P.1: In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne,
P.2: I shoop me into shroudes as I a sheep were,
P.3: In habite as an heremite unholy of werkes,
P.4: Wente wide in this world wondres to here.
P.5: Ac on a May morwenynge on Malverne hilles
P.6: Me bifel a ferly, of Fairye me thoghte.
P.7: I was wery forwandred and wente me to reste
P.8: Under a brood bank by a bourne syde;
P.9: And as I lay and lenede and loked on the watres,
P.10: I slombred into a slepyng, it sweyed so murye.
P.11: Thanne gan I meten a merveillous swevene —
P.12: That I was in a wildernesse, wiste I nevere where.
P.13: A[c] as I biheeld into the eest an heigh to the sonne,
P.14: I seigh a tour on a toft trieliche ymaked,
P.15: A deep dale bynethe, a dongeon therinne,
P.16: With depe diches and derke and dredfulle of sighte.
P.17: A fair feeld ful of folk fond I ther bitwene —
P.18: Of alle manere of men, the meene and the riche,
P.19: Werchynge and wandrynge as the world asketh.
P.20: Somme putten hem to the plough, pleiden ful selde,
P.21: In settynge and sowynge swonken ful harde,
P.22: And wonnen that thise wastours with glotonye destruyeth
P.23: And somme putten hem to pride, apparailed hem therafter,
P.24: In contenaunce of clothynge comen disgised-
P.25: In preieres and penaunce putten hem manye,
P.26: Al for the love of Oure Lord lyveden ful streyte
P.27: In hope to have heveneriche blisse —
P.28: As ancres and heremites that holden hem in hire selles,
P.29: Coveiten noght in contree to cairen aboute
P.30: For no likerous liflode hire likame to plese.
P.31: And somme chosen chaffare; they cheveden the bettre —
P.32: As it semeth to oure sight that swiche men thryveth;
P.33: And somme murthes to make as mynstralles konne,
P.34: And geten gold with hire glee — [gilt]lees, I leeve-
P.35: Ac japeres and jangeleres, Judas children,
P.36: Feynen hem fantasies, and fooles hem maketh —
P.37: And han wit at wille to werken if they wolde.
P.38: That Poul precheth of hem I wol nat preve it here:
P.39: Qui loquitur turpiloquium is Luciferes hyne-
P.40: Bidderes and beggeres faste aboute yede
P.41: [Til] hire bely and hire bagge [were] bredful ycrammed,
P.42: Faiteden for hire foode, foughten at the ale.
P.43: In glotonye, God woot, go thei to bedde,
P.44: And risen with ribaudie, tho Roberdes knaves;
P.45: Sleep and sory sleuthe seweth hem evere.
P.46: Pilgrymes and palmeres plighten hem togidere
P.47: For to seken Seint Jame and seintes at Rome;
P.48: Wenten forth in hire wey with many wise tales,
P.49: And hadden leve to lyen al hire lif after.
P.50: I seigh somme that seiden thei hadde ysought seintes:
P.51: To ech a tale that thei tolde hire tonge was tempred to lye
P.52: Moore than to seye sooth, it semed bi hire speche.
P.53: Heremytes on an heep with hoked staves ,
P.54: Wenten to Walsyngham — and hire wenches after:
P.55: Grete lobies and longe that lothe were to swynke
P.56: Clothed hem in copes to ben knowen from othere,
P.57: And shopen hem heremytes hire ese to have.
P.58: I fond there freres, alle the foure ordres,
P.59: Prechynge the peple for profit of [the wombe]:
P.60: Glosed the gospel as hem good liked;
P.61: For coveitise of copes construwed it as thei wolde.
P.62: Manye of thise maistres mowe clothen hem at likyng
P.63: For hire moneie and hire marchaundise marchen togideres.
P.64: Sith charite hath ben chapman and chief to shryve lordes
P.65: Manye ferlies han fallen in a fewe yeres.
P.66: But Holy Chirche and hii holde bettre togidres
P.67: The mooste meschief on molde is mountynge up faste.
P.68: Ther preched a pardoner as he a preest were:
P.69: Broughte forth a bulle with bisshopes seles,
P.70: And seide that hymself myghte assoillen hem alle
P.71: Of falshede of fastynge, of avowes ybroken. -
P.72: Lewed men leved hym wel and liked hise wordes,
P.73: Comen up knelynge to kissen his bulle.
P.74: He bonched hem with his brevet and blered hire eighen,
P.75: And raughte with his rageman rynges and broches.
P.76: — Thus ye gyven youre gold glotons to helpe,
P.77: And leneth it losels that leccherie haunten"
P.78: Were the bisshop yblessed and worth bothe his eris,
P.79: His seel sholde noght be sent to deceyve the peple.
