The Gast of Gy
THE GAST OF GY: FOOTNOTE1 Lines 425-26: Therefore it is not at all fitting for them to say, / Unless they can swear to the truth [of it] in every instance
THE GAST OF GY: EXPLANATORY NOTESAbbreviations: see Textual Notes.
1 Saint Michael. One of the three archangels (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael), who were the special messengers of God. In Scripture he is the leader of the angels who will fight the dragon in the last days (Apocalypse 12:7), and, although not mentioned by name, he is traditionally considered the angel who stood guard at the gate of Eden to prevent Adam and Eve's return (Genesis 3:24). He is the guide in the tour of Hell in the Apocalypse of St. Paul, a late fourth-century non-canonical book which was influential in medieval vision literature.
2 Saint Austyn. St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo (354-430), is a Doctor of the Church - a learned teacher distinguished for interpretation of doctrine. He is also a Father of the Church along with St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome - the most influential early Doctors. A prolific writer whose works include Confessions, City of God, Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Charity, and much more, he shaped the thinking of the Church for centuries, and was especially influential in the fourteenth century, when he is frequently cited by vernacular writers (Chaucer, Langland, Trevisa, Usk, Gower) as well as theologians like Bradwardine and Wyclif.
5 clerkes. Although "clerk" usually refers specifically to clerics in minor orders, it here refers to all learned men in religious life.
11 Saint Paule. St. Paul, author of the Epistles that comprise the largest segment of Christian Scripture, influenced Christian thought throughout the Middle Ages. His Epistles are frequently cited by St. Augustine and other Doctors of the Church as sound doctrine and reliable commentary on the rest of Scripture.
13-14 A loose translation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 15:4. The idea that all writing, if properly interpreted, works for our spiritual instruction is a commonplace in the Middle Ages: see Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana 10, for example. Chaucer, at the conclusion of The Nun's Priest Tale, says:
For Seint Paul seith that al that writen is,Or, again, in the Retraction: "For oure book seith, 'Al that is writen is writen for oure doctrine,' and that is myn entente" (CT X[I]1083).
To oure doctrine it is ywrite, ywis. (CT VII[B2]3441-42)
28 withowten fabill. Despite the proposition that all writing was, or could be, for our instruction, "fabill" is a particularly charged word. It was often used to identify fictions or illusory stories considered spiritually dangerous or misleading. Chaucer's Parson makes the distinction, explicitly referring to 1 Timothy 1:4, 4:7 and 2 Timothy 4:4:
Thou getest fable noon ytoold for me,Although a fable can mean "a short fictitious narrative meant to carry a moral" (MED), it is much more often "a false statement intended to deceive; a fiction, untruth, falsehood, lie"; or "a fictitious or imaginative narrative or statement, especially one based on legend or myth" (MED).
For Paul, that writeth unto Thymothee,
Repreveth hem that weyven soothfastnesse
And tellen fables and swich wrecchednesse. (CT X[I]31-34)
31-42 These lines attempt to establish historicity by specific identification of time and place. In R, Gy dies on 20 November (XII kalendes, line 39) 1323. There are differences in other manuscripts, though all agree on the year except Q, which, erroneously, has 1333. In R, the Gast of Gy begins his haunting on the eighth day after his death (27 November). All MSS agree that his wife seeks out the Pryor three days after Christmas: 27 December, the feast of St. John the Evangelist.
37 Alexty. The name of the town, Alexty, is variable and confusing in the manuscripts. Alais (or Alés), in the Department of Gard, seems most likely.
38 Bayoune. I.e., Bayonne, though the city intended is almost certainly Avignon, which John XXII had made the seat of the Papacy in 1316. Avignon is, indeed, about thirty miles from Alais (Alexty).
48 The Gast of Gy's voice can be heard, but he is invisible. A pictorial representation of the scene found in MS Getty 31 shows the observers gathered around an empty space. Although some revenants appeared as spectral images, invisibility was more common, because of the incorporeality of the soul.
51 rugged and rent. It is unlikely that the body of Gy's wife is "distraught and torn," though she may have done herself some damage in her distress. More likely, rugged refers to her mental state, while rent suggests that she has torn her clothes ("rent her garments") in the classical manifestation of grief and perturbation.
54 Eghtene. The sense is "the eighth day in order," i.e., after a week.
56-57 The distinction between "good ghosts" and "fiends" was the object of much learned and popular speculation.
60-61 freres . . . prechours. I.e., Dominicans. Founded by St. Dominic in 1220, the Dominicans were one of the mendicant orders that propagated the doctrine of Purgatory most vigorously in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. A notably intellectual order, the order of both Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, they particularly opposed Pope John XXII's dubious position that the soul would remain in Purgatory until the Last Judgment.
63 Pryor. A prior is the chief officer, spiritual and administrative, of a Dominican establishment called a convent.
65 Gy died on 20 November and the "haunting" began on the eighth day (i.e., seven days later). Three days after Christmas, 27 December, she sought out the Dominican prior for help. (Medieval counting of duration, like the classical, included the first day in the numeration.)
75 spyll. The sense is that the ghost returns to that former place of rest to give audience to his agitated message. The bed is now"spoiled," "made desolate," "subverted," "deprived of its intended use" (MED).
97 brether. Friars were referred to as "brothers," emphasizing the communal basis of the mendicant orders.
104 chapiter bell. The chapter bell summoned the friars to meet as a group, "in chapter."
114 After this line, other versions of the poem variously identify the disciplines of the two masters. See textual note.
134-36 It is essential that everyone involved, friars and mayor's men, receive the sacrament of Penance and receive the Eucharist before embarking on the mission, because the Pryor could not be sure whether they were about to encounter a benevolent spirit, as the Gast of Gy turns out to be, or a false or evil spirit, a fiend.
137 Requiem. I.e., Mass for the Dead. The name comes from the sentence Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine (Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord.) This sentence also recurs throughout the Officium defunctorum (the Office of the Dead), which was part of the Breviarium romanum (the Roman Breviary), the compendium of prayers, mostly Psalms, required for daily recitation by members of mendicant orders and adapted to the liturgical season or a specific purpose, e.g., funerary. The use of the plural eis (them) in both the Requiem and the Office of the Dead is important in view of the later discussion in the poem about whether masses said for an individual also benefitted all the faithful departed.
141-42 Howsell . . . howsyld. The sacrament of the Eucharist (Holy Communion); the reception of the consecrated body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine.
146 bost. Any box or receptable; here applied to a pyx, a vessel for carrying a con-secrated Communion host, usually to the sick or dying.
155 The balanced construction in this line is a noteworthy feature of R. N usually provides a coordinating conjunction.
166 As the Pryor enters, he says Pax huic domui ("Peace be to this house"), the words that Jesus told the seventy-two disciples to say as they entered each house on their evangelical mission (Luke 10:5). The Latin is translated in the next two lines though allway is, strictly speaking, superfluous. The Pryor continues (lines 169-205) to say prayers appropriate to entering the house of one recently deceased.
171 Vidi aquam. The first words of the rite of sprinkling with holy water before Mass during Eastertide (from Easter Sunday to Pentecost). The prayer, a responsorial between priest and choir, is based on Ezechial 47:1, where Ezechial has a vision of waters pouring from under the Temple. Although the Vidi aquam, with its sprinkling of holy water, is an appropriate introductory prayer, it is out of season on December 27. The Pryor seems to be mounting a powerful introduction to the ceremonial prayers that follow.
172 Veni, Creator Spiritus. The first words of one of the most popular hymns of the Middle Ages. It is an invocation of the Holy Spirit sung at the beginning of the Mass of the Holy Spirit and on other special occasions. The emphasis on the Holy Spirit is especially significant in view of the later discussion between the Gast of Gy and the Pryor about the special efficacy of the Mass of the Holy Spirit for souls in Purgatory (lines 817-902). It was included in various places in the recitation of the Breviarium romanum at the canonical hours, and dates from the ninth century.
173-74 Colett . . . fidelium. A Collect, or Oratio, is a short prayer consisting of an invocation, a petition, and a glorification of Christ or God. This Collect, Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustracione docuisti (O God, who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit), was assigned to the Mass of the Holy Spirit and fits well after the recitation of Veni, Creator Spiritus. The Holy Spirit remains prominent in the sequence of prayers.
176 Asperges me. The first words of the rite of sprinkling the congregation with holy water, usually before Mass, outside of Eastertide (when the Vidi Aquam was used). Like the Vidi Aquam it is a responsorial between priest and choir. The prayer is based in the Vulgate on Psalm 50:9. By using both the Vidi Aquam and the Asperges, the Pryor seems to be attempting an especially powerful invocation.
193 Dominus vobiscum. "The Lord be with you." A frequent phrase in many liturgies. The usual response, not given here, is Et cum spiritu tuo (And with your spirit).
197 In principio. "In the beginning," the first words of the Gospel according to St. John. The whole verse is: In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.) Traditionally, John 1:1-14 was recited at the end of the "Post-Communion," the last part of the Mass. The lines are an affirmation of Christ's Incarnation, which, like the Mass of the Holy Spirit, becomes prominent later in the poem (lines 447-56). The use of John 1:1 is also appropriate because it is the Evangelist's feast day.
202-05 These lines indicate that the Pryor recites the Office of the Dead (Officium defunctorum) from the Roman Breviary (Breviarium romanum). This liturgy was composed primarily of psalms, antiphons (short interspersed prayers from Psalms or elsewhere in Scripture), Collects (see explanatory note to lines 173-74), and responses appropriate to the canonical hours of Vespers, Matins, and Lauds. The canonical hours were prescribed times throughout the day: Matins (during the night), Lauds (just before dawn), Prime (sunrise), Terce (mid-morning), Sext (noon), Nones (mid-afternoon), Vespers (sundown), and Compline (bedtime). They were required of all clergy and recited communally by religious orders of monks and friars. The prescribed prayers varied according to the liturgical season or some special purpose, such as prayers for the dead.
The Office of the Dead included the prayers and readings associated with Vespers (Placebo is the first word of the first antiphon for Vespers), Matins (Dirige is the first word in the prescribed Matins), and Lauds, followed by the seven Penitential Psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142 in the Vulgate), a recitation of the Litany of the Saints, and concluding with the threefold invocation: Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis ("Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us"). The first half of this line is based on John 1:29, which itself is based on Isaias 53:7. In the Requiem Mass and in the Office of the Dead the second half of the line could be dona eis requiem (grant them rest). Some other variations were allowable. Thus, the Pryor and his two brothers effectively recite the Office of the Dead when they enter Gy's house.
208 Als a child sayand: "Amen." N expands to als of so as to mean "as of a child saying 'Amen.'" But R: als is clear: "Like a child saying 'Amen.'"
215 was and es and sall be ay. A thanksgiving (doxological) response common in Christian liturgy (sicut erat in principio et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saecu-lorum) that follows the priest's Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto (compare line 214). Here it serves as a precautionary warning against evil spirits. The English phrase is sometimes used by writers to indicate duration (e.g., Chaucer's TC 1.236-37).
224 kynde. A complex word that refers most generally to "the aggregate of inherent qualities or properties of persons" (MED). It can also refer to the"natural dis-position or temperament of a person or animal," or even clan, parentage, or lineage (MED). Here, and in most places in the poem, it seems to indicate "intrinsic nature" or "natural capacity," that which is within the capacity of human nature.
235 ill gast or a gud. The poem returns to the familiar medieval distinction between good ghosts and demonic fiends or phantasms.
239-50 The Gast of Gy argues that, since Scripture says (Genesis 1:31) that all of God's creation is good, he is therefore a good ghost by nature (kynde, line 248) and only evil according to sinful deeds performed in life for which he is now making satisfaction.
297-98 For lawed folk . . . oft walkand. The Pryor refers to the sightings by lawed (i.e., "uneducated") folk of evil men walking the land after death. Popular speculation and theological controversy both considered the question of whether the damned (as well as purgatorial spirits) had the power to return to earth. The orthodox answer was that it could occur only with God's permission for the instruction and benefit of the living.
331-34 For ilk a man . . . or in Hell. The Gast of Gy explains that penance for sins must be done on earth, in Purgatory, or in the endless pains of Hell. This section of the poem expounds an especially Dominican view on a controversial subject.
351-52 Wa unto that man . . . whame sklaunder comes. To give scandal is to perform an action that leads another towards spiritual destruction (Matthew 18:6-7).
377-83 This ask I thee . . . sacramentes ilk ane. The Pryor asks the crucial purgatorial question: how is it possible for a person to receive the last sacraments and still be evil after death. The Gast explains that, although the spirit is not evil by nature, there is a residue of guilt for which satisfaction must be made, even after sins have been forgiven, through penitential acts on earth or temporary suffering in Purgatory. Theologians distinguished between culpa, the guilt that could be absolved in the Sacrament of Penance, and poena, the retribution or satisfaction that still had to be made.
409-10 And clerkes proves . . . reles us of a yher. Although it is stated somewhat confusingly, the idea is that a day of penance done on earth will release the sinner from a year of suffering in Purgatory. Arithmetical correspondences came late in the development of the doctrine of Purgatory and were never universally agreed upon.
447-52 Be Haly Wrytt . . . mayden myld of mode. The Gast of Gy refers to statements by the Hebrew prophets that were taken by Christians to foretell the Incarnation of Christ (e.g., Isaias 7:14-15 and 9:6-7). A good source for a systematic cataloguing of such passages would be The Bible of the Poor (Biblia Pauperum): A Facsimile and Edition of the British Library Blockbook C.9.d.2, trans. with commentary by Albert C. Labriola and John W. Smeltz (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1990). See the Latin transcription and English translation of the dozens of passages from the Hebrew Bible that are used as prefigurations of New Testament verses (pp. 55-139).
470-78 It es na lyknes . . . what thing suld fall. The Gast of Gy explains that prophets could speak of things they never saw because of a special gift of God to instruct the people. The question and answer are not compatible. The Pryor had asked whether the Gast knew who would be saved and who would be damned, and used the fore-knowledge of the prophets as a reason why souls in Purgatory should know. The Pryor's analogy is weak, but the Gast simply responds to the question of the knowledge possessed by the prophets. The Gast does profess ignorance about the fate of other souls. Just what souls in Purgatory knew was a matter of disputatious conjecture.
475 gyftes of the Haly Gaste. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are sapientia ("wisdom"), intellectus ("understanding"), consilium ("counsel"), fortitudo ("might"), scientia ("knowledge"), timor Domini ("fear of God"), and pietas ("piety"). See Isaias 11:2 for the first six, to which the Vulgate added piety. According to Frère Lorens, in his Somme le roi, the gifts of the Holy Spirit "doth away and destroieth the seven deadly sins" (see Jeffrey, p. 307).
498-504 Ryght in thi wordes . . . dampned had bene. The Pryor objects that fiends (devils) sometimes have had knowledge of who has been saved and who has been damned. The Gast responds that souls in Purgatory do not know such things unless God or an angel tells them (quite a common view). The Pryor has switched his attention from previous knowledge, as in the example of the prophets, to present knowledge of who is saved and who is damned.
536-38 Thare er Purgatoryes sere . . . aneother es. The distinction between "comon" Purgatory (see line 556) and departabill (line 538) Purgatory was not universally accepted. Gregory the Great in his Dialogues has an exemplum involving a soul doing his purgation on earth. One common view was that Purgatory was experienced in two places - a common location, usually beneath the earth, and the place where the sin was committed. In such views, the soul generally was in common Purgatory by day and departabill Purgatory by night - just the reverse of the Gast's situation.
556-58 comon Purgatori . . . In mydes of all the erth. The location of a "common" Purgatory in the middle of the earth was an ancient tradition, perhaps borrowing from classical antiquity. That is where Dante places it, though he adds the mountain, another frequent image of Purgatory, and he has no "departabill" Purgatory. In Sir Owain and the whole tradition of St. Patrick's Purgatory, it is below ground and can be entered at Saints' Island (later at Station Island), Lough Derg, County Donegal. The important matter is that Purgatory was a place, not just a "state."
595-97 Telle, if thou kan . . . when he es tane. The experience of the soul immediately after death was a source of much controversy. The Gast proceeds to summarize how the saved are protected, the evil are condemned, and the middling are assigned to Purgatory, while angels and fiends hover. The roles of the angels and fiends vary in vision literature. There is no indication of gradations of punishment, merely various lengths of time. Views on these issues differed widely.
662 clensyng fyre. The Gast here distinguishes between "cleansing fire," which purifies the soul of the residuum of guilt for sins properly forgiven in the sacrament of Penance, and the "retributive fire" of Hell, reserved for the unrepentant. The distinction between purification and retribution was not definitively established until the Second Council of Lyons (1274).
663 Cristes Passyon. Christ's Passion is His suffering and death, recounted by all four Evangelists. His Passion made salvation possible after the Fall of Man, and it is through the merits of His Passion that man is redeemed, empowered to cooperate with Divine Grace. (See Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 18-19.)
676 armoure gude. See Ephesians 6:11-13: "Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect."
