Piers Ploughman (Wright)/Passus 5

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Passus Quintus de Visione, ut supra.

Piers Ploughman Initial T.png
he kyng and hise knyghtes       2473


To the kirke wente,
To here matyns of the day
And the masse after.
Thanne waked I of my wynkyng,
And wo was withalle,
That I ne hadde slept sadder,
And y-seighen moore.       2480
Ac er I hadde faren a furlong,
Feyntise me hente,
That I ne myghte ferther a foot
For defaute of slepynge,
And sat softely a-doun,
And seide my bileve,
And so I bablede on my bedes,
Thei broughte me a-slepe.
And thanne saugh I muche moore
Than I bifore of tolde,       2490
For I seigh the feld ful of folk,
That I bifore 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       2500
Was pertliche for pure pride,
And for no point ellis;
Pyries and plum-trees
Were puffed to the erthe,
In ensaumple that the segges
Sholden do the bettre;
Beches and brode okes
Were blowen to the grounde,
Turned upward hire tailes,
In tokenynge of drede       2510
That dedly synne er domes-day
Shal for-doon 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
Reson bigan to preche.

He bad Wastour go werche,
What he best kouthe,       2520
And wynnen his wastyng
With som maner crafte.

He preide Pernele
Hir purfil to lete,
And kepe it in hire cofre
For catel at hire nede.

Tomme Stowne he taughte
To take two staves,
And fecche Felice hom
Fro the wynen pyne.       2530
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 chastizen hir children,       2540
Late no wynnyng hem for-wanye
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 Salomon seide the same,
That Sapience made,       2550
Qui parcit virgæ, odit filium.
The Englissh of this Latyn is,
Who so wole it knowe
Who so spareth the spring,
Spilleth hise children."

And sithen he prechede prelates
And preestes togideres,
"That ye prechen to the peple,
Preve it on yowselve,
And dooth it in dede,       2560
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 stywardes of youre stedes,
Til ye be ruled bettre."

And sithen he counseiled the kyng       2570
His commune to lovye;
"It is thi trewe tresor,
And tryacle at thy nede."

And sithen he preide the pope
Have pité 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,       2580
If ye wol God plese;
For who so contrarieth Truthe,
He telleth in the gospel,
That God knoweth hym noght,
Ne no seynt of hevene.
Amen dico vobis, nescio vos.

"And ye that seke seynt James,
And seyntes of Rome,
Seketh seynt Truthe,
For he may save yow alle;       2590
Qui cum patre et filio,
That faire hem bi-falle
That seweth my sermon."
And thus seyde Reson.

Thanne ran Repentaunce,
And reherced his teme:
And garte Wille to wepe
Water with hise eighen.

Pernele Proud-herte
Platte hire to the erthe,       2600
And lay longe er she loked,
And "Lord, mercy!" cryde,
And bi-highte to hym
That us alle made,
She sholde unsowen hir serk,
And sette there an heyre,
To affaiten hire flesshe
That fiers was to synne.
"Shal nevere heigh herte me hente,
But holde I wole me lowe       2610
And suffre to be mys-seyd,
And so dide I nevere;
And now I wole meke me,
And mercy biseche,
For al this I have
Hated in myn herte."

Thanne Lechour seide, "Allas!"
And on oure Lady he cryde,
To maken mercy for hise mys-dedes
Bitwene God and his soule;       2620
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;       2630
And clothed in a kaurymaury,
I kouthe it nought discryve,
In kirtel and courtepy,
And a knyf by his syde;
Of a freres frokke
Were the fore-sleves;
And as a leek that hadde y-leye
Longe in the sonne,
So loked he with lene chekes
Lourynge foule.       2640

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 warpe
Was of a neddres tonge;
Of chidynge and of chalangynge
Was his chief liflode,       2650
With bakbitynge and bismere,
And berynge of fals witnesse.

"I wolde ben y-shryve," quod this sherewe,
"And I for shame dorste;
I wolde be gladder, by God!
That Gybbe hadde meschaunce,
Than though I hadde this wouke y-wonne
A weye of Essex chese.

"I have a neghebore by me,
I have anoyed hym ofte,       2660
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 manye and manye
I make debate ofte,
That bothe lif and lyme
Is lost thorugh my speche.       2670
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,       2680
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 gyve hem sorwe,
That beren awey my bolle
And my broke shete.

