werkes or with wordes whan he seyghe his tyme.
Ech a word that he warp was of a neddres tonge;
Of chidynge and of chalangynge was his chief liflode,
With bakbitynge and bismere and berynge of fals witnesse:
This was al his curteisie where that evere he shewed hym.
"I wolde ben yshryve,' quod this sherewe, "and I for shame dorste.
I wolde be gladder, by God! that Gybbe hadde meschaunce
Than though I hadde this wouke ywonne a weye of Essex chese.
I have a neghebore neigh me, I have anoyed hym ofte,
And lowen on hym to lordes to doon hym lese his silver,
And maad his frendes be his foon thorugh my false tonge.
His grace and his goode happes greven me ful soore.
Bitwene mayne and mayne I make debate ofte,
That bothe lif and lyme is lost thorugh my speche.
And whan I mete hym in market that I moost hate,
I hailse hym hendely, as I his frend were;
For he is doughtier than I, I dar do noon oother;
Ac hadde I maistrie and myght--God woot my wille!
"And whan I come to the kirk and sholde knele to the Roode
And preye for the peple as the preest techeth--
For pilgrymes and for palmeres, for al the peple after--
Thanne I crye on my knees that Crist yyve hem sorwe
That baren awey my bolle and my broke shete.
Awey fro the auter thanne turne I myne eighen
And biholde how [Hayne hath a newe cote;
I wisshe thanne it were myn, and al the web after.
And of his lesynge I laughe--that li[ght]eth myn herte;
Ac for his wynnynge I wepe and waille the tyme;
And deme men that thei doon ille, there I do wel werse:
Whoso undernymeth me herof, I hate hym dedly after.
I wolde that ech a wight were my knave,
For whoso hath moore than I, that angreth me soore.
And thus I lyve lovelees like a luther dogge
That al my body bolneth for bitter of my galle.
I myghte noght ete many yeres as a man oughte,
For envye and yvel wil is yvel to defie.
May no sugre ne swete thyng aswage my swellyng,
Ne no diapenidion dryve it fro myn herte,
Ne neither shrifte ne shame, but whoso shrape my mawe?'
"Yis, redily!' quod Repentaunce, and radde hym to the beste,
" Sorwe for synnes is savacion of souIes.'
" I am evere sory,' quod [Envye], " I am but selde oother,
And that maketh me thus megre, for I ne may me venge.
Amonges burgeises have I be, [bigg]yng at Londoun,
And gart bakbityng be a brocour to blame mennes ware.
Whan he solde and I nought, thanne was I redy
To lye and to loure on my neghebore and to lakke his chaffare.
I wole amende this if I may, thorugh myght of God Almyghty.'
Now awaketh Wrathe, with two white eighen,
And nevelynge with the nose, and his nekke hangyng.
"I am Wrathe,' quod he, "I was som tyme a frere,
And the coventes gardyner for to graffen impes.
On lymitours and listres lesynges I ymped,
Til thei beere leves of lowe speche, lordes to plese,
And sithen thei blosmede abrood in boure to here shriftes.
And now is fallen therof a fruyt--that folk han wel levere
Shewen hire shriftes to hem than shryve hem to hir persons.
And now persons han parceyved that freres parte with hem,
Thise possessioners preche and deprave freres;
And freres fyndeth hem in defaute, as folk bereth witnesse,
That whan thei preche the peple in many places aboue'
I, Wrathe, walke with hem and wisse hem o
Thus thei speken of spiritualte, that either despiseth oother,
Til thei be bothe beggers and by my spiritualte libben,
Or ellis al riche and ryden aboute; I, Wrathe, reste nevere
That I ne moste folwe this wikked folk. For swich is my grace.
"I have an aunte to nonne and an abbesse:
Hir were levere swowe or swelte than suffre any peyne.
I have be cook in hir kichene and the covent served
Manye monthes with hem. and with monkes bothe.
I was the prioresse potager and other povere ladies,
And maad hem joutes of janglyng--that Dame Johane was a bastard,
And Dame Clarice a knyghtes doughter--ac a cokewold was hir sire,
And Dame Pernele a preestes fyle--Prioresse worth she nevere,
For she hadde child in chirie-tyme, al oure Chapitre it wiste!
