Thanne hadde Wit a wif, was hote Dame Studie,
That lene was of lere and of liche bothe.
She was wonderly wroth that Wit me thus taughte,
And al staiynge Dame Studie sterneliche seide.
‘Wel artow wis,’ quod she to Wit, ‘any wisdomes to telle
To flatereres or to fooles that frenetike ben of wittes!’ –
And blamed hym and banned hym and bad hym be stille –
‘With swiche wise wordes to wissen any sottes!’
And seide, ‘ Nolite mittere, man, margery perles
Among hogges that han hawes at wille.
Thei doon but dryvele theron – draf were hem levere
Than al the precious perree that in paradis wexeth.
I seye it by swiche,’ quod she, ‘that sheweth by hir werkes
That hem were levere lond and lordshipe on erthe,
Or richesse or rentes and reste at hir wille
Than alle the sooth sawes that Salamon seide evere.
‘Wisdom and wit now is noght worth a kerse
But if it be carded with coveitise as clotheres kemben hir wolle.
Whoso can contreve deceites and conspire wronges
And lede forth a loveday to lette with truthe – .
That swiche craftes kan to counseil [are] cleped ;
Thei lede lordes with lesynges and bilieth truthe.
‘ Job the gentile in hise gestes witnesseth
That wikked men, thei welden the welthe of this worlde,
And that thei ben lordes of ech a lond, that out of lawe libbeth
Quare impii vivunt ? bene est omnibus qui prevaricantur et inique agunt ?
‘The Sauter seith the same by swiche that doon ille
Ecce ipsi peccatores habundantes in seculo obtinuerunt divicias.
‘ Lo!’ seith holy lettrure, ‘ whiche lordes beth thise sherewes!’
Thilke that God moost gyveth, leest good thei deleth,
And moost unkynde to the commune, that moost catel weldeth
Que perfecisti destruxerunt, iustus autem &c.
‘Harlotes for hir harlotrie may have of hir goodes,
And japeris and jogelours and jangleris of gestes;
Ac he that hath Holy Writ ay in his mouthe
And kan telle of Tobye and of the twelve Apostles
Or prechen of the penaunce that Pilat wroghte
To Jesu the gentile, that Jewes todrowe –
Litel is he loved that swich a lesson sheweth,
Or daunted or drawe forth – I do it on God hymselve!
‘But thoo that feynen hem foolis and with faityng libbeth
Ayein the lawe of Oure Lord, and lyen on hemselve,
Spitten and spuen and speke foule wordes,
Drynken and drevelen and do men for to gape,
Likne men and lye on hem that leneth hem no yiftes –
Thei konne na moore mynstralcie ne musik men to glade
Than Munde the Millere of Multa fecit Deus.
Ne were hir vile harlotrye, have God my trouthe,
Sholde nevere kyng ne knyght ne canon of Seint Poules
Yyve hem to hir yeresyyve the value of a grote!
‘Ac murthe and mynstralcie amonges men is nouthe
Lecherie, losengerye and losels tales –
Glotonye and grete othes, this [game] they lovyeth.
‘Ac if thei carpen of Crist, thise clerkes and thise lewed,
At mete in hir murthe whan mynstrals beth stille,
Thanne telleth thei of the Trinite [how two slowe the thridde],
And bryngen forth a balled reson, and taken Bernard to witnesse,
And puten forth a presumpcion to preve the sothe.
Thus thei dryvele at hir deys the deitee to knowe,
And gnawen God with the gorge whanne hir guttes fullen.
‘Ac the carefulle may crie and carpen at the yate,
Bothe afyngred and afurst, and for chele quake;
Is non to nyme hym neer his noy to amende,
But hun[s]en hym as an hound and hoten hym go thennes.
Litel loveth he that Lord that lent hym al that blisse,
That thus parteth with the povere a parcell whan hym nedeth !
Ne were mercy in meene men moore than in riche,
Mendinaunts metelees myghte go to bedde.
God is muche in the gorge of thise grete maistres,
Ac amonges meene men his mercy and hise werkes.
And so seith the Sauter – I have seighen it [in Memento]
* Ecce audivimus eam in Effrata; invenimus eam in campis silve.