713 Mayden and moder. A reference to the Virgin Birth, i.e., the idea that Mary conceived and bore Jesus without losing her virginity. The phrase is prominent in the hundreds of lyric poems on Mary. See, for example, Middle English Marian Lyrics, ed. Karen Saupe (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998), Poem 3.49, 8.3, 9.2-3, 10.1, 11.2, 12.22, 13.17, 15.4, 16.19, 18.27, 29.26, 48.1, 50.50, 51.17, 55.2, 59.5, 61.1, 69.6, 70.1, 72.31, 73.5, 78.28, 87.1, 89.33-34, 90.1, 91.22. Compare Chaucer's ABC, line 49, and the prologue to The Prioress' Tale, CT VII(B2)467.
717 emperys of Hell. The idea of Mary as "empress of Hell," i.e., having dominion even over Hell, is probably derived from her traditional role as Regina Coeli ("Queen of Heaven"), the opening words of the Eastertide antiphon. In traditional iconography Mary was frequently portrayed trampling the serpent, probably based on a disputed reading in Jerome's Vulgate of Genesis 3:15. Medieval church authorities would have accepted Jerome's Marian interpretation of the verse.
728 bede. A word for prayer in that a true prayer makes a petition, i.e., asks for something (beden: MED). It is unlikely that this is a reference to a "bead," the means of counting prayers in the rosary, although there is a tradition that Mary gave the rosary to St. Dominic to combat the Albigensian heresy, thus providing a special connection between Dominicans and the rosary.
731 almusdede. Almsgiving for the help of the poor and infirm was a common penitential act assigned as a means for a penitent to remove some of the guilt that remained after absolution. The practice of almsgiving as an act of charity has its source in Judaic tradition, but in the Middle Ages it had special prominence as a form of expiation for sin.
761-66 On this wyse may gude prayere . . . unto clensyng fyre him bring. The prayers of the saved have intercessory power with God on behalf of the souls in Purgatory. Thus, there is a reciprocal relationship between the living and the dead: to pray for the dead speeds their way to heaven where they can act as intercessors for the living and the souls in Purgatory. This doctrine depends upon the notion of the Communion of Saints, strongly espoused by St. Thomas Aquinas, according to which saved souls, souls in Purgatory, and the living are joined in a mutually beneficial union.
793-800 For the grettest blys . . . war noght acordand thing. The greatest joy of Heaven is the Beatific Vision, seeing God without intermediary in His "Godhead," that is, His Divine Essence. God, as the Summum Bonum (Greatest Good), is the goal of human existence; thus to see Him "face to face," as it were, is the ultimate gift of His grace.
828a "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45). The line is translated in lines 829-30 of the poem. See textual note.
854a "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, He hath done." (Psalm 134:6 in the Vulgate). The line is translated in lines 855-56 of the poem; see textual note. The latter half of the verse reads: "in Heaven, in earth, in the sea, and in all the deeps," which would include, presumably, Purgatory.
890-902 Of Saint Spiritt thou sang . . . thou has the wrang. That prayers for an individual are efficacious for all the departed is attested by the use of the plural dona eis requiem (grant them rest) in the Requiem Mass, the Mass of the Holy Spirit, and the Office of the Dead.
915-16 with Jewes voyce / Was anely offyrd on the Croyce. See Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46. The Gast's declaration of the details of the Mass declared "anely on a day" by priests (line 910) evokes St. Paul's observations that in the Eucharist the Passion is made present and plain in the eyes and hearts of all worshipers (see Galatians 3:1). That the doctrine lives in the heart of the Gast of Gy is eloquently evident as he tells how Christ died and gave His spirit unto the Father for the salvation of humankind (lines 914-20). The point seems to be that the spirit of God dwells in the Gast of Gy even in Purgatory, regardless of whether the Pryor asks the right questions or not. His faith keeps him whole despite his trials.
921-22 Ryght so the prest in ilk a Messe / Offers Criste. The Gast of Gy's knowledge of the Bible, given his layman's status, seems almost proto-Wyclifite in its several allusions to the Gospels and the Epistles. But it is clear here that he values the sacraments of a conscientious priesthood, albeit in a kind of primitive way. The Pryor may be more subtle and academic in his inquisition into questions of Purgatory and who gets saved, but the Gast is the one guided by faith and its fundamental sensibilities.
941 ryght resoune. Right reason does not mean simply "correct" reason. It is the use of the ratiocinative power, under the direction of the will, to choose higher goals rather than lower. This distinction is made by many Doctors of the Church, notably St. Thomas Aquinas (ST 1-2.qu.76-77; 81-85; 94).
943 Pater Noster. The Pater Noster ("Our Father") has special importance as the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:3-4) and is incorporated into the Mass (the liturgy of the Eucharist).
954-58 Haly Wryt witnes . . . dose here for thair mede. The "speciall prayers and speciall dede" (line 957) are "suffrages," which could include masses, almsgiving, and penitential acts of all kinds. The doctrine, though pervasive and supported by St. Thomas Aquinas, only received definitive formulation at the Second Council of Lyons (1274) and more precisely by the Council of Trent (1545, 1563). It is tenuously based in Scripture (2 Machabees 12:46 and 1 Corinthians 3:13). See explanatory note to lines 447-52.
978 sufferd foure yhere. The Gast's statement that he had been assigned four years in Purgatory has an arithmetical specificity that is usually avoided in writings on Purgatory. The important point (lines 981-90) is that his sentence will be lessened by the "suffrages" of his cousin, the friar.
991-92 I sall have penaunce in this place / No ferrer bot fra hethen to Passe. That the Gast should know when he will be released from Purgatory is unusual if not unorthodox, though the correctness of his statement within the poem is soon validated in lines 999-1001, where we are told that the Pryor returned at Easter and found no sign of the Gast. See the explanatory note on "Pasch" for line 1013.
1008-09 come never yhit in Heven. / Tharfor I may tell thee no mare. The Gast's empirical response ("I can't talk about that since I haven't been there yet") reflects current philosophical investigations in England during the fourteenth century, particularly at Oxford. That the poet juxtaposes the Gast's empiricism with his Augustinian notion of seeing through faith locates him in a very English way within the culture for which the poem is written.
1012 thus myne aungell to me tald. After this line there is an interpolation in R of about 384 lines from Cursor Mundi, a compendious "history" from Creation to Doomsday. It was probably composed c. 1300 by an anonymous parish priest. Extremely popular, it survived in many versions of varying lengths. See textual note to this line.
1013 To Pasch I suld in penance be. The Gast reiterates what he said in line 992, that he will be in Purgatory until Easter. The repetition may be the result of scribal confusion because of the insertion of the long section from Cursor Mundi after line 1012.
Pasch. "Pasch," sometimes "Passe," was used to refer both to Passover and Easter (MED). The use of the word for the two feasts derives from their proximity in the calendar and correspondences fashioned between the Old Law (Hebrew) and the New Law (Christian). The Gast here clearly means Easter.
1031 The Office of the Ded. See explanatory note to lines 202-05.
1046 The seven Psalmes with the Letany. The seven Penitential Psalms (Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142 in the Vulgate), followed by the Litany of the Saints, a Collect, and the Agnus Dei, conclude the Office of the Dead. See explanatory note to lines 202-05.
1050 Ave. The "Hail Mary," based on Elizabeth's words to Mary (Luke 1:42), achieved enormous importance with the increasing popularity of the cult of Mary in the fourteenth century.
1062-65 me think that thair prayere . . . And the Crede, that the apostels purvayde. To the Pater Noster and Ave, which have the authority of Scripture, the Pryor adds "The Apostles' Creed," which has limited Scriptural authority (Matthew 28:19) and is not found until St. Ambrose in the late fourth century. It is curious that the Psalms of David do not seem to have this kind of authority for the Pryor. It may be that their prescription as part of the Office of the Dead is already sufficient validation.
1092-95 Tell me, what it avayls . . . for the ded es dyght. When the Pryor questions the special efficacy of the Office of the Dead, the Gast gives an elaborate explanation of the value of each part of the Office with many numerological applications to other religious phenomena.
1094 Placebo includes five Psalms (114, 119, 120, 129, and 137 in the Vulgate); see line 1106. Dirige includes nine Psalms (5, 6, 7, 22, 24, 26, 39, 40, and 41 in the Vulgate), which correspond nicely with the nine orders of angels in the Gast's exposition.
1108 antems. An Anglicization of "antiphons," prayers said or sung between the Psalms.
1128 Neghen orders. Although throughout Scripture there are many references to angels (messengers of God), the idea of nine "choirs" of angels standing before the throne of God singing His praises is derived from Psalms 96:7, 102:20, 148:2, 5 in the Vulgate, and, especially, Daniel 7:9-10 and Matthew 18:10. The nine choirs, named by the Pseudo-Dionysius, are angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominions, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim. The orthodox view is also expressed in St. Gregory the Great's (c. 540-604) Dialogues and by St. Thomas Aquinas (ST 1.qu.108).
1155 Laudes. Lauds in the Office of the Dead includes four true "Psalms": 50, 64, 62, 150. Between Psalms 62 and 150 is the "Canticle of Ezechias" (Isaias 38:10-14, 17-20). Canticles are frequently included in place of a true psalm in the five items under one of the canonical hours. Thus, in a loose sense, Lauds contains five so-called psalms to correspond to the five wits in line 1156.
1181-84 Forwhi the saule dwelles als a stane . . . understandes als gud aungels. These lines are a brief exposition of where man fits in the hierarchy of creation. He has existence like a stone, life like plants, sentience like a beast, and understanding like angels. The first Christian expression of this "chain of being" is in St. Augustine, De libero arbitrio 2.3.7. See textual note.
1187 Benedictus. The "Canticle of Zachary" (Luke 1:68-79). The Benedictus always concludes Lauds, and in Lauds for the Office of the Dead it follows Psalm 150.
1188 Magnificat. In Vespers in the Office of the Dead, after Psalm 137, the "Magnificat" is said. It is not a psalm but Mary's statement to Elizabeth concerning bearing Jesus (Luke 1:46-55). The "Magnificat" was widely honored in the fourteenth century as a statement of how God would humble the mighty and exalt the humble. It was extended into secular romance, as a moral lesson, in poems like Robert of Cisyle.
1216-18 Mi tyme es nere neghand me . . . To suffer payne in other place. The Gast's need to return to common Purgatory at this point is not rationalized in the poem. Ordinarily, ghosts inhabited common Purgatory by day and "departabill" Purgatory by night, though in this poem the pattern seems reversed.
1226 fyve joyes. In Marian hymns, sometimes sung at the end of Compline, the five joys of Mary are the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Assumption. The hymn "Gaude, virgo, mater Christi" appears in Trinity College, Cambridge MS 323, where the Latin alternates with an English translation stanza by stanza. In the Thornton Manuscript (Lincoln Cathedral MS 91) the hymn is headed: "Another salutacioune till our lady of hir fyve Joyes." See Karen Saupe, Middle English Marian Lyrics, Poem 87.
1242 sacrament of Godes Body. The sacrament of God's Body, also called the Blessed Sacrament (line 1326), is the Eucharist, the reception of Christ's body and blood in the form of consecrated bread and wine, the central event of the Mass (the liturgy of the Eucharist).
1275-90 And gude aungels war noght biforne . . . the devels may dere him noght. The advice to priests in these lines echoes the subject of the 384 lines from Cursor Mundi intruded into this poem after line 1012.
1297 Summe Sacerdos. Here attributed to St. Augustine, this was more commonly identified as the "Prayer of St. Ambrose" (PL 17.751-64) and said before the beginning of Mass. In fact, it was more probably composed by John of Fecamp (d. 1076).
1382 Scho wate hirself, als wele als I. The Gast makes clear that he cannot confess for someone else, a point that the Pryor is slow to understand, perhaps because of his bias against women. But when, after the third attempt to get her to speak, the Pryor finally convinces her in the name of all that is holy (lines 1413-23), and, when the Gast explains further the circumstances, she finds her voice and asks of her husband whether there is hope for her salvation (lines 1467-71), whereupon he reassures her (lines 1473-75). She then voluntarily offers her prayers of gratitude to Jesus and Mary. Meanwhile, the Pryor suggests she give almsdeeds.
1426-29 ane unkyndely syn . . . Of whilk we bath war schryven sone. The Gast refers to a sin committed by him and his wife. The location of the commission of the sin is their bedroom, the appropriate place for a spirit to go when outside common Purgatory. The mutuality of the transgression suggests a sexual sin. The ascetic tradition that grew out of St. Paul, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome condemned sexuality even between husband and wife except when the primary intention was procreation. Compare Chaucer's Parson's Tale (CT X[I]858-59, 903-05), which is based in part on St. Jerome's Adversus Jovinianum, though the Parson grants the body its privileges and makes allowances for paying the debt and moderation. The Gast refers to the sin as unnatural, but that could include anything from infanticide to recreational sex.
1438-41 God will it noght . . . we bath war schryven. A sin confessed and forgiven in the sacrament of Penance need not be revealed to anyone else. The Gast's statement is an orthodox affirmation of absolute privacy with regard to absolved sins. Auricular confession, common in the early Church, revived in the twelfth century, and the obligation of secrecy was enjoined on the priest at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), although it certainly was practiced long before.
1475 Thou sall be saved. The Gast's assertion that his wife will be saved is not presump-tuous in that the sin in question has been forgiven. His mission merely relates to the penance necessary to satisfy for the guilt of the sin, preferably in this life, in order to avoid or minimize purgation.
1488 the Pryor than gan him frayne. The Pryor would have the Gast confide in the priest before speaking to his wife, since, he says, the priest is nearer to God than a woman is (lines 1493-94). But the Gast's answer that he loves his wife more, and that that is why he has gained permission from God to return to earth to warn his wife, is an authoritative response that gives precedence to personal relationships.
1541 vertuse. The plural of vertu, "a particular mental faculty or power of the soul necessary for thought, imagination" (MED).
1620-36 His aungell demed his saule to dwell . . . fra now unto to morne at pryme. The arithmetic of the passage is doubtful. The assignment of specific terms for purgatorial suffering was a matter of debate, and the two-hour delay, while prayers are offered to reduce the sentence, is idiosyncratic if not unique.
1623 efter his dede. "After his death" is the obvious sense, though the phrase might also mean "according to his deeds," which would be an applicable reading as well. Compare lines 1632-34 and 1638-39, where the Pauline notion of the efficacy of deeds is stressed.
1673 grayde. From greithen, "to arrange . . . salvation" (MED). Earthly time is seen as a preparation for the ultimate goal, salvation.
1675-78 I se in ilk state . . . nane sall be dispraysed for me. The Gast's assertion that no state of life is superior to any other fits the spiritual equality of all Christians, but is a peculiarly egalitarian point to make in view of ecclesiastical preference of virginity to marriage.
1710 God dose nathing ogayns kynde. The Pryor asserts that God does nothing against the law of Nature. In the subsequent lines the Gast explains that, as Creator, God has the power to suspend the laws of Nature as ordinarily observed, that is, to perform miracles. Thus, souls in Purgatory may experience the corporeal pain of fire as well as the spiritual pain of loss. The idea is traditional and expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa contra Gentiles 3.102).
1735-38 Yhe weryed gastes . . . to the devell and his aungels. Matthew 25:41: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels."
1742-54 Bi miracle ogayns kynde . . . Fra fyre and fra that kyndely dede. The story of the three young men in the fiery furnace is related in Daniel 3. Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, refusing to bow down to Nabuchodonosor's golden idol, were cast into a fire, but walked around within it, praising God, without being consumed. The example is to prove the point that it is possible to dwell with fire but not be incinerated. Compare Chaucer's Second Nun's Tale (CT VIII[G]514-22). The motif is common in saints' lives.
1794 trowed. Trow means "believe," but may include the more fundamental sense of "have trust, be trustful, place one's confidence" (MED).
1810-11 Wha trewly trowes . . . sall be broght. Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is bap-tized shall be saved." These lines provide perhaps the clearest example of the scribe's tendency to be inconsistent in number and/or tense from clause to clause. He rarely is inconsistent within a clause and, in such instances, I have corrected the text.
1812-15 Who so trowes noght . . . have bale withouten blys. Probably John 3:36: "He that believeth in the Son hath life everlasting; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." The paraphrase, however, might also refer to John 5:34 or 6:40. The idea is recurrent in John's presentation of the impor-tance of belief in Christ the Son.
1817-22 Sen the Sarzyns and the Jewes . . . Cristes Incarnacyoune. The Jews, in rejecting Christ, put themselves beyond the possibility of salvation from that point on, though some descriptions of the afterlife provide a place for the patriarchs of the Old Testament (the Limbo Patrum). Saracins can refer to Arabs, Turks, or Moslems, especially with regard to the Crusades (MED). Whoever is not encompassed by the above is incorporated into the most general term pagens (line 1818). Thus, the reference is to all those outside the Christian world who have rejected (or been unaware of) the divinity of Christ. It does not, of course, include Christian heretics who have denied the divinity of Christ, another category altogether.