"Awey fro the auter thanne
Turne I myne eighen,       2690
And bi-holde Eleyne
Hath a newe cote;
I wisshe thanne it were myn,
And al the web after.

"And of mennes lesynge I laughe,
That liketh myn herte;
And for hir wynnynge I wepe,
And waille the tyme;
And deme that thei doon ille,
There I do wel werse.       2700
Who so under-nymeth me hero
I hate hym dedly after;
I wolde that ech a wight
Were my knave,
For who so hath moore than I,
Than angreth me soore.
And thus I lyve love-lees,
Lik a luther dogge;
That al my body bolneth,
For bitter of my galle.       2710

"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 who so shrape my mawe?"       2720

"Yis redily," quod Repentaunce,
And radde hym to the beste,
"Sorwe of synnes
Is savacion of soules."

"I am sory," quod that segge,
"I am but selde oother,
And that maketh me thus megre,
For I ne may me venge.

"Amonges burgeises have I be
Dwellyng at Londone,       2730
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;       2740
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,       2750
And sithen thei blosmede a-brood
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 perceyved
That freres parte with hem,
Thise possessioners preche
And deprave freres.       2760

"And freres fyndeth hem in defaute,
As folk bereth witnesse,
That whan thei preche the peple
In many places aboute,
I Wrathe walke with hem,
And wisse hem of my bokes.
Thus thei speken of my spiritualté,
That either despiseth oother,
Til thei be bothe beggers
And by my spiritualté libben,       2770
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 bothe;
Hir hadde levere swowe or swelte,
Than suffre any peyne,       2780

"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 othere 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;       2790
And dame Pernele a preestes fyle,
Prioresse worth she nevere,
For she hadde child in chirie-tyme,
Al our chapitre it wiste.

"Of wikkede wordes
I Wrathe hire wortes made,
Til 'thow lixt' and 'thow lixt'
Lopen out at ones,
And either hite oother
Under the cheke;       2800
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 ordeyned;
They hadde thanne ben infames the firste day,
Thei kan so yvele hele conseil.

"Among monkes I myghte be,
Ac many tyme I shonye it;       2810
For there ben manye felle frekes
My feeris to aspie,
Bothe priour and suppriour
And oure pater abbas;
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 chapitre hous
As I a child were,       2820
And baleised on the bare ers,
And no brech bitwene.
For-thi have I no likyng
With tho leodes to wonye.
I ete there unthende fisshe,
And feble ale drynke;
Ac outher while whan wyn cometh,
Thanne I drynke wyn at eve,
And have a flux of a foul mouth
Wel fyve dayes after.       2830
Al the wikkednesse that I woot
By any of oure bretheren,
I couthe 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 right;
And drynk nat over delicatly,
Ne to depe neither,       2840
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,
Kan I hym naght discryve,
So hungrily and holwe
Sire Hervy hym loked.       2850
He was bitel-browed,
And baber-lipped also,
With two blered eighen
As a blynd hagge;
And as a letheren purs
Lolled hise chekes,
Wel sidder than his chyn
Thei chyveled for elde;
And as a bonde-man of his bacon
His berd was bi-draveled,       2860
With an hood on his heed,
A lousy hat above,
And in a tawny tabard
Of twelf wynter age,
Al so torn and baudy,
And ful of lys crepyng,
But if that a lous couthe
Han lopen the bettre,
She sholde noght han walked on that welthe,
So was it thred-bare.       2870

"I have ben coveitous," quod this caytif,
"I bi-knowe it here,
For som tyme I served
Symme-atte-Style,
And was his prentice y-plight
His profit to wayte.

"First I lerned to lye,
A leef outher tweyne;
Wikkedly to weye
Was my firste lesson;       2880
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 y-go
Amonges my chaffare,
It hadde ben unsold this seven yer,
So me God helpe!

"Thanne drough I me among drapiers,
My donet to lerne,       2890
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 presse,
And pyne hem therinne,
Til ten yerdes or twelve
Hadde tolled out thrittene.       2900

"My wif was a webbe,
And wollen cloth made;
She spak to spynnesteres
To spynnen it oute,
Ac the pound that she paied by
Peised a quatron moore
Than myn owene auncer,
Who so weyed truthe.

"I boughte hire barly-malt,
She brew it to selle,       2910
Peny ale and puddyng ale
She poured togideres,
For laborers and for lowe folk
That lay by hymselve.

