William Langland's The vision of Piers Plowman
Ac after my wakynge it was wonder longe
Er I koude kyndely knowe what was Dowel.
And so my wit weex and wanyed til I a fool weere;
And some lakked my lif--allowed it fewe--
And leten me for a lorel and looth to reverencen
Lordes or ladies or any lif ellis--
As persons in pelure with pendaunts of silver;
To sergeaunts ne to swiche seide 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 aslepe,
Til I seigh, as it sorcerie were, a sotil thyng withalle--
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 for Cristes love me to tellen.
" I am Cristes creature,' quod he, "and Cristene in many a place,
In Cristes court yknowe wel, and of his kyn a party.
Is neither Peter the Porter, ne Poul with the fauchon,
That wole defende me the dore, dynge I never so late.
At mydnyght, at mydday, my vois is so yknowe
That ech a creature of his court welcometh me faire.'
"What are ye called?' quod I, "in that court among Cristes peple?'
"The whiles I quykne the cors,' quod he, "called am I Anima;
And whan I wilne and wolde, Animus ich hatte;
And for that I kan and 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,
Thanne is Racio my righte name--""reson'" on Englissh;
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, Page 177
Thanne am I Conseience ycalled, Goddes clerk and his notarie;
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 flessh and forsake the careyne,
Thanne am I spirit spechelees--and Spiritus thanne ich hatte.
Austyn and Ysodorus, either of hem bothe
Nempnede me thus to name--now thow myght chese
How thow coveitest to calle me, now thow knowest alle my names.
Anima pro diversis accionibus diversa nomina sortitur: dum
vivificat corpus, anima est; dum vult, animus est; dum seit,
mens est; dum recoIit, memoria est; dum iudicat, racio est;
dum sentit, sensus est; dum amat, Amor est ; dum negat vel
consentit, consciencia est; dum spirat, spiritus est.'
"Ye ben as a bisshop,' quod I, al bourdynge that tyme,
" For bisshopes yblessed, thei bereth manye names--
Presul and Pontifex 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 hire names,
And of myne, if thow myghtest, me thynketh by thi speche!'
" Ye, sire,' I seide, "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 simiiis 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 maiestatis opprimitur a gloria.
"To Englisshe men this is to mene, that mowen speke and here, Page 178
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 doubie scathe.
"" Beatus est,' seith Seint Bernard, "" qui scripturas iegit
Et verba vertit in opera fulliche to his power."
Coveitise to konne and to knowe science
Putte out of Paridis Adam and Eve:
Sciencic appetitus hominem inmortalitatis gloriam spoliavit.
"And right as hony is yvel to defie and engleymeth the mawe,
Right so 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.
" Freres and fele othere maistres that to the lewed men prechen,
Ye moeven materes unmesurable to tellen of the Trinite,
That oftetymes the lewed peple of hir bileve doute.
Bettre it were by many doctours to bileven swich techyng
And tellen men of the ten comaundements, and touchen the sevene synnes,
And of the braunches that burjoneth of hem and bryngen men to helle,
And how that folk in folies mysspenden hir fyve wittes--
As wel freres as oother folk, foliliche spenden
In housynge, in haterynge, in to heigh clergie shewynge
Moore for pompe than for pure charite--the peple woot the sothe!
That I lye noght, loo!--for lordes ye plesen,
And reverencen the riche the rather for hir silver:
Confundantur omines qui adorant sculptilia. Et alibi,
Ut quid diligitis vanitatem, et queritis mendam?
"Goeth to the glose of the vers, ye grete clerkes; Page 179
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 varouse chapmen--
And louten to thise lordes that mowen lene yow nobles
Aye in youre rule and religion--I take record at Jesus,
That seide to hise disciples, "" Ne sitis acceptores personarum.''
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 whoso liketh!
"As holynesse and honeste out of Holy Chirche spredeth
Thorugh lele libbynge men that Goddes lawe techen,
Right so out of Holy Chirche alle yveles spredeth
There inparfit preesthode is, prechours and techeris.
