Piers Ploughman (Wright)/Passus 20

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Passus Vicesimus de Visione, et Primus de Do-best.

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hanne as I wente by the wey,       13928

Whan I was thus awaked,
Hevy-chered I yede,
And elenge in herte;
I ne wiste wher to ete,
Ne at what place,
And it neghed neigh the noon,
And with Nede I mette
That afrounted me foule,
And faitour me called:
"Kanstow noght excuse thee,
As dide the kyng and othere,
That thow toke to thy bilyve,       13940
To clothes and to sustenaunce;
And by techynge and by tellynge
Of spiritus temperantiæ,
And thow nome na-moore
Than nede thee taughte,
And nede he hath no lawe,
Ne nevere shal falle in dette;
For thre thynges he taketh,
His lif for to save.

"That is mete, whan men hym werneth       13950
And he no moneye weldeth,
Ne wight noon wol ben his borugh,
Ne wed hath noon to legge;
And he caughte in that caas,
And come therto by sleighte,
He synneth noght, soothliche,
That so wynneth his foode.

"And though he come so to a clooth,
And kan no bettre chevyssaunce,
Nede anoon righte       13960
Nymeth hym under maynprise.

"And if hym list for to lape,
The lawe of kynde wolde
That he dronke at ech dych,
Er he for thurst deide.
So Nede al gret nede
May nymen, as for his owene,
Withouten counseil of Conscience
Or cardynale vertues,
So that he sewe and save       13970
Spiritus temperantiæ.

"For is no vertue bi fer
To spiritus temperantiæ;
Ne spiritus justitiæ
Ne spiritus fortitudinis.
For spiritus fortitudinis
Forfeteth ful ofte.
He shal do moore than mesure
Many tyme and ofte,
And bete men over bittre,       13980
And some of hem to litel,
And greve men gretter
Than good feith it wolde

"And spiritus justitiæ
Shal juggen, wol he nele he,
After the kynges counseil,
And the comune like.
And spiritus prudentiæ
In many a point shal faille
Of that he weneth wolde falle,       13990
If his wit ne weere.
Wenynge is no wysdom,
Ne wys ymaginacion,
Homo proponit, et Deus disponit,
And governeth alle goode vertues;
Ac Nede is next hym,
For anoon he meketh,
And as lowe as a lomb,
For lakkyng of that hym nedeth.
Wise men forsoke wele,       14000
For thei wolde be nedy,
And woneden in wildernesse,
And wolde noght he riche.

"And God al his grete joye
Goostliche he lefte,
And cam and took mankynde,
And bi-cam nedy.
So nedy he was, as seith the book,
In manye sondry places,
That he seide in his sorwe       14010
On the selve roode,
Bothe fox and fowel
May fle to hole and crepe,
And the fissh hath fyn
To flete with to reste,
Ther Nede hath y-nome me
That I moot nede abide
And suffre sorwes ful soure
That shal to joye torne,
For-thi be noght abasshed       14020
To bide and to be nedy;
Sith he that wroghte al the world
Was wilfulliche nedy,
Ne nevere noon so nedy
Ne poverer deide."

Whan Nede hath under-nome me thus,
Anoon I fil a-slepe;
And mette ful merveillously,
That in mannes forme
Antecrist cam thanne,       14030
And al the crop of Truthe
Torned it up-so-doun,
And over-tilte the roote;
And fals sprynge and sprede,
And spede mennes nedes,
In ech a contree ther he cam
He kutte awey truthe,
And gerte gile growe there,
As he a Good weere.

Freres folwede that fend,       14040
For he gaf hem copes;
And religiouse reverenced hym,
And rongen hir belles,
And al the covent forth cam
To welcome that tyraunt,
And alle hise as wel as hym,
Save oonly fooles.
Whiche foolis were wel levere
To deye than to lyve
Lenger, sith Lenten       14050
Was so rebuked.
And as a fals fend, Antecrist
Over alle folk regnede,
Save that were mylde men and holye,
That no meschief dradden,
Defyed alle falsnesse
And folk that it usede;
And what kyng that hem conforted,
Knowynge hem any while,
They cursed and hir conseil,       14060
Were it clerk or lewed.

Antecrist hadde thus soone
Hundredes at his baner,
And Pride it bar
Boldely aboute,
With a lord that lyveth
After likyng of body,
That kam ayein Conscience,
That kepere was and gyour
Over kynde cristene       14070
And cardynale vertues.

"I conseille," quod Conscience tho,
"Cometh with me, ye fooles,
Into Unité holy chirche,
And holde we us there;
And crye we to kynde
That he come and defende us,
Fooles, fro thise fendes lymes,
For Piers love the Plowman;
And crye we to al the comune,       14080
That thei come to Unitee,
And there abide and bikere
Ayeins Beliales children."