1829-34 whi tham lyf es lent . . . encres thair mede. The Gast cannot see why God endures Jews, Muslims, and pagans except as an opportunity for Christians to win merit by fighting in the Crusades. Indulgences, remissions of time spent in Purgatory, were granted for participation in Crusades.
1840-58 Pryde . . . maynsweryng. The identification of the four most common sins and the three for which God will take vengeance quickly is odd in the way that it partially uses the seven deadly sins and partially diverges from them. Among the four most common sins are the deadly sins listed in line 1840 of pryde ("pride"), lychory ("lust"), and covatyse ("greed"), but usury (line 1841) is not one of the "deadly," or root, sins, but rather a form of covatyse. Among the three provoking vengeance, the first includes fornication and adultery (forms of lust); the second, the unspeakable sin, probably sodomy (a form of lust), may be a satirical jibe at clerics; the third is manslaughter with perjury (a form of anger combined with pride, since perjury involved pride). The more common way to generalize sin was according to the seven deadly sins as in Dante's Purgatorio and Chaucer's Parson's Tale (CT X[I]386-957). This poet clearly has special concerns, which his arrangement reflects.
1841 usury. Usury was the charging of any interest whatsoever on borrowed money. The doctrine was affirmed by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) though it was civilly permitted to Jews since they were beyond the Christian community anyway.
1894 Anticrist. The Antichrist is the chief of God's enemies, referred to by this name in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7. He has also been taken to be the inherent sin in the beasts of the Apocalypse. 2 John 7 specifically identifies the Antichrist with those who deny the Incarnation, a doctrine particularly important in this poem.
1898 Godes preveté. Those things that are known to God into which human beings should not inquire. There are some kinds of knowledge appropriate only to God, such as the underlying meaning of spiritual mysteries and Divine Providence, which it would be prideful for human beings to try to fathom.
1905-07 eres to thi hereyng . . . als thou has tald. The Pryor, in addressing the Gast's power to hear, is returning to an issue similar to the matter of the Gast's power to speak (lines 1519-22). It seems that the Pryor still wants to be sure that he is speaking to a true purgatorial spirit, not a demonic apparition.
1940 Yhole. I.e., Yule. Of Old English derivation, the word was used for Christmas as early as 900 (The Old English Martyrology) and 901 (The Life of Aelfred).
1941 Epiphany. The Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), sometimes called Little Christmas, was the day on which the three wise men honored the infant Jesus, signifying the incorporation of the Gentile world into the mission of the Messiah.
1949 orders. Religious orders were foundations of men or women who lived communally according to a rule, such as the Rule of St. Augustine or the Rule of St. Benedict. In general, orders were either monastic (monks) or mendicant (friars). Although communities of women (nuns) were formed, women could not be mendicants since this involved going out into the world to beg and preach.
1950 Austyns. Augustinian monks (or Canons Regular), who lived according to a rule attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo after his death.
Menours. Franciscan friars; i.e., the Order of Friars Minor.
1952 seculeres. Ordained priests in the service of the diocese, not members of any religious order.
1960 Requiescant in pace ("May they rest in peace") is repeated throughout the Office of the Dead.
2018 symony. Simony is the purchase of any religious office or privilege, strictly and repeatedly forbidden by Church Councils. The name comes from Simon Magus, who attempted to buy office (Acts 8:18-24).
2035-36 How many papes . . . tyll the Day of Dome. The Pryor wants to know how many popes there will be before Judgment Day. At least since Apocalypse, the most popular kind of prophecy had to do with when the end of the world would come; early Christianity tended towards chiliasm. In the Middle Ages, questions about the "end times" were frequently posed in terms of how many popes there would be. The most famous prophecy on the subject was by St. Malachy (b. c. 1094 in Armagh) during the reign of Innocent II (d. 1143). St. Malachy predicted 112 subsequent popes. John Paul II, by the way, is the 110th.
2058-59 Pape John . . . The twa and twenty. After the death of Clement V in 1314, the College of Cardinals could not agree on a successor. In 1316, John XXII was elected. He moved the seat of the Papacy to Avignon, thus beginning the so-called "Babylonian Captivity," which lasted until 1367 under the reign of Urban V. John XXII died in 1334. The communication of the experiences of the Pryor to John XXII would have been very important to the Dominican Jean Gobi. John XXII had expressed the opinion, though not in a formal papal declaration, that souls were not assigned to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory until the General Judgment at the end of the world. John's view was inimical to Dominicans and other mendicant orders, who preached that souls were assigned their place at the time of death or a few hours thereafter. Thus, according to their view, suffrages offered by the living could be immediately efficacious. This teaching may have been self-serving, since the mendicants derived income from suffrages. Nevertheless, even the monastic orders and diocesan authorities would have thought, by the early fourteenth century, that Pope John's opinions bordered on heresy.
THE GAST OF GY: TEXTUAL NOTESI have based my text on the complete version in Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson Poet. 175 (R). Schleich's edition (S) uses R as a basis but is truly comparative and freely incorporates variations from Horstmann's edition (H) of British Library MS Cotton Tiberius E. vii (N). S also includes a Latin text (L) based on British Library MS Cotton Vespasian E. i (D) with variants from British Library MS Cotton Vespasian A. vi (C) and Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz MS Diez C (A). Except for a few illustrative examples, I have noted and incorporated only instances where S clearly improves R. I have noted Horstmann readings of N as H, N. There are also three prose versions, one in Bodleian Library MS Eng. poet. A. 1 (SC 3939), the Vernon Manuscript (V), printed in the H edition of N, one in Oxford, Queens College MS 383 (Q), edited by R. H. Bowers (The Gast of Gy. Leipzig: B. Tauchnitz, 1938), and one in Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge MS 175 (fragmentary). One quatrain version exists, edited by Ed Eleazer (Ph.D Dissertation: Florida State University, 1984) (E). The most significant manuscript of the quatrain version is Magdalene College, Cambridge MS Pepys 2125 (P). I have expanded abbreviations and corrected obvious scribal errors without comment. In the notes as in the text, I have replaced Middle English graphemes with modern orthography unless the original grapheme is relevant to the explanation. Further manuscript and biblio-graphical information precedes the text of the poem. 17 lede our lives. R: Trewly trow; N: lede thair liues; S: lede our lives. I have accepted S because R rarely uses double formulas (Trewly trow, mare and les) in the same line and the sense of S fits line 18. S modification of N: thair to our fits the surrounding use of the first person.
22 Of ded and of the Day. S, following H, N: Als in dede and the day. Although I have not accepted this change, I mention it because R is much clumsier.
27-28 These lines are supplied by S, from H, N. Although perhaps not absolutely necessary, they gracefully complement the thought in lines 25-26 and 29-30, and may well have been a scribal omission in R.
29 And so in world He will us wys. So R. S, following H, N: And so he will us wisely wys. I have retained R, but note this variant to exemplify the kind of change S often makes based on H, N even though R is perfectly satisfactory.
30 After this line H, N has four additional lines, printed in S as a footnote:
Tharfore who so will lyke to lereS notes many such additional lines from H, N, but they are not necessary to R so I have not noted them subsequently.
A soth ensampill sall ye here;
How it bifell byfor this day
And therefore beres it wel away.
38 Bayoune. So R. H correctly reads N as ba with the rest of the word obscured. V: Bayon; Q: Bayone; P: avynon; L: auiniona. Avynon is certainly correct. The introduction of variants of Bayonne may have resulted from an earlier Latin version that may attempt to place the story in Italy and confused identification of the city with Bologna.
46 suede. R: psuede, but there are two dots beneath the p to indicate deletion.
49 And. R: bot; S, following H, N: and. And makes more sense since it indicates a continuation rather than a movement away from the action. The R scribe may have been distracted by the bot that begins line 48.
his. So R. S, following H, N: hir makes sense by pluralizing the pronoun, but R: his highlights that the room is Gy's, perhaps a better emphasis at this point.
chaumber. R: chumber; N: chamber; S: chaumber. I have accepted S. The MED does not list chumber as a possible variant.
51 oft. So S, H, N. The ft are unclear in R, but oft is certainly correct in context.
73 For. R: ffor. R frequently doubles f at the beginning of a line.
106 thai. R: he; S, following H, N: thai. The plural pronoun is required by the grammar of the lines.
114 After this line S inserts two lines from H, N:
The tone maister of geomettri120 men. R: man, but the narrative needs the S, H, N plural: men. The mayor clearly does not send one man with the Pryor, and R does not characteristically use man as an unchanged plural.
And the tother of philisophie.
122-23 These lines are supplied by S, from H, N. I have printed them because they fill out the sense without doing violence to the verse.
125-26 See textual note to lines 122-23.
129 armed. R: arme; S, H, N: armed. The grammar requires the past tense.
138 This line is difficult to read. I have accepted S.
149 He and his forsayd brether twa. R: and his forsayd brether twa; S, H, N: he and the men and the maisters twa. I have done less violence to R by simply inserting He at the beginning of the line.
150 Unto. R begins the line with and. I have followed S in removing and, because it is not clear what and is linking line 150 to.
166 Full lines of Latin that rhyme with adjacent English lines are numbered (see also lines 201-02, 1093-94, 1125-26). The Latin is translated in the immediately following lines.
178 wonder. R: wonder. The word is hard to read but undoubtedly correct in context.
191 Gy. So R. S, H, N: his. I have retained R because there are many examples in R of unchanged genitives: "God Son" (lines 857, 859, 863); "man saule" (line 754); "Son servyse" (line 741); "man syn" (line 920).
235-39 Here and at many subsequent places, the corresponding lines in N are unintelligible, thus reinforcing the selection of R as a base text.
236 myld. So R. S, H, N: eger. The mildness, patience, even compassion of the Gast's response suggests that myld is preferable to eger ("eager," but with a sense of sharpness and censure).
280 Whase man. So R. S, H, N: Whilkmans. I have retained R because the genitive in the relative adjective is grammatical.
285 Than. R: that; S, H, N: than. This change from R is necessary because the prior is indicating that his discourse follows on from what the Gast has just said.
303 Gy. Although the reference to "Gy" by the Gast of Gy himself seems odd, I have retained R and not substituted S, H, N: mi bodi.
321 he. So R. S, H, N: it. S apparently prefers to think of the body as impersonal, but the Gast's discussion of it seems to prefer the personal he.
328 Gy. So R. S, H, N: Gyes bodi. There is some merit in S, but I think the distinction between body and self is clear enough without the change.
375 the sauwes. R: the saules. S misreads R as thir saules, but the change to S, H, N: sauwes (sayings, truths) is necessary to the sense of the line.
428 thai. S, H, N: he is, strictly, correct, but I have retained R: thai, which is loosely correct. R is sometimes inconsistent in switching between singular and plural pronouns, but not to the point where they need to be "fixed."
446 That. R: than, but I have accepted S, H, N: that. The demonstrative makes more sense than the conjunction.
455 tald thai. R: tald he, but I have accepted S, H, N: tald thai, which is necessary to agree with "prophetes" (line 448).
461 thinketh me. R: think me; S, H, N: thinkes me is better, but I have preferred to change to the more common thinketh.
473 The. R: and; S, H, N: the is better because it makes clear that the Gast is proceeding to the prophetes as distinguished from the "sawles" (line 472). In addition, and makes an odd linkage with the preceding sentence.
497 The Pryor than said. So R. S, H, N: than said the prior. This phrase recurs and S almost always changes R to N, apparently for metrical reasons; I see no material advantage. The P in Pryor is capitalized in R in this line only.
567 If. R: of; but S, H, N: if provides the necessary conditional.
574 gastly. R: gastily, but I prefer S, H, N: gastly for consistency with line 575.
609 fayne. So R. S, H, N: frayne. Frayne makes sense: "to inquire about or ask something" (MED), but I have retained fayne: "desirous of, or eager for something" (MED).
653 synned. R: synnes; H, N: sinned; S: synned. I have accepted S because it provides the necessary past tense without otherwise changing R.
666 dartes. So R. S, H, N: desaytes. desaytes is possible: "deceit or treachery" (MED), but dartes seems more to the point in context: "an attack or assault, as of the Devil, of death, of hunger, etc." (MED).
674 abaysed. R: abaysted; H, N: abaist; S: abaysed. I have accepted S because it retains the meter while getting rid of the intrusive t in R, for which there is no precedent.
713 Mayden and moder both am I. R: both mayden and moder am I; H, N: moder and mayden both am I; S: mayden and moder both am I. The selective use of N by S (moving both) is a case in which the improvement is so marked as to be acceptable while retaining the R order of mayden and moder.
734 penaunce. R: penaune, but the c in S, following H, N: penaunce is clearly necessary.
735 es. R: er; but S, H, N: es is necessary to agree with penaunce.
740 at. So R. S, H, N: that is tempting, but the MED notes at as a variant for that and R uses the variant often.
750 flesch. So R. S changes to fless without explanation but apparently for rhyme. MED lists fless as a possible variant, but the imperfect rhyme at lines 801-02 inclines me to retain R.
758 his. R: This, but I prefer S, following H, N: his, because there is no previous refer-ence to a specific turment.
759 gastes. R: gast; but I prefer S, following H, N: gastes, because there are multiple fiends in the scene.
801-02 Not a perfect rhyme in R, but see explanatory note to line 750.
828a The line is clear in N. It is written in red ink in R and translated in lines 829-30. It appears in L, but not in V, P, Q, though all include a translation. The line is a quotation, with minor variations, of Vulgate Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45: Ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur.
837-38 S, following H, N omits these lines from R, but they are consistent with the Gast's explanation even if awkward in construction.
842 ofte. R, S: of; H, N: oft. I have changed to ofte, which makes sense of the sentence and fits the meter.
851 it. R: he, but I have preferred S, H, N: it because the neuter is required for sense.
854a Like line 828a, the Latin line is written in red ink; it is translated in lines 855-56. Its treatment in the other versions of the narrative is the same as line 828a. It is a quotation, with a minor variation, of Vulgate Psalm 134:6: Omnia quae voluit Dominus fecit. S is clearly right in placing the line after line 854 rather than two lines earlier as it is in R.
868 used in foule. S, H, N insertion of in is necessary to make sense with line 869.
876 To the Thre. S insertion of the before the mention of the Trinity is necessary even though it is present in neither R nor N.
887 sungen. R: syngyng, but I have accepted S, H, N: sungen, which corrects the grammar.
919 For. R: in is odd; I have accepted S, H, N: for.
922 Criste. R: God; S, H, N: Criste. I have accepted the change to Criste as more accurate to the liturgy.
1012 This line is from R, fol. 101va, line 40. As S noted, there follows in R an interpolation of approximately 384 lines from another poem. S transcribed, perfectly accurately, the first six lines:
How oft sythe and on what manereThe 384 lines do not correspond to anything in N, L, V, Q, P. Max Kaluza (p. 34) identified them as corresponding to Cursor Mundi (ed. Richard Morris, EETS o.s. 101), lines 27162-67. Indeed, the whole interpolation, with some variations and a few omissions, is from the "Book of Penance" in Cursor Mundi, lines 27162-521 (directions to priests on how to hear confessions) and lines 28614-59 (a section on the importance of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving by the penitent). I have not included the lines because they intrude on the narrative of the Gast, even though they deal with a closely related subject. Oddly, the lines are certainly written by the R scribe in "hand," with linguistic characteristics such as at or att for that and the system of abbreviations. Although there are occasional large red capitals and some paragraph indications (none of either particularly significant) in R, there is no indication whatsoever of the beginning of the interpolation. The narrative of the Gast resumes in R at fol. 103vb, 29 (line 1013 of this edition).
This aw the prest to ken all clere
With this word wha tham may thou myn
What man it es at dose the syn
That es whether it kar man be
Woman or barn thrall or fre.
1021 be loved. R lacks the be, which S, following H, N, properly inserts.
1033 tham more than. R lacks the more, which S, following H, N, properly inserts.
1039 That. R: the; S, following H, N, supplies the necessary conjunction: that.
1084 us. R lacks the us, which S, following H, N, properly inserts.
1108-09 These lines are inserted by S from H, N. They help make arithmetical sense of the devotions.
1115-24 S does not include these lines from R, probably because they are repetitive. They are, however, a continued application of the five psalms from the Placebo. (See explanatory note to lines 202-05.)
1126 At the end of this line in R there is a space and Dirige, capitalized, is repeated.
1150 he. R lacks he, which S, following H, N, properly inserts.
1165 world. R, S: word; H, N: werld. I have changed to world. It is clear from the rest of the line that the beginning of the world is intended, so I have simply supplied the world that R lacks.
1183 tres. R: man; S: tres. The substitution of tres (trees) for man makes sense in the presentation of the scale of being (see St. Augustine, De Libero Arbitrio 2.3.7) presented in lines 1181-84. Man shares "existence" with a "stane" (line 1181), "sentience" with a "best" (line 1182), "life" (i.e., plant life) with "tres" (line 1183), and "understanding" with "aungels" (line 1184). The use of als tres cor-responds to the use of "cum arboribus" in L, which retains the more traditional hierarchical order of stone, tree, beast, angel. I have not tried to rearrange the lines in R to reflect this movement upward.