And se it by ensaumple in somer tyme on trowes:
Ther some bowes ben leved and some bereth none,
Ther is a meschief in the more of swiche manere bowes.
Right so persons and preestes and prechours of Holi Chirche
Is the roote of the right feith to rule the peple;
Ac ther the roote is roten, reson woot the sothe,
Shal nevere fiour ne fruyt, ne fair leef be grene.
"Forthi 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 aught to underfonge
Tithes of untrewe thyng ytilied or chaffared--
Lothe were lewed men but thei youre loore folwede
And amenden hem that thei mysdoon, moore for youre ensaumples
Than for to prechen and to preven it noght--ypocrisie it semeth!
For ypocrisie in Latyn is likned to a dongehill
That were bisnewed with snow, and snakes withinne, Page 180
Or to a wal that were whitlymed and were foul withinne.
Right so manye preestes, prechours and prelates--
Ye [b]en enblaunched with bele paroles and with clothes,
Ac youre werkes and wordes therunder aren ful w[o]lveliche.
Johannes Crisostomus of clerkes speketh and preestes:
Sicut de templo omne bonum progreditur, sic de templo omne
malum procedit. Si sacerdocium integrum fuerit, tota floret
ecclesia; si autem corruptum fuerit, omnium fides marcida est.
Si sacerdocium fuerit in peccatis, totus populus con vertitur
ad peccandum. Sicut cum videris arborem pallidam et marcidam
intelligis quod vicium habet in radice, ita cum videris
populum inaisciplinatum et irreligiosum, sine dubio
sacerdocium eius non est sanum.
"If lewed men wiste what this Latyn meneth,
And who was myn auctour, muche wonder me thinketh
But if many 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 overgilte.
Ac a porthors that sholde be his plow, Placebo to sigge,
Hadde he nevere, [his] service to [h]ave,
[And save he have] 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-- Page 181
The whiche arn preestes inparfite and prechours after silver,
Executours and sodenes, somonours and hir lemmannes.
This that with gile was geten, ungraciousliche is spended.
So harlotes and hores arn holpe with swiche goodes,
Ac Goddes folk for defaute therof forfaren and spillen.
"Curatours of Holy Kirke, and clerkes that ben avarouse,
Lightliche that thei leven, losels it habbeth,
Or deieth intestate, and thanne [entreth the bisshop]
And maketh murthe therwith, and hise meyne both,
And seyen, ""He was a nygard, that no good myghte aspare
To frend ne to fremmed--the fend have his soule!
For a wrecehede hous he held al his lif tyme,
And that he spared and bispered, spende we in murthe!''
"By lered, by lewed, that looth is to spende--
Thus goon hire goodes, be the goost faren.
Ac for goode men, God woot, greet doel men maken,
And bymeneth goode meteyyveres, and in mynde haveth
In preieres and in penaunces and in parfit charite.'
" What is charite?' quod I tho. "A childissh thyng,' he seide--
" Nisi efficiamini sicut parvuli, non intrabitis in regnum celorum--
Withouten fauntelte or folie a fre liberal wille.'
"Where sholde men fynde swich a frend with so fre an herte?
I have lyved in londe,' quod I, "my name is Longe Wille--
And fond I nevere ful charite, bifore ne bihynde.
Men beth merciable to mendinaunts and to poore,
And wollen lenc ther thei leve lelly to ben paied.
Ac charite that Poul preiseth best and moost plesaunt to Oure Saveour--
As Non inflatur, non est ambiciosa, non querit que sua sunt--
I seigh nevere swich a man, so me God helpe, Page 182
That he ne wolde aske after his, and outherwhile coveite
Thyng that neded hym noght--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:
Hic in enigmate, tunc facie ad faciem.
And so I trowe trewely, by that men telleth of charite,
It is noght chaumpions fight, ne chaffare, as I trowe.'