Of wikkede wordes I Wrathe hire wortes made,
Til ""Thow lixt!'' and ""Thow lixt!'' lopen out at ones
And either hitte oother under the cheke;
Hadde thei had knyves, by Crist! hir either hadde kild oother.
Seint Gregory was a good pope, and hadde a good forwit
That no Prioresse were preest--for that he [purveiede]:
Thei hadde thanne ben infumis the firste day, thei kan so yvele hele counseil.
"Among monkes I myghte be, ac manye tyme I shonye,
For ther ben manye felle frekes my feeris to aspie--
Bothe Priour and Suppriour and oure Pater Abbus;
And if I telle any tales, thei taken hem togideres,
And doon me faste Frydayes to breed and to watre;
And am chalanged in the Chapitrehous as I a child were,
And baleised on the bare ers--and no brech bitwene!
Forthi have I no likyng with tho leodes to wonye;
I ete there unthende fissh and feble ale drynke.
Ac outher while whan wyn cometh, whan I drynke wyn at eve,
I have a flux of a foul mouth wel fyve dayes after.
Al the wikkednesse that I woot by any of oure bretheren,
I cou[gh]e it in oure cloistre, that al oure covent woot it.'
"Now repente thee,' quod Repentaunce, "and reherce thow nevere
Counseil that thow knowest, by contenaunce ne by speche;
And drynk nat over delicatly, ne to depe neither,
That thi wille by cause therof to wrathe myghte turne.
Esto sobrius!' he seide, and assoiled me after,
And bad me wilne to wepe my wikkednesse to amende.
And thanne cam Coveitise, I kan hym naght discryve--
So hungrily and holwe Sire Hervy hym loked.
He was bitelbrowed and baberlipped, with two blered eighen;
And as a letheren purs lolled hise chekes--
Wel sidder than his chyn thei chyveled for elde;
And as a bondeman of his bacon his berd was bidraveled;
With an hood on his heed, a lousy hat above,
In a [torn] tabard of twelf wynter age;
But if a lous couthe lepe the bettre,
She sholde noght wa[ndr]e on that Welche, so was it thredbare!
" I have ben coveitous,' quod this caytif, " I biknowe it here;
For som tyme I served Symme-atte-Style,
And was his prentice yplight his profit to wayte.
First I lerned to lye a leef outher tweyne:
Wikkedly to weye was my firste lesson.
To Wy and to Wynchestre I wente to the feyre
With many manere marchaundise, as my maister me highte.
Ne hadde the grace of gyle ygo amonges my ware,
It hadde ben unsold this seven yer, so me God helpe!
"Thanne drough I me among drapiers, my Donet to lerne,
To drawe the liser along--the lenger it semed;
Among the riche rayes I rendred a lesson--
To broche hem with a pak-nedle, and playte hem togideres,
And putte hem in a press[our] and pyned hem therinne
Til ten yerdes or twelve tolled out thrittene.
"My wif was a webbe and wollen cloth made;
She spak to spynnesteres to spynnen it oute.
The pound that she paied by peised a quartron moore
Than myn owene auncer wh[an I] weyed truthe.
"I boughte hire barly--she brew it to selle.
Peny ale and puddyng ale she poured togideres;
For laborers and lowe folk, that lay by hymselve.
The beste ale lay in my bour or in my bedchambre,
And whoso burned therof boughte it therafter--
A galon for a grote, God woot, no lesse,
[Whan] it cam in cuppemele--this craft my wif used!
Rose the Regrater was hir righte name;
She hath holden hukkerye [this ellevene wynter].
Ac I swere now (so thee lk!) that synne wol I lete,
And nevere wikkedly weye ne wikke chaffare use,
But wenden to Walsyngham, and my wif als,
And bidde the Roode of Bromholm brynge me out of dette.'
- Repentedestow evere? ' quod Repentaunce, " or restitucion madest?' Yis: ones I was yherbemed', quod he. with an heep of charmen:
I roos whan thei were al-reste and riflede hire malest
"That was no restitucion,' quod Repentaunce, "but a robberis thefte;
Thow haddest be bettre worthi ben hanged therfore
Than for al that that thow hast here shewed! '
-I wende riflynge were restitucion.' quod he, "for I lerned nevere rede on
And I kan no Frenssh. in feith, but of the Fertheste ende of Northfolk.'