"The beste ale lay in my bour,
Or in my bed-chambre;
And who so bummed therof,
Boughte it therafter,
A galon for a grote,
God woot, no lesse!       2920
And yet it cam in cuppe-mele,
This craft my wif used.
Rose the Regrater
Was hire righte name;
She hath holden hukkerye
Al hire lif tyme.
Ac I swere now, so thee ik!
That synne wol I lete,
And nevere wikkedly weye,
Ne wikke chaffare use;       2930
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 y-herberwed," quod he,
"With an heep of chapmen,
I roos whan thei were a-reste
And riflede hire males."       2940

"That was no restitucion," quod Repentaunce,
"But a robberis thefte;
Thow haddest be the 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 boke;
And I kan no Frensshe, in feith,
But of the fertheste ende of Northfolk."       2950

"Usedestow evere usurie?" quod Repentaunce,
"In al thi lif tyme."

"Nay sothly," he seide,
"Save in my youthe
I lerned among Lumbardes
And Jewes a lesson,
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.       2960
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,       2970
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 tolde hem there lasse."

"Lentestow evere lordes,
For love of hire mayntenaunce?"

"Ye, I have lent to lordes,
Loved me nevere after,       2980
And have y-maad many a knyght
Bothe mercer and draper,
That payed nevere for his prentishode
Noght a peire gloves."

"Hastow pité on povere men,
That mote nedes borwe?"

"I have as muche pité of povere men,
As pedlere hath of cattes,
That wolde kille hem, if he cacche hem myghte,
For coveitise of hir skynnes."       2990

"Artow manlich among thi neghebores
Of thi mete and drynke?"

"I am holden," quod he, "as hende
As hound is in kichene,
Amonges my neghebores, namely,
Swiche a name ich have."

"Now God lene thee nevere," quod Repentaunce,
"But thow repente the rather,
The grace on this grounde
Thi good wel to bi-sette,       3000
Ne thyne heires after thee
Have joie of that thow wynnest,
Ne thyne executours wel bi-sette
The silver that thow hem levest;
And that was wonne with wrong
With wikked men be despended.
For were I frere of that hous
Ther good feith and charité is,
I nolde cope us with thi catel,
Ne oure kirk amende,       3010
Ne have a peny to my pitaunce,
So God my soule save!
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 alterius,
Dum fercula pinguia quæris;
Pane tuo potius
Vescere, liber eris.       3020

"Thow art an unkynde creature,
I kan thee noght assoille,
Til thow make restitucion
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 assoile.
Non dimittitur peccatum, donec restituatur
oblatum.       3030

"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, etc.
Shal nevere werkman in this world       3040
Thryve with that thow wynnest.
Cum sancto sanctus eris;
Construwe me this on Englisshe."

Thanne weex that sherewe in wanhope,
And wolde han hanged hym;
Ne hadde Repentaunce the rather
Reconforted hym in this manere.

"Have mercy in thi mynde,
And with thi mouth biseche it;
For Goddes mercy is moore       3050
Than alle hise othere werkes.
And al the wikkednesse in this world
That man myghte werche or thynke,
Nis na-moore to the mercy of God,
Than in the see a gleede.
Omnis iniquitas quantum ad misericordiam
Dei, est quasi scintilla
in medio maris.

"For-thi have mercy in thy mynde,
And marchaundise leve it;       3060
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 whiche,
Ne whom to restitue,       3070
Ber it to the bisshope,
And bid hym of his grace
Bi-sette 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,       3080
And what he lente yow of oure Lordes good
To lette yow fro synne."

Now bi-gynneth Gloton
For to go to shrifte,
And karieth hym to kirke-warde
His coupe to shewe;
And Beton the brewestere
Bad hym good morwe,
And asked at hym with that,
Whider-ward he wolde.       3090

"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 ought in thi purs?" quod he,
"Any hote spices?"

"I have pepir and piones," quod she,
"And a pound of garleek,       3100
And a ferthyng-worth of fenel-seed
For fastynge dayes."

Thanne goth Glotin 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 prentices;       3110
Hikke the hakeney-man,
And Hughe the nedlere;
Clarice of Cokkeslane,
And the clerk of the chirche;
Dawe the dykere,
And a dozeyne othere.

Sire Piers of Pridie,
And Pernele of Flaundres;
A ribibour, a ratoner,
A rakiere of Chepe,       3120
A ropere, a redyng-kyng,
And Rose the dyssheres;
Godefray of Garlekhithe,
And Griffyn the Walshe;
And upholderes an heep,
Erly by the morwe,
Geve Gloton with glad chere
Good ale to hanselle.