"Charite,' quod he, "ne chaffareth noght, ne chalangeth, ne craveth;
As proud of a peny as of a pound df golde,
And is as glad of a gowne of a gray russet
As of a tunycle of Tarse of of trie scarlet.
He is glad with alle glade and good til alle wikkede,
And leneth 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.
Coveiteth he noon erthely good but heveneriche blisse.'
"Hath he any rentes or richesse, or any riche frendes?'
"Of rentes ne of richesse rekketh he nevere,
For a frend that fyndeth hym, failed hym nevere at nede:
Fiat voluntas tua fynt hym everemoore,
And if he soupeth, eteth but a sop of Spera in Deo.
He kan portreye wel the Paternoster and peynte it with Aves,
And outherwhile 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,
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 a lavendrye wel the lengthe of a mile,
And yerne into youthe, and yepeliche seche
Pride, with al the appurtenaunces, and pakken hem togideres,
And bouken hem at his brest and beten hern clene,
And leggen on longe with Laboravi in gemitu memo, Page 183
And with warm water at hise eighen wasshen hem after.
Thanne he syngeth whan he doth so, and som tyme seith wepynge,
Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.'
"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
What is the wille, and wherfore that many wight suffreth:
Et vidit Deus cogitaciones 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 ther men lakken hise werkes.
" For ther are beggeris and bidderis, bedemen as it were,
Loken as lambren and semen lif-holy--
Ac it is moore to have hir mete on swich an esy manere
Than for penaunce and parfitnesse, the poverte that swiche taketh.
"Therfore by colour ne by clergie knowe shaltow hym nevere,
Neither thorugh wordes ne werkes, but thorugh wil oone,
And that knoweth no clerk ne creature on erthe
But Piers the Plowman--Petrus, id est, Christus.
For he nys noght in lolleris ne in londleperis heremytes,
Ne at ancres there a box hangeth--alle swiche thei faiten.
Fy on faitours and infautores suos!
For Charite is Goddes champion, and as a good child hende,
And the murieste of mouth at mete where he sitteth.
The 1ove that lith in his herte maketh hym light of speche,
And is compaignable and confortatif, as Crist bit hymselve:
Nolite fieri sicut ypocrite tristes &c.
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.
" Edmund and Edward, either were kynges Page 184
And seintes yset--[s]til[le] charite hem folwede.
"I have yseyen charite 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,
Ycalled and ycrymyled and his crowne yshave.
And in a freres frokke he was yfounden ones--
Ac it is fern ago, in Seint Fraunceis tyme;
In that secte siththe to selde hath he ben knowen.
" Riche men he recomendeth, and of hir robes taketh
That withouten wiles ledeth hir lyves:
Beatus est dives qui, &c.
"In kynges court he cometh ofte, ther the counseil is trewe;
Ac if coveitise be of the counseil he wol noght come therinne.
In court amonges japeris he cometh but selde,
For braulynge and bakbitynge and berynge of fals witnesse.
"In the consistorie bifore the commissarie he corneth noght ful ofte,
For hir lawe dureth overlonge but if thei lacchen silver,
And matrimoyne for moneie maken and unmaken,
And that conseience and Crist hath yknyt faste,
Thei undoon it un[digne]ly, tho doctours of lawe.
"Amonges erchebisshopes and other bisshopes and prelates of Holy Chirche,
For to wonye with hem his wone was som tyme,
And Cristes patrimonye to the poore parcelmele dele.
Ac avarice hath the keyes now and kepeth for his kynnesmen
And for his seketoures and his servaunts, and som for hir children.
"Ac I ne lakke no lif, but, Lord, amende us alle.
And gyve us grace, goode God, charite to folwe!
For whoso myghte meete with hym, swiche maneres hym eileth-- Page 185
Neither he blameth ne banneth, bosteth ne preiseth,
Lakketh, ne loseth, ne loketh up sterne,
Craveth, ne coveiteth, ne crieth after moore:
In pace in idipsum dormiam &c.