" Usedestow evere usurie,' quod Repentaunce. - in al thi lif tyme? '
" Nay, sothly,' he seide, "save in my youthe;
I lerned among Lumbardes a lesson, and of Jewes--
To weye pens with a peis. and pare the hevyeste,
And lene it for love of the cros, to legge a wed and lese it.
Swiche dedes I dide write if he his day breke;
I have mo manoirs thorugh rerages than thorugh Miseretur et commodat.
I have lent lordes and ladies my chaffare,
And ben hire brocour after, and bought it myselve.
Eschaunges and chevysaunces--with swich chaffare I dele,
And lene folk that lese wole a lippe at every noble.
And with Lumbardes lettres I ladde gold to Rome,
And took it by tale here and told hem there lasse.'
" Lentestow evere lordes for love of hire mayntenaunce?'
"Ye, I have lent lordes. loved me nevere after,
And have ymaad many a knyght bothe mercer and draper
That payed nevere For his prentishode noght a peire of gloves!'
"Hastow pite on povere men that [purely] mote nedes borwe?'
"I have as muche pite of povere men as pedlere hath of cattes,
That wolde kille hem, if he cacche hem myghte, for coveitise of hir skynnes!
"Artow manlich among thi neghebores of thi mete and drynke?'
" I am holden,' quod he, "as hende as hounde is in kichene;
Amonges my neghebores namely swich a name ich have.'
"Now [but thow repente the rather,' quod Repentaunce, "God lene thee - nevere]
The grace on this grounde thi good wel to bisette,
Ne thyne heires after thee have joie of that thow wynnest,
Ne thyne executours wel bisette the silver that thow hem levest:
And that was wonne with wrong, with wikked men be despended.
For were I a frere of that hous ther good feith and charite is,
I nolde cope us with thi catel, ne oure kirk amende,
Ne have a peny to my pitaunce, so God [pyne] my soule in helle,
For the beste book in oure hous, theigh brent gold were the leves,
And I wiste witterly thow were swich as thow tellest!
Servus es al/erius, cum fercula pinguia queris.
Pane tuo pocius vescere, liber eris.
"Thow art an unkynde creature--I kan thee noght assoille
Til thow make restitucion' quod Repentaunce, -and rekene with hem alle.
And sithen that Reson rolle it in the Registre of hevene
That thow hast maad ech man good, I may thee noght assoille.
Non dimittitur peccatum donec restituatur ablatum.
For alle that han of thi good, have God my trouthe,
Ben holden at the heighe doom to helpe thee to restitue;
And who so leveth noght this be sooth, loke in the Sauter glose,
In Miserere mei, Deus, wher I mene truthe:
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti, &c.
Shal nevere werkman in this world thryve with that thow wynnest.
Cum sancto sanctus eris construwe me this on Englissh.'
Thanne weex that sherewe in wanhope and wolde han hanged hymself
Ne hadde Repentaunce the rather reconforted hym in this manere:
" Have mercy in thi mynde, and with thi mouth biseche it,
For [his] mercy is moore than alle hise othere werkes--
Misericordia eius super omnia opera eius, &c--
And al the wikkednesse in this world that man myghte werche or thynke
Nis na moore to the mercy of God than in[middes] the see a gleede:
Omnis iniquitas quantum ad misericordiam Dei est quasi scintilla in medio maris
Forthi have mercy in thy mynde--and marchaundise, leve it!
For thow hast no good ground to gete thee with a wastel
But if it were with thi tonge or ellis with thi two hondes.
For the good that thow hast geten bigan al with falshede,
And as longe as thow lyvest therwith, thow yeldest noght but borwest.
And if thow wite nevere to wh[om] ne wh[ere] to restitue,
Ber it to the Bisshop, and bid hym of his grace
Bisette it hymself as best is for thi soule.
