De Lucis Scrutinio


ABBREVIATIONS: CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CB: Gower, Cinkante Ballades; Cronica: Gower, Cronica Tripertita; CT: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; CVP: Gower, Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia; IPP: Gower, In Praise of Peace; Mac: Macaulay edition; MO: Gower, Mirour de l'Omme; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Thynne: William Thynne, printer, The Works of Geffray Chaucer (1532) [prints IPP from Tr]; Traitié: Gower, Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis.

All biblical citations are to the Vulgate text, and, unless otherwise noted, all biblical translations are from the Douai-Rheims. For a list of manuscript abbreviations, please see Manuscripts in the Introduction.


The marginal Latin glosses, identified by a capital L in the left margin next to the text, are transcribed and translated in the notes and can be accessed by clicking on the L at the corresponding line.

De lucis scrutinio: Probably written ca. 1392-95 (see note to lines 79-80 below). The poem presents, albeit in truncated form, a critique of the Estates familiar from MO and VC; however, here the central metaphor of Light (i.e., the light of Christ's teaching, example, and divine grace) everywhere engulfed in darknesses of sin and ignorance (compare Aquinas, Summa Theologica II.i.Q.112.Art.5) intensifies the poet's anger at the state of the world. As Rigg (in Echard and Fanger, Latin Verses, p. xix) has noted, metaphor so sustained is uncommon in English Latin poetry, and here lends a poignancy to Gower's expressions of heartfelt sorrow not often encountered in earlier poems by other hands. Stockton (Major Latin Works, p. 36) has pointed out Gower's apparent agreement here with the Lollards on the need for kings to end the schism of the Church. (See note to line 4, below.) The form is Leonine hexameter (except the final line, a pentameter), rhyming disyllabically throughout, irregularly including unisonant couplets most frequent toward the end. Lines 102-03 are distichs (Carlson, "Rhyme").

The text presented here is based on S (lines 1-92) and C (lines 93-103). Other versions survive in E, H, and L.

Prose: "Qui ambulat in tenebris nescit quo vadat." John 12:35. The quote provides the context for Gower's poem. On Palm Sunday Jesus speaks to the crowd in response to the question, "Who is this Son of Man?": "Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light" (John 12:35-36).

suffocarunt. So Mac, emending from C, E, H, and L. S: suoffocarunt.

1 ff. Latin marginalia in S: Nota quod eorum lucerna minime clarescit quos in ecclesia per antipapam avaricia promotos ditescit. ("Note that the light of them is least bright, who grow rich in the Church through the Anti-Pope promoting avarice.")

3 Si Romam pergas. By "Rome," Gower means the Church itself; like Englishmen generally, he did not recognize the Avignon papacy (see following note).

4 Rome sunt duo pape. The so-called Great Schism (1378-1453) began with the election of Urban VI in Rome and Clement VII in Avignon. Gower attacks Clement specifically in VC III.x.955-56, and in the Latin marginalia to CA Prol. 194-99. Outrage at the schism, as the source of heresies such as Lollardy, is common in his work. (See CA, ed. Peck, vol.1, p. 294.)

6 Sub modio . . . lucerna reiecta. Compare Matthew 5:15: "neque accendunt lucernam, et point eam sub modio" ("neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house"). Compare note to line 100, below.

6 ff. Latin marginalia in S: Nota de luce prelatorum et curatorum ("Note: On the light of prelates and curates").

8 Simonis. A Samaritan and erstwhile magician known for that reason as Simon "Magus," who as recorded in Acts 8:18-24 offered the disciples money for the power to command the presence of the Holy Ghost. From his offer and name was the sin of simony derived -- commonly the buying and selling of Church benefits. Those wearing his bulla (technically a medallion or amulet, often of gold, worn by Roman boys during the Empire to indicate free status) would thus be in the service of Simon, i.e., simoniacs, whom Dante (Inferno 19) relegates to the eighth circle of Hell, as a type of Fraud. On the contemporary political resonances of wearing of a medallion indicative of allegiance, see note to lines 27-28, below. There is also a clear pun on papal "bulls" (edicts), so named because the leaden seals they bore assuring the document's papal authenticity resembled the bullae of Roman boys. Gower's imagination is frequently Dantesque: compare simoniacs, here identified by papal seals/medallions around their necks, and Inferno 17, where usurers are told apart only by the "tasca" -- money-bag bearing coat of arms of families, but also therefore of banking houses -- each wears around his neck. Compare also VC III.xii.1005-64 and CA Prol. 204-41.

