Piers Ploughman (Wright)/Passus 3

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Passus Tertius de Visione, ut supra.

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ow is Mede the mayde,       1356

And na-mo of hem alle,
With bedeles and with baillies
Brought bifore the kyng.

The kyng called a clerk,       1360
Kan I noght his name,
To take Mede the maide
And maken hire at ese.
"I shal assayen hire myself,
And soothliche appose,
What man of this moolde
That hire were levest.
And if she werche bi wit,
And my wil folwe,
I wol forgyven hire this gilt,       1370
So me God helpe!"

Curteisly the clerk thanne,
As the kyng highte,
Took Mede bi the myddel
And broghte hire into chambre;
And ther was murthe and mynstralcie,
Mede to plese.

They that wonyeth in Westmynstre[1]
Worshipeth hire alle,       1380
Gentilliche with joye;
The justices somme
Busked hem to the bour
Ther the burde dwellede,
To conforten hire kyndely,
By clergies leve;
And seiden, "Mourne noght, Mede,
Ne make thow no sorwe;
For we wol wisse the kyng,
And thi wey shape,       1390
To be wedded at thi wille,
And wher thee leef liketh,
For al Consciences cast
Or craft, as I trowe."

Mildely Mede thanne
Merciede hem alle
Of hire grete goodnesse,
And gaf hem echone
Coupes of clene gold,
And coppes of silver,       1400
Rynges with rubies,
And richesses manye;
The leeste man of hire meynee
A moton of golde.
Than laughte thei leve
Thise lordes at Mede.

With that comen clerkes
To conforten hire the same,
And beden hire be blithe;
"For we beth thyne owene,       1410
For to werche thi wille,
The while thow myght laste."

Hendiliche heo thanne
Bi-highte hem the same,
To loven hem lelly,
And lordes to make,
And in the consistorie at the court
Do callen hire names;
"Shal no lewednesse lette
The leode that I lovye,       1420
That he ne worth first avaunced;
For I am bi-knowen,
There konnynge clerkes
Shul clokke bi-hynde."

Thanne cam ther a confessour,
Coped as a frere;
To Mede the mayde
He meved thise wordes,
And seide ful softely,
In shrift as it were,       1430
"Theigh lewed men and lered men
Hadde leyen by thee bothe,
And Falsnesse hadde y-folwed thee
Alle thise fifty wynter,
I shal assoille thee myself
For a seem of whete,
And also be thi bedeman,
And bere wel thi message
Amonges knyghtes and clerkes,
Conscience to torne."       1440

Thanne Mede for hire mysdedes
To that man kneled,
And shrof hire of hire sherewednesse,
Shamelees, I trowe;
Tolde hym a tale,
And took hym a noble,
For to ben hire bedeman
And hire brocour als.

Thanne he assoiled hire soone,
And sithen he seide,       1450
"We have a wyndow in werchynge
Wole sitten us ful hye,
Woldestow glaze that gable
And grave therinne thy name,
Syker sholde thi soule be
Hevene to have."

"Wiste I that," quod that womman,
"I wolde noght spare
For to be youre frend, frere,
And faile yow nevere,       1460
While ye love lordes
That lecherie haunten,
And lakketh noght ladies
That loven wel the same.
It is freletee of flesshe,
Ye fynden it in bokes,
And a cours of kynde
Wherof we comen alle.
Who may scape sclaundre,
The scathe is soone amended;       1470
It is synne of the sevene
Sonnest relessed.

"Have mercy," quod Mede,
"Of men that it haunteth,
And I shal covere youre kirk,
Youre cloistre do maken,
Wowes do whiten,
And wyndowes glazen,
Do peynten and portraye,
And paie for the makynge,       1480
That every segge shal seye
I am suster of youre house."

Ac God to alle good folk
Swich gravynge defendeth,
To writen in wyndowes
Of hir wel dedes,
An aventure pride be peynted there,
And pomp of the world;
For Crist knoweth thi conscience,
And thi kynde wille,       1490
And thi cost and thi coveitise,
And who the catel oughte.

For-thi I lere yow, lordes,
Leveth swiche werkes;
To writen in wyndowes
Of youre wel dedes,
Or to greden after Goddes men
Whan ye dele doles,
On aventure ye have youre hire here,
And youre hevene als.       1500
Nesciat sinistra quid faciat dextra.

