Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
The Romaunt of the Rose
Fragment C
WHAN Love had told hem his entente,
The baronage to councel wente;
In many sentences they fille,
And dyversly they seide hir wille:
But aftir discord they accorded,        5
And hir accord to Love recorded.
‘Sir,’ seiden they, ‘we been at oon,
By even accord of everichoon,
Out-take Richesse al-only,
That sworen hath ful hauteynly,        10
That she the castel nil assaile,
Ne smyte a stroke in this bataile,
With dart, ne mace, spere, ne knyf,
For man that speketh or bereth the lyf,
And blameth your empryse, y-wis,        15
And from our hoost departed is,
(At leeste wey, as in this plyte,)
So hath she this man in dispyte;
For she seith he ne loved hir never,
And therfor she wol hate him ever.        20
For he wol gadre no tresore,
He hath hir wrath for evermore.
He agilte hir never in other caas,
Lo, here al hoolly his trespas!
She seith wel, that this other day        25
He asked hir leve to goon the way
That is clepid To-moche-Yeving,
And spak ful faire in his praying;
But whan he prayde hir, pore was he,
Therfore she warned him the entree.        30
Ne yit is he not thriven so
That he hath geten a peny or two,
That quitly is his owne in hold.
Thus hath Richesse us alle told;
And whan Richesse us this recorded,        35
Withouten hir we been accorded.
  ‘And we finde in our accordaunce,
That False-Semblant and Abstinaunce,
With alle the folk of hir bataile,
Shulle at the hinder gate assayle,        40
That Wikkid-Tunge hath in keping,
With his Normans, fulle of Iangling.
And with hem Curtesie and Largesse,
That shulle shewe hir hardinesse
To the olde wyf that [kepeth] so harde        45
Fair-Welcoming within her warde.
Than shal Delyte and Wel-Helinge
Fonde Shame adoun to bringe;
With al hir hoost, erly and late,
They shulle assailen [thilke] gate.        50
Agaynes Drede shal Hardinesse
Assayle, and also Sikernesse,
With al the folk of hir leding,
That never wist what was fleing.
  ‘Fraunchyse shal fighte, and eek Pitee,        55
With Daunger ful of crueltee.
Thus is your hoost ordeyned wel;
Doun shal the castel every del,
If everiche do his entente,
So that Venus be presente,        60
Your modir, ful of vassalage,
That can y-nough of such usage;
Withouten hir may no wight spede
This werk, neither for word ne dede.
Therfore is good ye for hir sende,        65
For thurgh hir may this werk amende.’
  Amour.  ‘Lordinges, my modir, the goddesse,
That is my lady, and my maistresse,
Nis not [at] al at my willing,
Ne doth not al my desyring.        70
Yit can she som-tyme doon labour,
Whan that hir lust, in my socour,
[Al my nedis] for to acheve,
But now I thenke hir not to greve.
My modir is she, and of child-hede        75
I bothe worshipe hir, and eek drede;
For who that dredith sire ne dame
Shal it abye in body or name.
And, natheles, yit cunne we
Sende aftir hir, if nede be;        80
And were she nigh, she comen wolde,
I trowe that no-thing might hir holde.
  ‘My modir is of greet prowesse;
She hath tan many a forteresse,
That cost hath many a pound er this,        85
Ther I nas not present, y-wis;
And yit men seide it was my dede;
But I come never in that stede;
Ne me ne lykith, so mote I thee,
Such toures take withoute me.        90
For-why me thenketh that, in no wyse,
It may ben cleped but marchandise.
  ‘Go bye a courser, blak or whyte,
And pay therfor; than art thou quyte.
The marchaunt oweth thee right nought,        95
Ne thou him, whan thou [hast] it bought.
I wol not selling clepe yeving,
For selling axeth no guerdoning;
Here lyth no thank, ne no meryte,
That oon goth from that other al quyte.        100
But this selling is not semblable;
For, whan his hors is in the stable,
He may it selle ageyn, pardee,
And winne on it, such hap may be;
Al may the man not lese, y-wis,        105
For at the leest the skin is his.
Or elles, if it so bityde
That he wol kepe his hors to ryde,
Yit is he lord ay of his hors.
But thilke chaffare is wel wors,        110
There Venus entremeteth nought;
For who-so such chaffare hath bought,
He shal not worchen so wysly,
That he ne shal lese al outerly
Bothe his money and his chaffare;        115
But the seller of the ware
The prys and profit have shal.
Certeyn, the byer shal lese al;
For he ne can so dere it bye
To have lordship and ful maistrye,        120
Ne have power to make letting
Neither for yift ne for preching,
That of his chaffare, maugre his,
Another shal have as moche, y-wis,
If he wol yeve as moche as he,        125
Of what contrey so that he be;
Or for right nought, so happe may,
If he can flater hir to hir pay.
Ben than suche marchaunts wyse?
No, but fooles in every wyse,        130
Whan they bye such thing wilfully,
Ther-as they lese her good [fully].
But natheles, this dar I saye,
My modir is not wont to paye,
For she is neither so fool ne nyce,        135
To entremete hir of sich vyce.
But truste wel, he shal paye al,
That repente of his bargeyn shal,
Whan Poverte put him in distresse,
Al were he scoler to Richesse,        140
That is for me in gret yerning,
Whan she assenteth to my willing.
  ‘But, [by] my modir seint Venus,
And by hir fader Saturnus,
That hir engendrid by his lyf,        145
But not upon his weddid wyf!
Yit wol I more unto you swere,
To make this thing the seurere;
Now by that feith, and that leautee
I owe to alle my brethren free,        150
Of which ther nis wight under heven
That can her fadris names neven,
So dyvers and so many ther be
That with my modir have be privee!
Yit wolde I swere, for sikirnesse,        155
The pole of helle to my witnesse,
Now drinke I not this yeer clarree,
If that I lye, or forsworn be!
(For of the goddes the usage is,
That who-so him forswereth amis,        160
Shal that yeer drinke no clarree).
Now have I sworn y-nough, pardee;
If I forswere me, than am I lorn,
But I wol never be forsworn.
Sith Richesse hath me failed here,        165
She shal abye that trespas dere,
At leeste wey, but [she] hir arme
With swerd, or sparth, or gisarme.
For certes, sith she loveth not me,
Fro thilke tyme that she may see        170
The castel and the tour to-shake,
In sory tyme she shal awake.
If I may grype a riche man,
I shal so pulle him, if I can,
That he shal, in a fewe stoundes,        175
Lese alle his markes and his poundes.
I shal him make his pens outslinge,
But-[if] they in his gerner springe;
Our maydens shal eek plukke him so,
That him shal neden fetheres mo,        180
And make him selle his lond to spende,
But he the bet cunne him defende.
  ‘Pore men han maad hir lord of me;
Although they not so mighty be,
That they may fede me in delyt,        185
I wol not have hem in despyt.
No good man hateth hem, as I gesse,
For chinche and feloun is Richesse,
That so can chase hem and dispyse,
And hem defoule in sondry wyse.        190
They loven ful bet, so god me spede,
Than doth the riche, chinchy grede,
And been, in good feith, more stable
And trewer, and more serviable;
And therfore it suffysith me        195
Hir goode herte, and hir leautee.
They han on me set al hir thought,
And therfore I forgete hem nought.
I wolde hem bringe in greet noblesse,
If that I were god of Richesse,        200
As I am god of Love, sothly,
Such routhe upon hir pleynt have I.
Therfore I must his socour be,
That peyneth him to serven me;
For if he deyde for love of this,        205
Than semeth in me no love ther is.’
  ‘Sir,’ seide they, ‘sooth is, every del,
That ye reherce, and we wot wel
Thilk oth to holde is resonable;
For it is good and covenable,        210
That ye on riche men han sworn.
For, sir, this wot we wel biforn;
If riche men doon you homage,
That is as fooles doon outrage;
But ye shul not forsworen be,        215
Ne let therfore to drinke clarree,
Or piment maked fresh and newe.
Ladyes shulle hem such pepir brewe,
If that they falle into hir laas,
That they for wo mowe seyn “Allas!”        220
Ladyes shuln ever so curteis be,
That they shal quyte your oth al free.
Ne seketh never other vicaire,
For they shal speke with hem so faire
That ye shal holde you payed ful wel,        225
Though ye you medle never a del.
Lat ladies worche with hir thinges,
They shal hem telle so fele tydinges,
And moeve hem eke so many requestis
By flatery, that not honest is,        230
And therto yeve hem such thankinges,
What with kissing, and with talkinges,
That certes, if they trowed be,
Shal never leve hem lond ne fee
That it nil as the moeble fare,        235
Of which they first delivered are.