Clerkes and othere kynnes men carpen of zgod faste,
And have hym muche in hire mouth, ac meene men in herte.
‘ Freres and faitours han founde [up] swiche questions
To plese with proude men syn the pestilence tyme,
And prechen at Seint Poules, for pure envye of clerkes,
That folk is noght fermed in the feith, ne free of hire goodes,
Ne sory for hire synnes; so is pride woxen
In religion and in al the reme amonges riche and povere
That preieres have no power thise pestilences to lette.
For God is deef nowadayes and deyneth noght his eres to opene,
That girles for hire giltes he forgrynt hem alle.
And yet the wrecches of this world is noon ywar by oother,
Ne for drede of the deeth withdrawe noght hir pride,
Ne beth plentevouse to the povere as pure charite wolde,
But in gaynesse and glotonye forglutten hir good hemselve,
And breketh noght to the beggere as the Book techeth
Frange esurienti panem tuum &c.
And the moore he wynneth and welt welthes and richesse
And lordeth in ledes and londes, the lasse good he deleth.
‘ Tobye techeth yow noght so! Taketh hede, ye riche,
How the book Bible of hym bereth witnesse
Si tibi sit copia, habundantur tribue; si autem exiguum,illud impertiri libenter
Whoso hath muche, spende manliche – so meneth Tobye –
And whoso litel weldeth, [loke] hym therafter,
For we have no lettre of oure lif, how longe it shal dure.
Swiche lessons lordes sholde lovye to here,
And how he myghte moost meynee manliche fynde – –
Noght to fare as a fithelere or a frere for to seke festes,
Homliche at othere mennes houses, and hatien hir owene.
‘Elenge is the halle, ech day in the wike,
Ther the lord ne the lady liketh noght to sitte.
Now hath ech riche a rule – to eten by hymselve
In a pryvee parlour for povere mennes sake,
Or in a chambre with a chymenee, and leve the chief halle
That was maad for meles, men to eten inne,
And al to spare to spille that spende shal another.
‘I have yherd heighe men etyng at the table
Carpen as thei clerkes were of Crist and of hise myghtes,
And leyden fautes upon the fader that formede us alle,
And carpen ayein clerkes crabbede wordes
‘ Why wolde Oure Saveour suffre swich a worm in his blisse,
That bi[w]iled the womman and the [wye] after,
Thorugh whiche wiles and wordes thei wente to helle,
And al hir seed for hir synne the same deeth suffrede?
‘ Here lyeth youre lore,’ thise lordes gynneth dispute,
‘ Of that ye clerkes us kenneth of Crist by the Gospel
Filius non portabit iniquitatem patris &c.
Why sholde we that now ben, for the werkes of Adam
Roten and torende? Reson wolde it nevere!
Unusquisque portabit onus suum &c.’
‘Swiche motyves they meve, thise maistres in hir glorie,
And maken men in mysbileve that muse muche on hire wordes.
Ymaginatif herafterward shal answere to youre purpos.
‘Austyn to swiche argueres, he telleth hem this teme
Non plus sapere quam oport.
Wilneth nevere to wite why that God wolde
Suffre Sathan his seed to bigile;
Ac bileveth lelly in the loore of Holy Chirche,
And preie hym of pardon and penaunce in thi lyve,
And for his muche mercy to amende yow here.
For alle that wilneth to wite the whyes of God almyghty,
I wolde his eighe were in his ers and his fynger after
That evere wilneth to wite why that God wolde
Suffre Sathan his seed to bigile,
Or Judas the Jew Jesu bitraye.
Al was as he wolde – Lord, yworshiped be thow –
And al worth as thow wolt whatso we dispute.
‘And tho that useth thise havylons to [a]blende mennes wittes
What is Dowel fro Dobet, now deef mote he worthe,
Siththe he wilneth to wite whiche thei ben alle.
But if he lyve in the lif that longeth to Dowel,
I dar ben his bolde borgh that Dobet wole he nevere,
Theigh Dobest drawe on hym day after oother.’