P.80: Ac it is noght by the bisshop that the boy precheth —
P.81: For the parisshe preest and the pardoner parten the silver
P.82: That the povere [peple] of the parissche sholde have if they ne were.
P.83: Persons and parisshe preestes pleyned hem to the bisshop
P.84: That hire parisshes weren povere sith the pestilence tyme,
P.85: To have a licence and leve at London to dwelle,
P.86: And syngen ther for symonie, for silver is swete.
P.87: Bisshopes and bachelers, bothe maistres and doctours —
P.88: That han cure under Crist, and crownynge in tokene
P.89: And signe that thei sholden shryven hire parisshens,
P.90: Prechen and praye for hem, and the povere fede —
P.91: Liggen at Londoun in Lenten and ellis.
P.92: Somme serven the King and his silver tellen,
P.93: In Cheker and in Chauncelrie chalangen his dettes
P.94: Of wardes and of wardemotes, weyves and streyves.
P.95: And somme serven as servaunts lordes and ladies,
P.96: And in stede of stywardes sitten and demen.
P.97: Hire messe and hire matyns and many of hire houres
P.98: Arn doone undevoutliche; drede is at the laste
P.99: Lest Crist in Consistorie acorse ful manye"
P.100: I parceyved of the power that Peter hadde to kepe —
P.101: To bynden and unbynden, as the Book telleth —
P.102: How he it lefte with love as Oure Lord highte
P.103: Amonges foure vertues, most vertuous of alle vertues,
P.104: That cardinals ben called and closynge yates
P.105: There Crist is in kyngdom, to close and to shette,
P.106: And to opene it to hem and hevene blisse shewe.
P.107: Ac of the Cardinals at court that kaughte of that name
P.108: And power presumed in hem a Pope to make
P.109: To han the power that Peter hadde. impugnen I nelle —
P.110: For in love and in lettrure the eleccion bilongeth;
P.111: Forthi I kan and kan naught of court speke moore.
P.112: Thanne kam ther a Kyng: Knyghthod hym ladde;
P.113: Might of the communes made hym to regne.
P.114: And thanne cam Kynde Wit and clerkes he made,
P.115: For to counseillen the Kyng and the Commune save.
P.116: The Kyng and Knyghthod and Clergie bothe
P.117: Casten that the Commune sholde hem [communes] fynde.
P.118: The Commune contreved of Kynde Wit craftes,
P.119: And for profit of al the peple plowmen ordeyned
P.120: To tilie and to travaille as trewe lif asketh.
P.121: The Kyng and the Commune and Kynde Wit the thridde
P.122: Shopen lawe and leaute — eeh lif to knowe his owene.
P.123: Thanne loked up a lunatik, a leene thyng withalle,
P.124: And knelynge to the Kyng clergially he seide,
P.125: "Crist kepe thee, sire Kyng, and thi kyngryche,
P.126: And lene thee lede thi lond so leaute thee lovye,
P.127: And for thi rightful rulyng be rewarded in hevene"'
P.128: And sithen in the eyr on heigh an aungel of hevene
P.129: Lowed to speke in Latyn — for lewed men ne koude
P.130: Jangle ne jugge that justifie hem sholde,
P.131: But suffren and serven — forthi seide the aungel:
P.132: " Sum Rex, sum Princeps",-neutrum fortasse deinceps "
P.132: O qui iura regis Christi specialia regis,
P.132: Hoc quod agas melius — iustus es, esto pius "
P.135: Nudum ius a te vestiri vult pietate.
P.135: Qualia vis metere, talia grana sere:
P.135: Si ius nudatur, nudo de iure metatur;
P.135: Si seritur pietas, de pietate metas'.
P.136: Thanne greved hym a goliardeis, a gloton of wordes,
P.140: And to the aungel an heigh answerde after:
P.141: " Dum " rex" a " regere " dicatur nomen habere,
P.141: Nomen habet sine re nisi studet iura tenere'.
P.142: Thanne [c]an al the commune crye in vers of Latyn
P.143: To the Kynges counseil — construe whoso wolde —
P.143: "Precepta Regis sunt nobis vincula legis"'
P.144: With that ran ther a route of ratons at ones
P.145: And smale mees myd hem: mo than a thousand
P.146: Comen to a counseil for the commune profit;
P.147: For a cat of a court cam whan hym liked
P.150: And overleep hem lightliche and laughte hem at his wille,
P.151: And pleide with hem perillousli and possed aboute.
P.152: "For doute of diverse dredes we dar noght wel loke"
P.153: And if we grucche of his gamen he wol greven us alle —
P.154: Cracchen us or clawen us and in hise clouches holde.
P.155: That us lotheth the lif er he late us passe.
P.156: Mighte we with any wit his wille withstonde,
P.157: We myghte be lordes olofte and lyven at oure ese'.