Now may ye telle us al your wille,
And we your hestes shal fulfille.
  ‘But Fals-Semblant dar not, for drede
Of you, sir, medle him of this dede,        240
For he seith that ye been his fo;
He not, if ye wol worche him wo.
Wherfore we pray you alle, beausire,
That ye forgive him now your ire,
And that he may dwelle, as your man,        245
With Abstinence, his dere lemman:
This our accord and our wil now.’
  ‘Parfay,’ seide Love, ‘I graunte it yow;
I wol wel holde him for my man;
Now lat him come:’ and he forth ran.        250
‘Fals-Semblant,’ quod Love, ‘in this wyse
I take thee here to my servyse,
That thou our freendis helpe alway,
And hindre hem neithir night ne day,
But do thy might hem to releve,        255
And eek our enemies that thou greve.
Thyn be this might, I graunt it thee,
My king of harlotes shalt thou be;
We wol that thou have such honour.
Certeyn, thou art a fals traitour,        260
And eek a theef; sith thou were born,
A thousand tyme thou art forsworn.
But, natheles, in our hering,
To putte our folk out of douting,
I bid thee teche hem, wostow how?        265
By somme general signe now,
In what place thou shalt founden be,
If that men had mister of thee;
And how men shal thee best espye,
For thee to knowe is greet maistrye;        270
Tel in what place is thyn haunting.’
  F. Sem.  ‘Sir, I have fele dyvers woning,
That I kepe not rehersed be,
So that ye wolde respyten me.
For if that I telle you the sothe,        275
I may have harm and shame bothe.
If that my felowes wisten it,
My tales shulden me be quit;
For certeyn, they wolde hate me,
If ever I knewe hir cruelte;        280
For they wolde over-al holde hem stille
Of trouthe that is ageyn hir wille;
Suche tales kepen they not here.
I might eftsone bye it ful dere,
If I seide of hem any thing,        285
That ought displeseth to hir hering.
For what word that hem prikke or byteth,
In that word noon of hem delyteth,
Al were it gospel, the evangyle,
That wolde reprove hem of hir gyle,        290
For they are cruel and hauteyn.
And this thing wot I wel, certeyn,
If I speke ought to peire hir loos,
Your court shal not so wel be cloos,
That they ne shal wite it atte last.        295
Of good men am I nought agast,
For they wol taken on hem nothing,
Whan that they knowe al my mening;
But he that wol it on him take,
He wol himself suspecious make,        300
That he his lyf let covertly,
In Gyle and in Ipocrisy,
That me engendred and yaf fostring.’
  ‘They made a ful good engendring,’
Quod Love, ‘for who-so soothly telle,        305
They engendred the devel of helle!
  ‘But nedely, how-so-ever it be,’
Quod Love, ‘I wol and charge thee,
To telle anoon thy woning-places,
Hering ech wight that in this place is;        310
And what lyf that thou livest also,
Hyde it no lenger now; wherto?
Thou most discover al thy wurching,
How thou servest, and of what thing,
Though that thou shuldest for thy soth-sawe        315
Ben al to-beten and to-drawe;
And yit art thou not wont, pardee.
But natheles, though thou beten be,
Thou shalt not be the first, that so
Hath for soth-sawe suffred wo.’        320
  F. Sem.  ‘Sir, sith that it may lyken you,
Though that I shulde be slayn right now,
I shal don your comaundement,
For therto have I gret talent.’
  Withouten wordes mo, right than,        325
Fals-Semblant his sermon bigan,
And seide hem thus in audience:—
‘Barouns, tak hede of my sentence!
That wight that list to have knowing
Of Fals-Semblant, ful of flatering,        330
He must in worldly folk him seke,
And, certes, in the cloistres eke;
I wone no-where but in hem tweye;
But not lyk even, sooth to seye;
Shortly, I wol herberwe me        335
There I hope best to hulstred be;
And certeynly, sikerest hyding
Is undirneth humblest clothing.
  ‘Religious folk ben ful covert;
Seculer folk ben more appert.        340
But natheles, I wol not blame
Religious folk, ne hem diffame,
In what habit that ever they go:
Religioun humble, and trewe also,
Wol I not blame, ne dispyse,        345
But I nil love it, in no wyse.
I mene of fals religious,
That stoute ben, and malicious;
That wolen in an abit go,
And setten not hir herte therto.        350
  ‘Religious folk ben al pitous;
Thou shalt not seen oon dispitous.
They loven no pryde, ne no stryf,
But humbly they wol lede hir lyf;
With swich folk wol I never be.        355
And if I dwelle, I feyne me
I may wel in her abit go;
But me were lever my nekke atwo,
Than lete a purpose that I take,
What covenaunt that ever I make.        360
I dwelle with hem that proude be,
And fulle of wyles and subtelte;
That worship of this world coveyten,
And grete nedes cunne espleyten;
And goon and gadren greet pitaunces,        365
And purchace hem the acqueyntaunces
Of men that mighty lyf may leden;
And feyne hem pore, and hem-self feden
With gode morcels delicious,
And drinken good wyn precious,        370
And preche us povert and distresse,
And fisshen hem-self greet richesse
With wyly nettis that they caste:
It wol come foul out at the laste.
They ben fro clene religioun went;        375
They make the world an argument
That hath a foul conclusioun.
“I have a robe of religioun,
Than am I al religious:”
This argument is al roignous;        380
It is not worth a croked brere;
Habit ne maketh monk ne frere,
But clene lyf and devocioun
Maketh gode men of religioun.
Nathelesse, ther can noon answere,        385
How high that ever his heed he shere
With rasour whetted never so kene,
That Gyle in braunches cut thrittene;
Ther can no wight distincte it so,
That he dar sey a word therto.        390
  ‘But what herberwe that ever I take,
Or what semblant that ever I make,
I mene but gyle, and folowe that;
For right no mo than Gibbe our cat
[Fro myce and rattes went his wyle],        395
Ne entende I [not] but to begyle;
Ne no wight may, by my clothing,
Wite with what folk is my dwelling;
Ne by my wordis yet, pardee,
So softe and so plesaunt they be.        400
Bihold the dedis that I do;
But thou be blind, thou oughtest so;
For, varie hir wordis fro hir dede,
They thenke on gyle, withouten drede,
What maner clothing that they were,        405
Or what estat that ever they bere,
Lered or lewd, lord or lady,
Knight, squier, burgeis, or bayly.’
  Right thus whyl Fals-Semblant sermoneth,
Eftsones Love him aresoneth,        410
And brak his tale in the speking
As though he had him told lesing;
And seide: ‘What, devel, is that I here?
What folk hast thou us nempned here?
May men finde religioun        415
In worldly habitacioun?’
  F. Sem.  ‘Ye, sir; it foloweth not that they
Shulde lede a wikked lyf, parfey,
Ne not therfore her soules lese,
That hem to worldly clothes chese;        420
For, certis, it were gret pitee.
Men may in seculer clothes see
Florisshen holy religioun.
Ful many a seynt in feeld and toun,
With many a virgin glorious,        425
Devout, and ful religious,
Had deyed, that comun clothe ay beren,
Yit seyntes never-the-les they weren.
I coude reken you many a ten;
Ye, wel nigh alle these holy wimmen,        430
That men in chirchis herie and seke,
Bothe maydens, and these wyves eke,
That baren many a fair child here,
Wered alwey clothis seculere,
And in the same dyden they,        435
That seyntes weren, and been alwey.
The eleven thousand maydens dere,
That beren in heven hir ciergis clere,
Of which men rede in chirche, and singe,
Were take in seculer clothing,        440
Whan they resseyved martirdom,
And wonnen heven unto her hoom.
Good herte makith the gode thought;
The clothing yeveth ne reveth nought.
The gode thought and the worching,        445
That maketh religioun flowring,
Ther lyth the good religioun
Aftir the right entencioun.
  ‘Who-so toke a wethers skin,
And wrapped a gredy wolf therin,        450
For he shulde go with lambis whyte,
Wenest thou not he wolde hem byte?
Yis! never-the-las, as he were wood,
He wolde hem wery, and drinke the blood;
And wel the rather hem disceyve,        455
For, sith they coude not perceyve
His treget and his crueltee,
They wolde him folowe, al wolde he flee.
  ‘If ther be wolves of sich hewe
Amonges these apostlis newe,        460
Thou, holy chirche, thou mayst be wayled!
Sith that thy citee is assayled
Thourgh knightis of thyn owne table,
God wot thy lordship is doutable!