Kynde Conscience tho herde,
And cam out of the planetes,
And sente forth his forreyours,
Feveres and fluxes,
Coughes and cardiacles,
Crampes and tooth-aches,
Rewmes and radegundes,       14090
And roynous scabbes,
Biles and bocches,
And brennynge agues,
Frenesies and foule yveles,
Forageres of kynde,
Hadde y-priked and prayed
Polles of peple,
That largeliche a legion
Loste hir lif soone.

There was, "Harrow and help!       14100
Here cometh Kynde,
With Deeth that is dredful
To undo us alle!"

The lord that lyved after lust
Tho aloud cryde
After Confort, a knyght,
To come and bere his baner;
"A l'arme! à l'arme!" quod that lord,
"Ech lif kepe his owene!"

And thanne mette thise men,       14110
Er mynstrals myghte pipe,
And er heraudes of armes
Hadden discryved lordes,
Elde the hoore
That was in the vaunt-warde.
And bar the baner bifore Deeth,
Bi right he it cleymede.

Kynde cam after,
With many kene soores,
As pokkes and pestilences,       14120
And muche peple shente;
So Kynde thorugh corrupcions
Kilde ful manye.

Deeth cam dryvynge after,
And al to duste passhed
Kynges and knyghtes,
Kaysers and popes,
Lered and lewed,
He leet no man stonde
That he hitte evene,       14130
That evere stired after.
Manye a lovely lady,
And lemmans of knyghtes,
Swowned and swelted
For sorwe of hise dyntes.

Conscience of his curteisie
To Kynde he bi-soughte
To cesse and suffre,
And see wher thei wolde
Leve Pride pryvely,       14140
And be parfite cristene.

And Kynde cessede tho
To se the peple amende.
Fortune gan flatere thanne
Tho fewe that were alyve,
And bi-highte hem long lif,
And Lecherie he sente
Amonges alle manere men,
Wedded and unwedded,
And gaderede a greet hoost       14150
Al agayn Conscience.

This Lecherie leide on
With a janglynge chiere,
And with pryvee speche
And peyntede wordes;
And armede hym in ydelnesse,
And in heigh berynge.
He bar a bowe in his hand,
And manye brode arewes,
Weren fethered with fair bi-heste       14160
And many a fals truthe.
With hise un-tidy tales
He tened ful ofte.
Conscience and his compaignye,
Of holy chirche the techeris.

Thanne cam Coveitise,
And caste how he myghte
Overcome Conscience
And cardinale vertues,
And armed hym in avarice,       14170
And hungriliche lyvede.
His wepne was al wiles
To wynnen and to hiden;
With glosynges and with gabbynges
He giled the peple.

Symonye hym sente
To assaille Conscience,
And preched to the peple;
And prelates thei hem maden
To holden with Antecrist,       14180
His temporaltees to save;
And cam to the kynges counseille
As a kene baroun,
And kneled to Conscience
In court afore hem alle,
And garte good feith flee,
And fals to abide;
And boldeliche bar a-doun,
With many a bright noble,
Muche of the wit and wisdom       14190
Of Westmynstre Halle.
He jogged to a justice,
And justed in his eere,
And over-tilte al his truthe
With "Tak this up amendement."

And to the Arches in haste
He yede anoon after,
And tornede cyvyle into symonye,
And siththe he took the official
For a mantel of menever,       14200
And made lele matrymoyne
Departen er deeth cam,
And devors shapte.

"Allas!" quod Conscience, and cryde tho,
"Wolde Crist of his grace
That coveitise were cristene!
That is so kene a fightere,
And boold and bidynge
While his bagge lasteth."

And thanne lough Lyf,       14210
And leet daggen hise clothes,
And armed hym an haste
With harlotes wordes;
And heeld holynesse a jape,
And hendenesse a wastour;
And leet leautee a cherl,
And lyere a fre man;
Conscience and his counseil
He counted at a flye
Thus relyede Lif,       14220
For a litel fortune;
And priketh forth with Pride,
Preiseth he no vertue,
Ne careth noght how Kynde slow,
And shal come at the laste,
And kille alle erthely creatures,
Save Conscience oone.
Lyf lepte aside,
And laughte hym a lemman;
"Heele and I," quod he,       14230
"And heighnesse of herte,
Shal do thee noght drede
Neither deeth ne elde,
And to forgyte sorwe,
And gyve noght of synne."