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.
"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.
For wel may every man wite, if God hadde wold hymselve,
Sholde nevere Judas ne Jew have Jesu doon on roode,
Ne han martired Peter ne Poul, ne in prison holden.
Ac he suffre in ensample that we sholde suffren also,
And seide to swiche that suffre wolde that Pacientes vincunt.
" Verbi gratia,' quod he--and verred 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
Woneden in wildernesse among wilde beestes;
Monkes and mendinaunts. 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,
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.
Antony adayes 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, Page 186
That no man myghte hym se for mosse and for leves.
Foweles hym fedde fele wyntres with alle
Til he foundede freres of Austynes ordre.
Poul, after his prechyng, paniers he made,
And wan with hise hondes that his wornbe neded.
Peter fisshed for his foode, and his felawe Andrew:
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.
"Ac ther ne was leoun ne leopard that on laundes wenten,
Neither bere, ne boor, ne oother beest wilde
That ne fil to hir feet and fawned with the tailles;
And if thei kouthe han ycarped, by Crist, as I trowe,
Thei wolde have yfed that folk bifore wilde foweles.
For al the curteisie that beestes konne, thei kidde that folk ofte,
In likkyng and in lowynge, there thei on laundes yede.
Ac God sente hem foode by foweles, and by no fierse beestes,
In menynge that meke thyng mylde thyng sholde fede.
As who seith religious rightfulle men sholde fynde,
And lawefulle men to lif-holy rnen liflode brynge;
And thanne wolde lordes and ladies be looth to agulte,
And to taken of hir tenaunts more than trouthe wolde,
Founde thei that freres wolde forsake hir almesses,
And bidden hem bere it there it was yborwed.
For we ben Goddes foles and abiden alwey,
Til briddes brynge us that we sholde [by lyve].
For hadde ye potage and payn ynogh, and peny ale to drynke,
And a mees thermyd of o maner kynde, Page 187
Ye hadde right ynogh ye religiouse--and so youre rule me tolde.
Numquid, dicit Job rugiet onager cum habuerit herbam ?
Aut mugiet bos cum ante plenum presepe steterit ? Brutorum
animalium natura te condempnat, 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 [moore] to monkes or chanons hir rentes.
Allas! lordes and ladies, lewed counseil have ye
To yyve from youre heires that youre aiels you lefte,
And yyveth to bidde for yow to swiche that ben riche,
And ben founded and feffed ek to bidde for othere!
"Who parfourneth this prophecie, of the peple that now libbeth--
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus ?
If any peple parfourne that tent, it are thise poore freres:
For that thei beggen aboute, in buyldynge thei spende,
And on hemself som, and swiche as ben hir laborers;
And of hem that habbeth thei taken, and yyveth hem that ne habbeth!
"Ac clerkes and knyghtes, and communers that ben riche,
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 yyveth ther no nede is;
As whoso filled a tonne ful of a fressh ryver,
And wente forth with that water to woke with Themese.
Right so ye riche, ye robeth and fedeth Page 188
Hem that han as ye han--hem ye make at ese.
"Ac religiouse that riche ben sholde rather feeste beggeris
Than burgeises that riche ben, as the book techeth:
Quia sacrilegium est res pauperum non pauperibus dare.
Item: peccatoribus dare est demonibus immolare.
Item: monache, si indiges et accipis, pocius das quam accipis;
Si autem non eges et accipis, rapis.
Porro non indiget monachus, si habeat quod nature sufficit.
" Forthi I counseille alle Cristene to conformen hem to charite--
For charite withouten chalangynge unchargeth the soule,
And many a prison fram purgatorie thorugh hise preieres he delivereth.
Ac ther is a defaute in the folk that the feith kepeth,
Wherfore folk is the febler, 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: thci han a fair speche,
Crowne and Cristendom, the kynges mark of hevene,
Ac the metal, that is mannes soule, with [many] synne is foule[d].