If they enforce [hem] it to winne,        465
That shulde defende it fro withinne,
Who might defence ayens hem make?
Withouten stroke it mot be take
Of trepeget or mangonel;
Without displaying of pensel.        470
And if god nil don it socour,
But lat [hem] renne in this colour,
Thou moost thyn heestis laten be.
Than is ther nought, but yelde thee,
Or yeve hem tribute, doutelees,        475
And holde it of hem to have pees:
But gretter harm bityde thee,
That they al maister of it be.
Wel conne they scorne thee withal;
By day stuffen they the wal,        480
And al the night they mynen there.
Nay, thou most planten elleswhere
Thyn impes, if thou wolt fruyt have;
Abyd not there thy-self to save.
  ‘But now pees! here I turne ageyn;        485
I wol no more of this thing seyn,
If I may passen me herby;
I mighte maken you wery.
But I wol heten you alway
To helpe your freendis what I may,        490
So they wollen my company;
For they be shent al-outerly
But-if so falle, that I be
Oft with hem, and they with me.
And eek my lemman mot they serve,        495
Or they shul not my love deserve.
Forsothe, I am a fals traitour;
God iugged me for a theef trichour;
Forsworn I am, but wel nygh non
Wot of my gyle, til it be don.        500
  ‘Thourgh me hath many oon deth resseyved,
That my treget never aperceyved;
And yit resseyveth,and shal resseyve,
That my falsnesse never aperceyve:
But who-so doth, if he wys be,        505
Him is right good be war of me.
But so sligh is the [deceyving
That to hard is the] aperceyving.
For Protheus, that coude him chaunge
In every shap, hoomly and straunge,        510
Coude never sich gyle ne tresoun
As I; for I com never in toun
Ther-as I mighte knowen be,
Though men me bothe might here and see.
Ful wel I can my clothis chaunge,        515
Take oon, and make another straunge.
Now am I knight, now chasteleyn;
Now prelat, and now chapeleyn;
Now prest, now clerk, and now forstere;
Now am I maister, now scolere;        520
Now monk, now chanoun, now baily;
What-ever mister man am I.
Now am I prince, now am I page,
And can by herte every langage.
Som-tyme am I hoor and old;        525
Now am I yong, [and] stout, and bold;
Now am I Robert, now Robyn;
Now frere Menour,now Iacobyn;
And with me folweth my loteby,
To don me solas and company,        530
That hight dame Abstinence-Streyned,
In many a queynt array [y]-feyned.
Right as it cometh to hir lyking,
I fulfille al hir desiring.
Somtyme a wommans cloth take I;        535
Now am I mayde, now lady.
Somtyme I am religious;
Now lyk an anker in an hous.
Somtyme am I prioresse,
And now a nonne, and now abbesse;        540
And go thurgh alle regiouns,
Seking alle religiouns.
But to what ordre that I am sworn,
I take the strawe, and lete the corn;
To [blynde] folk [ther] I enhabite,        545
I axe no-more but hir abite.
What wol ye more? in every wyse,
Right as me list, I me disgyse.
Wel can I bere me under weed;
Unlyk is my word to my deed.        550
Thus make I in my trappis falle,
Thurgh my pryvileges, alle
That ben in Cristendom alyve.
I may assoile, and I may shryve,
That no prelat may lette me,        555
Al folk, wher-ever they founde be:
I noot no prelat may don so,
But it the pope be, and no mo,
That made thilk establisshing.
Now is not this a propre thing?        560
But, were my sleightis aperceyved,
[Ne shulde I more been receyved]
As I was wont; and wostow why?
For I dide hem a tregetry;
But therof yeve I litel tale,        565
I have the silver and the male;
So have I preched and eek shriven,
So have I take, so have [me] yiven,
Thurgh hir foly, husbond and wyf,
That I lede right a Ioly lyf,        570
Thurgh simplesse of the prelacye;
They know not al my tregetrye.
  ‘But for as moche as man and wyf
Shuld shewe hir paroche-prest hir lyf
Ones a yeer, as seith the book,        575
Er any wight his housel took,
Than have I pryvilegis large,
That may of moche thing discharge;
For he may seye right thus, pardee:—
“Sir Preest,in shrift I telle it thee,        580
That he, to whom that I am shriven,
Hath me assoiled, and me yiven
Penaunce soothly, for my sinne,
Which that I fond me gilty inne;
Ne I ne have never entencioun        585
To make double confessioun,
Ne reherce eft my shrift to thee;
O shrift is right y-nough to me.
This oughte thee suffyce wel,
Ne be not rebel never-a-del;        590
For certis, though thou haddest it sworn,
I wot no prest ne prelat born
That may to shrift eft me constreyne.
And if they don, I wol me pleyne;
For I wot where to pleyne wel.        595
Thou shalt not streyne me a del,
Ne enforce me, ne [yit] me trouble,
To make my confessioun double.
Ne I have none affeccioun
To have double absolucioun.        600
The firste is right y-nough to me;
This latter assoiling quyte I thee.
I am unbounde; what mayst thou finde
More of my sinnes me to unbinde?
For he, that might hath in his hond,        605
Of alle my sinnes me unbond.
And if thou wolt me thus constreyne,
That me mot nedis on thee pleyne,
There shal no Iugge imperial,
Ne bisshop, ne official,        610
Don Iugement on me; for I
Shal gon and pleyne me openly
Unto my shrift-fadir newe,
(That hight not Frere Wolf untrewe!)
And he shal chevise him for me,        615
For I trowe he can hampre thee.
But, lord! he wolde be wrooth withalle,
If men him wolde Frere Wolf calle!
For he wolde have no pacience,
But don al cruel vengeaunce!        620
He wolde his might don at the leest,
[Ne] no-thing spare for goddis heest.
And, god so wis be my socour,
But thou yeve me my Saviour
At Ester, whan it lyketh me,        625
Withoute presing more on thee,
I wol forth, and to him goon,
And he shal housel me anoon,
For I am out of thy grucching;
I kepe not dele with thee nothing.”        630
Thus may he shryve him, that forsaketh
His paroche-prest, and to me taketh.
And if the prest wol him refuse,
I am ful redy him to accuse,
And him punisshe and hampre so,        635
That he his chirche shal forgo.
  ‘But who-so hath in his feling
The consequence of such shryving,
Shal seen that prest may never have might
To knowe the conscience aright        640
Of him that is under his cure.
And this ageyns holy scripture,
That biddeth every herde honeste
Have verry knowing of his beste.
But pore folk that goon by strete,        645
That have no gold, ne sommes grete,
Hem wolde I lete to her prelates,
Or lete hir prestis knowe hir states,
For to me right nought yeve they.’
Amour.  ‘And why is it?’        650
        F. Sem.  ‘For they ne may.
They ben so bare, I take no keep;
But I wol have the fatte sheep;—
Lat parish prestis have the lene,
I yeve not of hir harm a bene!        655
And if that prelats grucchen it,
That oughten wroth be in hir wit,
To lese her fatte bestes so,
I shal yeve hem a stroke or two,
That they shal lesen with [the] force,        660
Ye, bothe hir mytre and hir croce.
Thus Iape I hem, and have do longe,
My priveleges been so stronge.’
  Fals-Semblant wolde have stinted here,
But Love ne made him no such chere        665
That he was wery of his sawe;
But for to make him glad and fawe,
He seide:—‘Tel on more specialy,
How that thou servest untrewly.
Tel forth, and shame thee never a del;        670
For as thyn abit shewith wel,
Thou [semest] an holy heremyte.’
  F. Sem.  ‘Soth is, but I am an ypocryte.’
  Amour.  ‘Thou gost and prechest povertee?’
  F. Sem.  ‘Ye, sir; but richesse hath poustee.’        675
  Amour.  ‘Thou prechest abstinence also?’
  F. Sem.  ‘Sir, I wol fillen, so mote I go,
My paunche of gode mete and wyne,
As shulde a maister of divyne;
For how that I me pover feyne,        680
Yit alle pore folk I disdeyne.
  ‘I love bet the acqueyntaunce
Ten tymes, of the king of Fraunce,
Than of pore man of mylde mode,
Though that his soule be also gode.        685
For whan I see beggers quaking,
Naked on mixens al stinking,
For hungre crye, and eek for care,
I entremete not of hir fare.
They been so pore, and ful of pyne,        690
They might not ones yeve me dyne,
For they have no-thing but hir lyf;
What shulde he yeve that likketh his knyf?
It is but foly to entremete,
To seke in houndes nest fat mete.        695
Let bere hem to the spitel anoon,
But, for me, comfort gete they noon.
