The Vision Of Piers Plowman - Part 01

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What this mountaigne bymeneth and the merke dale
And the feld ful of folk, I shal yow faire shewe.
A lovely lady of leere in lynnen yclothed
Cam doun fom [the] castel and called me faire,
And seide, "Sone, slepestow? Sestow this peple-
How bisie they ben aboute the maze?
The mooste partie of this peple that passeth on this erthe,
Have thei worship in this world, thei wilne no bettre;
Of oother hevene than here holde thei no tale'.-
I was afeed of hire face, theigh she faire weere,
And seide, " Mercy, madame, what [may] this [be] to mene?'

"The tour upon the toft', quod she, "Truthe is therinne,
And wolde that ye wroughte as his word techeth.
For he is fader of feith and formed yow alle
Bothe with fel and with face and yaf yow fyve wittes
For to worshipe hym therwith while that ye ben here.
And therfore he highte the erthe to helpe yow echone
Of woilene, of lynnen, of liflode at nede
In mesurable manere to make yow at ese;
And comaunded of his curteisie in commune three thynges:
Are none nedfulle but tho, and nempne hem I thynke,
And rekene hem by reson - reherce thow hem after.
"That oon is vesture from chele thee to save,
And mete at meel for mysese of thiselve,
And drynke whan thow driest - ac do noght out of reson,
That thow worthe the wers whan thow werche sholdest.
For Lot in hise lifdayes, for likynge of drynke,
Dide by hise doughtres that the devel liked:
Delited hym in drynke as the devel wolde,
And leccherie hym laughte, and lay by hem bothe -
And al he witte it the wyn, that wikked dede:
Inebriemus eum vino dormiamusque cum eo, ut
servare possimus de patre nostro semen.
Thorugh wyn and thorugh wommen ther was Loth acombred,
And there gat in glotonie gerles that were cherles.
Forthi dred delitable drynke and thow shalt do the bettre.
Mesure is medicine, though thow muchel yerne.
Al is nought good to the goost that the gut asketh,
Ne liflode to the likame that leef is to the soule.
Leve nought thi likame, for a liere hym techeth -
That is the wrecched world, wolde thee bitraye.

For the fend and thi flessh folwen togidere,
And that [shendeth] thi soule; set it in thin herte.
And for thow sholdest ben ywar, I wisse thee the beste.'
"A, madame, mercy,' quod I, " me liketh wel youre wordes.
Ac the moneie of this molde that men so faste holdeth -
Telleth me to whom that tresour appendeth.'
Go to the Gospel,' quod she, "that God seide hymselven,
Tho the poeple hym apposede with a peny in the Temple
Wheither thei sholde therwith worshipe the kyng Cesar.
And God asked of hem, of whom spak the lettre,
And the ymage ylike that therinne stondeth?
Cesares, thei seiden, "we seen it wel echone.'
""Reddite Cesari,'' quod God, "" that Cesari bifalleth,
Et que sunt Dei Deo, or ellis ye don ille.'
- For rightfully Reson sholde rule yow alle,
And Kynde Wit be wardeyn youre welthe to kepe,
And tutour of youre tresor, and take it yow at nede,
For housbondrie and he holden togidres.'
Thanne I frayned hire faire, for Hym that hire made,
"That dongeon in the dale that dredful is of sighte -
What may it bemeene, madame, I yow biseche?'
"That is the castel of care - whoso comth therinne
May banne that he born was to bodi or to soule!
Therinne wonyeth a wight that Wrong is yhote,
Fader of falshede - and founded it hymselve.
Adam and Eve he egged to ille,
Counseilled Kaym to killen his brother,
Judas he japed with Jewen silver,
And sithen on an eller hanged hym after.
He is lettere of love and lieth hem alle:
That trusten on his tresour bitrayed arn sonnest.'

Thanne hadde I wonder in my wit what womman it weere
That swiche wise wordes of Holy Writ shewed,
And halsede hire on the heighe name, er she thennes yede,
What she were witterly that wissed me so faire.
"Holi Chirche I am,' quod she, thow oughtest me to knowe.
I underfeng thee first and the feith taughte.
Thow broughtest me borwes my biddyng to fulfille,
And to loven me leelly the while thi lif dureth.'
Thanne I courbed on my knees and cried hire of grace,
And preide hire pitously to preye for my synnes,
And also kenne me kyndely on Crist to bileve,
That I myghte werchen His wille that wroghte me to man:
"Teche me to no tresor, but tel me this ilke =
How I may save my soule, that seint art yholden.'
"Whan alle tresors arn tried,' quod she,-Treuthe is the beste.
I do it on Deus caritas to deme the sothe;
It is as dereworthe a drury as deere God hymselven.
Who is trewe of his tonge and telleth noon oother,
And dooth the werkes therwith and wilneth no man ille,
He is a god by the Gospel, agrounde and olofte,
And ylik to Oure Lord, by Seint Lukes wordes.
The clerkes that knowen this sholde kennen it aboute,
For Cristen and uncristen cleymeth it echone.
" Kynges and knyghtes sholde kepen it by reson -
Riden and rappen doun in reaumes aboute,
And taken transgressores and tyen hem faste
Til treuthe hadde ytermyned hire trespas to the ende.
For David in hise dayes dubbed knyghtes,
And dide hem sweren on hir swerd to serven truthe evere.
And that is the profession apertly that apendeth to knyghtes,

