William Langland's The vision of Piers Plowman
William Langland

Passus 7

Treuthe herde telle herof, and to Piers sente
     7.001
To taken his teme and tilien the erthe,
     7.002
And purchaced hym a pardoun a pena et a culpa
     7.003
For hym and for hyse heirs for ever oore after- Page  78
     7.004
And bad hym holde hym at home and erien hise Ieyes,
     7.005
And alle that holpen hym to erye, to sette or to sowe,
     7.006
or any [man]er mestier that myghte Piers availe--
     7.007
Pardon with Piers Plowman Truthe hath ygraunted.
     7.008
Kynges and knyghtes that kepen Holy Chirche
     7.009
And rightfully in remes rulen the peple,
     7.010
Han pardon thorugh purgatorie to passen ful lightly,
     7.011
With patriarkes and prophetes in paradis to be felawe.
     7.012
Bysshopes yblessed, if thei ben as thei sholde
     7.013
Legistres of bothe lawes, the lewed therwith to preche,
     7.014
And in as muche as thei mowe amenden alle synfulle,
     7.015
Arn peres with the Apostles--this pardon Piers sheweth--
     7.016
And at the day of dome at the heighe deys to sitte.
     7.017
Marchaunts in the margyne hadde manye yeres,
     7.018
Ac noon A pena et a culpa the Pope nolde hem graunte.
     7.019
For thei holde noght hir halidayes as Holy Chirche techeth,
     7.020
And for thei swere 'by hir soule' and -so God moste hem helpe'
     7.021
Ayein clene Conseience, hir catel to selle.
     7.022
Ac under his secret seel Truthe sente hem a lettre,
     7.023
[And bad hem] buggen boldely what hem best liked
     7.024
And sithenes selle it ayein and save the wynnyng,
     7.025
And amende mesondieux thermyd and myseise folk helpe;
     7.026
And wikkede weyes wightly amende,
     7.027
And do boote to brugges that tobroke were;
     7.028
Marien maydenes or maken hem nonnes;
     7.029
Povere peple and prisons fynden hem hir foode,
     7.030
And sette soolers to scole or to som othere craftes;
     7.031
Releve Religion and renten hem bettre.
     7.032
"And I shal sende yow myselve Seynt Michel myn angel, Page  79
     7.033
That no devel shal yow dere ne [in youre deying fere yow],
     7.034
And witen yow fro wanhope, if ye wol thus werche,
     7.035
And sende youre soules in saufte to my Seintes in joye.'
     7.036
Thanne were marchaunts murie--manye wepten for joye-
     7.037
And preiseden Piers the Plowman, that purchaced this bulle.
     7.038
Men of lawe leest pardon hadde that pleteden for mede,
     7.039
For the Sauter saveth hem noght, swiche as take yiftes,
     7.040
And nameliche of innocents that noon yvel ne konneth:
     7.041
Super innocentem munera non accipies.
     7.041
Pledours sholde peynen hem to plede for swiche and helpe;
     7.042
Princes and prelates sholde paie for hire travaille:
     7.043
A regibus et principibus erit merces eorum.
     7.043
Ac many a justice and jurour wolde for Johan do moore
     7.044
Than pro Deipietate--leve thow noon oother!
     7.045
Ac he that spendeth his speche and speketh for the povere
     7.046
That is innocent and nedy and no man apeireth,
     7.047
Conforteth hym in that caas, coveit[eth noght hise] yiftes,
     7.048
And [for Oure Lordes love lawe for hym sheweth]--
     7.049
Shal no devel at his deeth day deren hym a myte
     7.050
That he ne worth saaf and his soule, the Sauter bereth witnesse:
     7.051
Domine, quis habitubit in tubernuculo tuo ?
     7.051
Ac to bugge water, ne wynd, ne wit, ne fir the ferthe--
     7.052
Thise foure the Fader of Hevene made to this foold in commune:
     7.053
Thise ben Truthes tresores trewe folk to helpe, Page  80
     7.054
That nevere shul wex ne wanye withouten God hymselve.
     7.055
Whan thei drawen on to the deth, and indulgences wolde have,
     7.056
His pardon is ful petit at his partyng hennes
     7.057
That any mede of mene men for hir motyng taketh.
     7.058
Ye legistres and lawieres, [if I lye witeth Mathew]:
     7.059
Quodcumque vultis utfaciant vobis homines, fucite eis.
     7.059
Alle libbynge laborers that lyven with hir hondes,
     7.060
That treweliche taken and treweliche wynnen,
     7.061
And lyven in love and in lawe, for hir lowe herte
     7.062
Haveth the same absolucion that sent was to Piers.
     7.063
Beggeres and bidderes beth noght in the bulle
     7.064
But if the suggestion be sooth that shapeth hem to begge:
     7.065
For he that beggeth or bit, but it he have nede,
     7.066
He is fals with the feend and defraudeth the nedy,
     7.067
And also gileth the gyvere ageynes his wille;
     7.068
For if he wiste he were noght nedy he wolde [that yyve]
     7.069
Another that were moore nedy than he--so the nedieste sholde be holpe.