11 de membris nil fore purum. See note to line 19, below.

13 ff. Latin marginalia in S: De luce ordinis professi ["On the light of those professing holy orders"]

13-38 Compare Gower's discussions of clerical orders in MO, lines 18421-21780, and VC III and IV.

19 lucerne, iocus, ocia, scorta, taberne. The "dark light" of present-day prelates encourages bodily pleasures -- "joking, 'leisure,' feasting, and prostitutes"; compare line 11, above, where the "caput obscurum" ["dark mind"] produces "nothing pure from the limbs" ["de membris nil fore purum"].

20-22 velamen . . . turbida templum / Nebula perfudit. For velamen ("veil"), see Exodus 34:30-33, where Moses after receiving the Commandments from God on Sinai dons a "velamen" to prevent the reflected glory of his face from driving away the people, who at first flee his brightness; and 2 Corinthians 13-16, where Paul interprets Moses' action as preventing the people from receiving a true (i.e., unmediated) vision of the Lord: "sed usque in hodiernum diem, cum legitur Moyses, velamen positum est super cor eorum. Cum autem conversus fuerit ad Dominum, auferetur velamen" ("But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away"); and, further, Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45, who describe the veil of the Temple torn asunder the moment Christ dies. Luke, who makes a point of the rending as attended by darkness, is especially relevant: "Et obscuratus est sol et velum temple scissum est medium" ("And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was rent in the midst"). For the "stormy cloud" engulfing the Temple, see 3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:10-13, describing the descent of the Lord into the newly finished Temple of Solomon: "et non poterant sacerdotes stare et ministrare propter nebulam: impleverat enim gloria Domini domum Domini" ("And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord"). Gower's complex metaphor depends upon a reversal of these passages, the last particularly (i.e., the only cloud in the Temple nowadays is not glorious but dark -- it is true darkness, not an excess of light, which prevents today's priests from ministering); the key is line 21, Sic perit exemplum lucis, where the "model of light" is Christ, at whose execution by the unenlightened the veil of the temple was torn, and darkness descended -- although paradoxically (like "Good" Friday) it is a darkness which should lead to conversion, and the taking-away (or rending) of the "veil upon their heart." See following notes to lines 23 and 24.

23 Sic vice pastorum quos Cristus. The metaphor of lines 20-22 is continued through an allusion to Vulgate Psalm 79:2: "Qui pascis Israel, ausculta, Qui ducis velem gregem Ioseph" ("Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a sheep" -- trans. mine); and 79:4: "Deus, restitue nos, Et serenum praebe vultum tuum, ut salvi simus" ("Convert [i.e.,"restore"] us, O God, and shew us thy face: and we shall be saved"), where the echoes of Exodus 34:30-33 and 2 Corinthians 16 are intentional.

24 chorum statuit iam mundus. For the new "chorus of the world" compare Vulgate Psalm 137:4-5: "Confiteantur tibi, Domine, omnes reges terrae, Quia audierunt omnia verba oris tui; Et cantent in viis Domini, Quoniam magna est gloria Domini" ("May all the kings of the earth give glory to thee: for they have heard all the words of thy mouth. And let them sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord"). The allusion develops out of the associative commonality in the psalms of shepherds (see note to line 23) and music; here present conditions are in stark contrast to the chorus, invoked by the psalmist, of kings whose singing glorifies God. The reference provides a transition to the following passage, where attention is turned to secular rulers and the Church in relation to them.