1227 help. R: hel is properly filled out to help by S, following H, N.
1261 For. S properly deletes the initial word in R: and.
1285 fendes. R: fende; S, H, N: fendes. The plural is necessary.
1329 thou. R: that; S, H, N: thou. The second person pronoun is necessary.
1334 In. Initial R: that is deleted by S, following H, N. It was probably miscopied by R from the beginning of line 1335.
1359 The. R: Thee.
1460 me. R: men, but S, following H, N: me must be correct because the Gast is explaining why God let him come to speak to the Pryor.
1526 Withouten. R: with; but S, following H, N: withouten, must be correct since the Gast is referring to the idea that a carpenter cannot work without his axe (his instru-ment of work).
1567 The. R: that; but S, following H, N: the, is better because the sentence does not call for a demonstrative.
1629 oyres. So R, S. H, N: owres. I have found no attestation elsewhere of oyres. The variants ouris and owrys appear in the OED and MED. Still, the meaning is clear, so I have let the oddity stand.
1858 That es. R: ffor (common doubling of initial f ); S: that es. I have accepted S, even though it is based on a problematic reading of an initial þ in N.
1925 proved. R: pued; H, N: proved. Following S, I have assumed that the abbreviation mark for ro is missing and have printed proved as it is in N.
1943-44 The lines do not rhyme perfectly, but the same is true of lines 749-50 and 801-02, so there seems no reason to "improve" R.
2008 we. R: thai; but S, following H, N: we, is necessary for consistency of person.
2026 Grevouse. The first four letters are rubbed out, but the reading, as S agrees, is correct.
2030 preche. R: prest; but S, following H, N: preche, is necessary for the sense of the line.
2045 for all saules. R: for all payns; but S, following H, N: saules, must be accepted or the line is nonsense.
by: Edward E. Foster (Editor)
Saint Michael, the aungell clere,
And Saint Austyn, the doctour dere,
And other maisters mare and myn
Sais that men gret mede may wyn
(And namely clerkes, that kan of lare),
If thai thair connyng will declare
Unto lewed men, that kan les,
And namely thing, that nedefull es,
That whylk may ger tham sese of syn
And help tham unto Heven at wyn;
And Saint Paule, Godes apostell dere,
Says till us on this manere:
"All, that clerkes in bokes rede,
Es wryten all anely for our spede,"
That we may thareof ensaumple take
To save our saules and syn forsake,
And lede our lives, both mare and les,
Als haly bokes beres witnes.
And for that God of His gret grace
Will His pople in ilk a place
Trow in thinges that er to come,
Of ded and of the Day of Dome,
And how ilk man sall have his mede,
Be saved or dampned after thair dede,
Tharfor He schewes ensaumpels sere
On this mold omang us here,
To ger us in oure trowth be stabill
And lif in faith withowten fabill.
And so in world He will us wys
To kepe us clene and com to blys.
So it bifell in a sesoune
Efter Cristes Incarnacioune
A thowsand wynter, be yhe bald,
And thre hundreth, als clerkes tald,
And thareto thre and twenty yhere.
Than bifell on this manere
In Alexty, a noble toune,
That thretty mylle es fro Bayoune,
The XII kalendes, als clerkes call,
Of Decembre, als it gan fall,
A gret burges, that named was Gy,
In that same ceté gan dy.
And, when the cors in erth was layd,
Than was his gast full smertly grayd.
Unto his wyfe he went ogayne
And suede hir with mykell payne,
And did hir dole both day and nyght
Bot of him myght scho have no sight;
And in his chaumber myght scho here
Mikell noys and hydous bere,
And oft scho was so rugged and rent,
That for sorow scho was nere schent.
Thus was scho turment in that stede
Eghtene days after he was dede;
And scho ne wist noght witerly
Whether it war the gast of Gy
Or it war fandyng of the fende,
That so had soght hir for to schende.
Tharfore sone efter on a day
Till the freres scho toke the way,
That prechours war of that ceté,
Wele lyfand men of gud degré;
And till the Pryor gan scho tell
This ferly all how it bifell
On Saint John Day the Evangelyste,
The thred day after the brithe of Criste.
Scho tald unto him lest and maste,
How scho was greved with the gaste,
And how scho was sted in that stede,
Sen tyme that hir husband was dede,
And how scho hoped ryght wyterly,
It was the gast of hir lord Gy;
For in that chaumbre oft herd was he,
Whare hir lord was wont to be,
To spyll that bed wald he noght blyn,
That Gy, hir lord, and scho lay in.
"Tharfor," scho said with symple chere,
"That hows dar I no mare com nere;
Bot hyder I come to ask counsaile,
What thing myght in this case availe."
When the Pryor herd all this case,
Gret mournyng in his hert he mase;
Bot, for scho suld noght be affrayd,
Unto the woman thus he sayd:
"Dame," he said, "ne dred thee noght,
For out of bale thou sall be broght;
And have na mervail in thi mynde
Of cases that falles omang mankynde.
Forwhy," he said, "als kennes thir clerkes,
God is wonderfull in His werkes;
And wele I wate, that He will now
Ordayn som poynt for our prow
To schew omang His servandes dere
Till thair helpying, als men sall here.
Tharfor, dame, gyf thee noght ill,
Bot be blythe and byde here styll,
For to my brether I will a space
To ask thair counsail in this case;
For omang many wytty men
Som gud counsail may thai ken,
And sykerer may it so be tane
Than of a man bi him allane.
Bot dame," he said, "I sall noght dwell."
Than gert he ryng the chapiter bell
And gedyrd his brether all togyder,
And hastily when thai come thider,
He declared tham all this case,
Als the woman said it wase,
And prayd tham for to tell him to
Tharof what best es to do?
Unto this tale thai tuke gud tent
And ordaind be thair comon assent,
That the Pryor sone suld ga
And with him other maisters twa,
That wysest war in thair degré
Unto the mayre of that ceté
To tell this ilk aventure him tyll
And pray him, if it war his will,
That he wald vouchesave to send
Som sertaine men with tham to wend
To Gy hows, that was newly dede,
To se tha wonders in that stede
And to bere witnes of thaire dede
And mayntene tham, if it war nede.
And thus thai did with al thaire maine:
The woman was thareof ful fayne.
When the mayre had herd this thing,
Twa hundreth men sone gert he bring
And armed tham fra top to ta
And bad tham with the Pryor ga
And baynly do, what he will byd.
And, als he bad, ryght swa thai dyd.
The Pryor bad tha men bidene,
That thai suld all be schryven clene
And here Messe with devocyoune,
And sithen baldly mak tham boune.
Of Requiem he sang a Messe
For Cristen saules both more and lesse,
And in his mynde than toke he Gy
And prayd for him full specially.
And all that than wald Howsell take
War howsyld sone for Godes sake,
For that the fende suld noght tham fere
Ne in thair dedes do tham no dere.
And than the Pryor full prevely
In a bost tok Godes body
Under his gere with gud entent,
Bot na man wist, that with him went.
He and his forsayd brether twa
Unto Gy hows gon thai ga.
The armed men than ordand he
All obout the hows to be,
All umsett on ilk a syde
To se what aventure wald betyde:
Som in the windows, som in the dore,
With wapen that war styf and store;
And som in the gardyns gert he lyg,
And som upon the howses ryg,
And ever in ilk a place bot thre
In takenyng of the Trinité;
And, thus, when thai war sett obout,
He bad that thai suld have no dout.
Than entred he into that place,
And his twa brether with him gase,
And thir wordes he said in hy:
"Pax huic domui!"
That es on Ynglysch thus to say:
"Pese be to this hows allway!"
To chaumber he went withouten rest,
And haly water obout he kest
With "Vidi aquam" and than said thus:
"Veni, Creator Spiritus"
With the Colett, that sall efter come,
"Deus, qui corda fidelium";
And haly water obout kest he
Eftsones and said: "Asperges me."
He cald the wyfe withouten mare;
Scho come wepand wonder sare.
He said: "Dame, teche me unto the stede
And to the bed, whare Gy was dede."
The woman was full mased and mad:
Scho trembyld than, scho was so rad.
Unto the bed sone scho him tald;
The care was at hir hert full cald,
Bot in hir wa, yhit als scho was,
Scho said: "Sir Pryor, or yhe pas,
I pray yhow for the luf of me,
And als in dede of charyté,
That yhe wald byd som haly bede
And mak prayers in this stede
For Gy saule, that noble man."
And than the Pryor thus bigan
And said: "Dominus vobiscum";
His brether answerd all and som.
And efterward he said onone
The fyrst gosspell of Saint Jone
("In principio" clerkes it call).
When it was said, than satt thai all
Doune on a burde the bed besyde
And said the servyce in that tyde,
That for the ded aw for to be:
"Placebo" with the "Dirige,"
And after the Laudes thai said in hy
The seven Psalmes with the Letany.
"Agnus Dei" than said thai thryse,
And ane than answerd on this wyse:
A febyll voyce than might thai ken
Als a child sayand: "Amen."
Tharfor war thai all affraid,
And the Pryor thusgate sayd:
"I conjure thee, thou creature,
In the vertu of our Saveoure,
That es a God of myghtes maste,
Fader and Son and Haly Gaste,
That was and es and sall be ay,
That thou me answer, if thou may,
And tell me, what som I will crave,
Als fer als thou may power have."
And than the voyce with lodder bere
Said to him on this manere:
"A, Pryor, ask sone, what thou will,
And I sall tell it thee untyll,
Als fer als I have myght or mynde
Or als I may have leve be kynde."
This ilk voyce than herd thai all
(The armed men obout the hall),
And in thai come full fast rynand,
Ilk ane with wapen in thair hand;
For wele it was in thair trowyng
That thai suld se som gastly thing.
Bot nevertheless yhit saw thai nane,
Ne noght herd bot a voyce all ane.
The Pryor bad tham all stand styll,
And thus he spak the voyce untyll:
"Whether ertow ane ill gast or a gud?"
He answerd than with myld mode,
"I am a gud gast and nane ill,
I may thee prove be proper skyll.
For Haly Wrytt thus beres witnes:
When God had made both more and les,
He loked His werkes in ilk a wane,
And thai war wonder gud ilk ane.
All war gud, that He gan ma,
And, sen that I am ane of tha,
A gud gast I am forthi.
And, als I am the gast of Gy,
Tharfor may thou have in mynde,
That I am a gud gast be kynde,
Bot I am evell after my dede,
And tharfor have I pyne to mede."
The Pryor answerd him in hy:
"Thou says noght right, and here now whi:
That sall I schew thee here in haste.
Thou sais, thou ert a wicked gaste
For the payn that thou has here.
I answere thee on this manere:
All payns er gud (that prove I thee),
That ordaind er in gud degré,
That es to say, that punysch syn
Of tham that in erth wald noght blyn,
For it es gyfen thurgh Godes will.
Tharfor I say, it es noght ill,
Ne thou es noght wicked thereby."
And than answerd the gast of Gy:
"Ilk payne es gud, I graunt wele,
For fra God es gyfen ilk a dele
Bi jugement and bi reson clere
For evell dedes men has done here.
Bot nevertheless yhit es it ill
For tham, that it es gyfen untyll.
Mi payne es yvell to me all ane,
For me it ponysch and other nane;
And, sen I have swilk evell payne
For my syns, als es sertayne,
Ane evell spirytt thou may call me
Unto tyme that I clensed be
Of evell dedes, that I have done."
And all thus said the Pryor sone:
"Tell me apertely, or thou passe,
Whase man spirytt that thou wasse."
Than answerd the voyce in hy
And said: "I am the gast of Gy,
That here was husband in this stede
And, als yhe wait, newly dede."
The Pryor sayd: "Than wele I fynd
Be reson, that thou ert noght kynd,
That thou makes slyke sklaunder and stryf
Both to thiself and to thi wyf;
For, whils that Gy was lyfand man,
Ryghtwis was he halden than
And trew in fayth, of noble fame
And his wif allso the same;
And for thir mervails that thou mase,
Now will men say in ilk a place,
That Gy was evell in all his lyfe,
And tharfor turmentes he his wife,
For lawed folk in ilk a land
Says evell men er oft walkand,
And Gy was halden gud allway.
Tharfor thou ert unkynd, I say."
The voyce answerd, als him thoght,
And said: "Unkynd ne am I noght
Nouther to my wyf ne to Gy;
And, sir, that sall thou here in hye
Be sawes that thou sall noght forsake;
For swilk a skyll here I thee make.
If thou have gyfen a man to were
Cote or hode or other gere
And he, that so thi cote has tane,
Wald suffer for thi luf all ane
In gud and evell to lyf and dy,
War he noght kynd to thee forthi?"
The Pryor said: "Yhis, for sertaine."
And than answerd the voyce ogayne
And said: "Sir, trewly I thee tell,
In Gyes body whils I gan dwell,
Of him I toke none other thing
Bot his cors to my clethyng.
This cors, that I dedely call,
Gert us bath in folyes fall;
And for the wickednes that he wroght,
Am I in all thir bales broght;
And his doyng was it ilk a dele.
Als Haly Wrytt witnes full wele
And says, that lykyng here of fles
Contrary to the saule es.
And, if I suffer noght this payne,
Both Gy and his saule, for sertayne,
Suld suffer payne withouten ende
In fyre of Hell with many a fende.
For ilk a man both more and myn
Sall suffer penaunce for thair syn
In this erth here, whare thai dwell,
Or els in Purgatori or in Hell.
And Gyes body has now na skathe,
And I am pyned to save us bathe.
And efter, when we com to blys,
What joy sa I have sall be his;
For both togyder sall we be than
In body and saule everilk a man.
And, sen I suffer thir payns grym,
I am noght unkynd to him.
And, sir Pryor, allso thou says,
That I of Gy suld sklaunder rays.
Tharto I answer on this wyse,
That I ger no sklaunder ryse.
Sklaunder es that kyndely kend
That sownes in evell or hase evell end.
Wha som it dose, mon dere aby;
For Haly Wryt says openly,
'Wa unto that man sall be,
Thurgh whame sklaunder comes,' sais He.
Tharfor if I answer for Gy,
I do him no velany.
Mi spekyng es all for his spede,
That I may neven to yhow his nede;
And als my speche may gretly gayn
Till other saules that suffers payn.
That may thou, syr, thiself se,
For all folk of this ceté
Comes to this hows full hastily,
And specially thai pray for Gy,
That God delyver him out of his care,
Als thou and thi brether dyd are.
And in thair prayers that thai ma,
For other saules thai pray allswa;
And prayers that men prayes for ane,
May help unto the other ilk ane;
And allso tha that er onlyve
Sall soner of thair syns tham schryve
And gyf tham unto penance hard,
That thai be noght pyned afterward.
Tharfor I sklaunder noght, say I,
Gyes wyf ne his body.
Bot all the sauwes, that I say now,
Es for thair honour and thair prow."
The Pryor said: "This ask I thee,
How any man may evell be,
When he es ded, sen that he was
Schryven clene or he gan pas,
And was in will gud werkes to wirk
And ended in trowth of Haly Kyrk
And toke his sacramentes ilk ane."
The voyce answerd sone onane
And said, that men may evell be
On twa maners: "That prove I thee,
When thai er dede and schryven clene,
That es on this wise to mene:
Thai er evell, whare so thai wende,
That dampned er withouten ende;
And thai er evell for certayne space,
That suffers payne in any place
For thair syns, that es to say,
Till tyme that thai be wasted oway.
In myself this same es sene,
For I was schryven in erth full clene,
And I am evell, this es certaine,
Till I have sufferd sertaine payne.
For, als men may in bokes rede,
Clerkes sais that it es nede
That penance alls fer pas,
Als lykyng here in the syn was.
Tharfor I say it suffyce noght
To schryve a man in will and thoght,
Bot if he may in dede fullfyll
The penaunce that es gyfen him tyll.
For that at we do noght or we dy,
Sall be fullfyld in Purgatory;
And clerkes proves that a day here
May thare reles us of a yher,
And a day thare to suffer payne
Es als a yhere here thare ogayne.
Tharfor es gud that men tham schryve
And suffer payn here in thair lyve."
The Pryor than of him gan crave,
If that he wist oght wha war save,
Or whilk men war dampned bidene,
In the stedes whare he had bene.
The voyce answerd than him tyll
And said: "It es noght Godes will
That I suld slyke thing descry.
I sall thee say encheson why:
All that in Purgatori er dwelland,
To blys of Heven er thai ordand.
Tharfor tham aw noght for to say,
Bot at thai may warand allway;1
And soth hereof may na man tell,
Bot thai had bene in Heven and Hell
And sene what sorow es in the tane,
And in the tother welth gud wane;
Thus, in tham both wha som had bene,
Might say the soth, als he had sene.