But a riche sike usurere
Wolde I visyte and drawe nere;
Him wol I comforte and rehete,        700
For I hope of his gold to gete.
And if that wikked deth him have,
I wol go with him to his grave.
And if ther any reprove me,
Why that I lete the pore be,        705
Wostow how I [mot] ascape?
I sey, and swerë him ful rape,
That riche men han more tecches
Of sinne, than han pore wrecches,
And han of counseil more mister;        710
And therfore I wol drawe hem ner.
But as gret hurt, it may so be,
Hath soule in right gret poverte,
As soul in gret richesse, forsothe,
Al-be-it that they hurten bothe.        715
For richesse and mendicitees
Ben cleped two extremitees;
The mene is cleped suffisaunce,
Ther lyth of vertu the aboundaunce.
For Salamon, ful wel I woot,        720
In his Parables us wroot,
As it is knowe of many a wight,
In his [thrittethe] chapitre right:
“God, thou me kepe, for thy poustee,
Fro richesse and mendicitee;        725
For if a riche man him dresse
To thenke to moche on [his] richesse,
His herte on that so fer is set,
That he his creatour foryet;
And him, that [begging] wol ay greve,        730
How shulde I by his word him leve?
Unnethe that he nis a micher,
Forsworn, or elles [god is] lyer.”
Thus seith Salamones sawes;
Ne we finde writen in no lawes,        735
And namely in our Cristen lay—
(Who seith “ye,” I dar sey “nay”)—
That Crist, ne his apostlis dere,
Whyl that they walkede in erthe here,
Were never seen her bred begging,        740
For they nolde beggen for nothing.
And right thus were men wont to teche;
And in this wyse wolde it preche
The maistres of divinitee
Somtyme in Paris the citee.        745
  ‘And if men wolde ther-geyn appose
The naked text, and lete the glose,
It mighte sone assoiled be;
For men may wel the sothe see,
That, parde, they mighte axe a thing        750
Pleynly forth, without begging.
For they weren goddis herdis dere,
And cure of soules hadden here,
They nolde no-thing begge hir fode;
For aftir Crist was don on rode,        755
With [hir] propre hondis they wrought,
And with travel, and elles nought,
They wonnen al hir sustenaunce,
And liveden forth in hir penaunce,
And the remenaunt [yeve] awey        760
To other pore folk alwey.
They neither bilden tour ne halle,
But [leye] in houses smale withalle.
A mighty man, that can and may,
Shulde with his honde and body alway        765
Winne him his food in laboring,
If he ne have rent or sich a thing,
Although he be religious,
And god to serven curious.
Thus mote he don, or do trespas,        770
But-if it be in certeyn cas,
That I can reherce, if mister be,
Right wel, whan the tyme I see.
  ‘Seke the book of Seynt Austin,
Be it in paper or perchemin,        775
There-as he writ of these worchinges,
Thou shalt seen that non excusinges
A parfit man ne shulde seke
By wordis, ne by dedis eke,
Although he be religious,        780
And god to serven curious,
That he ne shal, so mote I go,
With propre hondis and body also,
Gete his food in laboring,
If he ne have propretee of thing.        785
Yit shulde he selle al his substaunce,
And with his swink have sustenaunce,
If he be parfit in bountee.
Thus han tho bookes tolde me:
For he that wol gon ydilly,        790
And useth it ay besily
To haunten other mennes table,
He is a trechour, ful of fable;
Ne he ne may, by gode resoun,
Excuse him by his orisoun.        795
For men bihoveth, in som gyse,
Som-tyme [leven] goddes servyse
To gon and purchasen her nede.
Men mote eten, that is no drede,
And slepe, and eek do other thing;        800
So longe may they leve praying.
So may they eek hir prayer blinne,
While that they werke, hir mete to winne.
Seynt Austin wol therto accorde,
In thilke book that I recorde.        805
Justinian eek, that made lawes,
Hath thus forboden, by olde dawes,
“No man, up peyne to be deed,
Mighty of body, to begge his breed,
If he may swinke, it for to gete;        810
Men shulde him rather mayme or bete,
Or doon of him apert Iustice,
Than suffren him in such malice.”
They don not wel, so mote I go,
That taken such almesse so,        815
But if they have som privelege,
That of the peyne hem wol allege.
But how that is, can I not see,
But-if the prince disseyved be;
Ne I ne wene not, sikerly,        820
That they may have it rightfully.
But I wol not determyne
Of princes power, ne defyne,
Ne by my word comprende, y-wis,
If it so fer may strecche in this.        825
I wol not entremete a del;
But I trowe that the book seith wel,
Who that taketh almesses, that be
Dewe to folk that men may see
Lame, feble, wery, and bare,        830
Pore, or in such maner care,
(That conne winne hem nevermo,
For they have no power therto),
He eteth his owne dampning,
But-if he lye, that made al thing.        835
And if ye such a truaunt finde,
Chastise him wel, if ye be kinde.
But they wolde hate you, percas,
And, if ye fillen in hir laas,
They wolde eftsones do you scathe,        840
If that they mighte, late or rathe;
For they be not ful pacient,
That han the world thus foule blent.
And witeth wel, [wher] that god bad
The good man selle al that he had,        845
And folowe him, and to pore it yive,
He wolde not therfore that he live
To serven him in mendience,
For it was never his sentence;
But he bad wirken whan that nede is,        850
And folwe him in goode dedis.
Seynt Poule, that loved al holy chirche,
He bade thapostles for to wirche,
And winnen hir lyflode in that wyse,
And hem defended truaundyse,        855
And seide, “Wirketh with your honden;”
Thus shulde the thing be undirstonden.
He nolde, y-wis, bidde hem begging,
Ne sellen gospel, ne preching,
Lest they berafte, with hir asking,        860
Folk of hir catel or of hir thing.
For in this world is many a man
That yeveth his good, for he ne can
Werne it for shame, or elles he
Wolde of the asker delivered be;        865
And, for he him encombreth so,
He yeveth him good to late him go:
But it can him no-thing profyte,
They lese the yift and the meryte.
The goode folk, that Poule to preched,        870
Profred him ofte, whan he hem teched,
Som of hir good in charite;
But therof right no-thing took he;
But of his hondwerk wolde he gete
Clothes to wryen him, and his mete.’        875
  Amour.  ‘Tel me than how a man may liven,
That al his good to pore hath yiven,
And wol but only bidde his bedis,
And never with honde laboure his nedis:
May he do so?’        880
  F. Sem.    ‘Ye, sir.’
  Amour.        ‘And how?’
  F. Sem.  ‘Sir, I wol gladly telle yow:—
Seynt Austin seith, a man may be
In houses that han propretee,        885
As templers and hospitelers,
And as these chanouns regulers,
Or whyte monkes, or these blake—
(I wole no mo ensamplis make)—
And take therof his sustening,        890
For therinne lyth no begging;
But other-weyes not, y-wis,
[If] Austin gabbeth not of this.
And yit ful many a monk laboureth,
That god in holy chirche honoureth;        895
For whan hir swinking is agoon,
They rede and singe in chirche anoon.
  ‘And for ther hath ben greet discord,
As many a wight may bere record,
Upon the estate of mendience,        900
I wol shortly, in your presence,
Telle how a man may begge at nede,
That hath not wherwith him to fede,
Maugre his felones Iangelinges,
For sothfastnesse wol non hidinges;        905
And yit, percas, I may abey,
That I to yow sothly thus sey.
  ‘Lo, here the caas especial:
If a man be so bestial
That he of no craft hath science,        910
And nought desyreth ignorence,
Than may he go a-begging yerne,
Til he som maner craft can lerne,
Thurgh which, withoute truaunding,
He may in trouthe have his living.        915
Or if he may don no labour,
For elde, or syknesse, or langour,
Or for his tendre age also,
Than may he yit a-begging go.
  ‘Or if he have, peraventure,        920
Thurgh usage of his noriture,
Lived over deliciously,
Than oughten good folk comunly
Han of his mischeef som pitee,
And suffren him also, that he        925
May gon aboute and begge his breed,
That he be not for hungur deed.
Or if he have of craft cunning,
And strengthe also, and desiring
To wirken, as he hadde what,        930
But he finde neither this ne that,
Than may he begge, til that he
Have geten his necessitee.
  ‘Or if his winning be so lyte,
That his labour wol not acquyte        935
Sufficiantly al his living,
Yit may he go his breed begging;
Fro dore to dore he may go trace,
Til he the remenaunt may purchace.