25 ff. Latin marginalia in S: Nota quod, si regum lucerna in manu caritatis devocius gestaretur, ecclesia nunc divisa eorum auxilio discrecius reformaretur, eciam et incursus paganorum a Cristi finibus eorum probitate eminus expelleretur. ["Note that if the light of kings was borne in the hand of the most devoted charity, their church that now stands divided would restore more distinguished help, yet the assault of those pagans upon the countries of Christ expels honesty at a distance."]

26 de guerra. Possibly an allusion to the Hundred Years' War, but probably a generic response to the violence of the times.

27-28 Ne periant . . . mater. The schism divided kingdoms as well as prelates, e.g., France and most of the Spanish states supporting Clement VII, Portugal, the Holy Roman Empire, and England upholding Urban VI. ("Rome" here is generic for the Roman church.) Royal support would ensure authority for the "laws" (leges) of whichever pope a kingdom recognized. Line 28 is difficult; pater likely alludes to the pope, mater to the church (compare IPP, lines 239-41). The line could be understood "So that [each] pope might know which church [i.e., Rome or Avignon] believes his claim," with the "might makes right" implication from line 27 that the strength of partisan earthly kings, rather than God's will, decides papal "credibility" in a world so fallen.

29-30 Scisma . . . viderent. Suggests the "Two Swords," i.e., authority over men properly divided between the Holy Roman Emperor and the papacy: ideally, one should balance the other, but with the emperor now "asleep" (see MO, lines 22201-12), kings must act in unison to make matters right (compare IPP, lines 379-83).

33Teste paganorum bello. Not a war of pagan deity against pagan deity, but of pagan believers against Christ: compare IPP, lines 190-96.

38 Lumina namque David . . . titulavit. Depending on the intention of titulavit: if understood as "appointed," perhaps a reference to 2 Kings (2 Samuel) 15, on David's confidence in, and betrayal by, Absolom and Achitiphel; if taken as "invoked," more probably Psalm 2. If the former, since the referent is "regentis" (line 36), probably an allusion to Richard's "evil counselors"; compare VC VII.vii. 567-636, with variants (although these lines were written much earlier); if the latter, the reference cloaks an admonition to Richard.

39 ff. Latin marginalia in S: De luce procerum. ["On the light of the nobles."]

39-48 Compare MO, lines 23209-592, on the estate of the nobility.

42 Nemo . . . de turbine grando. Resonant of Osee 8:7: "Quia ventum seminabunt, Et turbinem metent" ("For they shall sow wind and reap a whirlwind"); "they" refers to "princes" ["principes"] in 8:4: "Ipsi renaverunt, et non ex me; Principes exstiterunt, et non cognovi; Argentum suum et aurum suum fecerunt sibi idola, Ut interirent" ("They have reigned, but not by me: they have been princes, and I knew not: of their silver and their gold they have made idols to themselves, that they might perish" -- italics mine).

49 ff. Latin marginalia in S: De luce militum et aliorum qui bella sequntur. ["On the light of the knights and others who wage war."]

49-54 Compare VC V.viii and MO, lines 23593-24180, on the estate of knights and men-at-arms.

55 ff. Latin marginalia in S: De luce legistarum. ["On the light of the law."]

55-62 Compare MO, lines 24181-25176, and VC VI.i-v, on the estate of men of law.

57 Mammona. Aramaic: "riches," worldly goods. See Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13 and 16:9.

63 ff. Latin marginalia in S: De luce mercatorum. ["On the light of the merchants."]

63-72 Compare MO, lines 25177-26604, on the estate of merchants.

65-66 Contegit usure . . . similatum. The portrait of "usure" is traditional of avarice (see, e.g., Piers Plowman B.5.187-97); hence, "quem diues habet similatum" can be read: "the avaricious are all alike under the skin." See VC V.xii.703-834 and MO, lines 7213-7344 on Usury, the third daughter of Avarice.

67 Si dolus . . . sigilla. That is, "if documents could be falsified successfully."

73 ff. Latin marginalia in S: De luce vulgari, que patriam conseruat. ["On the light of the people, which should save the country."]