And, sen I am the spirit of Gy
And suffyrs payne in Purgatory,
The saules in Hell may I noght se.
I was never thare ne never sall be.
Ne into Heven may I noght wyn,
Till I be clensed clene of syn.
Tharfor I may noght sothely say
Whilk er saved or damned for ay."
Than the Pryor with gret will
Spak ogayne the voyce untyll
And said: "Me think thou ert noght stabill,
Bot thou ert fals and desayvabill,
And in this matere makes thou lyes.
That may I prove thee on this wyse.
Be Haly Wrytt full wele we knaw
How prophetes in the Ald Law
Spak and tald in feld and toune
Of Cristes Incarnacioune,
And how He suld tak flessch and blode
In Mary, mayden myld of mode;
And als thai tald in many a stede
How He in erth suld suffer dede,
And of His ryseyng tald thai ryght,
And yhit thai saw Him never with sight.
And sen thai war men bodily
And tald swilk thinges in prophecy
And kend the folk how thai myght knaw
Thinges that thamself never saw,
Bi this reson, thinketh me,
A clene spirit, als thou suld be,
Suld have mare force swilk thing to tell
Than any that war in flesch and fell.
Tharfor thee aght to witt bi this,
Whilk er in bale and whilk in blys."
The voyce answerd to him in hast:
"Sir Pryor, thir wordes er all wast,
I may wele prove thee in this place.
It es na lyknes, that thou mase,
Betwix prophetes, that standes in story,
And sawles, that er in Purgatory.
The prophetes had, whils thai war here,
Of God and of His aungels clere
And of gyftes of the Haly Gaste,
All thair maters, lest and maste,
That thai myght tell and preche over all
Before what thing suld fall.
Swilk power was gyfen tham tyll,
And all was for this certayn skyll:
For lawed folk in ilk a land
Bi thair stevens myght understand
And better trow, how Crist was born,
Be sawes that thai had said biforn.
For, sen thair sawes fra God war sent,
Men sall tham trow with gude entent.
And I am sett for sertaine space,
Till God will gyf me better grace,
Thus for my syns to suffer payne.
And, sir, I say thee for certayne,
That I may now nane aungels se
Bot tham that has kepeyng of me,
And to me will thai tell ryght noght
Till I out of this bale be broght.
Tharfore I may noght say certaine,
Whilk er in blys or whilk in payne."
The Pryor than said sone onane:
"Ryght in thi wordes thou sall be tane.
Thou sais, na spirit may tell me,
Wha sall saved or dampned be;
And bokes beres witnes, be thou bald,
That fendes somtyme to men has tald
And said the soth, als thai had sene,
Of tham that saved and dampned had bene."
The voyce answerd and said ogayne:
"That spirit that dwelles in payne,
Ne na fendes that dwelles in Hell,
Has no power for to tell
Ne unto no man here at neven
That towches the prevetese of Heven,
Bot if it be thurgh Godes suffraunce,
Or other aungels tham tell per chaunce.
And unto me thai tell nathing.
Tharfor I may noght have knawyng
Of hevenly blys, how it es thare,
Ne of Hell, how the fendes fare.
The sawles, that thare sall suffyr pyne,
Thair penaunce es wele mare than myne;
For I have hope to be in blys,
And tharof sall thai ever mys.
Tharfor es no lyknes to tell
Betwene me and the fendes in Hell."
Than said the Pryor: "I pray thee now,
Tell me in what stede ertow?"
The voyce answerd and said in hy:
"I am here in Purgatory."
Than said the Pryor: "Proved thou hase
That Purgatory es in this place.
For ryght als thou es purged here,
So may other saules in fere;
And, whare saules may be purged all,
Purgatory men may it call.
Tharfor bi thir sawes that thou says,
Purgatory es here always."
The voyce answerd on this manere
And said: "Thare er Purgatoryes sere:
Ane es comon to mare and les,
And departabill aneother es."
The Pryor said: "Now wate I wele
That thou ert fals in ilk a dele.
A saule may noght in a tyme ga
To be ponyst in places twa;
For, whils he sall be in the tane,
Of the tother he may have nane,
For in a place he suffers payne."
The voice than said: "This es certayne,
For I am here, withouten fabyll,
In Purgatory departabyll
Ilk a day, als God vouches save.
Bot other payn behoves me have:
For ilk a nyght behoves me
In comon Purgatory pyned be
For to suffyr paynes sare
With other saules that er thare."
The Pryor said: "Kan thou me wys,
Whare comon Purgatori is,
Whare thou of payns has swilk plenté?"
"In mydes of all the erth," says he,
"Thare es that place ordand for us."
And than the Pryor answerd thus:
"Als thou says may it noght be.
Be propir skyll that prove I thee.
The mydes of the erth a stede es dyght,
And Purgatory aneother es right;
And twa stedes may noght be in ane.
Tharfor I say thou has mysgane.
If Purgatory, whare thou dwelles,
War in mydes the erth, whare thou telles,
Twa stedes in ane than burd be thare,
And that sall thou se never mare.
Tharfor so es it noght arayd."
The voyce answerd sone and sayd:
"Stedes er ordand here full rathe,
Bodily and gastly bathe.
The saule es gastly, and forthi
It occupyes na stede bodily.
That es to say, be it all ane
When mans body tharfra es tane.
This ilk stede, als thou may se,
Haldes both the saule and thee,
And yhit er noght here stedes twa.
And herebi may thou se allswa
How rayne and slete, haile and snaw,
Er in the ayre, kyndely to knaw,
And ilk ane has his cours be kynde.
So es that place whare we er pynde."
The Pryor said: "Tell us in fere,
Whi that thou ert ponyst here."
The voyce answerd him in haste:
"For in this place I synned maste,
Of whilk syns I gan me schryve
And did na penaunce in my lyve.
Tharfore here sall I penaunce have
For that syn, till I be save."
The Pryor said: "Telle, if thou kan,
What thing noyse mast a man
In tyme of ded when he es tane."
The voyce answerd sone onane
And said: "The syght sall mast him dere
Of foule fendes, that him wald fere;
For than thai sall obout him be
Defygurd all in foule degré,
And grysely sall thai gryn and gnayst
Out of his witt him for to wrayst;
And than befor him sall be broght
All wickednes that ever he wroght.
So will thai fande, with any gyn,
Thurgh wanhope if thai may him wyn."
The Pryor said: "Than wald I fayne
Wytt what remedy war here ogayne,
And what may help men alther maste
In bandes of ded when thai er braste."
The voyce said: "Thare es som man
That thar noght hope of na help than.
For if a man here lede his lyve
In syn and sithen will noght him schryve,
Na in hert will have no care
For the dedes he has done are,
Than sall his aungell to him tell
How Crist suffyrd payns so fell,
And how He dyed for his bihove.
And that sall be to his reprove
To schew him how he was unkynde
Here on this mold, whils he had mynde,
And how that he was mysavysede,
Godes sacramentes when he dispysede,
That wald noght schryve him of his syn,
Bot lyked it ever and ended tharein.
And, when thir sawes er thusgate sayd,
Than sall the fendes obout him brayd
And manase him with all thair myght
And say: 'Com forth, thou wreched wight!'
So sall thai harl him unto Hell
Withouten end in dole to dwell.
And, if a man be clensed clene,
And schryfen of all his synnes bedene,
And take his sacramentes ilk ane,
And in that tyme with ded be tane,
Yf all his penaunce be noght done,
His gud aungell sais to him sone:
'Comforth thee wele, I sall thee were,
That the devels sall thee noght dere';
And to the fendes than sall he say:
'Yhe wicked fendes, wende hethen oway,
For yhe have na part in this man.'
And the fendes sall answer than
And say on this wise: 'Oures he es
Be reson and be ryghtwisnes,'
And thare than sall thai schew ful sone
All evell dedes that he has done,
Bath in eld and als in yhowth,
Sen first he kyndely wittes couth,
And say: 'He synned thus and thus:
Tharfore him aw to wende with us.'
His gude aungell sall mak debate
And say: 'He synned, wele I wate,
On this wise als yhe have told;
Bot he es borowde, be yhe bald,
For he was schryven and clensed clene,
And toke his sacramentes all bidene,
And sorow he made for his synnyng.
To clensyng fyre that sall him bring,
And the meryte of Cristes Passyon now
Sall be betwix him and yhow
And serve him for scheld and spere,
That yhour dartes sall him noght dere;
And Cristes hend and als His syde,
That thirled war with woundes wyde,
Sall be bitwix him and yhour hende,
And fra yhour felnes him defende;
And Cristes face, that buffett was,
Betwix him and yhour face sall pas,
So that he sall noght on yhow se
Ne for nathing abaysed be;
All Cristes body spred on the Rode
Sall be unto him armoure gude,
Swa that yhe sall have no powere
Him for to dere on na manere;
All the lymes of Jhesu fre,
That for mankynd war pyned on Tre,
Sall clens him of that foly
He dyd with lyms of his body.
The saule of Crist, als yhe wele ken,
That yholden was for erthly men,
Sall purge him now of all the plyght
That saule dyd thurgh his awen myght,
So that in him sall leve no gylt
Forwhi he suld with yhow be spylt,
Ne no payn unto him sall stand
Bot Purgatory, that es passand.
Thare sall he suffer certaine space,
Till he be purged in that place,
And sithen sall he with us wende
And won in welth withouten ende.'
And thus es Cristes Passyoune
Sett bifor us redy boune
For to defend us fra the fende,
Out of this world when we sall wende;
Tharfor us aw, if we be kynde,
To have that Passyoune mast in mynde.
And als men may have helpyng gude
Of Mary, that es myld of mode.
If we oght for hir here have done,
Baldli may we ask hir bone,
And us to help scho will hir haste,
In ded when our myster es maste.
For if a man, or he hethen fare,
Be schryven clene, als I said are,
That blyssed bryd will be full boune
To socoure him in that sesoune
And fend fro the fendes in fere
And say to tham on this manere:
'Mayden and moder both am I
Of Jesu, my Son, God allmyghty,
And of Heven am I coround quene
And lady of all the erth bidene,
And I am emperys of Hell,
Whare yhe and other devels dwell;
And for that I am quene of Heven,
Unto my Son thus sall I neven
That He sall deme for luf of me
This man in Purgatory to be
Till he be clensed clene of syn,
And so to Heven I sall him wyn.
In als mykell als I am lady
Of all the erth, this ordaine I
Thurgh the will of my Son dere,
That ilk a bede and ilk a prayere,
That now in all this warld es sayd,
Untyll his profett be purvayd,
And all the messes and almusdede
May turne this man now unto mede;
And bi tha dedes and be tha messe
Sall his penaunce be made lesse,
That to him es ordaind for his syn,
That yhour falshede gert him fall in.
For I am emperis of Hell,
Tharfor yhour force now sall I fell.
I comand yhow yhe hethen fare,
And at yhe noy this man no mare,
That ended in my Son servyse.'
And, when scho has said on this wyse,
All the halows hegh in Heven
Hyes all unto hir full even
And unto Jesu all in fere,
And thus than mak thai thair prayere:
'Lord Jesu, God allmyghty,
Fader of Heven, Man of Mercy,
Have mercy of this man that es
Our awen brother and als our flesch.
Sen Thou wald com fra Heven on hight
And suffer payn for mans plyght,
Thou meng Thi mercy with this man.'
Thus sall man saule be saved than,
And his gud aungell sall him take
To Purgatory aseth to make,
And to him he sall tak tent
Till he have sufferd his turment.
And than the wicked gastes sall ga
Thethen oway with mykell wa.
On this wyse may gude prayere
And almusdedes, that men dose here,
And meryte of Cristes Passyoune
And of halows gud orisoune
May help a man in his dying
And unto clensyng fyre him bring."
The Pryor said unto him than
And asked, if that any man
Of Jesu Crist may here have syght
Or of Mary, His moder bryght,
Or els the halows verraily
In thair fourme, when thai sall dy.
The voyce answerd and said: "Nay,
Bot on this wise, als I sall say,
Bot if it be so haly a man
That has na nede of purging, than
Ne for to dwell in Purgatory,
Thai sall se tham openly,
And synfull men sall noght tham se."
The Pryor said: "Than think me,
That thou says now thiself to skorne
Ogayns the sawes thou said beforne;
For thou said, Cristes Passyoune
And also Mary suld be boune
And other halows, that er in Heven,
To pray for him with myld steven.
Than semes it that he se tham may."
The voyce answerd and sayd: "Nay;
Thai sall be thare, I grant thee wele,
Bot he sall se tham never a dele
In thair lyknes verraily.
And this es the encheson whi:
For the grettest blys of Heven it es
For to se Crist in His lyknes,
That es to say, in His Godhede;
Than thurt men have nane other mede
Than in thair dying Him to se,
And in that blys than thai suld be
Sodainly at thair ending,
And that war noght acordand thing."
Than the Pryor of him asked,
If spirytes, that war hethen passed,
May kyndely knaw be morn or none
The dedes that here er for tham done,
Or prayer that we for tham ma?
The voyce answerd and said: "Yha."
The Pryor said: "Than kan thou say,
Wharof I sang Mess this day?"
The voyce answerd ogayne full tyte
And said: "Thou sang of Saint Spiryte."
The Pryor answerd, als he knew,
And said: "I se, thou ert noght trew.
Of Requiem I sang, certaine,
For Cristen saules, that er in payne.
Tharfor thou says noght sothfastly."
The voyce answerd to him in hy:
"I graunt graythely, or I gang,
Of Requiem full ryght thou sang;
Bot yhit I say thee, neverthelesse,
Of Saint Spirytt was the Messe.
That sall thou be ensaumple se:
For, custom es, in ilk contré,
If any man outher ald or yhing
Of aneother suld ask a thing,
What thing so lygges his hert most nere,
That in his speche sall fyrst appere
And first be in his wordes always.
For God thus in His gospell says:
'Ex habundancia cordis os loquitur';
'That of the fulnes of the hert
Spekes the mowth wordes smert.'
And for the Messe of Saint Spiryte
To my profytt es mast perfyte
And allso of the Trinité.
Thir messes mykell amendes me;
Bot the Mess of the Haly Gast,
In my mynde es althir mast.
And tharfor I say thou sang
Of Saint Spirit, I say noght wrang,
And here now the encheson whi:
For, whils I lyfed here bodily,
I spended my wyttes and my powere
Full ofte sythes in synnes sere,
When I suld have tham spended ryght
To Godes worschepe with all my myght
And mensked the Fader with all my mayne;
For of Him comes all power playne
That men has here, whils att thai lyf,
After His grace als He will gyf.
Tharfor, what man so dose unryght
Thurgh his power or his myght
Or be his strenkith, if that it be,
Ogayns the Fader, than synnes he;
For al power He weldes allways,
Als David in the Psauter says:
'Omnia, quecunque voluit, Dominus fecit.'
He says: 'The Fader may fullfyll
In Heven, in erthe, what som He will.'
And to Crist, God Son, es gyfen full ryght
All wysdom both bi day and nyght.
Tharfor God Son thai syn ogayne,
That here dispendes thair wittes in vayne
And settes tham so on werldly gude,
That ryches es mare in thair mode
Than Crist, God Son, that boght tham dere.
I have synned on the same manere.
Till the Haly Gast es gyfen all grace
And all bountes in ilk a place.
Ogayns Him oft allso synned have I,
When that I used in foule foly
The gyftes, that He me gaf of kynde,
And wald noght mensk Him in my mynde.
My gud favor and my fairhede
Have I oft used in synfull dede,
And vertus have I turned to vyce.
Thus have I wroght als wryche unwyse.
Tharfore aseth now bus me make
To the Thre Persons for my syn sake.
And my gud aungell has me sayd
The prayers that er so purvayd,
And messes of the Trinité,
May gretely help now unto me.
And, for that I have synned maste
Ogayns the gyftes of the Haly Gast,
Covetand here mare ryches
Than He me gaf of His gudnes,
Or than He vouched safe me to sende;
And tharfor, this myss to amende,
Messes sungen of Saint Spirytt
In my payne may do mast respyt.
And tharfor, sir Pryor, I say,
Of Saint Spiritt thou sang this day.
All if thine office ordaind ware
For Cristen saules, als thou said are,
Thou said with gud devocioune
Of the Haly Gast ane orysoune,
And that ilk orysoune, for certayne,
Alegged me mare of my payne
Than all the other, that thou sayd
For tyll all saules thai war purvayd.
And, sen that helped me all ane
Wele mare than the other ilk ane,
Of the Haly Gast, I say, thou sang.
If thou me wyte, thou has the wrang."
The Pryor askes him than this thing:
For how many saules a prest myght syng
On a day and in a stede,
Whether thai war quyk or dede,
And ilk ane have in lyke gudenes
And in lyke meryte of the Mess.
The voyce answerd and gan say,
That a prest anely on a day
For all saules may syng and rede
And ilk ane of his mess have mede
Bi vertu of the Sacrament.