     7.070
Caton kenneth me thus, and the Clerc of the Stories:
     7.071
Cui des, videto is Catons techyng;
     7.072
And in the Stories he techeth to bistowe thyn almesse:
     7.073
Sit elemosina tua in manu tua donec studes cui des.
     7.073
Ac Gregory was a good man, and bad us gyven alle Page  81
     7.074
That asketh for His love that us al leneth:
     7.075
Non eligas cui miserearis, ne forte pretereaf ittum qui meretur
     7.075
accipere; quia incerum est pro quo Deo magis placeas.
     7.075
For wite ye nevere who is worthi - ac God woot who hath nede.
     7.076
In hym that taketh is the trecherie, if any treson walke -
     7.077
For he that yeveth, yeldeth, and yarketh hym to reste,
     7.078
And he that biddeth, borweth, and bryngeth hymself in dette.
     7.079
For beggeres borwen everemo, and hir borgh is God Almyghty-
     7.080
To yelden hem that yeveth hem, and yet usure moore:
     7.081
Quare noon dedisti pecuniam mean ad mensam, ut
     7.081
ego enioens cum usuris exegissem utique illam?
     7.081
Forthi biddeth noght, ye beggeres, but if ye have gret nede.
     7.082
For whoso hath to buggen hym breed - the Book bereth witnesse-
     7.083
He hath ynough that hath breed ynough, though he have noght ellis:
     7.084
Satis dives est qui non indiget pane.
     7.084
Lat usage be your solas of seintes lyves redyng;
     7.085
The Book banneth beggerie, and blameth hem in this manere:
     7.086
Iuniou fui etenim senui, et non vidi iustum derelictum nec
     7.086
semen eius querens panem.
     7.086
For [thei] lyve in no love, ne no lawe holde:
     7.087
[Thei] ne wedde no womman that [thei] with deele,
     7.088
But as wilde bestes with "wehee" worthen uppe and werchen,
     7.090
And bryngen forth barnes that bastardes men calleth.
     7.091
Or the bak or som soon their breketh in his youthe, Page  82
     7.092
And goon [and] faiten with hire fauntes for everemoore after.
     7.093
Ther is moore mysshapen amonges thise beggeres
     7.094
Than of alle [othere] manere men that on this moolde walketh.
     7.095
Tho that lyve thus hir lif mowe lothe the tyme
     7.096
That evere he was man wroght, whan he shal hennes fare.
     7.097
Ac olde men and hore that helplees ben of strengthe,
     7.098
And wommen with childe that werche ne mowe,
     7.099
Blynde and bedreden and broken hire membres,
     7.100
That taken this myschief mekeliche, as mesels and othere,
     7.101
Han as pleyn pardon as the Plowman hymselve.
     7.102
For Iove of hir lowe hertes Oure Lord hath hem graunted
     7.103
Hir penaunce and hir Purgatorie upon this [pure] erthe.
     7.104
" Piers,' quod a preest thoo, " thi pardon moste I rede;
     7.105
For I shal construe ech clause and kenne it thee on Englissh.'
     7.106
And Piers at his preiere the pardon unfoldeth--
     7.107
And I bihynde hem bothe biheld al the bull
     7.108
In two lynes it lay, and noght a le[ttre] moore,
     7.109
And was writen right thus in witnesse of truthe:
     7.110
Et qui bona egerunt ibunt in vitam eternam.
     7.110
Qui vero mala, in ignem eternum.
     7.110
" Peter! ' quod the preest thoo, " I kan no pardon fynde
     7.111
But "-Do wel and have wel. and God shal have thi soule,'
     7.112
And " Do yvel and have yvel, and hope thow noon oother
     7.113
That after thi deeth day the devel shal have thi soule!'
     7.114
And Piers for pure tene pulled it atweyne
     7.115
And seide, - Si ambulavero in medio umbre mortis
     7.116
Non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es. Page  83
     7.117
"I shal cessen of my sowyng,' quod Piers, "and swynke noght so harde,
     7.118
Ne aboute my bely joye so bisy be na moore;
     7.119
Of preieres and of penaunce my plough shal ben herafter,
     7.120
And wepen whan I sholde slepe, though whete breed me faille.
     7.121
"The prophete his payn eet in penaunce and in sorwe,
     7.122
By that the Sauter seith--so dide othere manye.
     7.123
That loveth God lelly, his lifiode is ful esy:
     7.124
Fuerunt michi lacrime mee panes die ac nocte.
     7.124
"And but if Luc lye, he lereth us by foweles
     7.125
We sholde noght be to bisy aboute the worldes blisse:
     7.126
Ne soliciti sitis, he seith in the Gospel
     7.127
And sheweth us by ensamples us selve to wisse.
     7.128
The foweles in the feld, who fynt hem mete at wynter?
