Piers Ploughman (Wright)/Passus 15

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Passus Decimus Quintus, etc. finit Do-wel, et incipit Do-bet.

Piers Ploughman Initial A.png
c after my wakynge,       9587


It was wonder longe
Er I koude kyndely
Knowe what was Do-wel.
And so my wit weex and wanyed,
Til I a fool weere;
And some lakkede my lif,
Allowed it fewe,
And lete me for a lorel,
And looth to reverencen
Lordes or ladies,
Or any lif ellis;
As persons in pelure,
With pendauntz of silver;       9600
To sergeauntz ne to swiche
Seide I noght ones,
"God loke yow, lordes!"
Ne loutede faire;
That folk helden me a fool,
And in that folie I raved.
Til reson hadde ruthe on me,
And rokked me a-slepe,
Til I seigh, as it sorcerie were,
A sotil thyng withalle;       9610
Oon withouten tonge and teeth
Tolde me whider I sholde,
And wherof I cam, and of what kynde;
I conjured hym at the laste,
If he were Cristes creature
Anoon me to tellen.

"I am Cristes creature," quod he,
"And cristene in many a place,
In Cristes court y-knowe wel,
And of his kyn a party.       9620
Is neither Peter the porter,
Nor Poul with his fauchon,
That wole defende me the dore,
Dynge I never so late;
At mydnyght, at mydday,
My vois so is knowe,
That ech a creature of his court
Welcometh me faire."

"What are ye called," quod I, "in that court,
Among Cristes peple?"       9630

"The whiles I quikne the cors," quod he,
"Called am I Anima;
And whan I wilne and wolde,
Animus ich hatte;
And for that I kan knowe,
Called am I Mens;
And whan I make mone to God,
Memoria is my name;
And whan I deme domes,
And do as truthe techeth,       9640
Thanne is Ratio my righte name,
Reson on Englisshe;
And whan I feele that folk telleth,
My firste name is Sensus,
And that is wit and wisdom,
The welle of alle craftes.
And whan I chalange or chalange noght,
Chepe or refuse,
Thanne am I Conscience y-called,
Goddes clerk and his notarie;       9650
And whan I love leelly
Oure Lord and alle othere,
Thanne is lele Love my name,
And in Latyn Amor;
And whan I flee fro the flesshe,
And forsake the careyne,
Thanne am I a spirit specheless,
Spiritus thanne iche hatte.
Austyn and Ysodorus,
Either of hem bothe,       9660
Nempnede me thus to name,
And now thow myght chese
How thow coveitest to calle me,
For now thow knowest my names."
Anima pro diversis actionibus diversa
nomina sortitur; dum
vivificat corpus, anima est;
dum vult, animus est; dum
scit, mens est; dum recolit,
memoria est; dum judicat,       9670
ratio est; dum sentit, sensus
est; dum amat, amor est;
dum negat vel consentit, conscientia
est; dum spirat, spiritus
est.
"Ye ben as a bisshope," quod I,
Al bourdynge that tyme;
"For bisshopes y-blessed,
Thei bereth manye names,
Præsul and pontifex,       9680
And metropolitanus,
And othere names an heep,
Episcopus and pastor."

"That is sooth," seide he;
"Now I se thi wille;
Thow woldest knowe and konne
The cause of alle my names,
And of me, if thow myghtest,
Me thynketh by thi speche."

"Ye, sire," I seide,       9690
"By so no man were greved,
Alle the sciences under sonne,
And alle the sotile craftes,
I wolde I knewe and kouthe
Kyndely in myn herte."

"Thanne artow inparfit," quod he,
"And oon of Prides knyghtes;
For swich a lust and likyng
Lucifer fel from hevene."
Ponam pedem meum in aquilone, et       9700
similis ero altissimo.

"It were ayeins kynde," quod he,
"And alle kynnes reson,
That any creature sholde konne al,
Except Crist oone:
Ayein swiche Salomon speketh,
And despiseth hir wittes,
And seith, Sicut qui mel comedit
multum, non est ei bonum; sic
qui scrutator est majestatis,       9710
opprimitur a gloria.

"To Englisshe men this is to mene,
That mowen speke and here,
The man that muche hony eteth,
His mawe it engleymeth;
And the moore that a man
Of good matere hereth,
But he do therafter,
It dooth hym double scathe.
Beatus est, seith seint Bernard,       9720
Qui scripturas legit,
Et verba vertit in opera
Fulliche to his power.
Coveitise to konne
And to knowe sciences,
Putte out of Paradis
Adam and Eve.
Scientiæ appetitus hominem inmortalitatis
gloria spoliavit.