"And tharfor to this tak tent:
Jesus Crist with Jewes voyce
Was anely offyrd on the Croyce,
And thare He dyed and gaf the gast
Unto His Fader of myghtes mast
For salvacioun of all mankyn
And noght anely for a man syn.
Ryght so the prest in ilk a Messe
Offers Criste, ryght als He es
In hale Godhede, als clerkes ken,
In amendement of all Cristen men.
Tharfor in a Messe may be tane
All Cristen sawles als wele als ane,
And better may it part tham tyll.
That prove I thee be proper skyll.
For gret difference may men fele
Bitwene spirituall thing and temporele.
Temporall thing, that thou sese here,
When it es parted in paracels sere,
In the ma parcels it parted es,
Itself leves ay wele the les,
That es, for porcyoun partyse thar fra.
Als if thou ane appell ta
And part it into many hende,
With thiself sall lytell lende.
Als wele may thou understand,
That spirituall thing es ay waxand.
That may thou se be ryght resoune,
Als if thou tak this orysoune,
The Pater Noster, and forth it ken
Kyndely to all Cristen men.
And so when that it teched es,
In itself it es noght les;
In understandyng es it mare,
When ma it kan than couth it are.
So es the Messe and the prayere
That ordand er for saules sere,
For ded and quyk, if that it be,
The more it es in it degree."
The Pryor answers and says:
"Haly Wryt witnes allways
That saules er saved, for certayne,
And oft delyverd of thair payne
Be speciall prayers and speciall dede,
That frendes dose here for thair mede;
And tha frendes dose mare for ane
Than for other saules ilk ane.
Than think me that his mede sall fall
Mare than it war done for all,
And mare alegge him of his payne."
The voyce answerd thus ogayne:
"Ilk a prest, that Messe synges,
Him nedes for to do twa thinges:
First his prayers sall he make
Specially for his frendes sake,
Whilk he es mast halden untyll,
That God him help of alkyns ill;
And, when he has so prayed for ane,
Than sall he pray for other ilk ane,
And ilk ane has mede of that Messe.
Bot he, for wham it ordaind es,
Es helped mast fro bale tharby.
And on the same manere am I
Delyverd of my penaunce here,
That I suld have sufferd foure yhere,
For mysdedes als it was dett.
A lyfand frend thus has it lett.
I have a cosyn, that thou wele knew,
A pore frere, that I fynd trew.
I helped him whils he had nede,
Whils he to the scoles yhede;
And allso sithen, when he was frere,
I fand him fully fyve yhere.
And for myself full wele I wroght:
That gudenes now forgetes he noght,
For in his mynde he has me maste.
Tharfor I sall be helped in haste.
I sall have penaunce in this place
No ferrer bot fra hethen to Passe.
If thou will witt this for certayne,
At Pasch com to this place ogayne,
And, if thou here noght than of me,
Sothly, certayne may thou be,
That I am hent up into Heven."
And, als he bad, he dyd full even:
At the Pasch after the hows he soght,
And of the voyce he herd ryght noght.
Tharfor he trowed, als he said are.
Bot in that tyme he asked mare
And said: "Kan thou trewly tell,
If thou in that ilk Heven sall dwell,
That for Godes halows es purvayd?"
The voyce answerd sone and sayd:
"Sire, I tald thee are full even,
That I come never yhit in Heven.
Tharfor I may tell thee no mare
Of orders that er ordaind thare.
Bot of blys may I be full bald,
For thus myne aungell to me tald:
To Pasch I suld in penance be,
And than, he said, that I suld se
The Kyng of Heven in His Godhede
With His aungels all on brede
And with His halowes everilk ane.
And than I answerd sone onane
And sayd: 'A, lord, me think full lang,
That meney till I com omang.'
Bot He be loved in ilk a place,
That unto me has gyfen slyke grace!"
The Pryor said: "What helpes mast
Unto Heven a saule to hast
Out of the payne of Purgatory?"
The voyce answerd and said in hy:
"Messes may mast help tham then,
That er said of haly men
And namely of myld Mary fre."
The Pryor said: "Than think me
The Office of the Ded, certaine,
Of Requiem, was made in vayne,
Sen other availes tham more than it."
The voyce unto him answerd yhit
And said: "Full mykell avail it may,
When any men for all will pray;
And, for that lawed men here in land
Kan noght graythely understand,
That saules has nede of other messe,
Tharfor that Offyce ordaind es."
The Pryor said: "Sen thou has kende,
That specyall messes may mast amende,
Whilk other prayers withouten tha
May tyttest saules fra penaunce ta?"
The voyce answerd and said in hy:
"The seven Psalmes with the Letany."
The Pryor said: "That war noght ryght;
For God the Pater Noster dyght
Als of all prayers pryncipall,
And aungels made the Ave all
Unto myld Mary for our mede,
And twelve apostels made the Crede.
And the seven Psalmes er erthly werkes
Ordand of byshopes and other clerkes,
Men for to say that has mysgane,
And David made tham everilk ane;
And nouther David, wele we ken,
Ne byshopes ne nane other men
Unto God er noght at neven,
Ne yhit unto aungels of Heven,
Ne tyll apostels er thai noght pere.
Tharfore me think that thair prayere
May noght of slyke bounté be
Als the Pater Noster and the Ave
And the Crede, that the apostels purvayde."
The voyce answerd than and sayde:
"Thir prayers er full mykell of mede
And full haly, if we tak hede,
In thamself, this es sertayne,
And for thair makers mykell of mayne.
We sall tham wirschepe, als worthi es,
Bifor all the other, outtane the Messe.
Bot nevertheless, sir, certainly,
The seven Psalmes with the Letany
For to say es mast suffrayne
Unto saules, that suffers payne;
For thai er ordaind, mare and myn,
Ever a Psalme for a syn,
And so thai stroy the syns seven.
Tharfor thai er nedefull to neven.
The fyrst Psalme gudely grayde
Ogayns pryde es purvayde;
And thus to understand it es:
'Lord, deme us noght in Thi wodenes,
Als thou dyd Lucifer, that fell
For his pryde fro Heven to Hell.'
And so the other Psalmes on raw
Ilk ane a syn oway will draw
Thurgh help of halows in fere,
That ordaind er in that prayere."
The Pryor eftsones him assayls
And said: "Tell me, what it avayls,
Or if saules the better be,
Of 'Placebo' and 'Dirige'
With the Offyce that for the ded es dyght."
The voyce answerd him on hyght
(With gret force out gan he bryst)
And said: "A, Pryor, and thou wyst
How gretly that it may tham gayne,
Than hope I that thou wald be fayne
Oft for to bede that blyssed bede
For thi brether that er dede.
And, for thou sall it better knaw,
The privatese I sall thee schaw.
In 'Placebo' es purvayd
Fyve Psalmes, that sall be sayd
Aneli for the evensang,
With fyve antems als omang.
Tha ten togeder, when thai er mett,
For the saul er thusgat sett,
For to restore, wha to tham tentes,
Unto the saule ten comandementes;
And makes in mynde, how He tham dyd,
So that His mede sall noght be hyde.
Tha fyve Psalmes when thai er mett
For fyve wittes of the saule er sett,
Tharfor to schew, be reson ryfe,
How he tham spended in his lyfe
And that he spended tham noght in vayne
That sall lett parcells of his payne.
The fyve antems sayd bitwene,
Fyve myghtes of the saule may mene
That sall bere witness on thair wyse
How he tham spended in Godes servyse.
Neghen Psalmes than sayd sall be
Afterward in the 'Dirige,'
And thai sall signify full ryght
Neghen orders of aungels bryght,
The whilk orders the saule sall be in,
When he es purged of his syn;
That order sa he sall fullfyll,
When tha Psalmes er sayd him tyll.
The neghen antems next folowand
And thre versikles, thou understand,
The twelve poyntes of trowth thai bring ful chere
To him, that thai er sayd fore here,
And telles how he trowed tham ryght
Here on this mold, when he had myght,
Als Haly Kyrk him kyndely kende.
And so thai may him mykell amende.
The neghen lessons bi tham all ane
For the neghen degrese er trewly tane;
For ilk a saule, bus nedes be,
Som of thir neghen in his degré,
That es to say, outher yhong or ald
Or pore or of pousté bald,
Outher in clennes lyfe to lede,
Outher in wedlayke or in wydowhede,
Outher clerk or lawed man-
In som of their sall he be than:
Thir lessons sall to welth him wyn
In whilk degré sa he was in.
And the neghen respons for to rede
Sall mak him tyll have mykell mede.
The fyve Psalmes of the 'Laudes' all ane
For fyve wittes may wele be tane
That ilk a saved saule sall fele.
And thai sall bere witnes full wele
And fullfyll it with mayn and myght,
That the saule tham used ryght.
The fyve antems than folowand
In witnes for the saul sall stand
And faythly help for to fullfyll
Fyve strenthes, that God gyfes saules untyll.
For God gaf, when this world bigan,
Thre strenthes of saules to ilk a man,
The whilk strenthes of myght er slyke,
That unto God man saule es lyke,
And allso other strenthes twa
Unto mans bodyse gan he ma,
That to the saule dose na socoures,
Bot makes tham lyke Godes creatures.
First I say, bi strenthe of thoght
That saule lyke unto God es wroght;
The secund es strenthe of understandyng,
That es lyke Godes Son in that thing;
The thred thingh, strenthe of will,
The Haly Gast it es lyke tyll;
And bi mysgangyng and unwytt
Lyke ane unskylfull best es it.
Forwhi the saule dwelles als a stane
And feles als a best all ane
And lyfes als tres, thus clerkes telles,
And understandes als gud aungels.
Thir strenthes er thus ryght arayd,
When this servyse for saules es sayd.
Allso the psalme of 'Benedictus'
And of 'Magnificat' helpes thus
For to save the saules fra skathe
Thurgh Godhede and manhede bathe,
Wharof thai sall be certayne
To se, when thai er past thare payne,
And lat tham witt, how thai sall wende
And be in blys withouten ende.
The twa antemes, that er purvayd
With the Psalmes for to be sayd,
May be tald the company
Of aungels on the ta party
And of halows on the tother syde,
That with the saules in blys sall byde.
The colettes, that men efter mase,
Er demed for dedes of grace,
That saved saules to God sall yeld
With all wirschip that thai may weld.
And sa when thai er mended of mys,
Than sall thai lende in lastand blys.
Tharfor, sir Pryor, thir prayers
Helpes saules thus, als thou heres."
Thus when he had declared this thing,
All that it herd had gret lykyng,
And mery made he, ilk a man.
Bot than the gast full sone bigan
To morne and mak full simple chere,
And sayd to tham on this manere:
"Askes of me sone what yhe will;
Mi tyme es nere neghand me tyll
That me bus gang, als es my grace,
To suffer payne in other place.
To gretter grevance bus me ga."
The Pryor said: "Sen it es swa,
This wald I witt, first ar thou wende,
If we may oght to thee amende."
With symple voyce than answerd he,
And sayd: "If yhe wald say for me
Fyve sithes specially
The fyve joyes of Our Lady,
That myght help mykell me untyll."
Thai graunted all with full gud will,
And on thair knes thai sett tham doune
And said with gud devocyoune
"Gaude, virgo, mater Christi"
With the fyve vers folowand fully,
Bowsomly, als he tham bad,
And tharfor was the gast full glad.
He thanked tham with wordes fre
And said: "Wele have yhe comforth me;
Mi payne es somdele passed now,
That I may better speke with yhow."
The Prior said: "Kan thou oght tell
What deres mast the fendes of Hell?"
The gast answerd and said in hy:
"The sacrament of Godes Body;
For, in what stede Goddes Body ware,
And the fendes of Hell war thare,
Unto it burd tham do honoure,
And so sall ilk a creatoure."
The Pryor said: "Than think me
That all spirites suld it suthely se,
When it es on the auter grayed."
The voyce answerd sone and sayde,
That spirites may it kyndely ken
Mare verraily than other men.
The Pryor asked him this skyll:
"May devels do any dere tharetyll
Or disturbe it be any way?"
The voyce answerd and said: "Nay,
Bot if that a prest be unclene,
In dedly syn, that es to mene,
Or other syn, what som it be.
In swilk prestes has the fende pousté
For to merre tham in thair Messe,
If thai dwell in thair wickednes.
And yhit he comes noght comonly
To ger tham be abayst thereby.
Bot, when he wate that thai lyf wrang,
The ofter wald he that thai sang,
And that es to encrese thair payne,
For of thair evell fare es he fayne."
The Pryor asked withouten lett
And said: "Es thare nane aungell sett
To yheme the auter fra evell thing,
Whils Godes Body es in makyng,
And als the prest wisely to wys?"
He answerd and sayd: "Yhis.
And gude aungels war noght biforne,
With evyll spirytes myght all be lorne,
For thai wald sone disturbe the prest
And putt vayne thoghtes into his brest,
So that he suld noght worthily
Have myght for to mak Godes Body
With honoure, als it aw to be.
So suld he think on vanyté."
The Pryor said: "I wald witt fayne
What remedy war here ogayne
For to defende the fendes fell."
Than said the voyce: "I sall thee tell.
If that the prest in Godes presence
Be clene in his awen conscience,
And mak his prayers with clene thoght,
Than the devels may dere him noght."
The Pryor said to him thir sawes:
"Es thare na prayer that thou knawes,
A prest to say byfore he syng,
That myght fordo swilk evell thing?"
The voyce said: "What prest so hade
The prayer that Saint Austyn made,
That 'Summe Sacerdos' es calde,
And he than with devocyoune walde
Say it ilk day, or he sange,
To Messe than myght he baldly gang,
For wathes it wald so wele him were,
Unnethes suld any devels him dere."
The Pryor asked him yhit full ryght,
If he saw oght that solempne syght,
Of Godes Body the sacrament,
Out of this world sen that he went.
The voyce said: "Yha, I se it yhit,
For on thi brest thou beres it
In a box thou has it broght,
Als it was on the auter wroght."
Hereof the folk awondred ware,
Forwhi thareof wist thai never are,
That the Pryor had Godes Body,
Bot resayved it in his Messe anely.
The Pryor said: "Than wald I witt,
Whi that thou noght honours itt,
Sen thou says, ilk a creature
Till Godes Body sall do honoure,
And thou wate wele, that it es here?"
The voyce answerd on this manere:
"I have it honourd in my kynde
With all my myght and all my mynde,
Sen first that thou it hyder broght,
All if thou persayved it noght."
The Pryor than with gud entent
Toke the Blyssed Sacrament
Out of his clathes, whare it was layd,
And to the spiryt thus he sayd:
"If thou trow it stedfastly,
That it is Godes Blyssed Body,
And ilk a spirit, wele wate thou,
Bihoves unto Godes Body bow;
And sen it es of swilk pousté,
In vertu thareof I comand thee,
That thou ga with me playne pase
To the uttermast ghate of all this place."
The voyce answerd: "I am boune,
Bot noght to folow thi persoune.
Bot with my Lord fayne will I wende,
That thou haldes betwix thi hende."
Than the Pryor toke the gate
Fast unto the forsayd ghate,
And allso his brether twa
With him went and many ma.
He loked obout and saw ryght noght,
Bot in his hereyng wele he thoght,
That a noyse after tham come
Lyke a besom made of brome,
That war swepand a pavement.
Swilk a noyse ay with tham went.
And than spak the Prior thus:
"Thou spirytt, schew thee unto us
Witerly als thou ert wroght!"
Hereto the spiryt answerd noght.
The Pryor than ogayne gan pass
Unto the wydow, whare scho wass
Lygand sare seke in hir bed,
So had scho lang bene evell led.
The voyce folowd, als it did are,
Untyll thai in the chaumbre ware.
Than sone the woman gan bygyn
Grysely for to gnayst and gryn
And cryed loud, als scho war wode.
All war astoned, that thare stode.
Gret sorow thai had that syght to se,
For of hir payne was gret peté.
Bot nevertheless all men that myght
Assembled for to se that syght
And persued unto that place,
For thai wald witt that wonder case.
The woman lay lyke unto lede
In swounyng doune als scho war dede.
The Pryor, when he saw this care,
Him thoght full evell that he come thare.
Bot nevertheless yhit stode he styll,
And thus he said the voyce untyll:
"In the vertu of Cristes Passyoune
Say me the soth in this sesoune,
Whi it es and for what thing,
That thi wife mase slyke morning."
Than said the voyce full sarily:
"Scho wate hirself, als wele als I."
The Pryor than with gud entent
Sone unto the woman went,
And till hir thus gan he say:
"In the name of God, dame, I thee pray,
Tell unto me all thi thought."
And scho lay styll and answerd noght,
And so obout the bed thai stode
To luke, if oght myght mend hir mode.
And many for hir wa gan wepe.
And sone than scho bigan to crepe
Upon hir knes, so als scho may,
And cryand loud thus gan scho say:
"Lord Jesu, als Thou boght me
Of my payne, Thou have peté
And graunt me of Thi help in haste."
The Pryor than says unto the gaste:
"Whi es thi wife thus travaild here?"