This likede Lif,
And his lemman Fortune;
And geten in hir glorie
A gadelyng at the laste,
Oon that muche wo wroghte,       14240
Sleuthe was his name.
Sleuthe wax wonder yerne,
And soone was of age,
And wedded oon Wanhope,
A wenche of the stuwes.
Hir sire was a sysour
That nevere swoor truthe,
Oon Tomme Two-tonge,
Atteynt at ech enqueste.

This Sleuthe was war of werre,       14250
And a slynge made,
And threw drede of dispair
A dozeyne myle aboute.

For care Conscience tho
Cryde upon Elde,
And bad hym fonde to fighte,
And a-fere Wanhope.

And Elde hente good hope,
And hastiliche he shifte hym,
And wayved awey Wanhope,       14260
And with Lif he fighteth.
And Lif fleigh for feere
To phisik after helpe,
And bi-soughte hym of socour,
And of his salve he hadde.
He gaf hym gold good woon,
That gladede his herte;
And thei gyven hym ageyn
A glazene howve.

Lyf leeved that lechecraft       14270
Lette sholde elde,
And dryven awey deeth
With dyas and drogges.

And Elde auntred hym on lyf,
And at the laste he hitte
A phisicien with a furred hood,
That he fel in a palsie,
And there dyed that doctour
Er thre dayes after.

"Now I se," seide Lif,       14280
"That surgerie ne phisik
May noght a myte availle
To mede ayein Elde."
And in hope of his heele
Good herte he hente,
And rood forth to a revel,
A ryche place and a murye;
The compaignye of confort
Men cleped it som tyme.

And Elde anoon after me       14290
And over myn heed yede;
And made me balled bifore,
And bare on the crowne.
So harde he yede over myn heed,
It wole be sene evere.

"Sire yvele y-taught, Elde!" quod I,
"Unhende go with the!
Sith whanne was the wey
Over mennes heddes?
Haddestow be hende," quod I,       14300
"Thow woldest have asked leeve."

"Ye, leve lurdeyn!" quod he;
And leyde on me with age,
And hitte me under the ere,
Unnethe myghte ich here.
He buffetted me so aboute the mouth,
That out my teeth he bette;
And gyved me in goutes,
I may noght goon at large.
And of the wo that I was inne       14310
My wif hadde ruthe,
And wisshed ful witterly
That I were in hevene;
For the lyme that she loved me fore,
And leef was to feele,—
On nyghtes, namely,
Whan we naked weere,—
I ne myghte in no manere
Maken it at hir wille;
So Elde and she, soothly,       14320
Hadden it for-beten.

And as I seet in this sorwe,
I saugh how Kynde passede;
And Deeth drogh neigh me.
For drede gan I quake,
And cryde to Kynde,
"Out of care me brynge!
Lo! Elde the hoore
Hath me bi-seye.
Awreke me! if youre wille be,       14330
For I wolde ben hennes."

"If thow wolt be wroken,
Wend into Unitee,
And hold thee there evere,
Til I sende for thee;
And loke thow konne som craft,
Er thow come thennes."

"Counseille me, Kynde," quod I,
"What craft is best to lerne."

"Lerne to love," quod Kynde,       14340
"And leef of alle othere."

"How shal I come to catel so,
To clothe me and to feede?"

"And thow love lelly," quod he,
"Lakke shal thee nevere
Mete ne worldly weede,
While thi lif lasteth."

And there by conseil of Kynde
I comsed to rome
Thorugh Contricion and Confession,       14350
Til I cam to Unitee.
And there was Conscience conestable
Cristene to save,
And bisegede soothly
With sevene grete geauntz
That with Antechrist helden
Harde ayein Conscience.

Sleuthe with his slynge
An hard assaut he made.
Proude preestes coome with hym       14360
Mo than a thousand,
In paltokes and pyked shoes,
And pisseris longe knyves,
Coomen ayein Conscience,
With Coveitise thei helden.

"By Marie!" quod a mansed preest
Of the Marche of Walys,
"I counte na-moore Conscience,
By so I cacche silver,
Than I do to drynke       14370
A draughte of good ale."
And so seiden sixty
Of the same contree;
And shotten ayein with shot
Many a sheef of othes,
And brode hoked arwes,
Goddes herte and hise nayles;
And hadden almoost Unitee,
And holynesse a-down.

Conscience cryede, "Helpe, Clergie!       14380
Or ellis I falle,
Thorugh inparfite preestes
And prelates of holy chirche."
Freres herden hym crye,
And comen hym to helpe;
Ac for thei kouthe noght wel hir craft,
Conscience forsook hem.

