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WILLIAM LANGLAND


PIERS THE PLOUGHMAN

PASSUS I


l in somer sesoun / whan softe was the sunne
I shoop me in-to shrowdes / as y sheep[a] sheep were
& wente wyde in . þis world / wondres to here
& on May[a] May morwe / on malverne hillis
By-fel me a feerly / as fayrye me thowhte
I was wery of wandrynge / & wente me to reste
Vpon a brood banke / be a boorne syde
& as y lay & lenede / & lokede on þe wawys
I slumbrede in-to slepyng / it swyȝede so merye
Þan gan y to meetyn / a mervelous sweuene
Þat y was in a wyldernesse / wiste y neuere where
I beheld in-to Est[þe] Est / an heyȝ to þe sunne
I seyȝ a tour on a tuft / tryally y-tymbryd
& a deep dale be-nethe / a dongoun þer-Inne
With depe dychis & derke / & dredful to syghte
& a fayr feeld ful of folk / y fond þere be-twene
Of alle manere of men / þe mene & þe ryche
Wyrkynge & wandrynge / as this world askeþ
Summe pitte hem-selue to plowh / & pleyede seldyn
& in settynge & sowynge / þey swonken ful harde
& summe pitte hem to pride / & a-parayled hem þer-after
In contynances of clothynge / kemen fele dysgysyd
& wonnen þat þese wastoures / with glotenye dystroyen
In prayerys & in penaunces / pitte hem-selue manye
For þe love of oure lord / þei lyvedyn ful streyte
In hope to have to hyre / heuyn-ryche blysse
As Ankrys & hermytys / þat holde hem-selue in sellys
& coueyte nowht in cuntres / to kayren a-bowte
For no likorous lyflode / here lykame to plese
& summe chesen chaffare / to cheven þe bettre
As it semeþ to oure syght / þat swiche men thryvyn
& summe merthis to make / synneles y leve
But Iaperis & Iangeleris / ben Iudas childryn
Þei feynen hem fantesyes / & folis hem maken
& welden wit at wille / to worche what þei sholde
What Poul precheþ of hem / y wil not preue it heere
Boþe bidderis & beggeris / faste a-bowtyn wentyn
& fele fayted for here foode / & fowtyn at þe ale
& god woot with glotenye / þey goon to-gydre to bedde               [
1v]
& rysen vp / with rubawdye / þo roberis knavis
& sleep & sory slewthe / seweth hem euere
Pylgrymes & palmeris / pyghtyn hem to-gydre
To seken seynt Iemes / & seyntis in Rome
& wentyn forþ / on here way / with fele wyse talis
& haddyn leve / for to lyȝen / al here lyve after
& grete longe lobyes / þat looþ weryn to swynke
Clothid hem in copis / to be knowe fram oþere
& shoop hem lyk hermytis / here ese for to kacche
I fond þere of þe freris / alle þe fowre ordris
Þat precheden þe peple / for profyȝt of hem-selue
& gloseden þe gospel / as hem-selue lykede
For coueytyse of copis / þei construe as þei wille
Fele of þe Maystris / may cloþe hem at lykyng
For here mone & marchaundyse / marchyn to-gydre
For sytthe Charite is chapman / & cheef to shryve lordis
Fele ferlijs have ben falle / in a fewe ȝeeris
& but holy chirche & they / holde bettre to-gydre
Þe mooste myschef on moolde / ys mountynge faste