The voyce answerd on this manere:
"I tald ryght now here thee untyll,
That hirself wist for what skyll;
And, if thou will witt mare allway,
Ask hirself, scho kan thee say."
Than the Pryor to hir gase,
And mykell mane to hir he mase
And said: "To save thiself of sare
Tell me the case of all thi care,
And out of bale I sall thee bring."
Scho lay and answerd him nothing.
And he stode als man amayde,
And till the spirytt sone he sayde:
"Thou creature, I conjure thee
Bi Godes myght and His pousté,
And bi the vertu of His body,
And of His moder, myld Mary,
And bi the mylk He souke swete,
And bi the teres scho for Him grete
When scho saw hir Son be slane,
And bi the halows everilk ane,
The certaine soth that thou me say
Of this mervail, if thou may,
Whi thi wife has all this payne."
And than the voyce answerd ogayne
And said: "Hir murnyng mare and myn
Was all for ane unkyndely syn,
That we did bifor my ded
Betwix us twa here in this stede,
Of whilk we bath war schryven sone.
Bot the penance was noght done.
Tharfor our payne us bus fullfyll
Now als ferre als falles tharetyll."
The Prior said: "Now, er thou pass,
Say to me, what syn it was,
That wedded men may warned be
To do nathing in that degré
Ne lyke to it in dede ne thought."
The voyce said: "God will it noght,
That I that syn suld tyll yhow say,
That thurgh schryft es done oway.
Of that syn we bath war schryven.
Tharfor of God it es forgyven
Als to the blame, that be thou bald.
Bot touchand penance I thee tald,
Aseth bus us make for that syn,
Or we any welth may wyn.
And that, that es done fra Godes syght,
To tell to men it war noght ryght,
Bot if it war, als God forbede,
Eftsones so done in dede.
Bot unto wedded men sall thou say
And warn tham that thai kepe allway
The rewle of wedyng with thair myght
And duely do both day and nyght.
For thare er many comon case
In whilk wedded men may trispase.
The cases er kyndeli for to ken
On molde omang all witty men.
This was the suffrayne point," sais he,
"Whi God lete me speke with thee,
That thou suld trow this stedfastly
And other men be mended thareby,
So that thai may thair syns forsake
And in thair lyve amendes make."
The woman, wepand als scho lay,
With sary hert thus gan scho say:
"Gud Gy, for luf of me,
Say if I sall saved be
Or I sall dwell in dole ever mare
For that syn that thou nevend are,
Wharof, I wate, God was noght payd."
The spirit answerd sone and sayd:
"For that ded thou dred thee noght;
The penaunce nere tyll end es broght.
Thou sall be saved, for certayne."
And than the woman was full fayne
And sayd thare kneland on hir kne
A Pater Noster and ane Ave.
Scho loved God with word and will.
And than the Pryor said hir tyll:
"Dame, whils thou this lyf may lede,
Ilk day, luke thou do almusdede,
For almusdede may syns waste."
Unto that word answerd the gaste:
"Dame," he said, "par charyté,
When thou dose almus, think on me,
For to alegge som of my payne."
And the Pryor than gan him frayne,
Whi he come noght in that sesoune
Unto men of religioune
For to tell to tham his lyfe
Titter than unto his wyfe,
Sen that he wist thai war mare nere
To God than any wemen were,
And mare wisely thai couth him wys.
The voyce answerd than unto this
And sayd: "I lufed mare my wyfe
Than any other man on lyfe,
And tharfor first to hir I went;
And when me was gyfen the jugement
To suffyr penance in this place,
I asked God of His gret grace
That my wife myght warned be
For to amend hir mys bi me.
And of His grace He gaf me leve
On this wise hir for to greve
And for to turment hir biforne,
So that scho suld noght be lorne,
Ne that scho suld noght suffyr pyne
For hir syns, als I do for myne,
Bot do it here in hir lyf days."
All sone than the Pryor says:
"Can thou oght tell me how lang
That thou sall thole tha payns strang?"
The spirit sayd: "I understand,
To Pasch, that now es next command.
Than sall my payne be broght till ende,
And unto welth than sall I wende."
The Pryor said: "I mervail me
How thou to speke has swilk pousté
And has na tong ne other thing
That instrument es of spekyng."
The voyce answerd on this manere:
"Ne sese thou noght, a carpentere,
That diverse werkes oft sythes has wroght,
Withouten ax may he do noght?
The ax ay will redy be
With him to hew on ilk a tré,
And it may nouther styr ne stand
Withouten help of mans hand.
Ryght swa a man here yhow omell
Withouten tong may nathing tell.
And with his tong yhit spekes he noght,
Bot thurgh the ordenance of the thought:
That es, of the saule allways,
That ordans all that the tong says.
And forthi be this tale tak tent,
The body es bot ane instrument
Of the saule, als thou may se,
And the saule in himself has fre
Alkyns vertuse, myght and mynde.
Swilk gyftes er gyfen to him be kynde.
Tharfor he may speke properly
Withouten help of the body.
And whare thou says a man may noght
Speke the thing that comes of thoght,
Bot he have mowth and tong als,
In that, I say, thi sawes er fals.
For Haly Wryt witnes full ryght
That God and all his aungels bryght
Spekes wisely to als and yhong,
And thai ne have nouther mowth ne tong.
Ryght so may I and ilk spiryte
Fourme voyces full perfyte
And wirk the wordes, how so we will,
And spek withouten tong yhow tyll."
The Pryor askes him in what stede
The saules dwelles when thai er dede
Unto tyme that the dome be done:
"For than thou says thai sall witt sone
Whether thai sall to joy or payne."
The gast than answerd sone ogayne
And said: "A lytell while beforne
Or that the erthly lyf be lorne,
The saule sall se and here unhyd
All the dedes that ever he dyd.
The ugly devels and aungels bryght
And efter the porcyon of his plyght
In that same tyme sall he se,
Whider that he sall jugged be
To comon Purgatory, that es stabyll,
Or unto Purgatory departabyll
Or els unto the payns of Hell
Or unto Heven in blys to dwell."
The Prior than with wordes hende
Asked how sone a saule myght wende,
When it es past fra the body,
To Heven or Hell or Purgatory.
The voyce answerd and sayd: "It may
In a lytell space wend all that way.
Sone es it broght whare it sall be,
Als thou may be ensaumple se.
Thou sese, when the son es rysand,
The lyght gase sone over ilk a land;
It passes over all the world full playne,
Bot if thare stand oght thareogayne.
Right swa the saules, when men er ded,
Al sone er in thair certaine stede.
To Heven or Hell thai wend in hy.
And, if thai pass to Purgatory,
Som tyme wende thai noght so sone,
And that es for thair profett done:
If thai have any faythfull frende
In this world here, when thai wende,
That for tham will ger syng or rede
Or els do any almusdede,
Thai may so do for tham that tyde,
That in the ayre the saule sall byde,
Untyll it have the medes tane
Of thair prayers everilk ane.
And so bi help of thair gudenes
May his penaunce be made les.
The dedes that er so done in haste
Unto the saule es helpyng maste,
On the same manere als I say
In this ceté was done this day.
A frere dyed and demed he was
Till comon Purgatory at pas,
Bot in the tyme of his transyng,
Of his brether he asked this thing,
That thai suld do in dede and saw
For him als thai war bon bi law.
And the messes that tham aght for to say,
Pur charyté he gan tham pray,
That thai suld be said in hy
And everilk ane of Our Lady.
And, als he bad, ryght so thai dyd,
And afterward than thus bityd:
When he was dede in flessch and fell,
His aungell demed his saule to dwell
In comon Purgatory playne
Thre monethes to suffer payne,
Als worthy was efter his dede.
Bot than Our Lady Mary yhede,
And tyll hir Son scho prayd that tyde,
That the saule in the ayre might byde
Untyll it had the meryte clere
Of dedes that war done for it here.
And twa oyres than bayde it styll
In the ayre, als was Godes wyll,
And swilk mercy of God had he
Thurgh prayer of his moder fre
And thurgh the dedes that here was done,
That he sall be in blys full sone.
In payne he has no lengar tyme
Bot fra now unto to morne at pryme."
Than sayd the Prior till him sone:
"Whilk dedes of all, that here er done,
May tyttest help a saule to Heven?"
The voyce answerd and said full even:
"Parfyte werkes of charyté
That er done als tham aw to be,
That es to say, to Godes bihove,
And our evencristen if we love.
Than of our werkes will God be payd."
The Pryor answerd sone and sayd:
"If that thou kan, tell us in haste
What maner of men that now er maste
In Purgatory to suffyr payne."
The gaste answerd sone ogayne:
"Na man comes that place within
Bot anely thai that has done syn;
And all that syns and saved sall be,
Er pyned thare of ilk degré
Efter the dedes that thai have done."
And than the Pryor asked sone,
What manere of folk that he here fande,
That in thair lyves war best lyfande.
The voyce said: "Sir, soth it es
And Haly Wryt wele beres wytnes,
That na man aw other to prays,
Whether he do wele or evell always;
For mans lyfe es to prayse nathing,
Bot if he may have gud ending.
For na man in this world here wate,
Whether he be worthi to luf or hate,
Ne whether his werkes war evell or wele,
Unto the dome be done ilk dele.
Than sall he se himself, certayne,
Whether he be worthi joy or payne."
The Pryor said: "This ask I thee:
Whilk es maste parfyte degré
Of all that in this ground es grayde?'
The gast answerd sone and sayde:
"I se in ilk state," he says,
"Som thinges to lak and som to prays.
Tharfor I will prayse na degré,
Ne nane sall be dispraysed for me.
Bot nevertheless this wald I rede,
To ilk a man in ilk a stede
To serve God with all thair myght
In what degré so thai be dyght."
The Pryor asked with wordes stabyll,
If that God war oght mercyabyll
To saules that war in Purgatory.
The gast said: "Yha, sir, sykerly.
For unto som, this es certayne,
Relese He ferth part of thair payne,
Of som the thred part He releses,
Of som the secund part He seses.
And that es for gude prayers sake,
That frendes here for tham will make.
If any dedes be for tham done,
Than may thai pass fra payns sone.
Lyfand frendes thus may tham lett
Of payn that thai suld dregh be dett,
And als the prayers of aungels
And of halows, that in Heven dwelles."
The Pryor said: "This wald I crave:
Whatkyn payn thiself sall have,
In Purgatory whils thou sall dwell?"
The voyce said: "I sall thee tell.
In flawme of fyre thus bus me stand,
That alther hattest es brynand,
And have na comforth me to kele."
The Pryor said: "Now se I wele,
That thou ert no sothfast gaste.
That sall I prove thee here in haste.
This wate thou wele, if thou have mynde,
God dose nathing ogayns kynde.
For, if He dyd, this dar I say,
His werkes wald sone be wast oway.
And bodyly thing the fyre I call,
And thou a gast spirytuall;
And bodily thing may have no myght
In gastly thing bath day and nyght.
Than be ensaumple may thou se,
That fyre may have no myght in thee,
All if thou tharein graythely gang."
The voyce answerd: "Sir, thou has the wrang,
That thou me calles sa dyssayvabyll,
Sen thou has fon in me no fabyll.
Bot neverthelesse, sire, whare thou says
That bodily thing be nakyn ways
In gastely thing may have powere,
I answer thee on this manere.
Thou wate wele that the devels sall lende
In fyre of Hell withouten ende,
And that fyre es als bodily
Als the fyre of Purgatory,
And yhit pynnes it the devels in Hell,
Als God says in His awen Gosspell,
And als He to the fendes sall say
And to the dampned on Domesday:
'Yhe weryed gastes, I byd yhow wende
To fyre that lastes withouten ende,
That ordand es for nathing els
Bot to the devell and his aungels.'
And, whare thou says, that God does noght
Ogayns kynde in thinges He wroght,
I say, He dose, als folk may fynde,
Bi miracle ogayns kynde,
Als whilom fell of childre thre,
That ordand war brynt to be.
In Haly Wrytt er thai named so:
Sydrac, Misaac, and Abdenago.
Thai war done with full gret ire
Intyll a chymné full of fyre;
And, als it was Our Lordes will,
The fyre dyd nanekyn harme tham tyll,
Bot hale and sounde thai satt and sang,
Lovand the myght of God omang.
Thus war thai saved in that stede
Fra fyre and fra that kyndely dede.
Ryght so has God ordand in me
That the fyre has no pousté
To wast me, if I stand tharein,
Bot for to pyne me for my syn."
Than sayd the Pryor: "Sen thou says,
That fyre obout the bryns allways,
Than think me that this hows and we
Suld bryn all for the fyre of thee,
Sen that it es so hate and kene."
The voyce sayd: "Now es wele sene
That in thee es full lytell skyll.
For ryght now tald I thee untyll
That God may withdraw thurgh His myght
The strenthe of fyre both day and nyght
So that it no harme may do
In thing that it es putt unto,
Als He dyd of the childre thre,
Of whame bifore I tald to thee.
Allso thou sese, fyre of levenyng
Wendes obout be alkyn thing
Kyndely, als clerkes declare it kan,
And nouther bryns it hows ne man.
And als thou sese, the son may passe
Thurgh wyndows that er made of glasse,
And the glass noght enpayred tharby.
So may a spiryt, sikerly,
In ilk a place com in and out
And bryn noght that es him obout,
Howses ne clathes ne other atyre,
All if himself be flaumand in fyre.
And so this hows may resayve me
And itself noght enpayred be.
Bot, certes, this sall thou understand:
If all howses in ilk a land
In a sted war brynand schire,
It myght noght be so hate a fyre
Als I now suffyr nyght and day."
And than the Pryor to him gan say,
Askand of him this resoun,
If he trowed the Incarnacyoune,
How Jesu Crist toke flessh and blode.
The voyce answerd with eger mode
Till that questyon all with envy,
And full loud thus gan he cry:
"A, my Pryor, whilk er tha men,
That the Incarnacyoune will noght ken?
Whilk er tha, that will noght knaw,
How aungels sayd it in thair saw?
And devels trowes it wonder wele,
And saules in payne thai may it fele.
Full mykell wa thai er worthy,
That will noght trow it stedfastly.
To ask me yit, it war no need;
In Haly Wryt thiself may rede
That thus says in the Gospell of Cryste:
'Wha trewly trowes and es baptyst,
Till endeles blys thai sall be broght,'
And allso: 'Who so trowes noght,
How Crist on mold toke our manhede,
Thai sall be dampned withouten drede
And ever have bale withouten blys.'"
Than said the Pryor: "Tell me this:
Sen the Sarzyns and the Jewes
And the payens it noght trowes,
Whi God lates tham dwell so lang
In thair thoght, sen thai trow wrang,
And sen thai will for na resoune
Trow Cristes Incarnacyoune."
Than the voyce answerd him tyll:
"It es na questyoun of Godes will;
And tharfor neven it noght me to
To ask whi God dose so or so
Of thing that touches to His Godhede,
Bot fande to do His will in dede.
I wate noght whi tham lyf es lent,
Bot if it be to this entent:
That Cristen men may on tham fyght
In the fayth for to defend thair ryght;
For, on tham bataile for to bede,
May Cristen men encres thair mede,
If faith be fully in thair fare."
And than the Pryor asked mare:
"Kan thou oght tell me, whilk manere of syn
Er used mast omang mankyn?"
The voyce answerd on this wise:
"Pryde and lychory and covatyse
And usury, thir foure in fere
With thair braunches many and sere
That er full wlatsom day and nyght
Bifor God and His aungels bryght.
And thre syns er, if thai be done,
For whilk God will tak vengance sone:
Ane es, if man and woman here
Won samen, als thai wedded were,
And wandes noght thair will to wirk
Withouten the sacrament of Haly Kyrk,
Or if thai be wedded that tyde
And outher syn on outher syde
To breke thair spowsage in that space:
To God this es a gret trispase.
The tother syn es noght to say,
Bot clerkes full kyndely knaw it may.
The thred syn es full evell thing,
That es manslaghter with maynsweryng."
Thus when all thir sawes war sayd
The woman to the Prior prayd,
That he wald spek the gast untyll,
So that he dyd hir no more ill
For the luf of God of myghtes mast.
The Pryor than said to the gast:
"I conjure thee be God all ane
And bi His halows everilk ane,
If thou may schon, that thou sese
And lat thi wyf now lyf in pese
And persue hir no more with payne."
Than the gast answerd ogayne:
"That may I noght for nanekyns nede,
Bot scho lyf chaste in wydowhede
And allswa ger syng for us twa
Thre hundereth messes withouten ma:
A hundreth of the Haly Gast sall be
Or els of the Haly Trinité,
And a hundreth of Our Lady
And of Requiem fyfty
And other fyfty als in fere
Of Saint Peter, the apostell dere."
The woman herd thir wordes wele
And graunted to do ilk a dele,
And went with gud devocyoune
Till all the freres of the toune
And prestes and monkes of ilk abbay
And gert tham syng all on a day
Thre hundreth messes gudely grayde
On the covand bifore sayde.