And whan that Wit was ywar what Dame Studie tolde,
He bicom so confus he kouthe noght loke,
And as doumb as a dore nail drough hym aside.
And for no carpyng I kouthe after, ne knelyng to the grounde,
I myghte gete no greyn of his grete wittes,
But al laughynge he louted and loked upon Studie
In signe that I sholde bisechen hire of grace.
And whan I was war of his wille, to his wif gan I loute,
And seide, ‘ Mercy, madame; youre man shal I worthe
As longe as I lyve, bothe late and rathe,
For to werche youre wille the while my lif dureth,
With that ye kenne me kyndely to knowe what is Dowel.’
‘ For thi mekenesse, man,’ quod she, ‘and for thi mylde speche,
I shal kenne thee to my cosyn that Clergie is hoten.
He hath wedded a wif withinne thise sixe monthes,
Is sib to the sevene arts – Scripture is hir name.
They two, as I hope, after my techyng,
Shullen wissen thee to Dowel, I dar wel undertake.’
Thanne was I as fayn as fowel of fair morwe,
Gladder than the gleman that gold hath to yifte,
And asked hire the heighe wey where that Clergie dwelte,
‘And tel me som tokene,’ quod I, ‘for tyme is that I wende.’
‘Aske the heighe wey,’ quod she,-hennes to Suffre-
Bothe-wele-and-wo, if that thow wolt lerne;
And ryd forth by richesse, ac rest thow noght therinne,
For if thow couplest thee therwith to Clergie comestow nevere.
‘And also the likerouse launde that Lecherie hatte –
Leve hym on thi left half a large myle or moore,
Til thow come to a court, Kepe-wel-thi-tunge-
Thanne shaltow se Sobretee and Sympletee-of-speche,
That ech wight be in wille his wit thee to shewe;
And thus shaltow come to Clergie, that kan manye thynges.
‘Seye hym this signeI sette hym to scole,
And that I grete wel his wif, for I wroot hire [the bible],
And sette hire to Sapience and to the Sauter glosed.
Logyk I lerned hire, and [al the Lawe after],
And alle the musons in Musik I made hire to knowe.
‘Plato the poete, I putte hym first to boke;
Aristotle and othere mo to argue I taughte.
Grammer for girles I garte first write,
And bette hem with a baleys but if thei wolde lerne.
Of alle kynne craftes I contreved tooles –
Of carpentrie, of kerveres, and compased masons,
And lerned hem level and lyne, though I loke dymme.
‘Ac Theologie hath tened me ten score tymes
The moore I muse therinne, the myst[lok]er it semeth,
And the depper I devyne, the derker me it thynketh.
It is no science, forsothe, for to sotile inne.
[If that love nere, that lith therinne, a ful lethi thyng it were];
Ac for it let best by love, I love it the bettre,
For there that love is ledere, ne lakked nevere grace.
Loke thow love lelly, if thee liketh Dowel,
For Dobet and Dobest ben of loves k[e]nn[yng].
‘In oother seience it seith – I seigh it in Catoun –
Qui simulat verbis, nec corde est fidus amicus,
Tu quoque fac simile; sic ars deluditur arte
Whoso gloseth as gylours doon, go me to the same,
And so shaltow fals folk and feithlees bigile –
This is Catons kennyng to clerkes that he lereth.
Ac Theologie techeth noght so, whoso taketh yeme;
He kenneth us the contrarie ayein Catons wordes,
For he biddeth us be as bretheren, and bidde for oure enemys,
And loven hem that lyen on us, and lene hem whan hem nedeth,
And to do good agein yvel – God hymself hoteth
Dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum ad omnes,
maxime autem ad domesticos fidei.
‘Poul preched the peple, that parfitnesse lovede,
To do good for Goddes love and gywen den that asked,
And [sovereyn]ly to swiche that suwen oure bileve,
And alle that lakketh us or lyeth us, Oure Lord techeth us to lovye,
And noght to greven hem that greveth us – God hymself forbad it
Michi vindictam et ego retribuam.
Forthi loke thow lovye as longe as thow durest,
For is no science under sonne so sovereyn for the soule.