Or if a man wolde undirtake        940
Any empryse for to make,
In the rescous of our lay,
And it defenden as he may,
Be it with armes or lettrure,
Or other covenable cure,        945
If it be so he pore be,
Than may he begge, til that he
May finde in trouthe for to swinke,
And gete him clothes, mete, and drinke.
Swinke he with hondis corporel,        950
And not with hondis espirituel.
  ‘In al thise caas, and in semblables,
If that ther ben mo resonables,
He may begge, as I telle you here,
And elles nought, in no manere;        955
As William Seynt Amour wolde preche,
And ofte wolde dispute and teche
Of this matere alle openly
At Paris ful solempnely.
And al-so god my soule blesse,        960
As he had, in this stedfastnesse,
The accord of the universitee,
And of the puple, as semeth me.
  ‘No good man oughte it to refuse,
Ne oughte him therof to excuse,        965
Be wrooth or blythe who-so be;
For I wol speke, and telle it thee,
Al shulde I dye, and be put doun,
As was seynt Poul, in derk prisoun;
Or be exiled in this caas        970
With wrong, as maister William was,
That my moder Ypocrisye
Banisshed for hir greet envye.
  ‘My moder flemed him, Seynt Amour:
This noble dide such labour        975
To susteyne ever the loyaltee,
That he to moche agilte me.
He made a book, and leet it wryte,
Wherin his lyf he dide al wryte,
And wolde ich reneyed begging,        980
And lived by my traveyling,
If I ne had rent ne other good.
What? wened he that I were wood?
For labour might me never plese,
I have more wil to been at ese;        985
And have wel lever, sooth to sey,
Bifore the puple patre and prey,
And wrye me in my foxerye
Under a cope of papelardye.’
  Quod Love, ‘What devel is this I here?        990
What wordis tellest thou me here?’
  F. Sem.  ‘What, sir?’
  Amour.  ‘Falsnesse, that apert is;
Than dredist thou not god?’
  F. Sem.        ‘No, certis:        995
For selde in greet thing shal he spede
In this world, that god wol drede.
For folk that hem to vertu yiven,
And truly on her owne liven,
And hem in goodnesse ay contene,        1000
On hem is litel thrift y-sene;
Such folk drinken gret misese;
That lyf [ne] may me never plese.
But see what gold han usurers,
And silver eek in [hir] garners,        1005
Taylagiers, and these monyours,
Bailifs, bedels, provost, countours;
These liven wel nygh by ravyne;
The smale puple hem mote enclyne,
And they as wolves wol hem eten.        1010
Upon the pore folk they geten
Ful moche of that they spende or kepe;
Nis none of hem that he nil strepe,
And wryen him-self wel atte fulle;
Withoute scalding they hem pulle.        1015
The stronge the feble overgoth;
But I, that were my simple cloth,
Robbe bothe robbed and robbours,
And gyle gyled and gylours.
By my treget, I gadre and threste        1020
The greet tresour into my cheste,
That lyth with me so faste bounde.
Myn highe paleys do I founde,
And my delytes I fulfille
With wyne at feestes at my wille,        1025
And tables fulle of entremees;
I wol no lyf, but ese and pees,
And winne gold to spende also.
For whan the grete bagge is go,
It cometh right with my Iapes.        1030
Make I not wel tumble myn apes?
To winne is alwey myn entent;
My purchas is better than my rent;
For though I shulde beten be,
Over-al I entremete me;        1035
Withoute me may no wight dure.
I walke soules for to cure.
Of al the worlde cure have I
In brede and lengthe; boldely
I wol bothe preche and eek counceilen;        1040
With hondis wille I not traveilen,
For of the pope I have the bulle;
I ne holde not my wittes dulle.
I wol not stinten, in my lyve,
These emperouris for to shryve,        1045
Or kyngis, dukis, and lordis grete;
But pore folk al quyte I lete.
I love no such shryving, pardee,
But it for other cause be.
I rekke not of pore men,        1050
Hir astate is not worth an hen.
Where fyndest thou a swinker of labour
Have me unto his confessour?
But emperesses, and duchesses,
Thise quenes, and eek [thise] countesses,        1055
Thise abbesses, and eek Bigyns,
These grete ladyes palasyns,
These Ioly knightes, and baillyves,
Thise nonnes, and thise burgeis wyves,
That riche been, and eek plesing,        1060
And thise maidens welfaring,
Wher-so they clad or naked be,
Uncounceiled goth ther noon fro me.
And, for her soules savetee,
At lord and lady, and hir meynee,        1065
I axe, whan they hem to me shryve,
The propretee of al hir lyve,
And make hem trowe, bothe meest and leest,
Hir paroch-prest nis but a beest
Ayens me and my company,        1070
That shrewis been as greet as I;
For whiche I wol not hyde in hold
No privetee that me is told,
That I by word or signe, y-wis,
[Nil] make hem knowe what it is,        1075
And they wolen also tellen me;
They hele fro me no privitee.
And for to make yow hem perceyven,
That usen folk thus to disceyven,
I wol you seyn, withouten drede,        1080
What men may in the gospel rede
Of Seynt Mathew, the gospelere,
That seith, as I shal you sey here.
  ‘Upon the chaire of Moyses—
Thus is it glosed, douteles:        1085
That is the olde testament,
For therby is the chaire ment—
Sitte Scribes and Pharisen;—
That is to seyn, the cursid men
Whiche that we ypocritis calle—        1090
Doth that they preche, I rede you alle,
But doth not as they don a del,
That been not wery to seye wel,
But to do wel, no wille have they;
And they wolde binde on folk alwey,        1095
That ben to [be] begyled able,
Burdens that ben importable;
On folkes shuldres thinges they couchen
That they nil with her fingres touchen.’
  Amour.  ‘And why wol they not touche it?’        1100
  F. Sem.        ‘Why?
For hem ne list not, sikirly;
For sadde burdens that men taken
Make folkes shuldres aken.
And if they do ought that good be,        1105
That is for folk it shulde see:
Her burdens larger maken they,
And make hir hemmes wyde alwey,
And loven setes at the table,
The firste and most honourable;        1110
And for to han the first chaieris
In synagoges, to hem ful dere is;
And willen that folk hem loute and grete,
Whan that they passen thurgh the strete,
And wolen be cleped “Maister” also.        1115
But they ne shulde not willen so;
The gospel is ther-ageyns, I gesse:
That sheweth wel hir wikkidnesse.
  ‘Another custom use we:—
Of hem that wol ayens us be,        1120
We hate hem deedly everichoon,
And we wol werrey hem, as oon.
Him that oon hatith, hate we alle,
And coniecte how to doon him falle.
And if we seen him winne honour,        1125
Richesse or preys, thurgh his valour,
Provende, rent, or dignitee,
Ful fast, y-wis, compassen we
By what ladder he is clomben so;
And for to maken him doun to go,        1130
With traisoun we wole him defame,
And doon him lese his gode name.
Thus from his ladder we him take,
And thus his freendis foes we make;
But word ne wite shal he noon,        1135
Til alle his freendis been his foon.
For if we dide it openly,
We might have blame redily;
For hadde he wist of our malyce,
He hadde him kept, but he were nyce.        1140
  ‘Another is this, that, if so falle
That ther be oon among us alle
That doth a good turn, out of drede,
We seyn it is our alder dede.
Ye, sikerly, though he it feyned,        1145
Or that him list, or that him deyned
A man thurgh him avaunced be;
Therof alle parceners be we,
And tellen folk, wher-so we go,
That man thurgh us is sprongen so.        1150
And for to have of men preysing,
We purchace, thurgh our flatering,
Of riche men, of gret poustee,
Lettres, to witnesse our bountee;
So that man weneth, that may us see,        1155
That alle vertu in us be.
And alwey pore we us feyne;
But how so that we begge or pleyne,
We ben the folk, without lesing,
That al thing have without having.        1160
Thus be we dred of the puple, y-wis.
And gladly my purpos is this:—
I dele with no wight, but he
Have gold and tresour gret plentee;
Hir acqueyntaunce wel love I;        1165
This is moche my desyr, shortly.
I entremete me of brocages,
I make pees and mariages,
I am gladly executour,
And many tymes procuratour;        1170
I am somtyme messager;
That falleth not to my mister.
And many tymes I make enquestes;
For me that office not honest is;
To dele with other mennes thing,        1175
That is to me a gret lyking.
And if that ye have ought to do
In place that I repeire to,
I shal it speden thurgh my wit,
As sone as ye have told me it.        1180
So that ye serve me to pay,
My servyse shal be your alway.