Bothe lettred and lewed beth alayed now with synne,
That no lif loveth oother, ne Oure Lord, as it semeth.
For what thorugh werre and wikkede werkes and wederes unresonable,
Wederwise shipmen and witty clerkes also
Have no bileve to the lifte, ne to the loore of philosophres.
"Astronomiens alday 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,
Tilieris that tiled the erthe tolden hir maistres
By the seed that thei sewe whit thei selle myghte,
And what to leve and to lyve by, the lond was so trewe; Page 189
Now failleth the folk of the flood and of the lond bothe--
Shepherdes and shipmen, 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 clem[a]t, the contrarie thei fynde.
Grammer, the ground of al, bigileth now children:
For is noon of thise newe clerkes--whoso nymeth hede--
That kan versifye faire ne formaliche enditen,
Ne 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 [to fourmen under hym],
Muche wonder me thynketh amonges us alle!
Doctours of decrees and of divinite maistres,
That sholde konne and knowe alle kynnes clergie,
And answere to arguments and a1so to a quodlibet--
I dar noght siggen it for shame--if swiche were apposed,
Thei sholde faillen of hir Philosophie, and in Phisik bothe.
"Wherfore I am afered of folk of Holy Kirke,
Lest thei overhuppen, as oothere doon, in Office and in Houres.
Ac if thei overhuppe--as I hope noght--oure bileve suffiseth;
As clerkes in Corpus Christi feeste syngen and reden
That sola fides sufficit to save with lewed peple--
And so may Sarsens be saved, scribes and Jewes.
"Allas thanne! but oure looresmen lyve as thei leren us,
And for hir lyvynge that lewed men be the lother God agulten.
For Sarsens han somwhat semynge to oure bileve,
For thei love and bileve in o [Lede] almyghty,
And we, lered and lewed, [bileveth in oon God]--
Cristene and uncristene on oon [creatour] bileveth. Page 190
Ac oon Makometh, a man, in mysbileve
Broughte Sarsens of Surree--and see in what manere.
"This Makometh was a Cristene man and for he moste noght ben a pope,
Into Surrie he soughte. and thorugh hise sotile wittes
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--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 men and wommen broughte,
That lered there and lewed yit leeven on hise lawes.
"And siththe Oure Saveour suffred the Sarsens so bigiled
Thorugh a Cristene clerk acorsed in his soule--
Ac for drede of the deeth I dar noght telle truthe,
How Englisshe clerkes a colvere fede that Coveitise highte,
And ben manered after Makometh, that no man useth trouthe.
"Ancres and heremytes, and monkes and freres
Peeren to Apostles thorugh hire parfit lyvynge.
Wolde nevere the feithful Fader that hise ministres sholde
Of tiraunts that teneth trewe men taken any almesse,
But doon as Antony dide, Dominyk and Fraunceys,
Beneit and Bernard [bo]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 fynde, 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 &c.Page 191
" Salt saveth catel,' siggen thise wyves ;
Vos estis sal terre &c.
The hevedes of Holy Chirche--and thei holy were--
Crist calleth hem salt for Cristene soules,
Et si sal evanuerit, in quo salietur ?
Ac fressh flessh outher fissh, whan it salt failleth,
It is unsavory, for sothe, ysoden or ybake;
So is mannes soule, soothly, that seeth no good ensample
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 yyve hem good evidence.
" Ellevene holy men al the world tornede
Into lele bileve; the lightloker, me thynketh.
Sholde alle 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,
Til Gregory garte clerkes to go here and preche.
Austyn [cristnede the kyng at Caunterbury],
And thorugh miracles, as men mow rede, al that marche he tornede
To Crist and to Cristendom, and cros to honoure,
And follede folk faste, and the feith taughte
Moore thorugh miracles than thorugh muche prechyng,
As wel thorugh hise werkes as with hise holy wordes,
And [fourmed] 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,
Wasshen wel with water and with taseles cracched,
Ytouked and yteynted and under taillours hande;
And so it fareth by a barn that born is of wombe:
Til it be cristned in Cristes name and confermed of the bisshop,
It is hethene as to heveneward, and helplees to the soule.