     7.129
Have thei no gerner to go to, but God fynt hem alle.'
     7.130
"What!' quod the preest to Perkyn, "Peter! as me thynketh,
     7.131
Thow art lettred a litel--who lerned thee on boke?'
     7.132
"Abstynence the Abbesse,' quod Piers, -myn a.b.c. me taughte,
     7.133
And Conscience cam afterward and kenned me muche moore.'
     7.134
" Were thow a preest, Piers,' quod he, " thow myghtest preche where thow sh
     7.135
As divinour in divinite, with Dixit insipiens to thi teme.'
     7.136
" Lewed lorel!' quod Piers, "litel lokestow on the Bible;
     7.137
On Salomons sawes selden thow biholdest--
     7.138
Eice derisores et iurgia cum eis ne crescant &c.'
     7.138
The preest and Perkyn apposeden either oother--
     7.139
And I thorugh hir wordes awook, and waited aboute,
     7.140
And seigh the sonne in the south sitte that tyme.
     7.141
Metelees and moneilees on Malverne hulles,
     7.142
Musynge on this metels a my[le] wey ich yede.
     7.143
Many tyme this metels hath maked me to studie
     7.144
Of that I seigh slepynge--if it so be myghte;
     7.145
And for Piers the Plowman ful pencif in herte, Page  84
     7.146
And which a pardon Piers hadde, al the peple to conforte,
     7.147
And how the preest inpugned it with two propre wordes.
     7.148
Ac I have no savour in songewarie, for I se it ofte faille;
     7.149
Caton and canonistres counseillen us to leve
     7.150
To sette sadnesse in songewarie--for sompnia ne cures.
     7.151
Ac for the book Bible bereth witnesse
     7.152
How Daniel divined the dremes of a kyng
     7.153
That was Nabugodonosor nempned of clerkes . . .
     7.154
Daniel seide, "Sire Kyng, thi dremels bitokneth
     7.155
That unkouthe knyghtes shul come thi kyngdom to cleyme;
     7.156
Amonges lower lordes thi lond shal be departed.'
     7.157
And as Daniel divined, in dede it fel after:
     7.158
The kyng lees his lordshipe, and lower men it hadde.
     7.159
And Joseph mette merveillously how the moone and the sonne
     7.160
And the ellevene sterres hailsed hym alle.
     7.161
Thanne Jacob jugged Josephes swevene :
     7.162
" Beau fiz,' quod his fader, " for defaute we shullen--
     7.163
I myself and my sones--seche thee for nede.'
     7.164
It bifel as his fader seide, in Pharaoes tyme,
     7.165
That Joseph was Justice Egipte to loke:
     7.166
It bifel as his fader tolde--hise frendes there hym soughte.
     7.167
Al this maketh me on metels to thynke--
     7.168
And how the preest preved no pardon to Dowel,
     7.169
And demed that Dowel indulgences passed,
     7.170
Biennals and triennals and bisshopes lettres,
     7.171
And how Dowel at the Day of Dome is digneliche underfongen,
     7.172
And passeth al the pardon of Seint Petres cherche.
     7.173
Now hath the Pope power pardon to graunte
     7.174
The peple, withouten penaunce to ja into [joye];
     7.175
This is [a leef of] oure bileve, as lettred men us techeth:
     7.176
Quodcumque ligaveris super terram erit ligatum et in celis &c.Page  85
     7.176
And so I leve leelly (Lord forbede ellis!)
     7.177
That pardon and penaunce and preieres doon save
     7.178
Soules that have synned seven sithes dedly.
     7.179
Ac to trust on thise triennals--trewely, me thynketh,
     7.180
It is noght so siker for the soule, certes, as is Dowel.
     7.181
Forthi I rede yow renkes that riche ben on this erthe,
     7.182
Upon trust of youre tresor triennals to have,
     7.183
Be ye never the bolder to breke the ten hestes;
     7.184
And namely ye maistres, meires and jugges,
     7.185
That have the welthe of this world and wise men ben holden,
     7.186
To purchace yow pardon and the Popes bulles.
     7.187
At the dredful dome, whan dede shulle arise
     7.188
And comen alle bifore Crist acountes to yelde--
     7.189
How thow laddest thi lif here and hise lawes keptest,
     7.190
And how thow didest day by day the doom wole reherce.
     7.191
A pokeful of pardon there, ne provincials lettres,
     7.192
Theigh ye be founde in the fraternite of alle the foure ordres
     7.193
And have indulgences doublefold--but Dowel yow helpe,
     7.194
I sette youre patentes and youre pardon at one pies hele!
     7.195
Forthi I counseille alle Cristene to crie God mercy,
     7.196
And Marie his moder be oure meene bitwene,
     7.197
That God gyve us grace here, er we go hennes,
     7.198
Swiche werkes to werche, while we ben here,
     7.199
That after oure deth day, Dowel reherce
     7.200
At the day of dome, we dide as he highte.
     7.201