There prechede a pardoner / as he a preest where
& browhte forþ a bulle / with bysshopis selys
& seyde þat hym-selue / myghte a-soyle hem alle
Of false oþis & fastyngis / & fele avowys brokene
& lewide men belevid hem wel / & lykeden hise woordis
& kemen vp knelynge / & kessede his bulle
& he blessid hem with his brevet / & blerede here eyȝen
& lawhte[r]awhte with his ragman / ryngis & brochis
& þorghȝ þe seelis on þe selk / syluer gret plente
With wheche his konkebyne at hom / is klad ful klene
& þus men gyven here gold / glotonys to kepe
& be-leven on þo loselis / þat leccherye hawnten
But where þe blessynge bisshop / worþ boþe his eryn
His seel sholde not be sent / to disseyve þe peple
But itit [is] not be þe bisshop / þat so þe boy precheþ
But þe parsoun er þe preest / ys cawse of þe gilte
For þe prest & þe pardoner / shulle departen þe syluer
Þat þe pore men of þe parschȝ / sholde have if þey nere
Bothe parsonys & vikerys / pleynede to þe bisshop
Þat here parschenys where pore / sitthe þe pestylence tyme
To have lycence & leve / at loondenn to dwellyn.                                            [
2r]
& syngyn þere for Symony / for siluer ys swete.
Boþe Maystris & Bisshopis / & bacheleres & doctoris.
Þat have cure vndir crist / & konynge to knowe.
& charge þat þei sholden at hom / shryvyn here parsshenis.
& prechen & praye for hem / & þe poore leene & feede.
& nowht lyȝn in Londenn / in Lentene & ellys.
& summe seruyn þe kyng / & his syluer tellyn.
In þe cheker & in þe Chauncery / to chalange hise dettes.
Of wardis / & of warde-motis / of wayvis & strayes.
& summe be Clerkis of þe kyngys bench / þe cuntre to shende.
& summe seruyn as seruauntys / Lordys & ladijs.
& in þe stede oso[f] styward / þey Iuggyn & demen.
But here mase ne matynys / ne manye of here oures.
Be not salysbery hews / here Ordynal so tellyþ.
I parceyvede of þat power / þat Peter hadde to kepe
To byȝnde & vnbyȝnde / as þe book telliþ.
How he lefte it with love / as oure lord hym hyghte.
A-mongys foure vertues / most vertuous of hevene.
Þat Cardinalis ben callid / to closen hevene ȝatys.
Þere crist ys in hys kyngdomm / to close & to shette.
& to opene it to hem / & heuene blysse hem shewe.
& þe Cardynalis at þe court / of hem kawtyn name.
For Powher PresumeþPresume[d] in hem / a pope to make.
To haue þe Powher / þat peter hadde / Inpugne y nylle.
For in love & in lettrure / þe leccioun by-longeþ.
For-þy  y can / & can not / of þe cowrt carpyn more.
Þanne kam þere a kyng / knyghthod he ladde.
& þe myght of hyse comonys / maden hym to regne.
& forþ kam kyȝnde wyt / & clerkys he hadde.
For to conseyle þe kyng / & hise comonis save.
& þe kyng & his knyghthod / & þe clergye also.
Þey casten þat þe comonys / sholde fyȝnde hem-selue.
Þe comonys be kynde wit / contriveden craftes.
& for profyȝt of þe peple / plowhmen þey made.
To swynke / & to tylye / as trewe skyl askeþ.
Þanne þe kyng & comonys / & kyȝnde wit þe thryde.
Schopen lawe / be lewte / ech lyf to knowe his owe.
Þanne lookede a lunatyk / a lene þyng with-alle.
He gan knele to þe kyng / & clergyaly seyde.
Cryst kepe þe sire kyng / & þyn kyngdom ryche.
& levele[n]e þe / so lede þyn lond / so lewhte þe a-lowe.
& for þyn ryght-ful rewlyng / þou be rewardid in heuene.
& a-non fram þe hevene on heyȝ / com doun an Angyle.                    [
2v]
& lowhde spak in Latyn / for lewede men ne sholde.
Ianglyn ne Iuggen hym / ne Iustefye hym with mowþe.
But suffren & seruyn / softly / for-þy seyde þe angil.
Sum rex sum princeps . neutrum fortasse deinceps.
O qui iura regis . cristi specialia legis[r]egis.
Hoc quod agas melius . iustus es esto pius.
Nudum vis a te . vestire vult pietate.
Qvalia vis metere . talia grana sere.
Si vis nudatur . nudo de iure metatur.
Si seritur pietas . de pietate metas.

Thanne grevid hym a Goliardes / a glotoun of woordys.
& to þe Angel on hey / he answerede soone.
Dum rex a regere . dicatur nomen habere
Nomen habet sine re . nisi studet iura tenere.