‘Ac Astronomye is hard thyng, and yvel for to knowe
Geometry and Geomesie is gynful of speche;
Whoso thynketh werche with tho t[hre] thryveth ful late –
For sorcerie is the sovereyn book that to the science bilongeth.
‘ Yet ar ther fibicches in forceres of fele mennes makynge,
Experiments of Alkenamye the peple to deceyve;
If thow thynke to dowel, deel therwith nevere!
Alle thise sciences I myself sotilede and ordeynede,
And founded hem formest folk to deceyve.
‘Tel Clergie thise tokenes, and to Scripture after,
To counseille thee kyndely to knowe what is Dowel.’
I seide, ‘ Graunt mercy, madame,’ and mekely hir grette,
And wente wightly my wey withoute moore lettyng –
And til I com to Clergie I koude nevere stynte.
I grette the goode man as the goode wif me taughte,
And afterwardes the wif, and worshiped hem bothe,
And tolde hem the tokenes that me taught were.
Was nevere gome upon this ground, sith God made the worlde,
Fairer underfongen ne frendloker at ese
Than myself, soothly, soone so he wiste
That I was of Wittes hous and with his wif Dame Studie.
I seide to hem soothly that sent was I thider
Dowel and I and Dobt to leme.
‘It is a commune lyf,’ quod Mergie, ‘on Holy Chirche to bileve,
With alle the articles of the feith that falleth to be knowe
And that is to bileve lelly, bothe lered and lewed,
On the grete God that gynnyng hadde nevere,
And on the soothfast Sone that saved mankynde
Fro the dedly deeth and the develes power
Thorugh the help of the Holy Goost, the which goost is of bothe –
Thre propre persones, ac noght in plurel nombre,
For al is but oon God and ech is God hymselve
Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus Spiritus Sanctus –
God the Fader, God the Sone, God Holy Goost of bothe,
Maker of mankynde and of [animal]es bothe.
‘Austyn the olde herof made bokes,
And hymself ordeyned to sadde us in bileve.
Who was his auctour? Alle the foure Evaungelistes;
And Crist cleped hymself so, the [same] bereth witnesse
Ego in patre et pater in me est, et qui videt me
videt et patrem meum.
‘Alle the clerkes under Crist ne koude this assoille,
But thus it bilongeth to bileve to lewed that willen dowel.
For hadde nevere freke fyn wit the feith to dispute,
Ne man hadde no merite, myghte it ben ypreved
fides non habet meritum ubi humana racio prebet experimentum.
‘[Siththen] is Dobet to suffre for thi soules helthe
Al that the Book bit bi Holi Cherches techyng –
And that is, man, bi thy myght, for mercies sake,
Loke thow werche it in werk that thi word sheweth;
Swich as thow semest in sighte be in assay yfounde
Appare quod es vel esto quod appares.
And lat no body be by thi beryng bigiled,
But be swich in thi soule as thow semest withoute.
‘Thanne is Dobest to be boold to blame the gilty,
Sythenes thow seest thiself as in soule clene;
Ac blame thow nevere body and thow be blameworthy
Si culpare velis culpabilis esse cavebis,
Dogma tuum sordet cum te tua culpa remordet.
God in the Gospel grymly repreveth
Alle that lakketh any lif and lakkes han hemselve
Quid consideras festucam in oculo fratris tui, trabem in
oculo tuo, &c.
Why mevestow thi mood for a mote in thi brotheres eighe,
Sithen a beem in thyn owene ablyndeth thiselve?
Eice primo trabem de oculo tuo, &c.
Which letteth thee to loke, lasse outher moore?
‘ I rede ech a blynd bosard do boote to hymselve –
As persons and parissh preestes, that preche sholde and teche
Alle maner men to amenden, bi hire myghte.
This text was told yow to ben war, er ye taughte,
That ye were swiche as ye seyde to salve with othere.
For Goddes word wolde noght be lost – for that wercheth evere;
If it availled noght the commune, it myghte availle yowselve.
‘Ac it semeth now soothly, to [sighte of the worlde],
That Goddes word wercheth no [wi]ght on lered ne on lewed
But in swich a manere as Marc meneth in the Gospel
Dum cecus ducit cecum, ambo in foveam cadunt.