Clement the Cobelere
Caste of his cloke,       3130
And at the newe feire
He nempned it to selle,

Hikke the hakeney-man
Hitte his hood after,
And bad Bette the bocher
Ben on his syde.

Ther were chapmen y-chose
This chaffare to preise,
That who so hadde the hood
Sholde han amendes of the cloke.       3140

Two risen up in rape,
And rouned togideres,
And preised thise peny-worthes
A-part by hemselve;
Thei kouthe noght by hir conscience
Acorden in truthe,
Til Robyn the ropere
Aroos by the southe,
And nempned hym for a nounpere,
That no debat nere.       3150

Hikke the hostiler
Hadde the cloke,
In covenaunt that Clement
Sholde the cuppe fille,
And have Hikkes hood hostiler,
And holden hym y-served.
And who so repented rathest
Sholde aryse after,
And greten sire Gloton
With a galon ale.       3160

There was laughynge and lourynge,
And "lat go the cuppe;"
And seten so till even-song,
And songen umwhile,
Til Gloton hadde y-glubbed
A galon and a gille.
Hise guttes bigonne to gothelen
As two gredy sowes;
He pissed a potel
In a pater-noster while,       3170
And blew his rounde ruwet
At his rugge-bones ende,
That alle that herde that horn
Held hir noses after,
And wisshed it hadde been 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 gle-mannes bicche,       3180
Som tyme aside,
And som tyme arere,
As who so leith lynes
For to lacche foweles.

And whan he drough to the dore,
Thanne dymmed his eighen;
He stumbled on the thresshfold,
And threw to the erthe.
Clement the cobelere
Kaughte hym by the myddel,       3190
For to liften hym o-lofte;
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 Hertford shire
Dorste lape of that levynges,
So un-lovely thei smaughte.       3200

With al the wo of this world,
His wif and his wenche
Baren hym hom to his bed,
And broughte hym therinne;
And after al this excesse
He hadde an accidie,
That he sleep Saterday and Sonday,
Til sonne yede to reste.

Thanne waked he of his wynkyng,
And wiped hise eighen;       3210
The firste word that he warpe
Was "where is the bolle?"
His wif gan edwyte hym tho,
How wikkedly he lyvede;
And Repentaunce right so
Rebuked hym that tyme,
"As thow with wordes and werkes
Has wroght yvele in thi lyve,
Shryve thee, and be shamed therof,
And shewe it with thi mouthe."       3220

"I Gloton," quod the grom,
"Gilty me yelde,
That I have trespased with my tonge,
I kan noght telle how ofte;
Sworen Goddes soule,
And so me God helpe!
There no nede was,
Nyne hundred tymes.

"And over-seyen me at my soper,
And som tyme at nones,       3230
That I Gloton girte it up
Er I hadde gon a myle,
An y-spilt that myghte be spared
And spended on som hungry;
Over delicatly on fastyng-dayes
Dronken and eten bothe,
And sat som tyme so longe there,
That I sleep and eet at ones.
For love of tales in tavernes
And for drynke, the moore I dyned;       3240
And hyed to the mete er noon,
Whan fastyng-days were."

"This shewynge shrift," quod Repentaunce,
"Shal be meryt to the."

And thanne gan Gloton greete,
And gret doel to make,
For his luther lif
That he lyved hadde;
And avowed to faste,
"For hunger or for thurste,       3250
Shal nevere fyssh on Fryday
Defyen in my wombe,
Til abstinence myn aunte
Have gyve me leeve;
And yet have I hated hire
Al my lif tyme."

Thanne cam Sleuthe al bi-slabered,
With two slymy eighen;
"I moste sitte," seide the segge,
"Or ellis sholde I nappe.       3260
I may noght stonde ne stoupe,
Ne withoute a stool knele;
Were I brought a-bedde,
But if my tail-ende it made,
Sholde no ryngynge do me ryse
Er I were ripe to dyne."
He bigan Benedicite with a bolk,
And his brest knokked,
And raxed and rored,
And rutte at the laste.       3270

"What, awake, renk!" quod Repentaunce,
"And rape thee to shryfte."