" Hethen' is to mene after heeth and untiled erthe--
As In wilde wildernesse wexeth wilde beess, Page 192
Rude and unresonable, rennynge withouten keperes.
"Ye mynnen wel how Mathew seith, how a man made a feste:
He fedde hem with no venyson, ne fesaunts ybake,
But with foweles that fram hym nolde, but folwede his whistlyng:
Ecce altilia mea et omnia parata sunt--
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,
So love and leaute lele men susteneth;
And maidenes and mylde men mercy desiren
Right as the cow-calf coveiteth swete melk--
So [muche] don rightfulle men mercy and truthe.
And by the hond-fedde foweles his folk understonde
That looth ben to lovye withouten lernynge of ensaumples.
Right as capons in a court cometh to mennes whistlynge--
In menynge after mete folweth men that whistlen--
Right so rude men that litel reson konneth
Loven and bileven by lettred mennes doynges,
And by hire wordes and werkes wenen and trowen:
And as tho foweles to fynde foode after whistlynge,
So hope thei to have hevene thorugh hir [wiss]ynge.
And the man that made the feste the mageste bymeneth--
That is God, of his grace gyveth alle men blisse.
With wederes and with wondres he warneth us with a whistlere
Where that his wil is, to worshipen us alle,
And feden us and festen us for everemoore at oones.
"Ac who beth that excuseth hem that arn persons and preestes
(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 Page 193
Bothe Mathew and Mark and Memento Domine David:
Ecce auaivimus e[a]m in Effrata &c.
What pope or prelate now parfourneth that Crist highte-
Ite in universum mundum et predicate &c?
"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 wilne a name--
To be pastours and preche the passion of Jesus,
And as hymself seide, so to lyve and dye:
Bonus pastor animam suam ponit &c,
And seide it in salvacion of Sarsens and othere--
For Cristene and uncristene, Crist seide to prechours,
Ite vos in vineam meam &c.
"And sith that thise Sarsens, scribes and Jewes
Han a lippe of oure bileve, the lightloker, me thynketh, .
Thei sholde turne, whoso travaile wolde to teche hem of the Trinite:
Querite et invenietis &c.
For alle paynymes preieth and parfitly bileweth
In the [grete holy] God, and his grace asken,
And make hir mone to Makometh, hir message to shewe.
Thus in a feith leveth 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. Page 194
"Whan the hye kyng of hevene sente his sone to erthe,
Many miracles he wroughte man for to turne,
In ensaumple that men sholde se by sadde reson
Men myghte noght be saved but thorugh mercy and grace,
And thorugh penaunce, and passion, and parfit byleve;
And bicam man of a mayde, and metropolitanus,
And baptised and bishined with the blode of his herte
Alle that wilned and wolde with inwit bileve it.
Many a seynt siththen hath suffred to deye,
Al for to enforme the feith in fele contrees deyeden--
In Inde, and in Alisaundre, in Ermonye and in Spayne,
In doelful deth deyeden for hir feith sake.
In savacion of the feith Seint Thomas was ymartired:
Amonges unkynde Cristene for Cristes love he deyede,
And for the right of al this reume and alle reumes Cristene.
Holy Chirche is honoured heighliche thorugh his deying;
He is a forbisene to alle bisshopes and a bright myrour,
And sovereynliche to swiche that of Surrye bereth the name,
And naught to huppe aboute in Engelond to halwe mennes auteres,
And crepe in amonges curatours and confessen ageyn the lawe:
Nolite mitterefalsem in messem alienam &c.
Many man for Cristes love was martired amonges Romaynes
Er Cristendom were knowe ther or any cros honoured.