74-78 Nam via vulgaris . . . turbidiores. Compare Vulgate Psalm 118, which celebrates (or proclaims: "Praeconium legis divinae") the divine law, especially 118:105: "Lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum, Et lumen semitis meis" ("Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths") and 118:1-5: "Beati immaculati in via, Quia ambulant in lege Domini. Beati qui scrutantur testimonia eius, In toto corde exquirunt eum. Non enim qui operantur iniquitatem In viis eius ambulaverunt. Tu mandasti mandata tua Custodiri nimis. Utinam dirigantur viae meae Ad custodiendas iustificationes tuas!" ("Blessed are the undefiled in the way [path]: who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that search his testimonies: that seek him with their whole heart. For they that work iniquity have not walked in his ways [paths]. Thou hast commanded thy commandments to be kept most diligently. O that my ways [paths] may be directed to keep thy justifications!" -- my additions). The emphasis here is on lawlessness by the unreasoning commons; compare VC I.ix-x.

79-80 Sunt et conducti . . . rescisa. Depending on the exactitude of assisa (line 80), whether figurative, for courts generally, or specifically limited to assizes. If the latter, it perhaps alludes to Richard II; but more likely the former: compare Vulgate Psalm 118:85-86; and similar complaints against nobility who take kickbacks from "communs baratours" (MO, lines 23317-28); "hedgerow knights" ("chivaler de haie") who rig court sessions (MO, lines 23725-36); manipulated judges (MO, lines 24625-816); jurors (MO, lines 25009-128); and "Covoitise" in the courtroom (MO, lines 6205-28). Assisa also completes Leonine rhyme with rescisa (line 80). See also note to CVP, lines 246-65, below.

88 orbis iter sine luce. Compare Vulgate Psalm 118:29 ("viam iniquitatis," "the path of iniquity") and note to line 96, below.

89 ff. Latin marginalia in S: Hic in fine tenebras deplangens pro luce optinenda Deum exorat. ["Here in the end, mourning the darkness, he pleads for the light of God to prevail."]

92 Cecos . . . tango. Compare Vulgate Psalm 118:82: "Defecerunt oculi mei in eloquium tuum" ("My eyes have failed for thy word") and 118:123: "Oculi mei defecerunt in salutare tuum" ("My eyes have fainted [failed] after your salvation" -- my addition). Assuming composition ca. 1392, Macaulay rightly notes that Gower must be speaking figuratively; though he might have begun losing his eyesight "we must not assume that the author is referring to any physical blindness" (4.418).

93-103 The text of S ends at line 92, where a leaf is missing. The remainder of the text given here is from C.

96 Nunc iter attendo. Compare Vulgate Psalm 118:30 ("viam veritatis," "the path of truth") and the repetition of iter here from lines 88 and 94.

97 Tu . . . creasti. Compare Genesis 1-5.

98 Crimina . . . dones. Compare Vulgate Psalm 118:130: "Declaratio sermonem tuorum illuminat" ("The declaration of thy words giveth light") and 118:132-33: "Aspice in me, et miserere mei, Secundum iudicium diligentium nomen tuum, Gressus meos dirige secundum eloquium tuum, Et non dominetur mei omnis iniustitia" ("Look upon me and have mercy on me: according to the judgment of them that love thy name. Direct my steps according to thy word: and let no iniquity have dominion over me").