"And right as hony is yvel to defie,       9730
And engleymeth the mawe;
Right so he that thorugh reson
Wolde the roote knowe
Of God and of hise grete myghtes,
Hise graces it letteth.
For in the likynge lith a pride,
And licames coveitise,
Ayein Cristes counseil
And alle clerkes techynge;
That is Non plus sapere quam oportet sapere[1]

"Freres and fele othere maistres,       9742
That to lewed men prechen,
Ye moeven materes unmesurable
To tellen of the Trinité,
That ofte tymes the lewed peple
Of hir bileve doute.
Bettre it were to manye doctours
To leven swich techyng,
And tellen men of the ten comaundmentz,       9750
And touchen the sevene synnes,
And of the braunches that burjoneth of hem,
And bryngen men to helle,
And how that folk in folies
Misspenden hir fyve wittes,
As wel freres as oother folk
Foliliche spenden
In housynge, in haterynge,
And in to heigh clergie shewynge,
Moore for pompe than for pure charité,       9760
The peple woot the sothe,
That I lye noght, loo!
For lordes ye plesen,
And reverencen the riche
The rather for hir silver
Confundantur omnes qui adorant
sculptilia. Et alibi: Ut quid
diligitis vanitatem, et quæritis
mendacium.

"Gooth to the glose of thise vers,       9770
Ye grete clerkes;
If I lye on yow to my lewed wit,
Ledeth me to brennyng.
For as it semeth, ye forsaketh
No mannes almesse
Of usurers, of hoores,
Of avarouse chapmen;
And louten to thise lordes
That mowen lene yow nobles,
Ayein youre rule and religion,       9780
I take record at Jhesus,
That seide to hise disciples,
Ne sitis personarum acceptores.
Of this matere I myghte
Make a long bible!
Ac of curatours of cristen peple,
As clerkes bereth witnesse,
I shal tellen it, for truthes sake,
Take hede who so liketh.

"As holynesse and honesté       9790
Out of holy chirche spredeth
Thorugh lele libbynge men
That Goddes lawe techen;
Right so out of holi chirche
Alle yveles spryngeth,
There inparfit preesthode is,
Prechours and techeris.
I se it by ensaunple
In somer tyme on trowes:
Ther some bowes ben leved,       9800
And some bereth none,
Ther is a meschief in the morre
Of swiche manere bowes.

"Rightso bi persons and preestes,
And prechours of holi chirche,
That aren roote of the right feith
To rule the peple.
And ther the roote is roten,
Reson woot the sothe,
Shal nevere flour ne fruyt       9810
Ne fair leef be greene.
For-thi wolde ye, lettrede, leve
The lecherie of clothyng;
And be kynde, as bifel for clerkes,
And curteise of Cristes goodes,
Trewe of youre tonge,
And of youre tail bothe,
And hatien to here harlotrie;
And noght to underfonge
Tithes, but of trewe thyng,       9820
Y-tilied or chaffared;
Lothe were lewed men,
But thei youre loore folwede,
And amendeden hem that mysdoon
Moore for youre ensaumples,
Than for to prechen and preven it noght,
Ypocrisie it semeth;
The which in Latyn
Is likned to a dongehill
That were bi-snewed with snow,       9830
And snakes withinne;
Or to a wal that were whit-lymed,
And were foul withinne;

"Right so manye preestes,
Prechours and prelates,
Ye aren enblaunched with bele paroles,
And with clothes also;
Ac youre werkes and youre wordes ther under,
Aren ful unloveliche.
Johannes Crisostomus       9840
Of clerkes speketh and preestes;
Sicut de templo omne bonum progreditur,
sic de templo omne
malum procedit. Si sacerdotium
integrum fuerit, tota floret
ecclesia: si autem corruptum
fuerit, omnis fides marcida
est. Si sacerdotium fuerit
in peccatis, totus populus
convertitur ad peccandum. Sicut       9850
cum videris arborem pallidam
et marcidam, intelligis
quod vitium habet in radice.
Ita cum videris populum indisciplinatum
et irreligiosum, sine
dubio sacerdotium ejus non est
sanum.

"If lewed men wiste
What this Latyn meneth,
And who was myn auctour,       9860
Muche wonder me thinketh,
But if many a preest beere,
For hir baselardes and hir broches,
A peire of bedes in hir hand,
And a book under hir arme.
Sire Johan and sire Geffrey
Hath a girdel of silver.
A baselard or a ballok-knyf,
With botons over gilte;
Ac a porthors that sholde be his plow       9870
Placebo to sigge,
Hadde he nevere service to save silver therto.
Seith it with ydel wille.