For he shal answere for thee at the heighe dome,
For thee and for many mo that man shal yeve a rekenyng:
What he lerned yow in Lente, leve thow noon oother,
And what he lente yow of Oure Lordes good, to lette yow fro synne'.
Now bigynneth Gloton for togoto shrifte,
And kaireth hym to kirkewarde his coupe to shewe.
Ac Beton the Brewestere bad hym good morwe
And asked of hym with that, whiderward he wolde.
"To holy chirche,' quod he, "for to here masse,
And sithen I wole be shryven, and synne na moore.'
" I have good ale, gossib,' quod she, " Gloton, woltow assaye?'
" Hastow,' quod he, "any hote spices?'
"I have pepir and pione,' quod she, "and a pound of garleek,
A ferthyngworth of fenel seed for fastynge dayes.
Thanne goth Gloton in, and grete othes after.
Cesse the Souteresse sat on the benche,
Watte the Warner and his wif bothe,
Tymme the Tynkere and tweyne of his [knav]es,
Hikke the Hakeneyman and Hugh the Nedlere,
Clarice of Cokkeslane and the Clerk of the chirche,
Sire Piers of Pridie and PerneIe of Flaundres,
Dawe the Dykere, and a dozeyne othere--
A Ribibour, a Ratoner, a Rakiere of Chepe,
A Ropere, a Redyngkyng, and Rose the Dysshere,
Godefray of Garlekhithe and Griffyn the Walshe,
And [of] upholderes an heep, erly by the morwe,
Geve Gloton with glad chere good ale to hanselle.
Clement the Cobelere caste of his cloke,
And at the newe feire nempned it to selle.
Hikke the Hakeneyman hitte his hood after,
And bad Bette the Bocher ben on his syde.
Ther were chapmen ychose this chaffare to preise:
Whoso hadde the hood sholde han amcndes of the cloke.
Tho risen up in rape and rouned togideres,
And preised the penyworthes apart by hemselve.
[There were othes an heep, for oon sholde have the werse];
Thei kouthe noght by hir conscience acorden in truthe,
Til Robyn the Ropere arise the[i by]sou[ght]e,
And nempned hym for a nounpere, that no debat nere.
Hikke the Hostiler hadde the cloke
In covenaunt that Clement sholde the cuppe fille
And have Hikkes hood the Hostiler, and holden hym yserved;
And whoso repented rathest shoulde aryse after
And greten Sire Gloton with a galon ale.
There was laughynge and lourynge and " Lat go the cuppe!'
[Bargaynes and beverages bigonne to arise;]
And seten so til evensong, and songen umwhile,
Til Gloton hadde yglubbed a galon and a gille.
His guttes bigonne to gothelen as two gredy sowes;
He pissed a potel in a Paternoster-while,
And blew his rounde ruwet at his ruggebones ende,
That alle that herde that horn helde hir nose after
And wisshed it hadde ben wexed with a wispe of firses!
He myghte neither steppe ne stonde er he his staf hadde,
And thanne gan he to go like a glemannes bicche
Som tyme aside and som tyme arere,
As whoso leith lynes for to lacche foweles.
And whan he drough to the dore, thanne dymmed hise eighen;
He [thr]umbled on the thresshfold and threw to the erthe.
Clement the Cobelere kaughte hym by the myddel
For to liften hym olofte, and leyde hym on his knowes.
Ac Gloton was a gret cherl and a grym in the liftyng,
And koughed up a cawdel in Clementes lappe.
Is noon so hungry hound in Hertfordshire
Dorste lape of that levynge, so unlovely it smaughte!
With al the wo of this world, his wif and his wenche
Baren hym to his bed and broughte hym therinne;
And after al this excesse he had an accidie.
That he sleep Saterday and Sonday, till sonne yede to reste.
Thanne waked he of his wynkyng and wiped hise eighen;
The first word that he spak was--'Where is the bolle?'
His wif [and his wit] edwyte[d] hym tho how wikkedly he lyvede.
And Repentaunce right so rebuked hym that tyme:
"As thow with wordes and werkes hast wroght yvele in thi lyve,
Shryve thee and be shamed therof, and shewe it with thi mouthe.'