Lat noght thi left half
Late ne rathe
Wite what thow werchest
With thi right syde;
For thus by the gospel
Goode men doon hir almesse.

Maires and maceres,
That menes ben bitwene
The kyng and the comune       1510
To kepe the lawes,
To punysshe on pillories
And pynynge-stooles,
Brewesters and baksters,
Bochiers and cokes,
For thise are men on this molde
That moost harm wercheth
To the povere peple
That percel-mele buggen;
For thei enpoisone the peple       1520
Pryveliche and ofte,
Thei richen thorugh regratrie,
And rentes hem biggen,
With that the povere peple
Sholde putte in hire wombe.
For toke thei on trewely,
Thei tymbred nought so heighe,
Ne boughte none burgages,
Be ye ful certeyne.

Ac Mede the mayde       1530
The mair hath bi-sought
Of alle swiche selleris
Silver to take,
Or presentz withouten pens,
As pieces of silver,
Rynges or oother richesse,
The regratiers to mayntene;
"For my love," quod that lady,
"Love hem echone,
And suffre hem to selle       1540
Som del ayeins reson."

Salomon the sage
A sermon he made,
For to amenden maires
And men that kepen lawes;
And tolde hem this teme,
That I telle thynke,
Ignis devorabit tabernacula eorum
qui libenter accipiunt munera,
etc.       1550

Among thise lettrede leodes
This Latyn is to mene,
That fir shal falle and brenne
Al to bloo askes
The houses and homes
Of hem that desireth
Yiftes or yeres-yeves
By cause of hire offices.

The kyng fro the conseil cam,
And called after Mede,       1560
And of sente hire as swithe
With sergeauntz manye,
And broughte hire to boure
With blisse and with joye.

Curteisly the kyng thanne
Comsed to telle,
To Mede the mayde
He meveth thise wordes,
"Unwittily, womman,
Wroght hastow ofte,       1570
Ac worse wroghtestow nevere
Than tho thow Fals toke.
But I forgyve thee that gilt,
And graunte thee my grace;
Hennes to thi deeth day
Do so na-moore.

"I have a knyght Conscience,
Cam late fro biyonde;
If he wilneth thee to wif,
Wiltow hym have?"       1580

"Ye, lord," quod that lady,
"Lord forbede it ellis!
But I be holly at youre heste,
Lat hange me soone."

And thanne was Conscience called
To come and appere
Bifore the kyng and his conseil,
As clerkes and othere.

Knelynge Conscience
To the kyng louted,       1590
To wite what his wille were,
And what he do wolde.

"Woltow wedde this womman," quod the kyng,
"If I wole assente?
For she is fayn of thi felaweshipe,
For to be thi make."

Quod Conscience to the kyng,
"Crist it me forbede!
Er I wedde swich a wif,
Wo me bitide!       1600
For she is frele of hire feith,
Fikel of hire speche,
And maketh men mysdo
Many score tymes;
Trust of hire tresor
Bitrayeth ful manye.

"Wyves and widewes
Wantonnes she techeth,
And lereth hem lecherie
That loveth hire giftes.       1610
Youre fader she felled
Thorugh false biheste,
And hath enpoisoned popes,
And peired holy chirche.
Is noght a bettre baude,
By hym that me made!
Bitwene hevene and helle,
In erthe though men soughte.
For she is tikel of hire tail,
And tale-wis of hire tonge;       1620
As commune as a cartwey
To ech a knave that walketh,
To monkes, to mynstrales,
To meseles in hegges.

"Sisours and somonours,
Swiche men hire preiseth;
Sherreves of shires
Were shent if she ne were;
For she dooth men lese hire lond
And hire lif bothe;       1630
She leteth passe prisoners,
And paieth for hem ofte,
And gyveth the gailers gold
And grotes togidres,
To unfettre the fals
Fle where hym liketh;
And taketh the trewe bi the top
And tieth hem faste,
And hangeth hem for hatrede
That harm dide nevere.       1640

"To be corsed in consistorie
She counteth noght a bene;
For she copeth the commissarie,
And coteth hise clerkes.
She is assoiled as soone
As hireself liketh;
And may neigh as muche do
In a monthe one,
As youre secret seel
In sixe score dayes.       1650
For she is pryvee with the pope,
Provisours it knoweth;
For sire Symonie and hirselve
Seleth hire bulles.