‘Lewed men rnay likne yow thus – that the beem lith in youre eighen,
And the festu is fallen, for youre defaute,
In alle manere men thorugh mansede preestes.
The Bible bereth witnesse that alle the [barnes] of Israel
Bittre aboughte the giltes of two badde preestes,
Offyn and Fynes – for hir coveitise
Archa Dei myshapped and Ely brak his nekke.
‘ Forthi, ye correctours, claweth heron, and correcteth first yowselve,
And thanne mowe ye manliche seye, as David made the Sauter
Existimasti inique quod ero tui similisArguam te, et statuam contra faciem t
‘And thanne shul burel clerkes ben abasshed to blame yow or to greve,
And carpen noght as thei carpe now, and calle yow doumbe hounoes –
Canes non valentes latrare –
And drede to wrathe yow in any word, youre werkmanshipe to lette,
And be prester at youre preiere than for a pound of nobles.
And al for youre holynesse – have ye this in herte.
‘Amonges rightful religious this rule sholde be holde.
Gregorie, the grete clerk and the goode pope,
Of religioun the rule reherseth in his Morales
And seith it in ensample for thei sholde do therafter
‘ Whan fisshes faillen the flood or the fresshe water,
Thei deyen for droughte, whan thei drie ligge;
Right so religion ro[i]leth [and] sterveth
That out of covent and cloistre coveiten to libbe.”
For if hevene be on this erthe, and ese to any soule,
It is in cloistre or in scole, by manye skiles I fynde.
For in cloistre cometh no man to chide ne to fighte,
But al is buxomnesse there and bokes, to rede and to lerne.
‘In scole there is scorn but if a clerk wol lerne,
And gret love and likyng, for ech of hem l[er]eth oother.
Ac now is Religion a rydere, a romere by stretes,
A ledere of lovedayes and a lond buggere,
A prikere on a palfrey fro manere to manere,
An heep of houndes at his ers as he a lord were;
And but if his knave knele that shal his coppe brynge,
He loureth on hym and asketh hym who taughte hym curteisie?
Litel hadde lordes to doon to yyve lond from hire heires
To religious that han no routhe though it reyne on hir auters.
‘In many places ther thei persons ben, by hemself at ese,
Of the povere have thei no pite – and that is hir pure charite,
Ac thei leten hem as lordes, hir lond lith so brode.
‘Ac ther shal come a kyng and confesse yow religiouses,
And bete yow, as the Bible telleth, for brekynge of youre rule,
And amende monyals, monkes and chanons,
And puten hem to hir penaunce – Ad pristinum statum ire,
And barons with erles beten hem, thorugh Beatus virres techyng,
[Biyeten] that hir barnes clayrnen, and blame yow foule
Hii in curribus et hii in equis ipsi obligati sunt &c.
‘And thanne freres in hir fraytour shul fynden a keye
Of Costantyns cofres, in which [the catel is]
That Gregories godchildren [g]an yvele despende.
‘And thanne shal the Abbot of Abyngdoun and al his issue for evere
Have a knok of a kyng, and incurable the wounde.
That this worth sooth, seke ye that ofte overse the Bible
Quomodo cessavit exactor, quievit tributum? Contrivit Dominus
baculum impiorum, et virgam dominancium cedencium plaga insanabili.
‘Ac er that kyng come Caym shal awake,
Ac Dowel shal dyngen hym adoun and destruye his myghte.’
‘Thanne is Dowel and Dobet,’ quod I, ‘dominus and knyghthode?’
‘ I nel noght scorne,’ quod Scripture; ‘ but if scryveynes lye,
Kynghod ne knyghthod, by noght I kan awayte,
Helpeth noght to heveneward oone heeris ende,
Ne richesse right noght, ne reautee of lordes.
‘ Poul preveth it impossible – riche men to have hevene.
Salamon seith also that silver is worst to lovye
Nichil iniquius quam amare pecuniam
And Caton kenneth us to coveiten it naught but as nede techeth
Dilige denarium set parce dilige formam.