"If I sholde deye bi this day,
Me list nought to loke;
I kan noght parfitly my pater-noster,
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.       3280

"I have maad avowes fourty,
And foryete hem on the morwe;
I perfournede nevere penaunce
As the preest me highte;
Ne right sory for my synnes
Yet 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.       3290
I am ocupied eche day,
Haly-day and oother,
With ydel tales at the ale,
And outher while at chirche;
Goddes peyne and his passion
Ful 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,       3300
Or lesynge to laughen at
And bi-lye my neghebores,
Than al that evere Marc made,
Mathew, Johan, and Lucas.
And vigilies and fastyng-dayes,
Alle thise late I passe;
And ligge a-bedde in Lenten,
And my lemman in myne armes,
Til matyns and masse be do,
And thanne go to the freres.       3310
Come I to Ite, missa est,
I holde me y-served;
I nam noght shryven som tyme,
But if siknesse it make,
Nought twyes in two yer,
And thanne up gesse I shryve me.

"I have be preest and parson
Passynge thritty wynter,
And yet can I neyther solne ne synge,
Ne seintes lyves rede;       3320
But I kan fynden in a feld,
Or in a furlang, an hare,
Bettre than in Beatus vir,
Or in Beati omnes,
Construe oon clause wel
And kenne it to my parisshens.
I kan holde love-dayes,
And here a reves rekenyng;
Ac in canon nor in decretals
I kan noght rede a lyne.       3330

"If I bigge and borwe aught,
But if it be y-tailed,
I foryete it as yerne;
And if men me it axe
Sixe sithes or sevene,
I forsake it with othes;
And thus tene I trewe men
Ten hundred tymes.

"And my servauntz som tyme
Hir salarie is bi-hynde;       3340
Ruthe it is to here the rekenyng,
Whan we shul rede acountes.
So with wikked wil and wrathe,
My werkmen I paye.

"If any man dooth me a bienfait,
Or helpeth me at nede,
I am unkynde ayeins curteisie,
And kan nought understounden it;
For I have and have had
Som del haukes maneres,       3350
I am noght lured with love,
But ther ligge aught under the thombe.

"The kyndenesse that myn even cristene
Kidde me fernyere,
Sixty sithes I Sleuthe
Have foryete it siththe.
In speche and in sparynge of speche
Y-spilt many a tyme
Bothe flessh and fissh,
And manye othere vitailles,       3360
Both bred and ale,
Buttre, melk, and chese,
For-sleuthed in my service
Til it myghte serve no man.

"I ran aboute in youthe,
And yaf me naught to lerne,
And evere siththe have I be beggere
For my foule sleuthe.
Heu michi! quia sterilem vitam duxi
juvenilem."       3370

"Repentedestow 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 bi-traye,
'I am sory for my synnes'
Seye to thiselve,       3380
And beet thiself on the brest,
And bidde hym of grace;
For is ne gilt here so gret
That his goodnesse nys moore."

Thanne sat Sleuthe up,
And seyned hym swithe,
And made a vow to-fore God
For his foule sleuthe.
"Shal no Sonday be this seven yer,
But siknesse it lette,       3390
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 even-song herd,
I bi-hote to the roode!
And yet wole I yelde ayein,
If I so much have,       3400
Al that I wikkedly wan
Sithen I wit hadde.

"And though my liflode lakke,
Leten I nelle,
That ech man ne 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."       3410

Roberd the robbere
On Reddite loked,
And for ther was noght wherof,
He wepte swithe soore;
Ac yet the synfulle sherewe
Seide to hymselve,
"Crist, that on Calvarie
Upon the cros deidest,
Tho Dysmas my brother
Bi-soughte yow of grace,       3420
And haddest mercy on that man
For memento sake,
So rewe on this robbere
That reddere ne have,
Ne nevere wene to wynne
With craft that I owe;
But for thi muchel mercy
Mitigacion I bi-seche,
Ne dampne me noght at domes-day
For that I dide so ille."       3430

What bi-fel of this feloun
I kan noght faire shewe;
Wel I woot he wepte faste
Water with bothe hise eighen,
And knoweliched his gilt
To Crist yet eft soones,
That Pœnetentia his pik
He sholde polshe newe,
And lepe with hym over lond
Al his lif tyme,       3440
For he hadde leyen by Latro
Luciferis aunte.

And thanne hadde Repentaunce ruthe,
And redde hem alle to knele;
"For I shal bi-seche for alle synfulle
Our Saveour of grace,
To amenden us of oure mysdedes,
And do mercy to us alle."