"She blesseth thise bisshopes,
Theigh thei be lewed;
Provendreth persones,
And preestes maynteneth,
To have lemmans and lotebies
Alle hire lif daies,       1660
And bryngeth forth barnes
Ayein forbode lawes.
Ther she is wel with the kyng,
Wo is the reaume;
For she is favourable to fals,
And de-fouleth truthe ofte.

"By Jhesus! with hire jeweles
Youre justices she shendeth,
And lith ayein the lawe,
And letteth hym the gate,       1670
That feith may noght have his forth,
Hire floryns go so thikke.
She ledeth the lawe as hire list,
And love-daies maketh,
And doth men lese thorugh hire love,
That lawe myghte wynne
The maze for a mene man,
Though he mote hire evere.
Lawe is so lordlich
And looth to maken ende,       1680
Withouten presentz or pens
She pleseth wel fewe.

"Barons and burgeises
She bryngeth in sorwe,
And al the comune in care
That coveiten lyve in truthe;
For clergie and coveitise
She coupleth togidres.
This is the lif of that lady;
Now Lord gyve hire sorwe!       1690
And alle that maynteneth hire men,
Meschaunce hem bitide!
For povere men may have no power
To pleyne hem, though thei smerte.
Swich a maister is Mede
Among men of goode."

Thanne mournede Mede,
And mened hire to the kynge
To have space to speke,
Spede if she myghte.       1700

The kyng graunted hire grace,
With a good wille,
"Excuse thee, if thow kanst;
I kan na-moore seggen.
For Conscience accuseth thee,
To congeien thee for evere."

"Nay, lord," quod that lady,
"Leveth hym the werse,
Whan ye witen witterly
Wher the wrong liggeth.       1710
Ther that meschief is gret,
Mede may helpe.
And thow knowest, Conscience,
I kam noght to chide
Ne deprave thi persone,
With a proud herte.
Wel thow woost, wernarde,
But if thow wolt gabbe,
Thow hast hanged on myn half
Ellevene tymes,       1720
And also griped my gold,
Gyve it where thee liked;
And whi thow wrathest thee now,
Wonder me thynketh.
Yet I may as I myghte
Menske thee with giftes,
And mayntene thi manhode
Moore than thow knowest.

"Ac thow hast famed me foule
Bifore the kyng here;       1730
For killed I nevere no kyng
Ne counseiled therafter,
Ne dide as thow demest
I do it on the kynge.

"In Normandie was he noght
Noyed for my sake;
Ac thow thiself soothly
Shamedest hym ofte,
Crope into a cabane
For cold of thi nayles,       1740
Wendest that wynter
Wolde han y-lasted evere,
And dreddest to be ded
For a dym cloude,
And hyedest homward
For hunger of thi wombe.

"Withouten pité, pilour,
Povere men thow robbedest;
And bere hire bras at thi bak
To Caleis to selle,       1750
Ther I lafte with my lord,
His lif for to save.
I made his men murye,
And mournynge lette;
I batred hem on the bak,
And boldede hire hertes,
And dide hem hoppe for hope
To have me at wille.
Hadde I ben marchal of his men,
By Marie of hevene!       1760
I dorste have leyd my lif,
And no lasse wedde,
He sholde have be lord of that lond
In lengthe and in brede,
And also kyng of that kith
His kyn for to helpe,
The leeste brol of his blood
A barones piere.

"Cowardly thow, Conscience,
Conseiledest hym thennes,       1770
To leven his lordshipe
For a litel silver,
That is the richeste reaume
That reyn over-hoveth.

"It bi-cometh to a kyng
That kepeth a reaume,
To yeve mede to men,
That mekely hym serveth,
To aliens and to alle men,
To honouren hem with giftes;       1780
Mede maketh hym bi-loved
And for a man holden.

"Emperours and erles,
And alle manere lordes,
For giftes han yonge men
To renne and to ryde.

"The pope and alle the prelates
Presentz underfongen,
And medeth men hemselven
To mayntene hir lawes.       1790

"Sergeauntz for hire servyce,
We seeth wel the sothe,
Taken mede of hir maistres,
As thei mowe acorde.