'I, Gloton,' quod the gome, 'gilty me yelde--
That I have trespased with my tonge, I kan noght telle how ofte
Sworen ""Goddes soule and his sydes!' and "So helpe me God and halidome!'
Ther no nede was nyne hyndred tymes;
And overseyen me at my soper and som tyme at Nones,
That I, Gloton, girte it up er I hadde gon a myle,
And yspilt that myghte be spared and spended on som hungry;
Over delicatly on f[ee]styng dayes dronken and eten bothe,
And sat som tyme so long there that I sleep and eet at ones.
For love of tales in tavernes [in]to drynke the moore I dy[v]ed;
And hyed to the mete er noon [on] fastyng dayes.'
" This shewynge shrift,' quod Repentaunce, " shal be meryt to the.'
And thanne gan Gloton greete, and gret dcel to make
For his Iuther Iif that he lyved hadde,
And avowed to faste--"For hunger or for thurste,
Shal never fyssh on Fryday defyen in my wombe
Til Abstinence myn aunte have yyve me leeve--
And yet have I hated hire al my lif tyme!-
Thanne cam Sleuthe al bislabered, with two slymy eighen.
"l moste sitte,' seide the segge, "or ellis sholde I nappe.
I may noght stonde ne stoupe ne withoute a stool knele.
Were I brought abedde, but if my tailende it made,
Sholde no ryngynge do me ryse er I were ripe to dyne.'
He bigan Benedicite with a bolk, and his brest knokked,
Raxed and rored--and rutte at the laste.
-What, awake, renk!- quod Repentaunce, 'and rape thee to shryfte!'
"If I sholde deye bi this day,' quod he, "me list nought to 1oke.
I kan noght parfitly my Paternoster as the preest it syngeth,
But I kan rymes of Robyn Hood and Randolf Erl of Chestre,
Ac neither of Oure Lord ne of Oure Lady the leeste that evere was maked.
I have maad avowes fourty, and foryete hem on the morwe;
I parfournede nevere penaunce as the preest me highte,
Ne right sory for my synnes, yet [seye I] was I nevere.
And if I bidde any bedes, but if it be in wrathe,
That I telle with my tonge is two myle fro myn herte.
I am ocupied eche day, halyday and oother,
With ydel tales at the ale and outherwhile in chirches;
Goddes peyne and his passion, [pure] selde thenke I on it;
I visited nevere feble men ne fettred folk in puttes;
I have levere here an harlotrye or a somer game of souters,
Or lesynges to laughen of and bilye my neghebores,
Than al that evere Marc made, Mathew, Johan and Lucas.
And vigilies and fastyng dayes--alle thise late I passe,
And ligge abedde in Lenten and my lemman in myne armes
Til matyns and masse be do, and thanne moste to the Freres;
Come I to Ite, missa est I holde me yserved.
I am noght shryven som tyme, but if siknesse it make,
Noght twyes in two yer, and thanne [telle I up gesse].
"I have be preest and person passynge thritty wynter,
Yet kan I neyther solve ne synge ne seintes lyves rede,
But I kan fynden in a feld or in a furlang an hare
Bettre than in Beutus vir or in Beati omnes
Construe clausemeI[e] and kenne it to my parisshens,
I kan holde lovedayes and here a reves rekenyng,
Ac in Canoun nor in Decretals I kan noght rede a lyne.
"If I bygge and borwe aught, but if it be ytailed,
I foryete it as yerne, and yif men me it axe
Sixe sithes or sevene, I forsake it with othes;
And thus tene I trewe men ten hundred tymes.
And my servaunts som tyme, hir salarie is bihynde:
Ruthe is to here the rekenyng whan we shal rede acountes,
So with wikked wil and wrathe my werkmen I paye!
"If any man dooth me a bienfait or he1peth me at nede,
I am unkynde ayeins his curteisie and kan nought understonden it;
For I have and have had somdel haukes maneres--
I am noght lured with love but ther ligge aught under the thombe.
The kyndenesse that myn evenecristene kidde me fernyere
Sixty sithes I, Sleuthe, have foryete it siththe
In speche and insparge of speche; yspilt many a tyme
Bothe flessh and fissh and manye othere vitailles,
Bothe bred and ale. buttre, melk and chese
Forsleuthed in my service til it myghte serve no man.