But who-so wol chastyse me,
Anoon my love lost hath he;
For I love no man in no gyse,        1185
That wol me repreve or chastyse;
But I wolde al folk undirtake,
And of no wight no teching take;
For I, that other folk chastye,
Wol not be taught fro my folye.        1190
  ‘I love noon hermitage more;
Alle desertes, and holtes hore,
And grete wodes everichoon,
I lete hem to the Baptist Iohan.
I quethe him quyte, and him relesse        1195
Of Egipt al the wildirnesse;
To fer were alle my mansiouns
Fro alle citees and goode tounes.
My paleis and myn hous make I
There men may renne in openly,        1200
And sey that I the world forsake.
But al amidde I bilde and make
My hous, and swimme and pley therinne
Bet than a fish doth with his finne.
  ‘Of Antecristes men am I,        1205
Of whiche that Crist seith openly,
They have abit of holinesse,
And liven in such wikkednesse.
Outward, lambren semen we,
Fulle of goodnesse and of pitee,        1210
And inward we, withouten fable,
Ben gredy wolves ravisable.
We enviroune bothe londe and see;
With al the world werreyen we;
We wol ordeyne of alle thing,        1215
Of folkes good, and her living.
  ‘If ther be castel or citee
Wherin that any bougerons be,
Although that they of Milayne were,
For ther-of ben they blamed there:        1220
Or if a wight, out of mesure,
Wolde lene his gold, and take usure,
For that he is so coveitous:
Or if he be to leccherous,
Or [thefe, or] haunte simonye;        1225
Or provost, ful of trecherye,
Or prelat, living Iolily,
Or prest that halt his quene him by;
Or olde hores hostilers,
Or other bawdes or bordillers,        1230
Or elles blamed of any vyce,
Of whiche men shulden doon Iustyce:
By alle the seyntes that we pray,
But they defende hem with lamprey,
With luce, with elis, with samons,        1235
With tendre gees, and with capons,
With tartes, or with cheses fat,
With deynte flawnes, brode and flat,
With caleweys, or with pullaille,
With coninges, or with fyn vitaille,        1240
That we, undir our clothes wyde,
Maken thurgh our golet glyde:
Or but he wol do come in haste
Roo-venisoun, [y]-bake in paste:
Whether so that he loure or groine,        1245
He shal have of a corde a loigne,
With whiche men shal him binde and lede,
To brenne him for his sinful dede,
That men shulle here him crye and rore
A myle-wey aboute, and more.        1250
Or elles he shal in prisoun dye,
But-if he wol [our] frendship bye,
Or smerten that that he hath do,
More than his gilt amounteth to.
But, and he couthe thurgh his sleight        1255
Do maken up a tour of height,
Nought roughte I whether of stone or tree,
Or erthe, or turves though it be,
Though it were of no vounde stone,
Wrought with squyre and scantilone,        1260
So that the tour were stuffed wel
With alle richesse temporel;
And thanne, that he wolde updresse
Engyns, bothe more and lesse,
To caste at us, by every syde—        1265
To bere his goode name wyde—
Such sleightes [as] I shal yow nevene,
Barelles of wyne, by sixe or sevene,
Or gold in sakkes gret plente,
He shulde sone delivered be.        1270
And if he have noon sich pitaunces,
Late him study in equipolences,
And lete lyes and fallaces,
If that he wolde deserve our graces;
Or we shal bere him such witnesse        1275
Of sinne, and of his wrecchidnesse,
And doon his loos so wyde renne,
That al quik we shulde him brenne,
Or elles yeve him suche penaunce,
That is wel wors than the pitaunce.        1280
  ‘For thou shalt never, for nothing,
Con knowen aright by her clothing
The traitours fulle of echerye,
But thou her werkis can aspye.
And ne hadde the good keping be        1285
Whylom of the universitee,
That kepeth the key of Cristendome,
[They] had been turmented, alle and some.
Suche been the stinking [fals] prophetis;
Nis non of hem, that good prophete is;        1290
For they, thurgh wikked entencioun,
The yeer of the incarnacioun
A thousand and two hundred yeer,
Fyve and fifty, ferther ne ner,
Broughten a book, with sory grace,        1295
To yeven ensample in comune place,
That seide thus, though it were fable:—
“This is the Gospel Perdurable,
That fro the Holy Goost is sent.”
Wel were it worth to ben [y]-brent.        1300
Entitled was in such manere
This book, of which I telle here.
Ther nas no wight in al Parys,
Biforn Our Lady, at parvys,
That [he] ne mighte bye the book,        1305
To copy, if him talent took.
Ther might he see, by greet tresoun,
Ful many fals comparisoun:—
“As moche as, thurgh his grete might,
Be it of hete, or of light,        1310
The sunne sourmounteth the mone,
That troubler is, and chaungeth sone,
And the note-kernel the shelle—
(I scorne nat that I yow telle)—
Right so, withouten any gyle,        1315
Sourmounteth this noble Evangyle
The word of any evangelist.”
And to her title they token Christ;
And many such comparisoun,
Of which I make no mencioun,        1320
Might men in that boke finde,
Who-so coude of hem have minde.
  ‘The universitee, that tho was aslepe,
Gan for to braide, and taken kepe;
And at the noys the heed up-caste,        1325
Ne never sithen slepte it faste,
But up it sterte, and armes took
Ayens this fals horrible book,
Al redy bateil for to make,
And to the Iuge the book to take.        1330
But they that broughten the book there
Hente it anoon awey, for fere;
They nolde shewe it more a del,
But thenne it kepte, and kepen wil,
Til such a tyme that they may see        1335
That they so stronge woxen be,
That no wight may hem wel withstonde;
For by that book they durst not stonde.
Away they gonne it for to bere,
For they ne durste not answere        1340
By exposicioun ne glose
To that that clerkis wole appose
Ayens the cursednesse, y-wis,
That in that boke writen is.
Now wot I not, ne I can not see        1345
What maner ende that there shal be
Of al this [boke] that they hyde;
But yit algate they shal abyde
Til that they may it bet defende;
This trowe I best, wol be hir ende.        1350
  ‘Thus Antecrist abyden we,
For we ben alle of his meynee;
And what man that wol not be so,
Right sone he shal his lyf forgo.
We wol a puple on him areyse,        1355
And thurgh our gyle doon him seise,
And him on sharpe speris ryve,
Or other-weyes bringe him fro lyve,
But-if that he wol folowe, y-wis,
That in our boke writen is.        1360
Thus moche wol our book signifye,
That whyl [that] Peter hath maistrye,
May never Iohan shewe wel his might.
  ‘Now have I you declared right
The mening of the bark and rinde        1365
That makith the entenciouns blinde.
But now at erst I wol biginne
To expowne you the pith withinne:—
[And first, by Peter, as I wene,
The Pope himself we wolden mene,]        1370
And [eek] the seculers comprehende,
That Cristes lawe wol defende,
And shulde it kepen and mayntenen
Ayeines hem that al sustenen,
And falsly to the puple techen.        1375
[And] Iohan bitokeneth hem [that] prechen,
That ther nis lawe covenable
But thilke Gospel Perdurable,
That fro the Holy Gost was sent
To turne folk that been miswent.        1380
The strengthe of Iohan they undirstonde
The grace in which, they seye, they stonde,
That doth the sinful folk converte,
And hem to Iesus Crist reverte.
  ‘Ful many another horriblete        1385
May men in that boke see,
That ben comaunded, douteles,
Ayens the lawe of Rome expres;
And alle with Antecrist they holden,
As men may in the book biholden.        1390
And than comaunden they to sleen
Alle tho that with Peter been;
But they shal nevere have that might,
And, god toforn, for stryf to fight,
That they ne shal y-nough [men] finde        1395
That Peters lawe shal have in minde,
And ever holde, and so mayntene,
That at the last it shal be sene
That they shal alle come therto,
For ought that they can speke or do.        1400
And thilke lawe shal not stonde,
That they by Iohan have undirstonde;
But, maugre hem, it shal adoun,
And been brought to confusioun.
But I wol stinte of this matere,        1405
For it is wonder long to here;
But hadde that ilke book endured,
Of better estate I were ensured;
And freendis have I yit, pardee,
That han me set in greet degree.        1410
  ‘Of all this world is emperour
Gyle my fader, the trechour,
And emperesse my moder is,
Maugre the Holy Gost, y-wis.
Our mighty linage and our route        1415
Regneth in every regne aboute;
And wel is worth we [maistres] be,
For al this world governe we,
And can the folk so wel disceyve,
That noon our gyle can perceyve;        1420
And though they doon, they dar not saye;
The sothe dar no wight biwreye.
But he in Cristis wrath him ledeth,
That more than Crist my bretheren dredeth.