"Beggeres for hir biddynge,
Bidden men mede.

"Mynstrales for hir myrthe,
Mede thei aske.

"The kyng hath mede of his men,
To make pees in londe.       1800

"Men that teche children,
Craven after mede.

"Preestes that prechen the peple
To goode, asken mede,
And massepens and hire mete
At the meel-tymes.

"Alle kynne craftes men
Craven mede for hir prentices.

"Marchauntz and Mede
Mote nede go togideres.       1810
No wight, as I wene,
Withouten mede may libbe."

Quod the kyng to Conscience,
"By Crist! as me thynketh,
Mede is well worthi
The maistrie to have."

"Nay," quod Conscience to the kyng,
And kneled to the erthe,
"Ther are two manere of medes,
My lord, with youre leve.       1820

"That oon God of his grace
Graunteth in his blisse
To tho that wel werchen,
While thei ben here;
The prophete precheth therof,
And putte it in the Sauter,
Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo?[1]

"Lord, who shal wonye in thi wones,
And with thyne holy seintes,       1830
Or resten in thyne holy hilles?
This asketh David;
And David assoileth it hymself,
As the Sauter telleth.
Qui ingreditur sine macula et operatur justitiam.[1]

"Tho that entren of o colour,
And of one wille,
And han y-wroght werkes
With right and with reson;       1840
And he that useth noght
The lyf of usurie,
And enformeth povere men,
And pursueth truthe.
Qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad
usuram, et munera super innoc. etc.[1]

"And alle that helpen the innocent,
And holden with the rightfulle,
Withouten mede doth hem good,       1850
And the truthe helpeth,
Swiche manere men, my lord,
Shul have this firste mede
Of God at a gret nede,
Whan thei gon hennes.

"Ther is another mede mesurelees,
That maistres desireth,
To mayntene mysdoers
Mede thei take,
And therof seith the Sauter       1860
In a salmes ende,
In quorum manibus iniquitates
sunt, dextra eorum repleta est

"And he that gripeth hir gold,
So me God helpe!
Shal abien it bittre,
Or the book lieth.

"Preestes and persons
That plesynge desireth,       1870
That taken mede and moneie
For masses that thei syngeth,
Taken hire mede here,
As Mathew us techeth.
Amen, Amen, recipiebant mercede suam.[1]

"That laborers and lowe folk
Taken of hire maistres,
It is no manere mede,
But a mesurable hire.       1880

"In marchaundise is no mede,
I may it wel avowe,
It is a permutacion apertly,
A penyworth for another.

"Ac reddestow nevere Regum?
Thow recrayed Mede,
Whi the vengeaunce fel
On Saul and on his children?
God sente to Saul
By Samuel the prophete,       1890
That Agag of Amalec,
And al his peple after,
Sholden deye for a dede
That doon hadde hire eldres.

"For-thi seide Samuel to Saul,
'God hymself hoteth
Thee be buxom at his biddynge,
His wil to fulfille;
Weend to Amalec with thyn oost,
And what thow fyndest there sle it,       1900
Burnes and beestes
Bren hem to dethe,
Widwes and wyves,
Wommen and children,
Moebles and un-moebles,
And al thow myght fynde,
Bren it, bere it noght awey,
Be it never so riche,
For mede ne for monee,
Loke thow destruye it,       1910
Spille it and spare it noght,
Thow shalt spede the bettre.'

"And for he coveited hir catel,
And the kyng spared,
Forbar hym and his beestes bothe,
As the Bible witnesseth,
Oother wise than he was
Warned of the prophete,
God seide to Samuel
That Saul sholde deye,       1920
And al his seed for that synne
Shenfulliche ende.
Swich a meschief Mede made
Saul the kyng to have,
That God hated hym for evere,
And alle hise heires after.

"The culorum of this cas
Kepe I noght to telle,
On aventure it noyed men,
Noon ende wol I make,       1930
For so is this world went
With hem that han power,
That who so seith hem sothest
Is sonnest y-blamed.