I [yarn] aboute in youthe, and yaf me naught to lerne
And evere sitthe have I be beggere [be] my foule sleuthe:
Heu michi quia serilem vitam duxi iuvenilem !'
"Repentedestow the noght?' quod Repentaunce--and right with that he swowned
Til Vigilate the veille fette water at hise eighen
And flatte it on his face and faste on hym cryde
And seide, 'Ware thee--for Wanhope wolde thee bitraye.
""I am sory for my synnes'', seye to thiselve,
And beet thiself on the brest, and bidde Hym of grace,
For is no gilt here so gret that his goodnesse nys moore.'
Thanne sat Sleuthe up and seyned hym swithe,
And made avow tofore God for his foule sleuthe:
"Shal no Sonday be this seven yer, but siknesse it [make],
That I ne shal do me er day to the deere chirche
And here matyns and masse as I a monk were.
Shal noon ale after mete holde me thennes
Til I have evensong herd--I bihote to the Roode!
And yet wole I yelde ayein. [y]if I so muche have,
Al that I wikkedly wan sithen I wit hadde;
And though my liflode lakke, leten I nelle
That ech man shal have his er I hennes wende;
And with the residue and the remenaunt, bi the Rode of Chestre,
I shal seken truthe erst er I se Rome!'
Roberd the Robbere on Reddite loked,
And for ther was noght wher[with], he wepte swithe soore.
And yet the synfulle sherewe seide to hymselve:
"Crist, that on Calvarie upon the cros deidest,
Tho Dysmas my brother bisoughte thee of grace,
And haddest mercy on that man for Memento sake;
So rewe on this Rober[d] that Reddere ne have,
Ne nevere wene to wynne with craft that I knowe;
But for thi muchel mercy mitigacion I biseche:
Dampne me noght at Domesday for that I dide so ille!'
What bifel of this feloun I kan noght faire shewe.
Wel I woot he wepte faste water with hise eighen,
And knoweliched his [coupe] to Crist yet eftsoones,
That Penitencia his pik he sholde polshe newe
And lepe with hym over lond al his lif tyme,
For he hadde leyen by Latro, Luciferis Aunte.
And thanne hadde Repentaunce ruthe and redde hem alle to knele.
" For I shal biseche for a1le synfulle Oure Saveour of grace
To amenden us of oure mysdedes and do mercy to us alle.
Now God,' quod he, "that of Thi goodnesse gonne the world make,
And of naught madest aught and man moost lik to thiselve,
And sithen suffredest hym to synne, a siknesse to us alle--
And al for the beste, as I bileve, whatevere the Book telleth:
0 felix culpa ! 0 necessarium peccutum Ade !
For thorugh that synne thi sone sent was to this erthe
And bicam man of a maide mankynde to save--
And madest Thiself with Thi sone us synfulle yliche:
Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram; Et anoi
Qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo;
And siththe with Thi selve sone in oure sute deidest
On Good Fryday for mannes sake at ful tym~ of the day;
Ther Thiself ne Thi sone no sorwe in deeth feledest,
But in oure secte was the sorwe, and Thi sone it ladde:
Captivum duxit captivitatem.
The sonne for sorwe therof lees sight for a tyme
Aboute mydday whan moost light is and meel-tyme of seintes--
Feddest tho with Thi fresshe blood oure forefadres in derknesse:
Populus qui ambulabat in tenebris vidit lucem mugnam.
And the light that lepe out of Thee, Lucifer it blente,
And blewe alle Thi blessed into the blisse of Paradys!
"The thridde day therafter Thow yedest in oure sute:
A synful Marie The seigh er Seynte Marie Thi dame,
And al to solace synfulle Thow suffredest it so were--
Non veni vocare iustos set peccatores ad penitenciam.
"And al that Marc hath ymaad, Mathew, Johan and Lucas
Of Thyne doughtiest dedes was doon in oure armes:
Verbum caro factum est et hubitavit in nobis.
And by so muche it semeth the sikerer we mowe
Bidde and biseche, if it be Thi wille
That art oure fader and oure brother--be merciable to us,
And have ruthe on thise ribaudes that repenten hem soore
That evere thei wrathed Thee in this world, in word, thought or dede!'