He nis no ful good champioun,        1425
That dredith such similacioun;
Nor that for peyne wole refusen
Us to correcten and accusen.
He wol not entremete by right,
Ne have god in his eye-sight,        1430
And therfore god shal him punyce;
But me ne rekketh of no vyce,
Sithen men us loven comunably,
And holden us for so worthy,
That we may folk repreve echoon,        1435
And we nil have repref of noon.
Whom shulden folk worshipen so
But us, that stinten never mo
To patren whyl that folk us see,
Though it not so bihinde hem be?        1440
  ‘And where is more wood folye,
Than to enhaunce chivalrye,
And love noble men and gay,
That Ioly clothis weren alway?
If they be sich folk as they semen,        1445
So clene, as men her clothis demen,
And that her wordis folowe her dede,
It is gret pite, out of drede,
For they wol be noon ypocritis!
Of hem, me thinketh [it] gret spite is;        1450
I can not love hem on no syde.
But Beggers with these hodes wyde,
With sleighe and pale faces lene,
And greye clothis not ful clene,
But fretted ful of tatarwagges,        1455
And highe shoes, knopped with dagges,
That frouncen lyke a quaile-pype,
Or botes riveling as a gype;
To such folk as I you devyse
Shuld princes and these lordes wyse        1460
Take alle her londes and her thinges,
Bothe werre and pees, in governinges;
To such folk shulde a prince him yive,
That wolde his lyf in honour live.
And if they be not as they seme,        1465
That serven thus the world to queme,
There wolde I dwelle, to disceyve
The folk, for they shal not perceyve.
  ‘But I ne speke in no such wyse,
That men shulde humble abit dispyse,        1470
So that no pryde ther-under be.
No man shulde hate, as thinketh me,
The pore man in sich clothing.
But god ne preiseth him no-thing,
That seith he hath the world forsake,        1475
And hath to worldly glorie him take,
And wol of siche delyces use;
Who may that Begger wel excuse?
That papelard, that him yeldeth so,
And wol to worldly ese go,        1480
And seith that he the world hath left,
And gredily it grypeth eft,
He is the hound, shame is to seyn,
That to his casting goth ageyn.
  ‘But unto you dar I not lye:        1485
But mighte I felen or aspye,
That ye perceyved it no-thing,
Ye shulden have a stark lesing
Right in your hond thus, to biginne,
I nolde it lette for no sinne.’        1490
  The god lough at the wonder tho,
And every wight gan laughe also,
And seide:—‘Lo here a man aright
For to be trusty to every wight!’
  ‘Fals Semblant,’ quod Love, ‘sey to me,        1495
Sith I thus have avaunced thee,
That in my court is thy dwelling,
And of ribaudes shalt be my king,
Wolt thou wel holden my forwardis?’
  F. Sem.  ‘Ye, sir, from hennes forewardis;        1500
Hadde never your fader herebiforn
Servaunt so trewe, sith he was born.’
  Amour.  ‘That is ayeines al nature.’
  F. Sem.  ‘Sir, put you in that aventure;
For though ye borowes take of me,        1505
The sikerer shal ye never be
For ostages, ne sikirnesse,
Or chartres, for to bere witnesse.
I take your-self to record here,
That men ne may, in no manere,        1510
Teren the wolf out of his hyde,
Til he be [flayn], bak and syde,
Though men him bete and al defyle;
What? wene ye that I wole bigyle?
For I am clothed mekely,        1515
Ther-under is al my trechery;
Myn herte chaungeth never the mo
For noon abit, in which I go.
Though I have chere of simplenesse,
I am not weary of shrewednesse.        1520
My lemman, Streyned-Abstinence,
Hath mister of my purveaunce;
She hadde ful longe ago be deed,
Nere my councel and my reed;
Lete hir allone, and you and me.’        1525
  And Love answerde, ‘I truste thee
Withoute borowe, for I wol noon.’
And Fals-Semblant, the theef, anoon,
Right in that ilke same place,
That hadde of tresoun al his face        1530
Right blak withinne, and whyt withoute,
Thanketh him, gan on his knees loute.
  Than was ther nought, but ‘Every man
Now to assaut, that sailen can,’
Quod Love, ‘and that ful hardily.’        1535
Than armed they hem communly
Of sich armour as to hem fel.
Whan they were armed, fers and fel,
They wente hem forth, alle in a route,
And set the castel al aboute;        1540
They wil nought away, for no drede,
Til it so be that they ben dede,
Or til they have the castel take.
And foure batels they gan make,
And parted hem in foure anoon,        1545
And toke her way, and forth they goon,
The foure gates for to assaile,
Of whiche the kepers wol not faile;
For they ben neither syke ne dede,
But hardy folk, and stronge in dede.        1550
  Now wole I seyn the countenaunce
Of Fals-Semblant, and Abstinaunce,
That ben to Wikkid-Tonge went.
But first they helde her parlement,
Whether it to done were        1555
To maken hem be knowen there,
Or elles walken forth disgysed.
But at the laste they devysed,
That they wold goon in tapinage,
As it were in a pilgrimage,        1560
Lyk good and holy folk unfeyned.
And Dame Abstinence-Streyned
Took on a robe of camelyne,
And gan hir graithe as a Begyne.
A large coverchief of threde        1565
She wrapped al aboute hir hede,
But she forgat not hir sautere;
A peire of bedis eek she bere
Upon a lace, al of whyt threde,
On which that she hir bedes bede;        1570
But she ne boughte hem never a del,
For they were geven her, I wot wel,
God wot, of a ful holy frere,
That seide he was hir fader dere,
To whom she hadde ofter went        1575
Than any frere of his covent.
And he visyted hir also,
And many a sermoun seide hir to;
He nolde lette, for man on lyve,
That he ne wolde hir ofte shryve.        1580
And with so gret devocion
They maden her confession,
That they had ofte, for the nones,
Two hedes in one hood at ones.
  Of fair shape I devyse her thee,        1585
But pale of face somtyme was she;
That false traitouresse untrewe
Was lyk that salowe hors of hewe,
That in the Apocalips is shewed,
That signifyeth tho folk beshrewed,        1590
That been al ful of trecherye,
And pale, thurgh hypocrisye;
For on that hors no colour is,
But only deed and pale, y-wis.
Of suche a colour enlangoured        1595
Was Abstinence, y-wis, coloured;
Of her estat she her repented,
As her visage represented.
  She had a burdoun al of Thefte,
That Gyle had yeve her of his yefte;        1600
And a scrippe of Fainte Distresse,
That ful was of elengenesse,
And forth she walked sobrely:
And False-Semblant saynt, ie vous die,
[Had], as it were for such mistere,        1605
Don on the cope of a frere,
With chere simple, and ful pitous;
His looking was not disdeinous,
Ne proud, but meke and ful pesible.
About his nekke he bar a bible,        1610
And squierly forth gan he gon;
And, for to reste his limmes upon,
He had of Treson a potente;
As he were feble, his way he wente.
But in his sleve he gan to thringe        1615
A rasour sharp, and wel bytinge,
That was forged in a forge,
Which that men clepen Coupegorge.
  So longe forth hir way they nomen,
Til they to Wicked-Tonge comen,        1620
That at his gate was sitting,
And saw folk in the way passing.
The pilgrimes saw he faste by,
That beren hem ful mekely,
And humblely they with him mette.        1625
Dame Abstinence first him grette,
And sith him False-Semblant salued,
And he hem; but he not remued,
For he ne dredde hem not a-del.
For when he saw hir faces wel,        1630
Alway in herte him thoughte so,
He shulde knowe hem bothe two;
For wel he knew Dame Abstinaunce
But he ne knew not Constreynaunce.
He knew nat that she was constrayned,        1635
Ne of her theves lyfe feyned,
But wende she com of wil al free;
But she com in another degree;
And if of good wil she began,
That wil was failed her [as] than.        1640
  And Fals-Semblant had he seyn als,
But he knew nat that he was fals.
Yet fals was he, but his falsnesse
Ne coude he not espye, nor gesse;
For semblant was so slye wrought,        1645
That falsnesse he ne espyed nought.
But haddest thou knowen him beforn,
Thou woldest on a boke have sworn,
Whan thou him saugh in thilke aray
That he, that whylom was so gay,        1650
And of the daunce Ioly Robin,
Was tho become a Iacobin.
But sothely, what so men him calle,
Freres Prechours been good men alle;
Hir order wickedly they beren,        1655
Suche minstrelles if [that] they weren.