"Allas! ye lewed men,
Muche lese ye on preestes.
Ac thing that wikkedly is wonne,
And with false sleightes,
Wolde nevere the wit of witty God
But wikkede men it hadde,
The whiche arn preestes inparfite,       9880
And prechours after silver,
Executours and sodenes,
Somonours and hir lemmannes;
That that with gile was geten,
Ungraciousliche is despended;
So harlotes and hores
Arn holpe with swiche goodes,
And Goddes folk, for defaute therof,
For-faren and spillen.

"Curatours of holy kirke,       9890
As clerkes that ben avarouse,
Lightliche that thei leven,
Losels it habbeth,
Or deieth intestate,
And thanne the bisshope entreth
And maketh murthe thermyd,
And hise men bothe,
And seyen he was a nygard
That no good myghte aspare
To frend ne to fremmed,       9900
The fend have his soule!
For a wrecchede hous held he
Al his lif tyme;
And that he spared and bisperede,
Dispende we in murthe;
By lered, by lewed,
That looth is to despende.
Thus goon hire goodes.
Be the goost faren.
Ac for goode men, God woot!       9910
Greet doel men maken,
And bymeneth goode mete gyveres,
And in mynde haveth,
In preieres and in penaunces,
And in parfit charité."

"What is charité?" quod I tho.
"A childisshe thyng," he seide.
"Nisi efficiamini parvuli, non intrabitis
in regnum cælorum.
Withouten fauntelté or folie,       9920
A fre liberal wille."

"Where sholde men fynde swich a frend,
With so fre an herte?"
"I have lyved in londe," quod he,
"My name is Longe-wille;
And fond I nevere ful charité
Byfore ne bihynde.
Men beth merciable
To mendinauntz and to poore,
And wollen lene ther thei leve       9930
Lelly to ben paied.
Ac charité that Poul preiseth best,
And moost plesaunt to oure Lord,
Is Non inflatur, non est ambitiosa, non
quærit quæ sua sunt, etc.

"I seigh nevere swich a man,
So me God helpe!
That he ne wolde aske after his,
And outher while coveite
Thyng that neded hym noght,       9940
And nyme it, if he myghte.

"Clerkes kenne me
That Crist is in alle places;
Ac I seigh hym nevere soothly,
But as myself in a mirour:
In ænigmate tunc facie ad faciem.
And so I trowe trewely,
By that men telleth of charité,
It is noght chaumpions fight,
Ne chaffare, as I trowe,       9950

"Charité," quod he, "ne chaffareth noght,
Ne chalangeth, ne craveth;
As proud of a peny,
As of a pound of golde;
And is as glad of a gowne
Of a gray russet,
As of a tunycle of Tarse,
Or of trie scarlet.
He is glad with alle glade,
And good til alle wikkede,       9960
And leveth and loveth alle
That oure Lord made.
Corseth he no creature,
Ne he kan bere no wrathe,
Ne no likynge hath to lye,
Ne laughe men to scorne;
Al that men seyn, he leet it sooth,
And in solace taketh,
And alle manere meschiefs
In myldenesse he suffreth.       9970
Coveiteth he noon erthely good,
But hevene riche blisse,
Hath he anye rentes or richesse,
Or anye riche frendes.

"Of rentes nor of richesse
Ne rekketh he nevere;
For a frend that fyndeth hym,
Failed hym nevere at neede.
Fiat voluntas tua
Fynt hym evere moore;       9980
And if he soupeth, eteth but a sop
Of spera in Deo.
He kan portreye wel the paternoster,
And peynte it with aves;
And outher while he is woned
To wenden on pilgrymages,
Ther poore men and prisons liggeth,
Hir pardon to have.
Though he bere hem no breed,
He bereth hem swetter liflode,       9990
Loveth hem as oure Lord biddeth,
And loketh how thei fare.

"And whan he is wery of that werk,
Than wole he som tyme
Labouren in lavendrye
Wel the lengthe of a mile,
And yerne into youthe,
And yepeliche speke
Pride with al the appurtenaunces,
And pakken hem togideres,       10000
And bouken hem at his brest,
And beten hem clene,
And leggen on longe,
With laboravi in gemitu meo;
And with warm water at hise eighen
Wasshen hem after.
And thanne he syngeth whan he doth so,
And som tyme seith wepynge,
Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus,
non despicies."       10010

"By Crist! I wolde that I knewe hym," quod I,
"No creature levere!"

"Withouten help of Piers Plowman," quod he,
"His persone sestow nevere."

"Wheither clerkes knowen hym," quod I,
"That kepen holi kirke?"

"Clerkes have no knowyng," quod he,
"But by werkes and by wordes.
Ac Piers the Plowman
Parceyveth moore depper       10020
What is the wille and wherfore
That many wight suffreth.
Et vidit Deus cogitationes eorum.
For ther are ful proude herted men,
Pacient of tonge,
And buxome as of berynge
To burgeises and to lordes,
And to poore peple
Han pepir in the nose,
And as a lyoun he loketh,       10030
Ther men lakken hise werkes.