Thanne hente Hope an horn os Deuf tu conversus vivificabis nos
And blew it with Beati quorum remisse sunt iniquitate
That alle Seintes in hevene songen at ones
"Homines et iumenta salvabis, quemadmodum multiplicasti misericordiam tuam, 
A thousand of men tho thrungen togideres,
Cride upward to Crist and to his clene moder
To have grace to go [seke Truthe--God leve that they moten!]
Ac there was wight noon so wys, the wey thider kouthe,
But blustreden forth as beestes over ba[ch]es and hilles,
Til late was and longe, that thei a 1eode mette
Apparailled as a paynym in pilgrymes wise.
He bar a burdoun ybounde with a brood liste
In a withwynde wise ywounden aboute.
A bolle and a bagge he bar by his syde.
An hundred of ampulles on his hat seten,
Signes of Synay and shelles of Galice,
And many a crouch on his cloke, and keyes of Rome,
And the vernicle bifore, for men sholde knowe
And se bi hise signes whom he sought hadde.
This folk frayned hym first fro whennes he come.
" Fram Synay,' he seide, " and fram [the] Sepulcre.
In Bethlem and in Babiloyne, I have ben in bothe,
In Armonye, in Alisaundre, in manye othere places.
Ye may se by my signes that sitten on myn hatte
That I have walked ful wide in weet and in drye
And sought goode Seintes for my soule helthe.'
" Knowestow aught a corsaint,' [quod thei], " that men calle Truthe?
Koudestow wissen us the wey wher that wye dwelleth?'
"Nay, so me God helpe!' seide the gome thanne.
"I seigh nevere palmere with pyk ne with scrippe
Asken after hym er now in this place.'
"Peter!' quod a Plowman, and putte forth his hed,
"I knowe hym as kyndely as clerc doth hise bokes.
Conscience and Kynde Wit kenned me to his place
And diden me suren hym si[ththen] to serven hym for evere,
Bothe to sowe and to sette the while I swynke myghte.
I have ben his folwere al this fourty wynter--
Bothe ysowen his seed and suwed hise beestes,
Withinne and withouten waited his profit,
Idyke[d] and id[o]lve, ido that he hoteth.
Som tyme I sowe and som tyme I thresshe,
In taillours craft and tynkeris craft, what Truthe kan devyse,
I weve and I wynde and do what Truthe hoteth.
For though I seye it myself, I serve hym to paye;
I have myn hire of hym wel and outherwhiles moore.
He is the presteste paiere that povere men knoweth:
He withhalt noon hewe his hire that he ne hath it at even.
He is as lowe as a lomb and lovelich of speche.
And if ye wilneth to wite where that he dwelleth,
I [wol] wisse yow [wel right] to his place.'
'Ye, leve Piers!' quod thise pilgrimes, and profred hym huyre.
'Nay, by [the peril of] my soule!' quod Piers and gan to swere,
" I nolde fange a ferthyng, for Seint Thomas shryne!
Truthe woIde love me the lasse a long tyme after.
Ac if ye wilneth to wende wel, this is the wey thider:
Ye moten go thorugh Mekenesse, bothe men and wyves,
Til ye come into Conscience, that Crist wite the sothe,
That ye loven Oure Lord God levest of alle thynges,
And thanne youre neghebores next in none wise apeire
Otherwise than thow woldest h[ii] wroughte to thiselve.
"And so boweth forth by a brook, "" Beth-buxom-of-speche',
[Forto] ye fynden a ford, " Youre-fadres-honoureth' :
Honora patrem et matrem &c.
Wadeth in that water and wassheth yow wel there,
And ye shul lepe the lightloker al youre lif ty
And so shaltow se "Swere-noght-but-if-it-be-for-nede-
And-nameliche-on-ydel-the-name-of-God-Almyghty.''
"Thanne shaltow come by a croft, but come thow noght therinne:
The croft hatte "" Coveite-noght-mennes-catel-ne-hire-wyves-
Ne-noon-of-hire-servaunts-that-noyen-hem-myghte.''