"Conscience knowe this,
For kynde wit it me taughte,
That Reson shal regne
And reaumes governe,
And right as Agag hadde,
Happe shul somme,       1940
Samuel shal sleen hym,
And Saul shal be blamed,
And David shal be diademed,
And daunten hem alle;
And oon cristene kyng
Kepen hem alle.
Shal na-moore Mede
Be maister, as she is nouthe;
Ac love and lowenesse
And leautee togideres,       1950
Thise shul ben maistres on moolde,
Truthe to save.

"And who so trespaseth ayein truthe,
Or taketh ayein his wille,
Leauté shal don hym lawe,
And no lif ellis;
Shall no sergeaunt for his service
Were a silk howve,
Ne no pelure in his cloke
For pledynge at the barre.       1960
Mede of mysdoeres
Maketh manye lordes,
And over lordes lawes
Ruleth the reaumes.

"Ac kynde love shal come yit,
And conscience togideres,
And make of lawe a laborer;
Swich love shal arise,
And swich a pees among the peple,
And a perfit truthe,       1970
That Jewes shul wene in hire wit,
And wexen wonder glade,
That Moyses or Messie
Be come into this erthe,
And have wonder in hire hertes
That men beth so trewe.

"Alle that beren baselarde,
Brood swerd or launce,
Ax outher hachet,
Or any wepene ellis,       1980
Shal be demed to the deeth,
But if he do it smythye
Into sikel or to sithe,
To shaar or to kultour;
Conflabunt gladios suos in vomeres, etc.[1]

"Ech man to pleye with a plow,
Pykoise or spade,
Spynne or sprede donge,
Or spille hymself with sleuthe.       1990

"Preestes and persons
With Placebo to hunte,
And dyngen upon David
Eche day til eve.
Huntynge or haukynge
If any of hem use,
His boost of his benefice
Worth by-nomen hym after.
Shal neither kyng ne knyght,
Constable ne meire,       2000
Overlede the commune,
Ne to the court sompne,
Ne putte hem in panel
To doon hem plighte hir truthe;
But after the dede that is doon
Oon doom shal rewarde,
Mercy or no mercy,
As truthe wole acorde.

"Kynges court and commune court,
Consistorie and chapitle,       2010
Al shal be but oon court,
And oon baron be justice.
Thanne worth Trewe-tonge a tidy man
That tened me nevere;
Batailles shul none be,
Ne no man bere wepene;
And what smyth that any smytheth,
Be smyte therwith to dethe.
Non levabit gens contra gentem
gladium, etc.       2020

"And er this fortune falle,
Fynde men shul the worste,
By sixe sonnes and a shipe,
And half a shef of arwes,
And the myddel of a moone,
Shal make the Jewes to torne,
And Sarzynes for that sighte
Shul synge Gloria in excelsis, etc.
For Makometh and Mede
Mys-happe shul that tyme,       2030
For melius est bonum nomen quam divitiæ multæ."[1]

Al so wroth as the wynd
Weex Mede in a while,
"I kan no Latyn," quod she,
"Clerkes wite the sothe;
Se what Salomon seith
In Sapience bokes,
That thei that gyven giftes
The victorie wynneth,       2040
And moost worshipe hadde therwith
As holy writ telleth:
Honorem adquiret qui dat munera, etc.[1]

"Leve wel, lady," quod Conscience,
"That thi Latyn be trewe;
Ac thow art lik a lady
That radde a lesson ones,
Was omnia probate,
And that plesed hire herte;       2050
For that lyne was no lenger
At the leves ende.
Hadde she loked that oother half,
And the leef torned,
She sholde have founden fele wordes
Folwynge therafter,
Quod bonum est tenete;
Truthe that text made.
And so ferde ye, madame,
Ye kouthe na-moore fynde,       2060
Tho ye loked on Sapience
Sittynge in youre studie.
This text that ye han told
Were good for lordes;
Ac yow fayled a konnynge clerk
That kouthe the leef han torned.
And if ye seche Sapience eft,
Fynde shul ye that folweth,
A ful teneful text
To hem that taketh mede;       2070
And that is animam autem aufert accipientium, etc.,[1]
And that is the tail of the text;
Of that that she shewed,
That theigh we wynne worshipe,
And with mede have victorie,
The soule that the sonde taketh
By so muche is bounde."       2078

Piers Ploughman Decoration 11.png

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 In Wright's edition each of these lines was printed and counted as two lines