Pilgrimage In Search Of Do-Well

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  Thus y-robed in russet . romed I aboute
  Al in a somer seson . for to seke Do-wel;
  And frayned full ofte . of folk that I mette
  If any wight wiste . wher Do-wel was at inne;
  And what man he myghte be . of many man I asked.
  Was nevere wight, as I wente . that me wisse kouthe
  Where this leode lenged, . lasse ne moore.
  Til it bifel on a Friday . two freres I mette
  Maisters of the Menours . men of grete witte.
  I hailsed them hendely, . as I hadde y-lerned.
  And preede them par charite, . er thei passed ferther,
  If thei knew any contree . or costes as thei wente,
  "Where that Do-wel dwelleth . dooth me to witene".
  For thei be men of this moolde . that moost wide walken,
  And knowen contrees and courtes, . and many kynnes places,
  Bothe princes paleises . and povere mennes cotes,
  And Do-wel and Do-yvele . where thei dwelle bothe.
  "Amonges us" quod the Menours, . "that man is dwellynge,
  And evere hath as I hope, . and evere shal herafter."
  "_Contra_", quod I as a clerc, . and comsed to disputen,
  And seide hem soothly, . "_Septies in die cadit justus_".
  "Sevene sithes, seeth the book . synneth the rightfulle;
  And who so synneth," I seide, . "dooth yvele, as me thynketh;
  And Do-wel and Do-yvele . mowe noght dwelle togideres.
  Ergo he nis noght alway . among you freres:
  He is outher while ellis where . to wisse the peple."
  "I shal seye thee, my sone" . seide the frere thanne,
  "How seven sithes the sadde man, . on a day synneth;
  By a forbisne" quod the frere, . "I shal thee faire showe.
  Lat brynge a man in a boot, . amydde the brode watre;
  The wynd and the water . and the boot waggyng,
  Maketh the man many a tyme . to falle and to stonde;
  For stonde he never so stif, . he stumbleth if he meve,
  Ac yet is he saaf and sound, . and so hym bihoveth;
  For if he ne arise the rather, . and raughte to the steere,
  The wynd wolde with the water . the boot over throwe;
  And thanne were his lif lost, . thorough lackesse of hymselve.
  And thus it falleth," quod the frere, . "by folk here on erthe;
  The water is likned to the world . that wanyeth and wexeth;
  The goodes of this grounde arn like . to the grete wawes,
  That as wyndes and wedres . walketh aboute;
  The boot is likned to oure body . that brotel is of kynde,
  That thorough the fend and the flesshe . and the frele worlde
  Synneth the sadde man . a day seven sithes.
  Ac dedly synne doth he noght, . for Do-wel hym kepeth;
  And that is Charite the champion, . chief help ayein Synne;
  For he strengtheth men to stonde, . and steereth mannes soule,
  And though the body bowe . as boot dooth in the watre,
  Ay is thi soul saaf, . but if thou wole thiselve
  Do a deedly synne, . and drenche so thi soule,
  God wole suffre wel thi sleuthe . if thiself liketh.
  For he yaf thee a yeres-gyve, . to yeme wel thiselve,
  And that is wit and free-wil, . to every wight a porcion,
  To fleynge foweles, . to fisshes and to beastes:
  Ac man hath moost thereof, . and moost is to blame,
  But if he werch wel therwith, . as Do-wel hym techeth."
  "I have no kynde knowyng," quod I, . "to conceyven alle your wordes:
  Ac if I may lyve and loke, . I shall go lerne bettre."
  "I bikenne thee Christ," quod he, . "that on cros deyde!"
  And I seide "the same . save you fro myschaunce,
  And gyve you grace on this grounde . goode men to worthe!"
  And thus I wente wide wher . walkyng myn one,
  By a wilderness, . and by a wodes side:
  Blisse of the briddes. . Broughte me a-slepe,
  And under a lynde upon a launde . lened I a stounde,
  To lythe the layes . the lovely foweles made,
  Murthe of hire mowthes . made me ther to slepe;
  The merveillouseste metels . mette me thanne
  That ever dremed wight . in worlde, as I wene.
  A muche man, as me thoughte . and like to myselve,
  Cam and called me . by my kynde name.
  "What artow," quod I tho, . "that thow my name knowest."
  "That woost wel," quod he, . "and no wight bettre."
  "Woot I what thou art?" . "Thought," seide he thanne;
  "I have sued thee this seven yeer, . seye thou me no rather."
  "Artow Thought," quod I thoo, . "thow koudest me wisse,
  Where that Do-wel dwelleth, . and do me that to knowe."
  "Do-wel and Do-bet, . and Do-best the thridde," quod he,
  "Arn thre fair vertues, . and ben noght fer to fynde.
  Who so is trewe of his tunge, . and of his two handes,
  And thorugh his labour or thorugh his land, . his liflode wynneth,
  And is trusty of his tailende, . taketh but his owene,
  And is noght dronklewe ne dedeynous, . Do-wel hym folweth.
  Do-bet dooth ryght thus; . ac he dooth much more;
  He is as lowe as a lomb, . and lovelich of speche,
  And helpeth alle men . after that hem nedeth.
  The bagges and the bigirdles, . he hath to-broke hem alle
  That the Erl Avarous . heeld and hise heires.
  And thus with Mammonaes moneie . he hath maad hym frendes,
  And is ronne to religion, . and hath rendred the Bible,
  And precheth to the peple . Seint Poules wordes:
  _Libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes_:
  'And suffreth the unwise' . with you for to libbe
  And with glad will dooth hem good . and so God you hoteth.
  Do-best is above bothe, . and bereth a bisshopes crosse,
  Is hoked on that oon ende . to halie men fro helle;
  A pik is on that potente, . to putte a-down the wikked
  That waiten any wikkednesse . Do-wel to tene.
  And Do-wel and Do-bet . amonges hem han ordeyned,
  To crowne oon to be kyng . to rulen hem bothe;
  That if Do-wel or Do-bet . dide ayein Do-best,
  Thanne shal the kyng come . and casten hem in irens,
  And but if Do-best bede for hem, . thei to be there for evere.
  Thus Do-wel and Do-bet, . and Do-best the thridde,
  Crouned oon to the kyng . to kepen hem alle,
  And to rule the reme . by hire thre wittes,
  And noon oother wise, . but as thei thre assented."
  I thonked Thoght tho, . that he me thus taughte.
  "Ac yet savoreth me noght thi seying. . I coveit to lerne
  How Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best . doon among the peple."
  "But Wit konne wisse thee," quod Thoght, . "Where tho thre dwelle,
  Ellis woot I noon that kan . that now is alyve."
  Thoght and I thus . thre daies we yeden,
  Disputyng upon Do-wel . day after oother;
  And er we were war, . with Wit gonne we mete.
  He was long and lene, . lik to noon other;
  Was no pride on his apparaille . ne poverte neither;
  Sad of his semblaunt, . and of softe chere,
  I dorste meve no matere . to maken hym to jangle,
  But as I bad Thoght thoo . be mene bitwene,
  And pute forth som purpos . to preven his wittes,
  What was Do-wel fro Do-bet, . and Do-best from hem bothe.
  Thanne Thoght in that tyme . seide these wordes:
  "Where Do-wel, Do-bet, . and Do-best ben in londe,
  Here is Wil wolde wite, . if Wit koude teche him;
  And whether he be man or woman . this man fayn wolde aspie,
  And werchen as thei thre wolde, . thus is his entente"

© William Langland