"For ther are beggeris and bidderis,
Bedemen as it were,
Loken as lambren,
And semen ful holy;
Ac it is moore to have hir mete
With swich an esy manere,
Than for penaunce and perfitnesse,
The poverte that swiche taketh.

"Therfore by colour ne by clergie       10040
Knowe shaltow nevere,
Neither thorugh wordes ne werkes,
But thorugh wil oone.
And that knoweth no clerk,
Ne creature on erthe,
But Piers the Plowman
Petrus, i. Christus.
For he nys noght in lolleris,
Ne in lond leperis heremytes,
Ne at ancres there a box hangeth,       10050
Alle swiche thei faiten.
Fy on faitours,
And in fautores suos!
For charité is Goddes champion,
And as a good child hende,
And the murieste of mouth
At mete where he sitteth.
The love that lith in his herte
Maketh hym light of speche,
And is compaignable and confortatif,       10060
As Crist bit hymselve.
Nolite fieri sicut hypocritæ tristes, etc.
For I have seyen hym in silk,
And som tyme in russet,
Bothe in grey and in grys,
And in gilt harneis;
And as gladliche he it gaf
To gomes that it neded.

"Edmond and Edward
Bothe were kynges,       10070
And seintes y-set,
For charité hem folwede.

"I have y-seyen charité also
Syngen and reden,
Riden and rennen
In raggede wedes;
Ac biddynge as beggeris
Biheld I hym nevere.
Ac in riche robes
Rathest he walketh,       10080
Y-called and y-crymyled,
And his crowne y-shave;
And in a freres frokke
He was y-founden ones,
Ac it is fern ago,
In seint Fraunceis tyme:
In that secte siththe
To selde hath he ben founde.

"Riche men he recomendeth,
And of hir robes taketh,       10090
That withouten wiles
Ledeth hir lyves.
Beatus est dives qui, etc.

"In kynges court he cometh ofte,
Ther the counseil is trewe;
Ac if coveitise be of the counseil,
He wolnoght come therinne,

"In court amonges japeris
He cometh noght but selde,
For braulynge and bakbitynge,       10100
And berynge of fals witnesse.

"In the consistorie bifore the commissarie
He cometh noght but ofte;
For hir lawe dureth over longe,
But if thei lacchen silver,
And matrimoyne for moneie
Maken and unmaken;
And that conscience and Crist
Hath y-knyt faste,
Thei undoon it unworthily,       10110
Tho doctours of lawe.

"Ac I ne lakke no lif,
But, Lord, amende us alle,
And gyve us grace, good God,
Charité to folwe.
For who so myghte meete myd hym,
Swiche maneres hym eileth,
Neither he blameth ne banneth,
Bosteth ne preiseth,
Lakketh ne loseth,       10120
Ne loketh up sterne,
Craveth ne coveiteth,
Ne crieth after moore.
In pace in idipsum dormiam, etc.

"The mooste liflode that he lyveth by,
Is love in Goddes passion;
Neither he biddeth ne beggeth,
Ne borweth to yelde,
Misdooth he no man,
Ne with his mouth greveth.       10130

"Amonges cristene men
This myldenesse sholde laste.
In alle manere angres
Have this at herte,
That theigh thei suffrede al this,
God suffrede for us moore,
In ensample we sholde do so,
And take no vengeaunce
Of oure foes that dooth us falsnesse,
That is oure fadres wille.       10140

"For wel may every man wite,
If God hadde wold hymselve,
Sholde nevere Judas ne Jew
Have Jhesu doon on roode,
Ne han martired Peter ne Poul,
Ne in prison holden.
Ac he suffrede in ensample
That we sholde suffren also,
And seide to swiche that suffre wolde,
That patientes vincunt.       10150

"Verbi gratia," quod he,
"And verray ensamples manye,
In Legenda Sanctorum,
The lif of holy seintes,
What penaunce and poverte
And passion thei suffrede,
In hunger, in hete,
In alle manere angres.

"Antony and Egidie,
And othere holy fadres,       10160
Woneden in wildernesse
Among wilde beestes;
Monkes and mendinauntz,
Men by hemselve,
In spekes and in spelonkes,
Selde speken togideres.

"Ac neither Antony ne Egidie,
Ne heremyte that tyme,
Of leons ne of leopardes
No liflode ne toke;       10170
But of foweles that fleeth,
Thus fyndeth men in bokes.
Except that Egidie
After an hynde cride,
And thorugh the mylk of that mylde beest
The man was sustened;
And day bi day hadde he hire noght
His hunger for to slake,
But selden and sondry tymes,
As seith the book and techeth.       10180

"Antony a dayes,
Aboute noon tyme,
Hadde a brid that broughte hym breed,
That he by lyvede;
And though the gome hadde a gest,
God fond hem bothe.