And patriarkes and prophetes and poetes bothe
Writen to wissen us to wilne no richesse,
And preiseden poverte with pacience; the Apostles bereth witnesse
That thei han eritage in hevene – and by trewe righte,
Ther riche men no right may cleyme, but of ruthe and grace.’
‘ Contra,’ quod I, ‘ by Crist! That kan I repreve,
And preven it by Peter and by Poul bothe
That is baptized beth saaf, be he riche or povere.’
‘That is in extremis,’ quod Scripture, ‘ amonges Sarsens and Jewes –
They mowen be saved so, and [so] is oure bileve
That an uncristene in that caas may cristen an hethen,
And for his lele bileve, whan he the lif tyneth,
Have the heritage of hevene as any man Cristene.
‘Ac Cristene men withoute moore maye noght come to hevene,
For that Crist for Cristene men deide, and confermed the lawe
That whoso wolde and wilneth with Crist to arise –
Si cum Christo surrexistis &c –
He sholde lovye and lene and the lawe fulfille.
That is, love thi Lord God levest aboven alle,
And after, alle Cristene creatures in commune, ech man oother;
And thus bilongeth to lovye, that leveth to be saved.
And but we do thus in dede er the day of dome,
It shal bisitten us ful soure, the silver that we kepen,
And oure bakkes that mothe-eten be, and seen beggeris go naked,
Or delit in wyn and wildefowel, and wite any in defaute.
For every Cristene creature sholde be kynde til oother,
And sithen hethen to helpe in hope of amendement.
-God hoteth heighe and lowe that no man hurte oother,
And seith, ‘Slee noght that semblable is to myn owene liknesse,
But if I sende thee som tokene,’ and seith ‘ Non mecaberis –
Is slee noght but suffre, and al[so] for the beste,
For Michi vindictam et ego retribuam.
”For I shal punysshe in purgatorie or in the put of helle
Ech man for hise mysdedes, but mercy it lette.’
‘ This is a long lesson.’ quod I, ‘ and litel am I the wiser!
Where Dowel is or Dobet derkliche ye shewen.
Manye tales ye tellen that Theologie lerneth,
And that I man maad was, and my name yentred
In the legende of lif longe er I were,
Or ellis unwriten for som wikkednesse, as Holy Writ witnesseth
Nemo ascendit ad celum nisi qui de celo descendit.
‘And I leve it wel, by Oure Lord and on no lettrure bettre.
For Salomon the Sage that Sapienee [made]
God gaf hym grace of wit and alle goodes after
To rule the reume and riche to make;
He demed wel and wisely, as Holy Writ telleth.
Aristotle and he – who wissed men bettre?
Maistres that of Goddes mercy techen men and prechen,
Of hir wordes thei wissen us for wisest as in hir tyme –
And al Holy Chirche holdeth hem bothe [in helle]!
And if I sholde werche by hir werkes to wynne me hevene,
That for hir werkes and wit now wonyeth in pyne –
Thanne wroughte I unwisly. whatsoevere ye preche!
‘Ac of fele witty, in feith, litel ferly I have
Though hir goost be ungracious God for to plese.
For many men on this moolde moore setten hir herte
In good than in God – forthi hem grace failleth
At hir mooste mesehief, whan [men] shal lif lete,
As Salamon dide and swiche othere, that shewed grete wittes,
Ac hir werkes, as Holy Writ seith, was evere the contrarie.
Forthi wise witted men and wel ylettred clerkes
As thei seyen hemself selde doon therafter
Super cathedram Moysi &c.
‘Ac I wene it worth of manye as was in Noes tyme
Tho he shoop that ship of shides and of bordes
Was nevere wrighte saved that wroghte theron, ne oother werkman ellis,
But briddes and beestes and the blissed Noe
And his wif with hise sones and also hire wyves
Of wrightes that it wroghte was noon of hem ysaved.
‘God lene it fare noght so bi folk that the feith techeth
Of Holi Chirche, that herberwe is and Goddes hous to save
And shilden us from shame therinne, as Noes ship dide beestes.
And men that maden it amydde the flood adreynten.