Nede neghede tho neer,
And Conscience he tolde
That thei come for coveitise       14390
To have cure of soules;
"And for thei are povere, peraventure,
For patrymoyne thei faille,
They wol flatere and fare wel
With folk that ben riche.
And sithen thei chosen chele
And cheitiftee poverte,
Lat hem chewe as thei chose,
And charge hem with no cure.
For lomere he lyeth,       14400
That liflode moot begge,
Than he that laboureth for liflode,
And leneth it beggeris.
And sithen freres forsoke
The felicité of erthe,
Lat hem be as beggeris,
Or lyve by aungeles foode."

Conscience of this counseil tho
Comsede for to laughe,
And curteisliche conforted hem,       14410
And called in alle freres,
And seide, "Sires, soothly
Welcome be ye alle
To Unitee and holy chirche;
Ac o thyng I yow preye,
Holdeth yow in Unitee,
And haveth noon envye
To lered ne to lewed,
But lyveth after youre reule,
And I wol be youre borugh       14420
Ye shal have breed and clothes
And othere necessaries y-nowe,
Yow shal no thyng faille,
With that ye leve logik,
And lerneth for to lovye.
For love lafte thei lordshipe,
Bothe lond and scole,
Frere Fraunceys and Domynyk,
For love to be holye.

"And if ye coveite cure,       14430
Kynde wol yow teche
That in mesure God made
Alle manere thynges,
And sette hem at a certein
And a siker nombre,
And nempnede names newe,
And noumbrede the sterres.
Qui numerat multitudinem stellarum,
et omnibus eis, etc.

"Kynges and knyghtes       14440
That kepen and defenden,
Han officers under hem,
And ech of hem a certein.
And if thei wage men to werre,
Thei write hem in noumbre;
Alle othere in bataille
Ben y-holde brybours,
Pylours and pyke-harneys,
In ech a place y-cursed,
Wol no man tresore hem paie,       14450
Travaille thei never so soore.

"Monkes and moniales,
And alle men of religion,
Hir ordre and hir reule wole
To han a certein noumbre,
Of lewed and of lered,
The lawe wole and asketh
A certein for a certein,
Save oonliche of freres.

"For thi," quod conscience, "by Crist!       14460
Kynde wit me telleth
It is wikked to wage yow,
Ye wexen out of noumbre;
Hevene hath evene noumbre,
And helle is withoute noumbre.
For-thi I wolde witterly
That ye were in the registre,
And youre noumbre under notaries signe,
And neither mo ne lasse."

Envye herde this,       14470
And heet freres to go to scole
And lerne logyk and lawe,
And ek contemplacion,
And preche men of Plato,
And preve it by Seneca,
That alle thynges under hevene
Oughte to ben in comune.

And yet he lyeth, as I leve,
That to the lewed so precheth;
For God made to men a lawe,       14480
And Moyses it taughte.
Non concupisces rem proximi tui.

And yvele in this y-holde
In parisshes of Engelonde;
For persons and parissh-preestes
That sholde the peple shryve,
Ben curatours called,
To knowe and to hele
Alle that ben hir parisshens,
Penaunce to enjoigne;       14490
And sholden be ashamed in his shrift;
Ac shame maketh hem wende
And fleen to the freres,
As fals folk to Westmynstre,
That borweth, and bereth it thider,
And thanne biddeth frendes
Yerne of forgifnesse,
Or lenger yeres loone.
Ac while he is in Westmynstre,
He wol be bifore,       14500
And maken hym murie
With oother mennes goodes.

And so it fareth with muche folk
That to the freres hem shryveth,
As sisours and executours,
Thei wol gyve the freres
A parcel to preye for hem,
And make hemself murye
With the residue and the remenaunt
That othere men bi-swonke,       14510
And suffre the dede in dette
To the day of doome.

Envye herfore
Hatede Conscience;
And freres to philosophie
He fond thanne to scole,
The while Coveitise and Unkyndenesse,
Conscience assaillede.
In Unitee holy chirche
Conscience held hym,       14520
And made Pees porter
To pynne the yates,
Of alle tale-telleris
And titeleris in ydel
Ypocrisie and he
An hard assaut thei made,
And woundede wel wikkedly
Many a wis techere
That with Conscience acordede
And cardynale vertues.       14530

Conscience called a leche,
That koude wel shryve,
To go salve tho that sike ben
And thorugh synne y-wounded
Shrift shoop sharpe salve,
And made men do penaunce
For hir mys-dedes
That thei wroght hadde,
And that Piers were y-payed:
Redde quod debes.       14540

Some liked noght this leche,
And lettres thei sente,
If any surgien were the segge
That softer koude plastre.
Sire Leef-to-lyve-in-lecherie
Lay there and gronede,
For fastynge of a Frydaye
He ferde as he wolde deye.