"It is ruthe to rede how rihtwise men lyved-- Page 195
How thei defouled hir flessh, forsoke hir owene wille,
Fer fro kyth and fro kyn yvele yclothed yeden,
Baddely ybedded, no book but conscience,
Ne no richesse but the roode to rejoisse hem inne:
Absit nobis gloriari nisi in cruce Domini nostri &c.
"And tho was plentee and pees amonges poore and riche;
And now is routhe to rede how the rede noble
Is reverenced er the roode, receyved for the worthier
Than Cristes cros that overcam deeth and dedly synne.
And now is werre and wo, and whoso why asketh--
For coveitise after cros; the croune stant in golde.
Bothe richc and religious, that roode thei honoure
That in grotes is ygrave and in gold nobles.
For coveitise of that cros [clerkes] of Holy Kirke
Shul torne as Templers dide--the tyme approcheth faste.
" [Mynne] ye noght, wise men, how tho men honoured
Moore tresor than trouthe? I dar noght telle the sothe;
Reson and rightful doom tho religious demede.
Right so, ye clerkes, for youre coveitise, er [come aught] longe,
Shal thei demen dos ecclesie, and [depose youre pride]:
Deposuit potentes de sede &c.
"If knyghthod and kynde wit, and the commune and conscience
Togideres love leelly, leveth it wel, ye bisshopes--
The lordshipe of londes [lese ye shul for evere],
And lyven as Levitici, as Oure Lord yow techeth:
Per primicias et decimas &c.
"Whan Costantyn of curteisie Holy Kirke dowed
With londes and ledes, lordshipes and rentes,
An aungel men herden an heigh at Rome crye, Page 196
" Dos ecclesie this day hath ydronke venym,
And tho that han Petres power arn apoisoned alle!'
A medicyne moot therto that may amende prelates,
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 Chirehes sake,
And purgen hem of poison, er moore peril falle.
If preesthode were parfit, the peple sholde amende,
That contrarien Cristes lawe, and Cristendom dispise.
"Every bisshop that bereth cros, by that he is holden
Thorugh his province to passe, and to his peple to shewe hym,
Tellen hem and techen hem on the Trinite to bileve,
And feden hem with goostly foode, and nedy folk to fynden.
Ac Ysaie of yow speketh and Osias bothe,
That no man sholde be bisshop but if he hadde bothe
Bodily foode and goostly foode to gyve there it nedeth:
In domo mea non est panis neque vestimentum, et ideo nolite constituere me re
Osias seith for swiche that sike ben and feble,
Inferte omnes decimas in orreum 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-0ure Lord wroot it hymselve
In stoon, for it stedefast was, and stonde sholde evere--
Dilige Deum et proximum, is parfit Jewen lawe--
And teok it Moyses to teche men, til Messie coom
And on that lawe thei leve, and leten it for the beste. Page 197
And yit knewe thei Crist, that Cristendom taughte,
And 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 thei myghte wel se that Messie he semede;
And whan he lifte up Lazar, that leid was in grave,
And under stoon deed and stank, with stif vois hym callede,
Dide hym rise and rome right bifore the Jewes.
Ac thei seiden and sworen, with sorcerie he wroughte,
And studieden to struyen hym--and struyden hemselve,
And thorugh his pacience hir power to pure noght he broughte:
"Daniel of hire undoynge devyned and seide,
Cum sanctus sanctorum veniat cessabit unxio vestra.
And yit wenen tho wrecches that he were pseudo-propheta
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 devyneth.
"Ac pharisees and sarsens, scribes and Jewes
Arn folk of oon feith--the fader God thei honouren.
And sithen that the Sarsens 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,
Lere hem litlum and litlum Et in Jesum Chrisium filium,
Til thei kouthe speke and spelle Et in Spiritum santum,
And rendren it and recorden it with remissionem peccatorum,
Carnis resurreccionem et vitam eternam. Amen.'