The culorum of this clause curatours is to mene,
That ben carpenters Holy Kirk to rnake for Cristes owene beestes
Homines et iumenta salvabis, Domine, &c.
At domesday the deluvye worth of deth and fir at ones;
Forthi I counseille yow clerkes, of Holy [Kirke] the wrightes,
Wercheth ye werkes as ye sen ywrite, lest ye worthe noght therinne!
‘On Good Friday, I fynde, a felon was ysaved
That hadde lyved al his lif with lesynges and with thefte;
And for he beknew on the cros and to Crist shrof hym,
He was sonner ysaved than Seint Johan the Baptist
And or Adam or Ysaye or any of the prophetes,
That hadde yleyen with Lucifer many longe yeres.
A robbere was yraunsoned rather than thei alle
Withouten penaunce of purgatorie to perpetuel blisse.
‘ Than Marie Maudeleyne wh[o myghte do] werse?
Or who worse dide than David, that Uries deeth conspired?
Or Poul the Apostle that no pite hadde
Cristene kynde to kille to dethe?
And now ben thise as sovereyns with seintes in hevene –
Tho that wroughte wikkedlokest in world tho thei were;
And tho that wisely wordeden and writen manye bokes
Of wit and of wisedom, with dampned soules wonye.
-That Salomon seith I trowe be sooth and certein of us alle
Sunt iusti atque sapientes, et opera eorum in manu Dei sunt, &c.
Ther are witty and wel libbynge, ac hire werkes ben yhudde
In the hondes of almyghty God, and he woot the sothe –
Wher for love a man worth allowed there and hise lele werkes,
Or ellis for his yvel wille and envye of herte,
And be allowed as he lyved so, for by luthere men knoweth the goode
‘And wherby wiste men which is whit, if alle thyng blak were,
And who were a good man but if ther were som sherewe?
Forthi lyve we forth with lithere men – I leve fewe ben goode –
For ‘quant OPOR TET vient en place il ny ad que PA TI,’
And he that may al amende, have mercy on us alle!
For sothest word that ever God seide was tho he seide Nemo bonus.
‘[And yet have I forgete ferther of fyve wittes techyng
That] Clergie of Cristes mouth comended was it [nevere];
For he seide to Seint Peter and to swiche as he lovede,
‘ Dum steteritis ante reges et presides &c.
Though ye come bifore kynges and clerkes of the lawe,
Beth noght abasshed, for I shal be in youre mouthes,
And yyve yow wit at wille [with] konnyng to conclude hem
Alle that ayeins yow of Cristendom disputen.’
‘David maketh mencion, he spak amonges kynges,
And myghte no kyng overcomen hym as by konnynge of speche.
But wit ne wisedom wan nevere the maistrie
When man was at meschief withoute the moore grace.
‘The doughtieste doctour and devinour of the Trinitee,
Was Austyn the olde, and heighest of the foure,
Seide thus in a sermon – I seigh it writen ones –
‘ Ecce ipsi idiote rapiunt celum ubi nos sapientes in inferno mergimur’
And is to mene to Englissh men, moore ne lesse,
Arn none rather yravysshed fro the righte bileve
Than an thise konnynge clerkes that konne manye bokes,
Ne none sonner saved, ne sadder of bileve
Than plowmen and pastours and povere commune laborers,
Souteres and shepherdes – swiche lewed juttes
Perce with a Paternoster the paleys of hevene
And passen purgatorie penauncelees at hir hennes partyng
Into the blisse of paradis for hir pure bileve,
That inparfitly here knewe and ek lyvede.
‘ Ye, men knowe clerkes that han corsed the tyme
That evere thei kouthe or knewe moore than Credo in Deum patrem
And principally hir paternoster – many a persone hath wisshed.
‘I se ensamples myself and so may manye othere,
That servaunts that serven lordes selde fallen in arerage
But tho that kepen the lordes catel – clerkes and reves.
Right so lewed men and of litel knowyng,
Selden falle thei so foule and so fer in synne
As clerkes of Holy Kirke that kepen Cristes tresor –
The which is mannes soule to save, as God seith in the Gospel
”Ite vos in vineam meam.”’
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