William Langland's The vision of Piers Plowman
William Langland

Passus 8

Thus yrobed in russet I romed aboute
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Al a somer seson for to seke Dowel,
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And frayned ful ofte of folk that I mette
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If any wight wiste wher Dowel was at inne,
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And what man he myghte be of many man I asked.
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Was nevere wight as I wente that me wisse kouthe
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Where this leode lenged, lasse ne moore--
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Til it bifel on a Friday two freres I mette,
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Maistres of the Menours, men of grete witte.
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I hailsed hem hendely, as I hadde ylerned,
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And preide hem, pur churite, er thei passed ferther,
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If they knewe any contree or costes [aboute]
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Where that Dowel dwelieth--"Dooth me to witene;
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For [ye] be men of this moolde that moost wide walken,
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And knowen contrees and courtes and many kynnes places--
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Bothe princes paleises and povere mennes cotes,
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And Dowel and Do-yvele, wher thei dwelle bothe.'
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"[Marie!]', quod the Menours, " [amonges us he dwelleth],
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And evere hath, as I hope, and evere shal herafter.'
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"Contra!' quod I as a clerc, and comsed to disputen,
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And seide, "Soothly, Sepcies in die cadit iustus.
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Sevene sithes, seith the Book, synneth the rightfulle,
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And whoso synneth,' I seide, " [certes] dooth yvele, as me thynketh,
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And Dowel and Do-yvele mowe noght dwelle togideres.
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Ergo he nys noght alwey at hoom amonges yow freres:
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He is outhemhile elliswhere to wisse the peple.'
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" I shal seye thee, my sone,' seide the frere thanne, Page  87
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"How seven sithes the sadde man synneth on the day.
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By a forbisne,' quod the frere, "I shal thee faire shewe.
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"Lat brynge a man in a boot amydde a brode watre:
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The wynd and the water and the [waggyng of the boot]
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Maketh the man many tyme to falle and to stonde.
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For stonde he never so stif, he stumbleth if he meve--
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Ac yet is he saaf and sound, and so hym bihoveth;
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For if he ne arise the rather and raughte to the steere,
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The wynd wolde with the water the boot overthrowe,
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And thanne were his lif lost thorugh lachesse of hymselve.
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" Right thus it fareth,' quod the frere, " by folk here on erthe.
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The water is Iikned to the world, that wanyeth and wexeth;
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The goodes of this grounde arn lik the grete wawes
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That as wyndes and wedres walweth aboute;
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The boot is likned to oure body that brotel is of kynde,
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That thorugh the fend and the flessh and the frele worlde
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Synneth the sadde man [seven sithes a day].
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"Ac dedly synne doth he noght, for Dowel hym kepeth,
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And that is charite the champion, chief help ayein synne;
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For he strengtheth man to stonde, and steereth mannes soule
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That, though thi body bowe as boot dooth in the watre,
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Ay is thi soule saaf but thow thiselve wole
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Folwe thi flessh and the fend after-
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Do a deedly synne and drenche so thiselve. Page  88
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God wole suffre wel thi sleuthe, if thiself liketh;
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For he yaf thee to yeresyyve to yeme wel thiselve--
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And that is wit and free will, to every wight a porcion,
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To fleynge foweles, to fisshes and to beestes;
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Ac man hath moost therof, and moost is to blame
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But if he werche wel therwith, as Dowel hym techeth.'
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I have no kynde knowyng,' quod I, "to conceyve alle thi wordes,
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Ac if I may lyve and loke, I shal go lerne bettre.'
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"I bikenne thee Crist,' quod he, that on the cros deyde.'
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And I seide, -The same save yow fro myschaunce,
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And yyve yow grace on this grounde goode men to worthe!'
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And thus I wente widewher, walkyng myn one,
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By a wilde wildernesse, and by a wodes side;
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Blisse of the briddes abide me made,
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And under a lynde upon a launde lened I a stounde
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To lythe the layes tho lovely foweles made.
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Murthe of hire mouthes made me ther to slepe;
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The merveillouseste meteIs mette me thanne
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That ever dremed [dr]ight in [doute], as I wene.
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A muche man, as me thoughte, lik to myselve,
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Cam and called me by my kynde name.
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" What art thow?' quod I tho, " that thow my name knowest?'
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"That thow woost wel,' quod he, "and no wight bettre.'
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"Woot I,' [quod I, "who art thow?'] "Thought,' seide he thanne.
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"I have sued thee this seven yeer; seye thow me no rather?'
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"Art thow Thought?' quod I, "thoo thow koudest me wisse
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Where that Dowel dwelleth, and do me to knowe.' Page  89
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"Dowel,' quod he, "and Dobet and Dobest the thridde
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Arn thre faire vertues, and ben noght fer to fynde.
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Whoso is trewe of his tunge and of his two handes,
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And thorugh his labour or thorugh his land his liflode wynneth,
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And is trusty of his tailende, taketh but his owene,
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And is noght dronkelewe ne dedeynous--Dowel hym folweth.
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"Dobet dooth right thus, ac he dooth muche moore;
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He is as lowe as a lomb and lovelich of speche,
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And helpeth alle men after that hem nedeth.
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The bagges and the bigirdles, he hath tobroke hem alle
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That the Erl Avarous heeld, and hise heires;
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And with Mammonaes moneie he hath maad hym frendes,
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And is ronne into Religion, and hath rendred the Bible,
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And precheth to the peple Seint Poules wordes--
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Libenter suffertis insipientes cum sitis ipsi sapientes.
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[Ye wise], suffreth the unwise with yow to libbe,
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And with glad wille dooth hem good, for so God yow hoteth.
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"Dobest is above bothe and bereth a bisshopes cro[c]e,
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is hoked on that oon ende to halie men fro helle.
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A pik is on that potente, to pulte adown the wikked
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That waiten any wikkednesse Dowel to tene.
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And Dowel and Dobet amonges hem ordeyned
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To crowne oon to be kyng to [kepen] hem bothe,
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That if Dowel or Dobet dide ayein Dobest,
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Thanne shal the kyng come and casten hem in irens,
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And but if Dobest bede for hem, thei to be ther for evere. Page  90
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Thus Dowel and Dobet and Dobest the thridde
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Crowned oon to be kyng to kepen hem alle
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And rule the reme by [rede of hire] wittes,
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And ootherwise [ne ellis noght], but as thei thre assented.'
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I thonked Thoght tho that he me [so] taughte.
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"Ac yet savoreth me noght thi seying, so me Crist helpe!
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For more kynde knowynge I coveite to lerne--
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How Dowel, Dobet and Dobest doon among the peple.'
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"But Wit konne wisse thee.' quod Thoght, " where tho thre dwelle;
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Ellis [n]oot I noon that kan, that now is alyve.'
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Thoght and I thus thre daies we yeden
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Disputyng upon Dowel day after oother--
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And er we war were, with Wit gonne we mete.
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He was long and lene, lik to noon oother;
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Was no pride on his apparaille, ne poverte neither;
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Sad of his semblaunt and of [a] softe [speche].
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I dorste meve no matere to maken hym to jangle
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But as I bad Thoght thoo be mene bitwene
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And pute forth som purpos to preven hise wittes,
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What was Dowel fro Dobet, and Dobest from hem bothe.
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Thanne Thoght in that tyme seide thise wordes:
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" Wher Dowel and Dobet and Dobest ben in londe
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Here is Wil wolde wite if Wit koude teche;
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And wheither he be man or no manthis man wolde as
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And werchen as thei thre wolde--this is his entente.'
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