Piers Plowman The Prologue (B-Text)

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In a somer sesun, whon softe was the sonn{.e},
 I schop me into a shroud, as I a scheep wer{.e};
 In habite as an hermite unholy of werk{.e}s
 Wente I wyde in this world wondr{.e}s to her{.e};
 Bote in a May{.e}s morwnynge on Malverne hull{.e}s
 Me bifel a ferly, of fairie, me-thought{.e}.

  I was wery, forwandr{.e}d, and went{.e} me to rest{.e}
 Undur a brod banke bi a bourn{.e} sid{.e};
 And as I lay and leon{.e}de and lok{.e}de on the watr{.e}s,
  I slumbr{.e}de in a slepynge, hit swy{.e}d so muri{.e}.
  Thenne gon I meeten a mervelous sweven,
  That I was in a wilderness{.e}, wuste I never wher{.e};
  And as I beheold into the est an heigh to the sonn{.e},
  I sauh a tour on a toft, try{.e}lyche i-maket;
  A deop dal{.e} bineoth{.e}, a dungun ther-inn{.e},
  With deop dich and derk and dredful of sight{.e}.
  A feir feld full of folk fond I ther bitwen{.e},
  Of all{.e} maner of men, the mene and the rich{.e},
  Worchinge and wandringe as the world asketh.

 Summ{.e} putten hem to the plough, pleiden ful selden{.e},
  In settynge and in sowyng{.e} swonken ful hard{.e},
  And wonnen that theos wasturs with glotonye distruen.
  And summ{.e} putten hem to pruid{.e}, apparaylden hem ther-after,
  In cuntenaunce of clothing{.e} comen disgisid.
  To preyer{.e}s and to penaunc{.e} putten hem mony{.e},
  For love of ur Lord liv{.e}den ful streit{.e},
  In hop{.e} for to hav{.e} hevene-rich{.e} bliss{.e};
  As ancr{.e}s and hermyt{.e}s that holdeth hem in heor{.e} cell{.e}s,
  Coveyt{.e} not in cuntré to cairen about{.e},
  For non likerous lyflod{.e} heor{.e} licam to ples{.e}.
  And summ{.e} chosen chaffar{.e} to cheeven the bettr{.e},
  As hit semeth to ur{.e} sight{.e} that such{.e} men thryveth;
  And summ{.e}, murthh{.e}s to maken as munstrals cunn{.e},
  And get{.e} gold with her{.e} gle, giltles, I trow{.e}.
  Bote japers and jangelers, Judas children,
  Founden hem fantasy{.e}s and fool{.e}s hem maaden,
  And habbeth wit at heor{.e} will{.e} to worchen yif hem lust{.e}.
  That Poul precheth of hem, I dar not preoven heer{.e};
Qui loquitur turpiloquium he is Lucifer{.e}s hyn{.e}.
 Bidders and beggers faste aboute eoden,
  Til heor bagg{.e}s and heore balies weren bretful i-crommet;
  Feyneden hem for heor{.e} food{.e}, foughten att{.e} al{.e};
  In glotony{.e}, God wot, gon heo to bedd{.e},
  And ryseth up with ribaudy{.e} this roberd{.e}s knav{.e}s;
  Sleep and sleughth{.e} suweth hem ever{.e}.

 Pilgrimes and palmers plihten hem togeder{.e}s
  For to sech{.e} Seint Jam{.e} and seint{.e}s at Room{.e};
  Wenten forth in heor{.e} wey with mony wys{.e} tal{.e}s,
  And hedden lev{.e} to lyen al heor{.e} lyf aftir.
  Ermyt{.e}s on an hep with hokid{.e} stav{.e}s,
  Wenten to Walsyngham and her{.e} wenchis after;
  Gret{.e} lobr{.e}s and long{.e} that loth weor{.e} to swynk{.e}
  Clotheden hem in cop{.e}s to beo knowen for bretheren;
  And summ{.e} schopen hem to hermyt{.e}s heore es{.e} to hav{.e}.