And naught to Fasten o Friday in fyve score wynter,
But holden with hym and with here that wolden alle truthe,
And never leve hem for love ne for lacchynge of silver -
And whoso passe[th] that point is apostata in the ordre.
-But Crist, kyngene kyng, knyghted ten -
Cherubyn and Seraphyn, swiche sevene and another,
And yaf hem myght in his majestee - the murier hem thoughte -
And over his meene meynee made hem archangeles;
Taughte hem by the Trinitee treuthe to knowe,
To be buxom at his biddyng - he bad hem nought ellis.
"Lucifer with legions lerned it in hevene,
[And was the lovelokest to loke after Oure Lord (one)]
Til he brak buxomnesse; his blisse gan he tyne,
And fel fro that felawshipe in a fendes liknesse
into a deep derk helle to dwelle there for evere.
And mo thousandes myd hym than man kouthe nombre
Lopen out with Lucifer in lothliche forme
For thei leveden upon hym that lyed in this manere:
Ponam pedem in aquilone, et similis ero Altissimo.
And alle that hoped it myghte be so, noon hevene myghte hem holde,
But fellen out in fendes liknesse [ful] nyne dayes togideres,
Til God of his goodnesse [garte the hevene to stekie
And gan stable it and stynte] and stonden in quiete.
" Whan thise wikkede wenten out, wonderwise thei fellen -
Somme in eyr, somme in erthe, somme in helle depe;
Ac Lucifer lowest lith of hem alle:

For pride that he putte out, his peyne hath noon ende.
And alle that werchen with wrong wende thei shulle
After hir deth day and dwelle with that sherewe;
Ac tho that werche wel as Holy Writ telleth,
And enden as I er seide in truthe, that is the beste,
Mowe be siker that hire soules shul wende to hevene,
Ther Treuthe is in Trinitee and troneth hem alle.
Forthi I seye, as I seyde er, by sighte of thise textes -
Whan alle tresors arn tried, Truthe is the beste.
Lereth it th[u]s lewed men, for lettred it knoweth -
That Treuthe is tresor the trieste on erthe.'
"Yet have I no kynde knowynge,' quod I, "ye mote kenne me bettre
By what craft in my cors it comseth, and where.'
"Thow doted daffe!' quod she, dulle are thi wittes.
To litel Latyn thow lernedest, leode, in thi youthe:
Heu michi quia sterilem duxi vitam iuvenilem!
It is a kynde knowynge that kenneth in thyn herte
For to loven thi Lord levere than thiselve,
No dedly synne to do, deye theigh thow sholdest -
This I trowe be truthe; who kan teche thee bettre,
Loke thow suffre hym to seye, and sithen lere it after;
For thus witnesseth his word; worche thow therafter.
" For Truthe telleth that love is triacle of hevene:
May no synne be on hym seene that that spice useth.
And alle his werkes he wroughte with love as hym liste,
And lered it Moyses for the leveste thyng and moost lik to hevene,
And also the plante of pees, moost precious of vertues :
For hevene myghte nat holden it, so was it hevy of hymself,
Til it hadde of the erthe eten his fille.
And whan it hadde of this fold flessh and blood taken,
Was nevere leef upon lynde lighter therafter,
And portatif and persaunt as the point of a nedle,

That myghte noon armure it lette ne none heighe walles.
" Forthi is love ledere of the Lordes folk of hevene,
And a meene, as the mair is, [inmiddes] the kyng and the commune;
Right so is love a ledere and the lawe shapeth:
Upon man for hise mysdedes the mercyment he taxeth.
And for to knowen it kyndely - it comseth by myght,
And in the herte, there is the heed and the heighe welle.
For in kynde knowynge in herte ther [coms]eth a myght -
And that falleth to the Fader that formed us alle,
Loked on us with love and leet his sone dye
Mekely for oure mysdedes, to amenden us alle.
And yet wolde he hem no wo that wroughte hym that peyne,
But mekely with mouthe mercy he bisoughte,
To have pite of that peple that peyned hym to dethe.
" Here myghtow sen ensample in hymself oone -
That he was myghtful and meke, and mercy gan graunte
To hem that hengen hym heigh and his herte thirled.
" Forthi I rede yow riche, haveth ruthe of the povere,
Though ye be myghty to mote, beeth meke in youre werkes,
For the same mesure that ye mete, amys outher ellis,
Ye shulle ben weyen therwith whan ye wenden hennes:
Eadem mensura qua mensi fueritis remecietur vobis.
For though ye be trewe of youre tonge and treweliche wynne,
And as chaste as a child that in chirche wepeth,
But if ye loven leelly and lene the povere
Of swich good as God sent, goodliche parteth,
Ye ne have na moore merite in Masse ne in houres

Than Malkyn of hire maydenhede, that no man desireth.
For James the gentile jugged in hise bokes
That feith withouten feetis (feblere] than nought,
And as deed as a dorenai but if the dedes folwe:
Fides sine operibus mortua est &c.
"Forthi chastite withouten charite worth cheyned in helle;
It is as lewed as a lampe that no light is inne.
Manye chapeleyns arn chaste, ac charite is aweye;
Are none hardere than hii whan [hii] ben avaunced:
Unkynde to hire kyn and to alle Cristene,
Chewen hire charite and chiden after moore -
Swich chastite withouten charite worth cheyned in helle.
Manye curatours kepen hem clene of hire bodies;
Thei ben acombred with coveitise, thei konne noght out crepe,
So harde hath avarice yhasped hem togideres.
And that is no truthe of the Trinite, but tricherie of helle,
And lernynge to lewed men the latter for to deele.
For [thise ben wordes] writen in the [Euaungelie]:
"" Date, et dabitur vobis - for I deele yow alle.
And that is the lok of love that leteth out my grace,
To conforten the carefulle acombred with synne.''
Love is leche of lif and next Oure Lord selve,
And also the graithe gate that goth into hevene.
Forthi I seye as I seide er by sighte of the textes:
Whan alle tresors ben tried, Treuthe is the beste.
"Now have I told thee what truthe is - that no tresor is bettre -
I may no lenger lenge thee with; now loke thee Oure Lord!'

© William Langland