Loke thow breke no bowes there but if it be [thyn] owene.
"Two stokkes ther stondeth. ac stynte th[ow] noght there:
Thei highte ""Stele-noght'' and "" Sle-noght''--strik forth by bothe,
And leve hem on thi lift half and loke noght therafter,
And hold wel thyn haliday heighe til even.
"Thanne shaltow blenche at a bergh, "Bere-no-t-ais-witnesse'';
He is frythed in with floryns and othere fees manye:
Loke thow plukke no plaunte there, for peril of thi soule.
" Thanne shaIt thow see "" Seye-sooth-so-it-be-to-doone
In-no-manere-ellis-noght-for-no-mannes-biddyng.''
"Thanne shaltow come to a court as cler as the sonne.
The moot is of Mercy the rnanoir aboute,
And alle the walles ben of Wit to holden Wil oute,
And kerneled with Cristendom that kynde to save,
Botrased with "" Bileef-so-or-thow-beest-noght-saved.''
"And alle the houses ben hiled, halles and chambres,
With no leed but with love and lowe speche, as bretheren [of o wombe].
The brugge is of " Bidde-wel-the-bet-may-thow-spede;''
Ech piler is of penaunce, of preieres to seyntes;
Of almesdedes are the hokes that the gates hangen on.
"Grace hatte the gateward, a good man for sothe;
His man hatte ""Amende-yow''--many man hym knoweth.
Telleth hym this tokene: ""Truthe[w] the sothe--
I parfourned the penaunce that the preest me enjoyned
And am sory for my synnes and so I shal evere
Whan I thynke theron, theigh I were a Pope.'
"Biddeth Amende-yow meke hym til his maister ones
To wayven up the wiket that the womman shette
Tho Adam and Eve eten apples unrosted:
Per Evam cunctis clausa est et per Mariam virginem iterum patefacta est.
For he hath the keye and the cliket, though the kyng slepe.
And if Grace graunte thee to go in in this wise
Thow shalt see in thiselve Truthe sitte in thyn herte
In a cheyne of charite, as thow a child were,
To suffren hym and segge noght ayein thi sires wille.
"Ac be war thanne of Wrathe, that wikked sherewe:
He hath envye to hym that in thyn herte sitteth,
And poketh forth pride to preise thiselven.
The boldnesse of thi bienfetes maketh thee blynd thanne
And [so] worstow dryven out as dew, and the dore closed,
Keyed and cliketted to kepe thee withouten
Happily an hundred wynter er thow eft entre!
Thus myghtestow lesen his love, to lete wel by thiselve,
And [gete it ayein thorugh] grace [ac thorugh no gifte ellis].
"Ac ther are seven sustren that serven Truthe evere
And arn porters of the posternes that to the place longeth.
That oon hatte Abstinence, and Humilite another;
Charite and Chastite ben hise chief maydenes;
Pacience and Pees, muche peple thei helpeth;
Largenesse the lady, she let in ful manye--
Heo hath holpe a thousand out of the develes punfolde.
"And who is sib to thise sevene, so me God helpe,
He is wonderly welcome and faire underfongen.
And but if ye be sibbe to some of thise sevene--
It is ful hard, by myn heed,' quod Piers, "for any of yow alle
To geten ingong at any gate but grace be the moore!'
"Now, by Crist!' quod a kuttepurs, - I have no kyn there.'
" Ne I', quod an apeward, - by aught that I knowe.'
"Wite God,' quod a wafrestere, "wiste I this for sothe,
Sholde I never ferther a foot for no freres prechyng.'
" Yis! ' quod Piers the Plowman, and poked hem alle to goode,
"Mercy is a maiden there, hath myght over hem alle;
And she is sib to alle synfulle, and hire sone also,
And thorugh the help of hem two--hope thow noon oother--
Thow myght gete grace there--so thow go bityme.'
"Bi Seint Poul!' quod a pardoner, paraventure I be noght knowe there:
I wol go fecche my box with my brevettes and a bulle with bisshopes lettres.
"By Crist!' quod a commune womman, thi compaignie wol I folwe.
Thow shalt seye I am thi suster.' I ne woot where thei bicome.



                      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 15


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