And so when that thai songen ware,
The gast of Gy greved hir no mare.
Bot yhit the Pryor in that place
Unto the gast twa resons mase
And asked, if he wist on what wyse
Or in whilk tyme Anticrist suld ryse
And tak ogayn trew Cristen men.
The gast on this wise answerd then
And said: "It falles noght unto me
To tell noght of Godes preveté.
It es na question us unto
What so His will es for to do."
The Prior said: "Me think ryght wele
Thou heres my spekyng ilk a dele."
The gast said: "Yha, for certayne."
And sone the Pryor sayd ogayne:
"Than has thou eres to thi hereyng,
Forwhi thou ert a bodily thing
And noght gastly, als thou has tald."
The voyce answerd with wordes bald:
"Haly Wryt schewes us this skyll:
The Spirit enspires whare it will,
And His voyce wele may thou here,
Bot thou may noght on na manere
Witt what place that it comes fra
Ne unto what place it sall ga."
And, ryght als he thir wordes gan say,
Sodainly he went oway,
So that thai herd of him no mare
In that tyme, whils thai war thare.
And be than was tyme of evensange,
And the Prior bad ilk man gang,
In the name of God, whare thai wald be:
"And, whare yhe com, in ilk contré,
If yhe be asked of this case,
Says the soth, ryght als it wase
And als it es here proved in dede."
And hastily than hame thai yhede.
The Pryor than withouten faile
The woman thus he gan counsaile,
That scho suld kepe hir clene and chaste,
Als scho was warned with the gaste.
And als he bad aneother thinge,
That ilk day a prest suld synge
Contynuely thare in that place
For Gy saule fro thethen to Pase.
With full gud will the woman dyd
Als the Pryor gan hir byd.
A prest sho gat with full gud chere.
Bot hir hows durst scho noght com nere;
Scho was so dredand ay for dole.
And on the twelft day efter Yhole,
That clerkes calles Epiphany,
Untyll the freres scho went in hy,
And tyll the Prior sone scho yhode,
That had done hir so mykell gude.
And he ordaind with all his mayne
Untyll hir hows to wend ogayne
For to here and herken mare,
If thai myght fynd that ferly fare.
He toke of other orders twa,
Of Austyns and Menours allswa,
So that thai war twenty freres
All samen outtane seculeres.
And samen so ogayne thai went
To Gyes hows with gud entent,
And in that hows said thai and he
"Placebo" with the "Diryge"
For his saule, that was husband thare,
Als he and his brether did are.
When thai had sayd in gud degré
Till "Requiescant in pace,"
Thai herd a voyce com tham besyde,
Als it did at that other tyde.
Lyke a besom bi tham it went
That war swepand on a pavement.
Tharfor som of the folk war flayd,
Bot till it sone the Pryor sayd:
"I conjure thee with mayn and mode
In the vertu of Cristes blode,
In this stede at thou stand styll
And answer, what we say thee tyll."
And than the voyce with wordes meke,
Als a man that had bene seke,
Untyll the Pryor thus gan say:
"Whi deres thou me thus ilk a day?
It es noght lang sen I tald thee
What thing so thou wald ask of me,
What suld I now say to yhow here?"
And than answerd aneother frere,
A divynour of gret clergy,
And said: "Tell here till us in hy,
Whether that thou of payn be quytt,
Or els what payne thou suffers yhit."
The voyce answerd sone onane
And sayd: "Love God all His lane!
For swilk grace unto me es grayde
Thurgh messes, that war for me sayde,
That fra this tyme now afterward
Am I past fra the payns hard
In comon Purgatory thare I was are.
In that place sall I com no mare."
Untyll that voyce than said the frere:
"Tell us what penance has thou here,
Sen thou fra Purgatory es paste."
The voyce answerd at the laste:
"I suffer flawme of fyre full hate."
The frere said: "Tell us, if thou wate,
If anything amend thee may."
The voyce answerd and sayd: "Nay.
Me bus it suffer certaine days."
Yhit than the Prior to him says:
"Lo, how have I gederd here
Freres and other folk in fere
Of thi wordes to bere witnes
And of thir mervayls mare and les,
That we may all this case declare
Bifor the pape, when we com thare.
And tharfor tell us som mervaile
That we may trow withouten fayle."
The voyce answerd to thir sawes:
"I am noght God, that wele thou knawes,
And mervayls falles to na man els
Bot unto Him and His aungels.
And nevertheless thus I yhow teche:
Bot if yhe better the pople preche
Than yhe have done this tyme beforne,
Lightly may yhe be forlorne;
And speke yhe sall mast specyally
Ogayns the syn of symony,
Usur and manslaghter and maynsweryng,
Avoutry and fals witnes beryng.
Thir syns, bot if the folk forsake,
I warn yhow God will vengeance take,
And warn it, whar for the prayere
Of myld Mary, His moder dere,
And of His halows everilk ane
Grevouse vengance mond be tane
Full many tymes omang mankyn,
When thai use swilk outrage syn.
And yhe sall suffer the same payne,
Bot if yhe preche fast thareogayne.
For syn es used now wele mare
Than any werkes of Godes lare.
That sall thai som tyme full sare rew."
Than asked the Pryor, if he knew,
How many papes suld be of Rome
Fra that tyme tyll the Day of Dome.
The voyce said: "I kan tell nathing
What sall fall in tyme coming.
Tharfor thou may noght wit for me
How many papes of Rome sall be
Ne what sall com ne what es gane.
And tharfor may yhe now ilk ane,
Whare so yhe will, wende forth yhour way,
Bot for me luke fast that yhe pray
And for all saules, that suffers payne.
For this I say yhow for certayne:
Haly Kyrk prays noght so fast
For Cristen saules, that hethen er past,
Als thai war won, ryght wele I ken
Ne no mare dose religiouse men.
Tharfor I rede thai mend tham sone,
Or any evell be to tham done."
Thir tales when he had tald tham tyll,
He sayd no mare, bot held him styll,
And of him herd thai than no mare.
Tharfor all men that thare ware
Went and tald thir thinges ilk one
Playnly unto the Pape John
The twa and twenty, I understand.
And at the Pasch next folowand
That same pape sent men of his
For to seke the soth of this.
The hows of Gy oft sythes thai soght,
Bot of the gast ne fand he noght,
And thareby myght men witt full even
That he was went up intyll Heven,
Whare comforth es withouten care,
Als himself had said tham are.
Untyll that comforth Crist us ken
Thurgh prayer of His moder! Amen.
angel bright; (see note)
Augustine; (see note)
masters greater and lesser
know of learning; (see note)
uneducated; know less
which; prepare them [to] cease
books read; (see note)
more and less; (t-note)
books; bear witness
death; Judgment; (t-note)
each; shall; reward
damned according to; deeds
shows various examples
To prepare; fidelity [to] be steadfast; (t-note)
live; deception; (see note)
guide (advise); (t-note)
season; (see note)
be you assured
thirty miles; Bayonne; (see note); (t-note)
spirit; sharply troubled
afflicted; great pain; (t-note)
caused her suffering
Though; she; (see note)
chamber might she hear; (t-note)
Great noise; dreadful commotion
distraught and torn; (see note); (t-note)
she tormented; place
On the eighth day (i.e., after a week); (see note)
she did not know truly
was; spirit; (see note)
was torment; fiend
To the friars she; (see note)
Good living; status
And to the Prior she proceeded [to] tell; (see note)
St. John's Day; Evangelist; (see note)
She told; least and most (i.e., every detail)
Since [the] time
make desolate; would; cease; (see note)
so she should not
dread you not at all
Therefore; as these clerks know
well I know
Set some point; testing
show among; servants dear
For; shall hear
do not distress yourself (be troubled)
But; glad; stay
brothers; a while; (see note)
good advice; know
more certainly; accepted
by himself alone
shall not delay
began; chapter; (see note)
gathered; brothers; together
told them; situation
soon should go
masters two; (see note); (t-note)
same occurrence; to
A number of; them to go; (t-note)
Gy's house, who
bear witness; actions
protect; if it were necessary
Two hundred; prepared
from top to toe; (t-note)
as he ordered; so
should; shriven clean; (see note)
hear Mass; devotion
then boldly; ready
Mass; (see note)
Christian souls; more and less (all); (t-note)
who then wished to receive the Eucharist; (see note)
Were soon given the Eucharist
So that; fiend should not; frighten
Nor; actions; harm
pendant; God's body (i.e., the Host); (see note)
But no; knew
aforementioned brothers two; (t-note)
house they went; (t-note)
All set around on every side
event would occur
by; by the door; (see note)
weapons; sturdy and strong
he caused to lie
And always in each place just three
two brothers; went
Peace to this house; (see note); (t-note)
is in English
Peace; house always
holy; about; cast
I have seen water; (see note)
Come, Creator Spirit; (see note)
Collect; should after; (see note)
O God, who the hearts of the faithful . . .
holy; about cast
Soon after; Sprinkle me; (see note)
called; without more [delay]
She came weeping very bitterly; (t-note)
distraught; beside herself
She trembled; frightened
soon she; took
But; woe, as yet she was
before you leave
also as an act of charity
you would make some holy petition
Gy's soul; (t-note)
The Lord be with you; (see note)
every one of them
afterwards; at once
In the beginning; (see note)
service of that season
ought to be
I will please (i.e., appease); Guide [me]; (see note)
Litany [of the Saints]
As; saying; (see note)
said as follows
By the power; Savior
of greatest power
Father; Holy Ghost
shall; always; (see note)
whatever; ask for
As far as
shall; unto you
As far as; power or understanding
as; allowance by nature; (see note)
Each one; weapon
should see; ghostly
Nor heard; alone
are you an evil spirit or a good; (see note); (t-note)
mild manner; (t-note)
good spirit; none evil
to you; reason
Holy Writ (i.e., Scripture); bears witness; (see note)
more and less (i.e., everything)
works; every one
wonderfully good each one
since; one of those
good spirit; therefore
evil according to my deeds
pain for reward
say not; hear now why
shall I show you here quickly
pains are; you
ordained are; degree
would not stop
Nor are you
from; given every bit
By; by clear reason
My; evil; alone
punish; none other
since; such evil
as is certain
plainly, before; go away
Which man's; were; (t-note)
as you know
By reason; not natural
such scandal; strife
Righteous; considered then
true in faith
these marvels; make
uneducated; every; (see note)
are often walking [after death]
are unnatural (unkind)
as it seemed to him
Unkind (i.e., unnatural)
shall; hear immediately
By words; shall not ignore
such a proof
Coat; hood; clothing
Would; your love alone
to live and die
Yes, for certain
while; did dwell
Made us both all into sin (follies)
every man; more and less; (see note)
Whatever joy; shall
since; these; grim
should scandal raise
cause no scandal to arise
Scandal; sort of knowledge
leads to; has; intent
Whoever; does, must dearly pay
Holy Writ (i.e., Scripture); clearly
Woe; (see note)
explain to you
also; greatly benefit
your brothers did already
those who are alive
sooner; be shriven
truth; Holy Church
are dead; shriven clean
That is to say accordingly
are; wherever; go
as; books read
as far pass
given to him
Therefore that which we do not before
there release; year
Is as; year
desired [to know]
knew any who
which; damned utterly
should such; reveal
are they destined
the other well-being well earned
Which are; forever
stable (i.e., orthodox)
in this way; (t-note)
Spoke and told in field and town
should; flesh and blood
mild of manner
resurrection told; (t-note)
By; I think; (t-note)
Should; more; such
ought to know by this
Which; misery; which
wasted (i.e., useless)
no similarity; make; (see note)
while; were; (t-note)
gifts; Holy Ghost; (see note)
matters; least and most
In advance; should occur
Such; given; to
Except those who have keeping
Which are; which
at once; (t-note)
caught; (see note)
fiends; have told
to explain (name)
What touches on the hidden matters
place are you
There; several; (see note)
One is; to all
And another is set apart for an individual
on every point
at one time go
the other; none
must be inflicted upon me
[it] behooves me
In the middle; place is set
Places are assigned; quickly
is taken from there
the soul and yourself
rain; sleet, hail; snow
naturally to know
each one; according to nature
troubles (annoys) most
would take as a companion
horribly; grimace; gnash [teeth]
By means of despair
be pleased to; (t-note)
most of all
In bonds of death; overcome
in the past
these accusations are thus
Be well comforted; protect
You; go hence away
Both; age; also in youth
Since; human understanding knew
it is fitting for him to dwell
way as you; told
redeemed, be you assured
Passion; (see note)
shield and spear
your barbs; harm; (t-note)
Christ's hands; also His side
Between; shall pass
pained; Tree (i.e., the Cross)
For which; destroyed
it befits us; natural
mild of disposition
death; need; greatest
before he travels away
protect; fiends gathered together
(see note); (t-note)
empress; (see note)
every petition; (see note)
masses; almsdeeds; (see note)
by those deeds; those masses
your; made him fall in
you [that] you go away
that you bother; more; (t-note)
Gather; right up to her
own; also; flesh; (t-note)
Since; from; high
a man's soul
Thence; great woe
In these ways; (see note)
saints' beneficent prayers
not a bit
in His own image
by nature; noon
Of what; Mass
readily, before I came
yet; [to] you
the Holy Spirit; Mass
either old or young
(see note); (t-note)
Mass; [the] Holy Spirit
profit; most perfect
These masses greatly
the best of all
Very many times; various; (t-note)
while that they live
(see note); (t-note)
bought (i.e., redeemed) them dearly
in my nature
[the] Holy Spirit; (t-note)
more; each one
each one; equal value
every one; reward
power; Sacrament (i.e., the Eucharist)
gave the ghost (i.e., died)
one man's sin
each Mass; (see note)
full Divinity; know
as well as one
leaves always; less
for [a] portion parts therefrom
one apple take
(i.e., the Lord's Prayer); make known; (see note)
more; know; knew; before
friends do; reward
those; do more; one
Whom; most bound to
years; (see note)
living friend; relieved
poor friar; find
When; schools went
looked after; years
farther; from now to Easter
told you before
yet; (see note)
(see note); (t-note)
Easter; (see note)
far and wide
saints every one
But may He be; (t-note)
Since; benefit; (t-note)
Which; besides those
most quickly; from; take
Litany [of the Saints]; (see note)
Ave [Maria] (i.e., Hail Mary); (see note)
the [Apostles'] Creed
not to be compared
These; great of help
great of power
Litany [of the Saints]
judge; fury; (t-note)
saints in company
avails; (see note)
I will please (i.e., appease); Guide [me]; (see note)
if you knew
Only; evensong (i.e., vespers)
anthems (i.e., antiphons); (see note); (t-note)
who; pays attention
wits (senses); appointed
in their way
nine anthems; following
Holy Church; properly taught
must needs be
either young or old
poor; power strong
to have great reward
all together; (see note)
power and might
gives to souls
men's bodies; make
provide no succor
Because; stone; (see note)
lives; trees; (t-note)
two anthems; provided
saints; the other
collects; make (i.e., say)
approaching to me; (see note)
know; before; go away
much for me; (t-note)
Rejoice, virgin, mother of Christ
harms most the fiends
by nature know
reason (i.e., question)
commonly (i.e., ordinarily)
knows; live wrong
wisely to inform
If; (see note)
like to know
'Highest Priest' is called; (see note)
From perils; protect
according to my nature
Even if you perceived
since; such power
go; at a brisk pace
Lying sorely sick
Horribly; gnash (teeth); grimace
as [if]; insane
at this time (season)
makes such mourning
knows; (see note)
look; state of mind
great remonstrance; made
mourning; more and less (i.e., entirely)
unnatural; (see note)
as far as falls thereto
before; go away
natural to understand
ask; (see note)
could understand him
I am amazed
Do you not see
neither move nor
therefore; pay attention
All powers of strength and thought; (see note)
sayings are false
old and young
stable (i.e., permanent)
sun is rising
Unless; anything in the way
prepare to; read
at that time
ordered; (see note)
As; (see note)
at that time
prime (about 6:00 a.m.)
according to God's will
be requited (satsified)
judgment; every bit
arranged; (see note)
each; (see note)
at all merciful
suffer by obligation
hottest of all; burning
contrary to the laws of nature; (see note)
no kind of
damned; Judgment Day
troubled spirits; (see note)
no kind of
is; rational power
all kinds of
At once; burning entirely
believed; (see note)
Who; believes; baptized; (see note)
earth assumed a human nature
damned without doubt
lechery; covetousness; (see note)
these; together; (see note)
manslaughter; perjury; (t-note)
no kind of
also has sung
knew in what way
secret things; (see note)
by; evensong (vespers)
then to Easter
Yule (Christmas); (see note)
hear; listen once more
Augustinians; Franciscans also; (see note)
together not counting diocesan priests; (see note)
strength and courage
simony; (see note)
Usury; manslaughter; perjury
Grievous; might; taken; (t-note)
commit such outrageous sin
Unless; hard thereagainst; (t-note)
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