"Ther is a surgien in this sege
That softe kan handle,       14550
And moore of phisik bi fer
And fairer he plastreth,
Oon frere Flaterere,
Is phisicien and surgien."

Quod Contricion to Conscience,
"Do hym come to Unitee;
For here is many a man
Hurt thorugh Ypocrisye."

"We han no nede," quod Conscience,
"I woot no bettre leche       14560
Than person or parisshe-preest,
Penitauncer or bisshope,
Save Piers the Plowman,
That hath power over hem alle,
And indulgence may do,
But if dette lette it."

"I may wel suffre," seide Conscience,
"Syn ye desiren
That frere Flaterere be fet
And phisike yow sike."       14570

The frere herof herde
And hiede faste
To a lord for a lettre,
Leve to have to curen,
As a curatour he were;
And cam with hise lettres
Boldely to the bisshope,
And his brief hadde,
In contrees ther he coome
Confessions to here,       14580
And cam there Conscience was,
And knokked at the yate.

Pees unpynned it,
Was porter of Unitee,
And in haste askede
What his wille were.

"In faith!" quod this frere,
"For profit and for helthe
Carpe I wolde with Contricion,
And therfore cam I hider."       14590

"He is sik," seide Pees,
"And so are manye othere.
Ypocrisie hath hurt hem,
Ful hard is if thei kevere."

"I am a surgien," seide the segge,
"And salves kan make.
Conscience knoweth me wel,
And what I kan do bothe."

"I praye thee," quod Pees tho,
"Er thow passe ferther,       14600
What hattestow? I praye thee;
Hele noght thi name."

"Certes," seide his felawe,
"Sire Penetrans-domos."

"Ye, go thi gate," quod Pees,
"By God! for al thi phisik,
But thow konne som oother craft,
Thow comest nought herinne.
I knew swich oon ones,
Noght eighte wynter hennes,       14610
Coom in thus y-coped
At a court there I dwelde,
And was my lordes leche,
And my ladies bothe.
And at the laste this lymytour,
Tho my lord was oute,
He salvede so oure wommen
Til some were with childe."

Hende-speche heet Pees
Open the yates,       14620
"Lat in the frere and his felawe,
And make hem fair cheere;
He may se and here,
So it may bifalle
That lif thorugh his loore
Shal leve Coveitise,
And be a-drad of Deeth,
And withdrawe hym fram Pryde,
And acorde with Conscience,
And kisse hir either oother."       14630

Thus thorugh Hende-speche
Entred the frere,
And cam in to Conscience,
And curteisly hym grette.

"Thou art welcome," quod Conscience,
"Kanstow heele the sike?
Here is Contricion," quod Conscience,
"My cosyn, y-wounded.
Conforte hym," quod Conscience,
"And tak kepe to hise soores.       14640
The plastres of the person
And poudres biten to soore;
He lat hem ligge over longe,
And looth is to chaunge hem;
Fro lenten to lenten
He lat hise plastres bite."

"That is over longe," quod this lymytour,
"I leve I shal amende it."
And gooth and gropeth Contricion,
And gaf hym a plastre       14650
Of 'a pryvee paiement,
And I shal praye for yow
For al that ye ben holden to,
Al my lif tyme,
And make yow, my lady,
In masse and in matyns
As frere of oure fraternytee
For a litel silver.'

Thus he gooth and gadereth,
And gloseth there he shryveth,       14660
Til Contricion hadde clene foryeten
To crye and to wepe;
And wake for hise wikked werkes,
As he was wont to doone,
For confort of his confessour
Contricion he lafte,
That is the soverayneste salve
For alle kynne synnes.

Sleuthe seigh that,
And so dide Pryde,       14670
And comen with a kene wille
Conscience to assaille.

Conscience cryed eft,
And bad Clergie helpe hym,
And also Contricion,
For to kepe the yate.

"He lyth and dremeth," seide Pees,
"And so do manye othere,
The frere with his phisyk
This folk hath enchaunted,       14680
And plastred hem so esily,
Thei drede no synne."

"By Crist!" quod Conscience tho,
"I wole bicome a pilgrym,
And walken as wide
As the world lasteth,
To seken Piers the Plowman,
That Pryde may destruye;
And that freres hadde a fyndyng,
That for nede flateren,       14690
And countrepledeth me, Conscience.
Now Kynde me avenge,
And sende me hap and heele,
Til I have Piers the Plowman."
And siththe he gradde after Grace,
Til I gan awake.       14696

Explicit hic Dialogus Petri Plowman.

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