Thanne cryeden alle þe comonys / with o voys a tonysat onys.
Precepta regis . sunt nobis uincula legis.
With þat kemen a rowhte / of Ratonys manye.
& Manye Mees with hem / moo þanne a þowsande
& wentyn to a conseyl / for þe comoun profyȝt.
For a Cat in þe court / cam whan hire[hym] lykede.
& ouer-leep hem lyghtly / & lawht hem at wylle.
& pleyeþ with vs apertly / & posseþ vs a-bowhte.
& for drede of deeþ / we ne dore not wel looken.
& if we grucche his wille / he wil greve vs sore.
& cracche vs / & clawe vs / & in his cloche vs holde.
Þat we loþyn oure lyf / er he leete vs passen.
But myghte we be ony wit / hys wille with-stonde.
We weryn lordys on lofte / & lyven in gret ese.
Þanne a Ratoun of renoun / moost renable of tunge.
Seyde a resonable resoun / & helplych to hem alle.
I have herd of seggis quod he / in þe Cyte of Lundoun.
Þat men beryn bryghte byȝes / a-bowtyn here nekkys.
& summe Coleres of crafty werk / vn-cowpled þey walke.
Boþe in wareyn & in waast / where hem best lykeþ.
& oþire-whylys ellys-where / as weyȝes me telle.
Where þere a belle on here beyȝe / by Iesus as me þynkeþ.
Men myghten wetyn / where þei wente / & a-wey renne.
Ryght so quod þe Ratoun / as resoun me sheweth.
It were best to begge a bras belle / or of shyȝn syluer.
& knette it on a Coler / for oure Comoune profyȝt
& hange it a-bowte þe Cattys hals / þat here hym we mowe.
& a-peren in his absense / þe while vus pleye lykeþ.
& yf he wratthe / to be war / & hise weye shone.
Þanne alle þe rowhte of Ratonys / to þis resoun assentid.               [
3r]
But whanne þe belle was bowht / & on þe byȝe hanged.
Þere was no ratoun / of þat rowhte / for þe Rewhme of Fraunce.
Þat durste a bownde þat bond / a-bowte þe Cattys nekke.
Ne honge yt a-bowte his hals / al Ingelond to wynne.
But helden hem-selue vn-hardy / & al here conseyl feble.
& al here labour was loost / & here large costes.
Thanne a Mows / þat mychil good / cowhde / as me thowhte.
Strook forþ sternely / & stood be-fore hem alle.
& to þe rowhte of ratonys / he reersyde þese wordys.
They we haddyn kyllyd þat Cat / ȝyt sholde þere come a-noþir.
& kacche vus & oure kyȝnde / whan we kroule a-bowte.
For-þy by my conseyl / to soffre þe Cat a-worthe.
& no bacheler be so bold / þe belle hym to shewe.
For y herde myn syre seyn / is sevene ȝeer y-passed.
Þere þe Cat ys kytoun / þe court ys elenge.
Þat witnessiþ holy wryt / who-so wille it rede.
Ue terre . ubi puer rex est.
There may no renke haue reste / for rattys on nyghtis.
For whilis he cacchiþ conyes / he coueyteþ not oure bowkys.
But fediþ hym with fenysoun / defame we hym neuere.
For bettre ys a lytil los / þan a long sorwe.
Þe Maase a-mong vs alle / þey we mysse a shrewe.
For manye mennys malt ellis / we myȝs wille distroye.
& also ellis ȝee ratonys / wolde renden renkes clothys.
Ne were þe cat of þe court / þat can a-mong ȝow lepe.
For hadde ȝe ratonys ȝoure wille / ȝee cowhde not rewle ȝour-selue.
I sey þis for my-selue quod þe Mous / & see so mychil after.
Shal neuere Cat ne kytoun / by myn conseyl be grevid.
Ne carpynge of his coler / coste me neuere after.
& þowh it coste me catel / by-knowe it y nylle.
But suffre as summe oþire do / to slen what hym lykeþ.
Cowpled / & vncowplyd / to cacche what he wille.
& euery wyȝs Mows y warne / to wacche wel hym-selue.
What þis Metelys meneþ / ȝee men / þat been here-Inne.
I ne dar dyvyne it ȝow / be dere god in hevene.
Ȝit hovede þere an hundred / in howfes on Molde.
Sergawntys þey semeden / þat seruede at þe barre.
Pleteden for þe peny / & pownded þe lawe.
& nowht for oure lordys love / vn-lose here lyppe onys.
Þou myghtyst bettre meten myst / on Maluerne hellys
Þan getyn a Mum of here mowht / er mone be shewyd.
I seyȝ in þis a-semble / as ȝee shulle here after.                                             [
3v]
Boþe Bakerys / & Brewsteres / & Bocherys manye.
& also wolle websterys / & webberys of Lynene.
& Tayloures & Tynkeres / & tollerys of Market.
& Masonys & Mynowrys / & manye oþire craftys.
Of alle lyvynge laborerys / lope þere furthȝ summe.
As dykerys & delueres / þat doon here dedes ylle.
& dryve furthȝ þe fayre day / with deu vous saue dame Emme.
Þere wheren kene Cokys knavis / criȝeden / hote pyes hote
Goode fatte gryȝs & gees / gowego we dyghne . gowego we.
& þe Tauernerys vn-tyl hem / tolledyn þe same.
With good fyȝn Maluesyn / or wyn of Gaskoyne.
Or Rochel or Romeney / þe roost to diffyȝe.

Explicit passus Primus . Petri Plouhman.


GO TO PASSUS II



Much of this research is based on my 1974 Berkeley doctoral dissertation, which went into three editions as a published book, The Pilgrim and the Book: A Study of Dante, Langland and Chaucer, https://isbnsearch.org/isbn/08204209051992, its Dante sections also published in an Italian edition in De strata francigena XX/1, 2012.

 

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