"Now God," quod he, "that of thi goodnesse
Bi-gonne the world to make,       3450
And of naught madest aught, and man
Moost lik to thiselve,
And sithen suffredest for to synne,
A siknesse to us alle,
And al for the beste, as I bi-leve,
What evere the book telleth.
O felix culpa! O necessarium peccatum Adæ! etc.[1]

"For thorugh that synne thi sone
Sent was to this erthe,       3460
And bicam man of a maide,
Mankynde to save:
And madest thiself with thi sone
And us synfulle y-liche
Faciamus hominem ad imaginem
nostram. Et alibi. Qui manet
in caritate, in Deo manet, et
Deus in eo.

"And siththe with thi selve sone
In oure secte deidest,       3470
On Good-Fryday, for mannes sake,
At ful tyme of the daye,
Ther thiself ne thi sone
No sorwe in deeth feledest,
But in oure secte was the sorwe,
And thi sone it ladde.
Captivam duxit captivitatem.

"The sonne for sorwe therof
Lees light of a tyme,
Aboute mydday whan moost light is,       3480
And meel-tyme of seintes,
Feddest with thi fresshe blood
Oure fore-fadres in derknesse.
Populus qui ambulabat in tenebris,
vidit lucem magnam.

"And thorugh the light that lepe out of thee
Lucifer was blent.
And blewe alle thi blessed
Into the blisse of paradys.

"The thridde day after       3490
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 justos sed peccatores
ad pœnitentiam.

"And al that Marc hath y-maad,
Mathew, Johan, and Lucas,
Of thyne doughty dedes       3500
Was doon in oure armes.
Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.[1]

"And by so muche me semeth
The sikerer we mowe
Bidde and bi-seche,
If it be thi wille,
That art oure fader and oure brother,
Be merciable to us,
And have ruthe on thise ribaudes       3510
That repenten hem here soore,
That evere thei wrathed thee in this world,
In word, thought, or dedes."

Thanne hent Hope an horn
Of Deus, tu conversus vivificabis,
And blew it with Beati quorum
Remissæ sunt iniquitates,
That alle seintes in hevene
Songen at ones.
Homines et jumenta salvabis, quemadmodum       3520
multiplicasti misericordiam tuam.[1]

A thousand of men tho
Thrungen togideres,
Cride upward to Crist,
And to his clene moder,
To have grace to go with hem
Truthe to seke.

Ac there was wight noon so wys
The wey thider kouthe,       3530
But blustreden forth as beestes
Over bankes and hilles;
Til late was and longe
That thei a leode mette,
Apparailled as a paynym
In pilgrymes wise.
He bar a burdoun y-bounde
With a brood liste,
In a withwynde wise
Y-wounden aboute;       3540
A bolle and a bagge
He bar by his syde,
And hundred of ampulles
On his hat seten,
Signes of Synay,
And shelles of Galice,
And many a crouche on his cloke,
And keyes of Rome,
And the vernycle bi-fore,
For men sholde knowe       3550
And se bi hise signes
Whom he sought hadde.

This folk frayned hym first,
Fro whennes he come.

"Fram Syny," he seide,
"And fram oure Lordes sepulcre;
In Bethlem and in Babiloyne,
I have ben in bothe;
In Armonye and Alisaundre,
In manye othere places.       3560
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 soules helthe."

"Knowestow aught a corsaint,
That men calle Truthe?
Koudestow aught wissen us the wey,
Wher that wye dwelleth?"       3570

"Nay, so me God helpe!"
Seide the gome thanne,
"I seigh nevere palmere,
With pyk ne with scrippe,
Asken after hym er
Til now in this place."

"Peter!" quod a plowman,
And putte forth his hed,
"I knowe hym as kyndely
As clerk doth hise bokes;       3580
Conscience and kynde wit
Kenned me to his place,
And diden me suren hym sikerly
To serven hym for evere,
Bothe to sowe and to sette,
The while I swynke myghte.
I have ben his folwere
Al this fifty wynter,
Bothe y-sowen his seed,
And suwed hise beestes,       3590
Withinne and withouten
Waited his profit.
I dyke and I delve,
I do that Truthe 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,       3600
For though I seye it myselfe,
I serve hym to paye;
I have myn hire wel,
And outher whiles moore.
He is the presteste paiere
That povere men knoweth;
He ne withhalt noon hewe his hire,
That he ne hath it at even;
He is as lowe as a lomb,
And lovelich of speche;       3610
And if ye wilneth to wite
Where that he dwelleth,
I shal wisse you witterly
The wey to his place."