 I fond there frer{.e}s, all the foure ordr{.e}s,
  Prechinge the pepl{.e} for profyt of heor{.e} womb{.e}s,
  Glosynge the Gospel as hem good liketh,
  For covetyse of cop{.e}s construeth hit ill{.e};
  For monye of this maistr{.e}s mowen clothen hem at lyking,
  For moneye and heor{.e} marchaundi{.e} meeten togeder{.e};
  Sethth{.e} Charité hath be chapmon, and cheef to schriven lord{.e}s,
  Mony ferly{.e}s han bifall{.e} in a few{.e} yer{.e}s.
  But Holychirche and heo hold{.e} bet togeder{.e},
  The most{.e} mischeef on mold{.e} is mountyng up fast{.e}.

 Ther prechede a pardoner, as he a prest wer{.e},
  And brought forth a bull{.e} with bisschop{.e}s sel{.e}s,
  And seid{.e} that himself might{.e} asoylen hem all{.e}
  Of falsnesse and fastinge and of vouw{.e}s i-broken.
  The lewed{.e} men levide him wel and lik{.e}de his spech{.e},
  And comen up knelyng{.e} to kissen his bull{.e};
  He bonch{.e}de hem with his brevet and bler{.e}d heore eiyen,
  And raught{.e} with his rag{.e}mon ring{.e}s and broch{.e}s.
  Thus ye yiveth our{.e} gold glotonis to helpen!
  And leveth hit to losels that lecherie haunten.
  Weor{.e} the bisschop i-blesset and worth bothe his er{.e}s,
  His sel shulde not be sent to deceyv{.e} the pepl{.e}.
  It is not al bi the bisschop that the boy{.e} precheth,
  Bote the parisch prest and the pardoner part{.e} the selver
  That the por{.e} peple of the parisch schulde have yif that heo ne weor{.e},
  Person{.e}s and parisch prest{.e}s playneth to heor{.e} bisschops,
  That heor{.e} parisch hath ben por{.e} sethth{.e} the pestilenc{.e} tym{.e},
  To have a lycence and lev{.e} at Londun to dwell{.e},
  To sing{.e} ther for simony{.e}, for selver is swet{.e}.

 Ther hovide an hundret in houv{.e}s of selk{.e},
  Serjauns hit semid{.e} to serven att{.e} barr{.e};
  Pleden for pens and pound{.e}s the law{.e},
  Not for love of ur Lord unloseth heor{.e} lipp{.e}s on{.e}s,
  Thou mightest beter meten the myst on Malvern{.e} hull{.e}s
  Then geten a mom of heor{.e} mouth til moneye weor{.e} schew{.e}d!

 I saugh ther bisschops bold{.e} and bachilers of divyn{.e}
  Bicoom{.e} clerk{.e}s of acount{.e} the king for to serven.
  Erchedeken{.e}s and denis, that dignité haven
  To prech{.e} the pepl{.e} and por{.e} men to feed{.e},
  Beon lopen to Londun, bi leve of heor{.e} bisschop{.e}s,
  To ben clerk{.e}s of the Kyng{.e}s Bench{.e} the cuntré to schend{.e}

 Barouns and burgeis and bond{.e}-men also
  I saugh in that semblé, as ye schul heren aftur,
  Bakers, bochers, and breusters mony{.e},
  Wollen{.e}-websteris, and weveris of lynen,
  Taillours, tanneris, and tokkeris both{.e},
  Masons, minours, and mony other craft{.e}s,
  Dykers, and delvers, that don heor{.e} ded{.e}s ill{.e},
  And driveth forth the long{.e} day with "Deu vous sav{.e}, Dam Emm{.e}!"
  Cook{.e}s and heor{.e} knav{.e}s cryen "Hot{.e} pi{.e}s, hot{.e}!
  "Good{.e} gees and grys! Go we dyn{.e}, go we!"
  Taverners to hem told{.e} the sam{.e} tal{.e},
  With wyn of Osey{.e} and win of Gaskoyn{.e},
  Of the Ryn and of the Rochel, the rost to defy{.e},
  Al this I saugh slepynge and sev{.e} sith{.e}s mor{.e}.

© William Langland