"Poul primus heremita
Hadde parroked hymselve,
That no man myghte hym se
For mosse and for leves;       10190
Foweles hym fedde
Fele wyntres withalle,
Til he foundede freres
Of Austynes ordre.
Poul, after his prechyng,
Paniers he made,
And wan with hise hondes
That his wombe neded.

"Peter fisshed for his foode,
And his felawe Andrew;       10200
Som thei solde and som thei soden,
And so thei lyved bothe.

"And also Marie Maudeleyne
By mores lyvede and dewes
Ac moost thorugh devocion
And mynde of God almyghty.
I sholde noght thise seven daies
Siggen hem alle,
That lyveden thus for oure Lordes love
Many longe yeres.       10210

"Ac ther ne was leon ne leopard
That on laundes wenten,
Neither bere ne boor,
Ne oother beest wilde,
That ne fil to hir feet,
And fawned with the taillies;
And if thei kouthe han y-carped,
By Crist! as I trowe,
Thei wolde have y-fed that folk
Bifore wild foweles.       10220
Ac God sente hem foode by foweles,
And by no fierse beestes,
In menynge that meke thyng
Mylde thyng sholde fede.

"Ac who seith religiouses
Rightfulle men sholde fede,
And lawefulle men to lif-holy men
Liflode sholde brynge;
And thanne wolde lordes and ladies
Be looth to agulte,       10230
And to taken of hir tenauntz
Moore than trouthe wolde,
Foulde thei that freres
Wolde forsake hir almesses,
And bidden hem bere it
There it was y-borwed.
For we ben Goddes foweles,
And abiden alwey
Til briddes brynge us
That we sholde lyve by.       10240
For hadde ye potage and payn y-nogh,
And peny ale to drynke,
And a mees thermyd
Of o maner kynde,
Ye hadde right y-nogh, ye religiouse,
And so youre rule me tolde.
Nunquam, dicit Job, rugit onager
cum herbam habuerit, aut mugiet
bos cum ante plenum præsepe
steterit. Brutorum animalium       10250
natura te condemnat,
quia cum eis pabulum commune
sufficiat, ex adipe prodiit iniquitas tua.

"If lewed men knewe this Latyn,
Thei wolde loke whom thei yeve,
And avisen hem bifore
A fyve dayes or sixe,
Er thei amortisede to monkes
Or chanons hir rente.
Allas! lordes and ladies,       10260
Lewed counseil have ye,
To gyve from youre heires
That youre aiels yow lefte,
And gyveth it to bidde for yow
Fo swiche that ben riche,
And ben founded and feffed ek
To bidde for othere.

"Who perfourneth this prophecie
Of the peple that now libbeth?
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus.       10270

"If any peple perfourne that text,
It are thise poore freres;
For that thei beggen aboute,
In buyldynge thei spende it,
And on hemself som,
And swiche as ben hir laborers;
And of hem that habbeth thei taken,
And gyveth hem that habbeth.

"Ac clerkes and knyghtes,
And communers that ben riche,       10280
Fele of yow fareth
As if I a forest hadde
That were ful of faire trees,
And I fondede and caste
How I myghte mo therinne
Amonges hem sette.

"Right so, ye riche,
Ye robeth that ben riche,
And helpeth hem that helpeth yow,
And gyveth ther no nede is.       10290
As who so filled a toune
Of a fressh ryver,
And wente forth with that water
To woke with Temese;
Right so, ye riche,
Ye robeth and fedeth
Hem that han as ye han,
Hem ye make at ese.

"Ac religiouse that riche ben,
Sholde rather feeste beggeris       10300
Than burgeises that riche ben,
As the book techeth.
Quia sacrilegium est res pauperum
non pauperibus dare. Item:
Peccatoribus dare, est dæmonibus
immolare. Item: Monache,
si indiges et accipis, potius
das quam accipis; si autem
non eges et accipis, rapis.
Porro non indiget monachus, si       10310
habeat quod naturæ sufficit.

"For-thi I counseille alle cristene
To conformen hem to charité,
For charité withouten chalangynge
Unchargeth the soule,
And many a prison fram purgatorie
Thorugh his preieres he delivereth.
Ac ther is a defaute in the folk
That the feith kepeth;
Wherfore folk is the febler,       10320
And noght ferm of bileve,
As in lussheburwes is a luther alay,
And yet loketh he lik a sterlyng;
The merk of that monee is good,
Ac the metal is feble.