"Ye, leve Piers," quod thise pilgrimes,
And profred hym huyre,
For to wende with hem
To Truthes dwellyng-place.

"Nay, by my soules helpe!" quod Piers,
And gan for to swere,       3620
"I nolde fange a ferthyng.
For seint Thomas shryne;
Truthe wolde love me the lasse
A long tyme therafter;
Ac if yow wilneth to wende wel,
This is the wey thider.

"Ye moten go thorugh Mekenesse,
Both men and wyves,
Til ye come into Conscience,
That Crist wite the sothe       3630
That ye loven oure Lord God
Levest of alle thynges,
And thanne youre neghebores next
In none wise apeire,
Other wise than thow woldest
He wroughte to thiselve.

"And so boweth forth by a brook,
Beth-buxom-of-speche,
Til he fynden a ford,
Youre-fadres-honoureth,       3640
Honora patrem et matrem, etc.
Wadeth in that water,
And wasshe yow wel therinne,
And ye shul lepe the lightloker
Al youre lif tyme;
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,       3650
But come thow noght therinne;
That croft hatte Coveite-noght-
Mennes-catel-ne-hire-wyves,-
Ne-noon-of-hire-servauntz-
That-noyen-hem-myghte;
Loke ye breke no bowes there,
But if it be youre owene.

"Two stokkes ther stondeth,
Ac stynte ye noght there,
Thei highte Stele-noght and Sle-noght,       3660
Strik forth by bothe,
And leve hem on thi lift half,
And loke noght therafter,
And hold wel thyn hali-day
Heighe til even.

"Thanne shaltow blenche at a bergh,
Bere-no-fals-witnesse,
He is frythed in with floryns
And othere fees manye;
Loke thow plukke no plaunte there,       3670
For peril of thi soule;
Thanne shul ye see Seye-sooth,-
So-it-be-to-doone,-
In-good-manere,-ellis-noght-
For-no-mannes-biddyng.

"Thanne shaltow come to a court
As cler as the sonne;
The moot is of Mercy
The manoir aboute,
And alle the walles ben of Wit,       3680
To holden Wil oute,
And kerneled wit Cristendom,
Mankynde 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;
The brugg is of Bidde-wel,-       3690
The-bet-may-thow-spede;
Ech piler is of penaunce,
Of preieres to seyntes;
Of almes-dedes are the hokes
That the gates hangen on.

"Grace hatte the gatewarde,
A good man for sothe;
His man hatte Amende-yow,
For many men hym knoweth;
Telleth hym this tokene,       3700
That Truthe wite the sothe;
'I perfourned the penaunce
That the preest me enjoyned,
And am ful 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       3710
That the womman shette,
Tho Adam and Eve
Eten apples un-rosted.
Per Evam cunctis clausa est, et per
Mariam virginem patefacta est.

"For he hath the keye and the cliket,
Though the kyng slepe.
And if grace graunte thee
To go in this wise,
Thow shalt see in thiselve       3720
Truthe in thyn herte,
In a cheyne of charité
As thow a child were,
To suffren hym and segge noght
Ayein thi sires wille.

"And be war thanne of Wrathe-thee,
That is a wikked sherewe;
He hath envye to hym
That in thyn herte sitteth,
And poketh forth pride       3730
To preise thiselven.
The boldnesse of thi bienfetes
Maketh thee blynd thanne;
And thanne 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       3740
To lete wel by thiselve,
And nevere happily eft entre,
But grace thow have.

"And ther are seven sustren
That serven Truthe evere,
And arn porters of the posternes
That to the place longeth.

"That oon hatte Abstinence,
And Humilité another;
Charité and Chastité       3750
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,       3760
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 in-going at any gate there,
But grace be the moore."

"Now by Crist!" quod a kutte-purs
"I have no kyn there."
"Nor I," quod an ape-ward,       3770
"By aught that I kan knowe."
"Wite God!" quod a wafrestere,
"Wiste I this for sothe,
Sholde I nevere 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 alle;
And she is sib to alle synfulle,       3780
And hire sone also,
And thorugh the help of hem two
Hope thow noon oother,
Thow myght gete grace there,
So thow go bi-tyme."

"Bi seint Poul!" quod a pardoner,
"Peraventure 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."       3793

Piers Ploughman Decoration 14.png

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