Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extracts from The Steel Glass: Piers Ploughman
By George Gascoigne (d. 1577)
BEHOLD him, priests, and though he stink of sweat,
Disdain him not: for shall I tell you what?
Such climb to heaven before the shaven crowns:
But how? forsooth with true humility.
Not that they hoard their grain when it is cheap,        5
Nor that they kill the calf to have the milk,
Nor that they set debate between their lords,
By earing up the balks that part their bounds:
Nor for because they can both crouch and creep
(The guileful’st men that ever God yet made)        10
When as they mean most mischief and deceit,
Nor that they can cry out on landlords loud,
And say they rack their rents an ace too high,
When they themselves do sell their landlord’s lamb
For greater price than ewe was wont be worth.        15
(I see you Piers, my glass was lately scoured.)
But for they feed with fruits of their great pains
Both king and knight and priests in cloister pent:
Therefore I say that sooner some of them
Shall scale the walls which lead us up to heaven,        20
Than cornfed beasts, whose belly is their God,
Although they preach of more perfection.

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