"And so it fareth by som folk now,
Thei han a fair speche,
Crowne and cristendom,
The kynges mark of hevene;
Ac the metal, that is mannes soule,       10330
With synne is foule alayed.
Bothe lettred and lewed
Beth alayed now with synne,
That no lif loveth oother,
Ne oure Lord, as it semeth.
For thorugh werre and wikkede werkes,
And wederes unresonable,
Weder-wise shipmen,
And witty clerkes also,
Han no bileve to the lifte,       10340
Ne to the loore of philosofres.

"Astronomiens al day
In hir art faillen,
That whilom warned bifore
What sholde falle after.

"Shipmen and shepherdes,
That with ship and sheep wenten,
Wisten by the walkne
What sholde bitide,
As of wedres and wyndes       10350
Thei warned men ofte.

"Tilieris, that tiled the erthe,
Tolden hir maistres,
By the seed that thei sewe,
What thei selle myghte,
And what to lene, and what to lyve by,
The lond was so trewe.

"Now faileth the folk of the flood,
And of the lond bothe,
Shepherdes and shipmen,       10360
And so do thise tilieris,
Neither thei konneth ne knoweth
Oon cours bifore another.

"Astronomyens also
Aren at hir wittes ende,
Of that was calculed of the element
The contrarie thei fynde;
Grammer, the ground of al,
Bigileth now children,
For is noon of this newe clerkes,       10370
Who so nymeth hede,
Naught oon among an hundred
That an auctour kan construwe,
Ne rede a lettre in any langage
But in Latyn or in Englissh.

"Go now to any degree,
And but if gile be maister,
And flaterere his felawe
Under hym to fourmen,
Muche wonder me thynketh       10380
Amonges us alle,
Doctours of decrees
And of divinité maistres,
That sholde konne and knowe
Alle kynnes clergie,
And answere to argumentz,
And also to a quodlibet;
I dar noght siggen it for shame,
If swiche were apposed,
Thei sholde faillen of her philosophie,       10390
And in phisik bothe.

"Wherfore I am a-fered
Of folk of holy kirke,
Lest thei overhuppen, as oothere doon,
In office and in houres;
And if they overhuppe, as I hope noght,
Oure bileve suffiseth;
As clerkes in Corpus Christi feeste
Syngen and reden,
That sola fides sufficit       10400
To save with lewed peple;
And so may Sarzens be saved,
Scribes, and Jewes.

"Allas, thanne! but our looresmen
Lyve as thei leren us,
And for hir lyvynge that lewed men
Be the lother God agulten.
For Sarzens han somwhat
Semynge to oure bileve;
For thei love and bileve       10410
In o persone almyghty,
And we, lered and lewed,
In oon God almyghty;
And oon Makometh, a man,
In mysbileve broughte
Sarzens of Surree,
And see in what manere.

"This Makometh was a cristene
And for he moste noght ben a pope
Into Surrie he soughte,       10420
And thorugh hise sotile wittes
He daunted a dowve,
And day and nyght hire fedde,
The corn that she croppede
He caste it in his ere;
And if he among the peple preched,
Or in places come,
Thanne wolde the colvere come
To the clerkes ere
Menynge as after mete,—       10430
Thus Makometh hire enchauntede;
And dide folk thanne falle on knees,
For he swoor in his prechyng
That the colvere that com so,
Com from God of hevene,
As messager to Makometh,
Men for to teche.
And thus thorugh wiles of his wit,
And a whit dowve,
Makometh in mysbileve       10440
Men and wommen broughte;
That lyved tho there and lyve yit
Leeven on hise lawes.

"And siththe oure Saveour suffred,
The Sarzens so bigiled
Thorugh a cristene clerk,
Acorsed in his soule!
For drede of the deeth
I dare noght telle truthe,
How Englisshe clerkes a colvere fede       10450
That coveitise highte,
And ben manered after Makometh,
That no man useth trouthe.

"Ancres and heremytes,
And monkes and freres,
Peeren to the apostles
Thorugh hire parfit lyvynge;
Wolde nevere the feithful fader
That hise ministres sholde
Of tirauntz that teneth trewe men       10460
Taken any almesse,
But doon as Antony dide,
Dominyk and Fraunceys,
Beneit and Bernard
The whiche hem first taughte
To lyve by litel, and in lowe houses,
By lele mennes almesse.
Grace sholde growe and be grene
Thorugh hir goode lyvynge;
And folkes sholden fare,       10470
That ben in diverse siknesse,
The bettre for hir biddynges
In body and in soule.
Hir preieres and hir penaunces
To pees sholde brynge
Alle that ben at debaat,
And bedemen were trewe.
Petite et accipietis, etc.
Salt saveth the catel,
Siggen thise wives.       10480
Vos estis sal terræ, etc.
The hevedes of holy chirche,
And thei holy were,
Crist calleth hem salt
For cristene soules.
Et si sal evanuerit in quo salietur, etc.