P.158: A raton of renoun, moost renable of tonge,
P.159: Seide for a sovereyn [salve] to hem alle,
P.160: "I have yseyen segges', quod he, "in the Cite of Londoun
P.161: Beren beighes ful brighte abouten hire nekkes,
P.162: And somme colers of crafty work; uncoupled they wenden
P.163: Bothe in wareyne and in waast where hem leve liketh,
P.164: And outher while thei arn elliswhere, as I here telle.
P.165: Were ther a belle on hire beighe, by Jesus, as me thynketh,
P.166: Men myghte witen wher thei wente and awey renne.
P.167: And right so', quod that raton, "reson me sheweth
P.168: To bugge a belle of bras or of bright silver
P.169: And knytten it on a coler for oure commune profit
P.170: And hangen it upon the cattes hals — thanne here we mowen
P.171: Wher he ryt or rest or rometh to pleye;
P.172: And if hym list for to laike, thanne loke we mowen
P.173: And peeren in his presence the while hym pleye liketh,
P.174: And if hym wratheth, be war and his wey shonye'.
P.175: Al the route of ratons to this reson assented;
P.176: Ac tho the belle was ybrought and on the beighe hanged
P.177: Ther ne was raton in al the route, for al the reaume of France,
P.178: That dorste have bounden the belle aboute the cattes nekke,
P.179: Ne hangen it aboute his hals al Engelond to wynne,
P.180: [Ac] helden hem unhardy and hir counseil feble,
P.181: And leten hire laboure lost and al hire longe studie.
P.182: A mous that muche good kouthe, as me tho thoughte,
P.183: Strook forth sternely and stood bifore hem alle,
P.184: And to the route of ratons reherced thise wordes:
P.185: "Though we hadde ykilled the cat, yet sholde ther come another
P.186: To cracchen us and al oure kynde, though we cropen under benches.
P.187: Forthi I counseille al the commune to late the cat worthe,
P.188: And be we nevere so bolde the belle hym to shewe.
P.188: The Vision of Piers Plowman
P.189: The while he caccheth conynges he coveiteth noght oure caroyne,
P.190: But fedeth hym al with venyson; defame we hym nevere.
P.191: For bettre is a litel los than a long sorwe:
P.192: The maze among us alle, theigh we mysse a sherewe!
P.193: For I herde my sire seyn, is seven yeer ypassed,
P.194: ""Ther the cat is a kitoun, the court is ful elenge''.
P.195: That witnesseth Holy Writ, whoso wole it rede —
P.196: Ve terre ubi puer rex est, &c.
P.197: For may no renk ther reste have for ratons by nyghte.
P.198: For many mennes malt we mees wolde destruye,
P.199: And also ye route of ratons rende mennes clothes,
P.200: Nere the cat of the court that kan you overlepe;
P.201: For hadde ye rattes youre [raik] ye kouthe noght rule yowselve.
P.202: "I seye for me', quod the mous, " I se so muchel after,
P.203: Shal nevere the cat ne the kiton by my counseil be greved,
P.204: Ne carpynge of this coler that costed me nevere.
P.205: And though it costned me catel, biknowen it I nolde,
P.206: But suffren as hymself wolde [s]o doon as hym liketh —
P.207: Coupled and uncoupled to cacche what thei mowe.
P.208: Forthi ech a wis wight I warne — wite wel his owene!'
P.209: (What this metels bymeneth, ye men that ben murye,
P.210: Devyne ye — for I ne dar, by deere God in hevene)!
P.211: Yet hoved ther an hundred in howves of selk —
P.212: Sergeants, it semed, that serveden at the Barre,
P.213: Pleteden for penyes and pounded the lawe,
P.214: And noght for love of Oure Lord unlose hire lippes ones.
P.215: Thow myghtest bettre meete myst on Malverne Hilles
P.216: Than get a "mom' of hire mouth til moneie be shewed!
P.217: Barins and burgeises and bondemen als
P.218: I seigh in this assemblee, as ye shul here after;
P.219: Baksteres and brewesteres and bochiers manye,
P.220: Wollen webbesters and weveres of lynnen,
P.221: Taillours and tynkers and tollers in markettes,
P.222: Masons and mynours and many othere craftes:
P.223: Of alle kynne lybbynge laborers lopen forth somme-
P.224: As dykeres and delveres that doon hire dedes ille
P.225: And dryveth forth the longe day with "Dieu save Dame Emme!'
P.226: Cokes and hire knaves cryden, " Hote pies, hote!
P.227: Goode gees and grys! Go we dyne, go we!'
P.228: Taverners until hem tolden the same:
P.229: "Whit wyn of Oseye and wyn of Gascoigne,
P.230: Of the Ryn and of the Rochel, the roost to defie!'
P.231: — Al this I seigh slepyng, and sevene sythes more.