So been Augustins and Cordileres,
And Carmes, and eek Sakked Freres,
And alle freres, shodde and bare,
(Though some of hem ben grete and square)        1660
Ful holy men, as I hem deme;
Everich of hem wolde good man seme.
But shalt thou never of apparence
Seen conclude good consequence
In none argument, y-wis,        1665
If existence al failed is.
For men may finde alway sophyme
The consequence to envenyme,
Who-so that hath the subteltee
The double sentence for to see.        1670
  Whan the pilgrymes commen were
To Wicked-Tonge, that dwelled there,
Hir harneis nigh hem was algate;
By Wicked-Tonge adoun they sate,
That bad hem ner him for to come,        1675
And of tydinges telle him some,
And sayde hem:—‘What cas maketh yow
To come into this place now?’
‘Sir,’ seyde Strained-Abstinaunce,
‘We, for to drye our penaunce,        1680
With hertes pitous and devoute,
Are commen, as pilgrimes gon aboute;
Wel nigh on fote alway we go;
Ful dusty been our heles two;
And thus bothe we ben sent        1685
Thurghout this world that is miswent,
To yeve ensample, and preche also.
To fisshen sinful men we go,
For other fisshing ne fisshe we.
And, sir, for that charitee,        1690
As we be wont, herberwe we crave,
Your lyf to amende; Crist it save!
And, so it shulde you nat displese,
We wolden, if it were your ese,
A short sermoun unto you seyn.’        1695
And Wikked-Tonge answerde ageyn,
‘The hous,’ quod he, ‘such as ye see,
Shal nat be warned you for me,
Sey what you list, and I wol here.’
‘Graunt mercy, swete sire dere!’        1700
Quod alderfirst Dame Abstinence,
And thus began she hir sentence:
  Const. Abstinence.  ‘Sir, the first vertue, certeyn,
The gretest, and most sovereyn
That may be founde in any man,        1705
For having, or for wit he can,
That is, his tonge to refreyne;
Therto ought every wight him peyne.
For it is better stille be
Than for to speken harm, pardee!        1710
And he that herkeneth it gladly,
He is no good man, sikerly.
And, sir, aboven al other sinne,
In that art thou most gilty inne.
Thou spake a Iape not long ago,        1715
(And, sir, that was right yvel do)
Of a yong man that here repaired,
And never yet this place apaired.
Thou seydest he awaited nothing
But to disceyve Fair-Welcoming.        1720
Ye seyde nothing sooth of that;
But, sir, ye lye; I tell you plat;
He ne cometh no more, ne goth, pardee!
I trow ye shal him never see.
Fair-Welcoming in prison is,        1725
That ofte hath pleyed with you, er this,
The fairest games that he coude,
Withoute filthe, stille or loude;
Now dar [he] nat [him]self solace.
Ye han also the man do chace,        1730
That he dar neither come ne go.
What meveth you to hate him so
But properly your wikked thought,
That many a fals lesing hath thought?
That meveth your foole eloquence,        1735
That iangleth ever in audience,
And on the folk areyseth blame,
And doth hem dishonour and shame,
For thing that may have no preving,
But lyklinesse, and contriving.        1740
For I dar seyn, that Reson demeth,
It is not al sooth thing that semeth,
And it is sinne to controve
Thing that is [for] to reprove;
This wot ye wel; and, sir, therefore        1745
Ye arn to blame [wel] the more.
And, nathelesse, he rekketh lyte;
He yeveth nat now thereof a myte;
For if he thoughte harm, parfay,
He wolde come and gon al day;        1750
He coude him-selfe nat abstene.
Now cometh he nat, and that is sene,
For he ne taketh of it no cure,
But-if it be through aventure,
And lasse than other folk, algate.        1755
And thou here watchest at the gate,
With spere in thyne arest alway;
There muse, musard, al the day.
Thou wakest night and day for thought;
Y-wis, thy traveyl is for nought.        1760
And Ielousye, withouten faile,
Shal never quyte thee thy travaile.
And scathe is, that Fair-Welcoming,
Withouten any trespassing,
Shal wrongfully in prison be,        1765
Ther wepeth and languissheth he.
And though thou never yet, y-wis,
Agiltest man no more but this,
(Take not a-greef) it were worthy
To putte thee out of this baily,        1770
And afterward in prison lye,
And fettre thee til that thou dye;
For thou shalt for this sinne dwelle
Right in the devils ers of helle,
But-if that thou repente thee.’        1775
  ‘Ma fay, thou lyest falsly!’ quod he.
‘What? welcome with mischaunce now!
Have I therfore herbered you
To seye me shame, and eek reprove?
With sory happe, to your bihove,        1780
Am I to-day your herbergere!
Go, herber you elleswhere than here,
That han a lyer called me!
Two tregetours art thou and he,
That in myn hous do me this shame,        1785
And for my soth-sawe ye me blame.
Is this the sermoun that ye make?
To alle the develles I me take,
Or elles, god, thou me confounde!
But er men diden this castel founde,        1790
It passeth not ten dayes or twelve,
But it was told right to my-selve,
And as they seide, right so tolde I,
He kiste the Rose privily!
Thus seide I now, and have seid yore;        1795
I not wher he dide any more.
Why shulde men sey me such a thing,
If it hadde been gabbing?
Right so seide I, and wol seye yit;
I trowe, I lyed not of it;        1800
And with my bemes I wol blowe
To alle neighboris a-rowe,
How he hath bothe comen and gon.’
  Tho spak Fals-Semblant right anon,
‘Al is not gospel, out of doute,        1805
That men seyn in the toune aboute;
Ley no deef ere to my speking;
I swere yow, sir, it is gabbing!
I trowe ye wot wel certeynly,
That no man loveth him tenderly        1810
That seith him harm, if he wot it,
Al be he never so pore of wit.
And sooth is also sikerly,
(This knowe ye, sir, as wel as I),
That lovers gladly wol visyten        1815
The places ther hir loves habyten.
This man you loveth and eek honoureth;
This man to serve you laboureth;
And clepeth you his freend so dere,
And this man maketh you good chere,        1820
And every-wher that [he] you meteth,
He you saleweth, and he you greteth.
He preseth not so ofte, that ye
Ought of his come encombred be;
Ther presen other folk on yow        1825
Ful ofter than [that] he doth now.
And if his herte him streyned so
Unto the Rose for to go,
Ye shulde him seen so ofte nede,
That ye shulde take him with the dede.        1830
He coude his coming not forbere,
Though ye him thrilled with a spere;
It nere not thanne as it is now.
But trusteth wel, I swere it yow,
That it is clene out of his thought.        1835
Sir, certes, he ne thenketh it nought;
No more ne doth Fair-Welcoming,
That sore abyeth al this thing.
And if they were of oon assent,
Ful sone were the Rose hent;        1840
The maugre youres wolde be.
And sir, of o thing herkeneth me:—
Sith ye this man, that loveth yow,
Han seid such harm and shame now,
Witeth wel, if he gessed it,        1845
Ye may wel demen in your wit,
He nolde no-thing love you so,
Ne callen you his freend also,
But night and day he [wolde] wake,
The castel to destroye and take,        1850
If it were sooth as ye devyse;
Or som man in som maner wyse
Might it warne him everydel,
Or by him-self perceyven wel;
For sith he might not come and gon        1855
As he was whylom wont to don,
He might it sone wite and see;
But now al other-wyse [doth] he.
Than have [ye], sir, al-outerly
Deserved helle, and Iolyly        1860
The deth of helle douteles,
That thrallen folk so gilteles.’
  Fals-Semblant proveth so this thing
That he can noon answering,
And seeth alwey such apparaunce,        1865
That nygh he fel in repentaunce,
And seide him:—‘Sir, it may wel be.
Semblant, a good man semen ye;
And, Abstinence, ful wyse ye seme;
Of o talent you bothe I deme.        1870
What counceil wole ye to me yeven?’
  F. Sem.  ‘Right here anoon thou shalt be shriven,
And sey thy sinne withoute more;
Of this shalt thou repente sore;
For I am preest, and have poustee        1875
To shryve folk of most dignitee
That been, as wyde as world may dure.
Of al this world I have the cure,
And that had never yit persoun,
No vicarie of no maner toun.        1880
And, god wot, I have of thee
A thousand tymes more pitee
Than hath thy preest parochial,
Though he thy freend be special.
I have avauntage, in o wyse,        1885
That your prelates ben not so wyse
Ne half so lettred as am I.
I am licenced boldely
In divinitee to rede,
And to confessen, out of drede.        1890
If ye wol you now confesse,
And leve your sinnes more and lesse,
Without abood, knele doun anon,
And you shal have absolucion.’


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