"For fressh flessh outher fissh,
Whan it salt failleth,
It is unsavory for sothe,
Y-soden or y-bake;       10490
So is mannes soule, soothly,
That seeth no goode ensamples
Of hem of holi chirche,
That the heighe wey sholde teche,
And be gide, and go bifore,
As a good banyer;
And hardie hem that bihynde ben,
And gyve hem good evidence.

"Ellevene holy men
Al the world tornede       10500
Into lele bileve;
The lightloker me thinketh
Sholde all maner men,
We han so manye maistres,
Preestes and prechours,
And a pope above,
That Goddes salt sholde be
To save mannes soule.

"Al was hethynesse som tyme
Engelond and Walis,       10510
Til Gregory garte clerkes
To go here and preche;
Austyn at Caunterbury
Cristnede the kyng,
And thorugh miracles, as men now rede,
Al that marche he tornede
To Crist and to cristendom,
And cros to honoure;
And follede folk faste,
And the feith taughte,       10520
Moore thorugh miracles
Than thorugh muche prechyng,
As wel thorugh hise werkes
As with hise holy wordes,
And seide hem what fullynge
And feith was to mene.

"Clooth that cometh fro the wevyng
Is noght comly to were,
Til it be fulled under foot
Or in fullyng stokkes,       10530
Wasshen wel with water,
And with taseles cracched,
Y-touked and y-teynted,
And under taillours hande;
Right so it fareth by a barn,
That born is of a wombe,
Til it be cristned in Cristes name,
And confermed of the bisshope,
It is hethene as to hevene-ward.
And help-lees to the soule.       10540
Hethen is to mene after heeth
And untiled erthe,
As in wilde wildernesse
Wexeth wilde beestes,
Rude and unresonable,
Rennynge withouten cropiers.

"Ye mynnen wel how Mathew seith,
How a man made a feste;
He fedde him with no venyson,
Ne fesauntz y-bake,       10550
But with foweles that fram hym nolde,
But folwede his whistlyng.
Ecce altilia mea, et omnia parata sunt.[1]
And with calves flessh he fedde
The folk that he lovede.

"The calf bitokneth clennesse
In hem that kepeth lawes.
For as the cow thorugh kynde mylk
The calf norisseth til an oxe;       10560
So love and leauté
Lele men susteneth,
And maidenes and mylde men
Mercy desiren,
Right as the cow calf
Coveiteth melk swete,
So doon rightfulle men
Mercy and truthe.

"Ac who beth that excuseth hem
That ben persons and preestes,       10570
That hevedes of holy chirche ben,
That han hir wil here
Withouten travaille the tithe deel
That trewe men biswynken;
Thei wol be wrooth for I write thus,
Ac to witnesse I take
Bothe Mathew and Marc,
And Memento Domine David.

"What pope or prelat now
Perfourneth that Crist highte.       10580
Ite in universum mundum et prædicate, etc.[1]

"Allas! that men so longe
On Makometh sholde bileve,
So manye prelates to preche
As the pope maketh,
Of Nazareth, of Nynyve,
Of Neptalym and Damaske,
That thei ne wente as Crist wisseth,
Sithen thei wille have name       10590
To be pastours and preche
To lyve and to dye.
Bonus pastor animam suam ponit, etc.[1]
And seide it in salvacion
Of Sarzens and othere,
For cristene and uncristene
Crist seide to prechours:
Ite vos in vineam meam, etc.

"And sith that thise Sarzens,       10600
Scribes, and Jewes,
Han a lippe of our bileve,
The lightlier me thynketh
Thei sholde turne, who so travailed
To teche hem of the Trinité.
Quærite et invenietis, etc.

"It is ruthe to rede
How rightwise men lyvede,
How thei defouled hir flessh,
Forsoke hir owene wille,       10610
Fer fro kyth and fro kyn
Yvele y-clothed yeden,
Baddely y-bedded,
No book but conscience,
Ne no richesse but the roode
To rejoisse hem inne.
Absit nobis gloriari nisi in cruce
Domini nostri, etc.

"And tho was plentee and pees
Amonges poore and riche,       10620
And now is routhe to rede
How the rede noble
Is reverenced er the roode,
And receyved for worthier
Than Cristes cros, that overcam
Deeth and dedly synne.
And now is werre and wo;
And who so why asketh,
For coveitise after cros
The croune stant in golde.       10630
Bothe riche and religious
That roode thei honoure
That in grotes is y-grave
And in gold nobles.
For coveitise of that cros,
Men of holy kirke
Shul torne as templers dide,
The tyme approcheth faste.

"Wite ye noght, ye wise men,
How tho men honoured       10640
Moore tresor than trouthe,
I dar noght telle the sothe,
Reson and rightful doom
The religiouse demede.

"Right so, ye clerkes,
For youre coveitise, er longe,
Shal thei demen dos ecclesiæ,
And youre pride depose,
Deposuit potentes de sede, etc.

"If knyghthod and kynde wit       10650
And the commune by conscience
Togideres love leelly,
Leveth it wel, ye bisshopes,
The lordshipe of youre londes
For evere shul ye lese,
And lyven as levitici,
As oure Lord techeth.
Per primitias et decimas, etc.

"Whan Costantyn of curteisie
Holy kirke dowed       10660
With londes and ledes,
Lordshipes and rentes,
An aungel men herden
An heigh at Rome crye,
Dos ecclesiæ this day
Hath y-dronke venym,
And tho that han Petres power
Arn apoisoned alle.

"A medicyne moot therto,
That may amende prelates,       10670
That sholden preie for the pees,
Possession hem letteth;
Taketh hire landes, ye lordes,
And leteth hem lyve by dymes.

"If possession be poison,
And inparfite hem make,
Good were to deschargen hem,
For holy chirches sake,
And purgen hem of poison,
Er moore peril falle.       10680

"If preesthode were parfit,
The peple sholde amende
That contrarien Cristes lawe,
And cristendom dispise.
For alle paynymes preieth,
And parfitly bileveth
In the holy grete God,
And his grace thei asken,
And make hir mone to Makometh
Hir message to shewe.       10690
Thus in a feith leve that folk,
And in a fals mene;
And that is routhe for rightful men
That in the reawme wonyen,
And a peril to the pope,
And prelates that he maketh,
That bere bisshopes names
Of Bethleem and Babiloigne,
That huppe aboute in Engelond
To halwe mennes auteres,       10700
And crepe amonges curatours,
And confessen ageyn the lawe.
Nolite mittere falcem in messem alienam, etc.

"Many man for Cristes love
Was martired in Romayne,
Er any cristendom was knowe there,
Or any cros honoured.

"Every bisshop that bereth cros,
By that he is holden
Thorugh his province to passe,       10710
And to his peple to shewe hym,
Tellen hem and techen hem
On the Trinité to bileve,
And feden hem with goostly foode,
And gyve there it nedeth.
In domo mea non est panis neque
vestimentum, et ideo nolite constituere
me regem.

"Ozias seith for swiche
That sike ben and feble,       10720
Inferte omnes decimas in horreum
meum, ut sit cibus in domo mea.

"Ac we cristene creatures
That on the cros bileven,
Arn ferme as in the feith,
Goddes forbode ellis!
And han clerkes to kepen us therinne,
And hem that shul come after us.

"And Jewes lyven in lele lawe,
Oure Lord wroot it hymselve       10730
In stoon, for it stedefast was,
And stonde sholde evere.
Dilige Deum et proximum,
Is parfit Jewen lawe;
And took it Moyses to teche men
Til Messie coome;
And on that lawe thei lyve yit,
And leten it the beste,
And yit knewe thei Crist
That cristendom taughte       10740
For a parfit prophete
That muche peple savede
Of selkouthe sores,
Thei seighen it ofte,
Bothe of miracles and merveilles,
And how he men festede,
With two fisshes and fyve loves,
Fyve thousand peple;
And by that mangerie men myghte wel se
That Messie he semede,       10750
And whan he lifte up Lazar,
That leid was in grave,
And under stoon deed and stank,
With stif vois hym callede:
Lazare, veni foras.
Dide hym rise and rome,
Right bifore the Jewes.

"Ac thei seiden and sworen
With sorcerie he wroughte,
And studieden to struyen hym,       10760
And struyden hemselve;
And thorugh his pacience, hir power
To pure noght he broughte.
Patientes vincunt.

"Daniel of hire undoynge
Devyned and seide,
Cum sanctus sanctorum veniat, cessabit
unctio vestra.
And wenen tho wrecches
That he were pseudo-propheta,       10770
And that his loore be lesynges,
And lakken it alle,
And hopen that he be to come
That shal hem releve,
Moyses eft or Messie
Hir maistres yit devyneth.

"Ac Pharisees and Sarzens,
Scribes and Jewes,
Arn folk of oon feith,
The fader God thei honouren.       10780
And sithen that the Sarzens,
And also the Jewes,
Konne the firste clause of oure bileve,
Credo in Deum patrem omnipotentem,
Prelates of cristene provinces
Sholde preve, if thei myghte,
To lere hem litlum and litlum
Et in Jesum Christum filium,
Til thei kouthe speke and spelle
Et in Spiritum sanctum,
And reden it and recorden it
With remissionem peccatorum,
Carnis resurrectionem, et vitam æternam. Amen."       10793


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 In Wright's edition each of these lines was printed and counted as two lines