100 Confer candelam. Compare note to line 6, above; i.e., Christ as "candle" of faith: compare line 103.

102 adhibit. So C, H. Mac reads adibit.
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De Lucis Scrutinio

by: John Gower (Author), R. F. Yeager (Editor, Translator)

1. De lucis scrutinio

Incipit tractatus "De lucis scrutinio," quam a diu viciorum tenebre, prothdolor, suffocarunt; secundum illud in evangelio, "Qui ambulat in tenebris nescit quo vadat."
1. An Examination of the Light

Here begins the tract "An Examination of the Light," which, I'm sad to say, the shadows of vice have suffocated for a long time now; just as the verse in the Gospels, "He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going."
(see note)

(see note)
























Heu, quia per crebras humus est viciata tenebras,
Vix iter humanum locus ullus habet sibi planum.
Si Romam pergas ut ibi tua lumina tergas,
Lumina mira cape, quia Rome sunt duo pape.
Et si plus cleri iam debent lumina queri,
Sub modio tecta latitat lucerna reiecta.
Presulis officia mundus tegit absque sophia,
Stat sua lux nulla dum Simonis est ibi bulla;
Est iter hoc vile qui taliter intrat ovile,
Nec bene discernit lucem qui lumina spernit.
Sic caput obscurum de membris nil fore purum
Efficit et secum sic cecus habet sibi cecum.
Aut si vis gressus claros, non ordo professus
Hos tibi prestabit, quos caucius umbra fugabit.
Ordine claustrali manifestius in speciali
Lux ibi pallescit, quam mens magis invida nescit.
Lux et moralis tenebrescit presbiteralis:
Clara dies transit, nec eis lucerna remansit.
Sunt ibi lucerne, iocus, ocia, scorta, taberne:
Quorum velamen viciis fert sepe iuvamen.
Sic perit exemplum lucis, quo turbida templum
Nebula perfudit, que lumina queque recludit.
Sic vice pastorum quos Cristus ab ante bonorum
Legerat, ecce, chorum statuit iam mundus eorum.
Si lux presentum scrutetur in orbe regentum,
Horum de guerra pallet sine lumine terra.
Ne periant leges, iam Roma petit sibi reges,
Noscat ut ille pater que sit sibi credula mater.
Scisma modernorum patrum, novitate duorum
Reges delerent, si Cristi iura viderent;
Lux ita regalis decet ecclesiam specialis;
Qua domus alma Dei maneat sub spe requiei.
Teste paganorum bello furiente Deorum
Raro fides crescit ubi regia lux tenebrescit.
Hec tamen audimus, set et hec verissima scimus,
Nec capit hec mentis oculus de luce regentis.
Ulterius quere, cupias si lumen habere,
Lumina namque David sibi ceca magis titulavit.
Si regni proceres aliter pro lumine queres,
Aspice quod plenum non est ibi tempus amenum,
Dumque putas stare, palpabis iter, quia clare
Nemo videt quando veniet de turbine grando.
Divicie cece fallunt sine lumine sese;
Quam prius ille cadat, vix cernit habens ubi vadat.
Sic via secura procerum non est sine cura.
Stans honor ex onere sibi convenit acta videre;
Qui tamen extentum modo viderit experimentum,
De procerum spera, non surgunt lumina vera.
Si bellatorum lucem scrutabor eorum,
Lucerne lator tenebrosus adest gladiator.
Sunt ibi doctrina luxus, iactura, rapina,
Que non splendorem querunt set habere cruorem;
Et sic armatus lucem pre labe reatus
Non videt, unde status suus errat in orbe gravatus.
Si lex scrutetur, ibi lux non invenietur.
Quin, vis aut velle ius concitat esse rebelle.
Non populo lucet iudex quem Mammona ducet,
Efficit et cecum quo sepe reflectitur equm.
Ius sine iure datur, si nummus in aure loquatur;
Auri splendore tenebrescit lumen in ore.
Omnis legista vivit quasi lege sub ista,
Quo magis ex glosa loculi fit lex tenebrosa.
Si mercatorum querantur lumina morum,
Lux non fulgebit ubi fraus cum cive manebit.
Contegit usure subtilis forma figure
Vultum larvatum, quem diues habet similatum.
Si dolus in villa tua possit habere sigilla,
Vix reddes, clarus, bona que tibi prestat avarus;
Et sic maiores fallunt quamsepe minores,
Unde dolent turbe sub murmure plebis in urbe.
Sic inter cives errat sine lumine dives,
Dumque fidem nescit, lux pacis ab urbe recessit.
Si patriam quero, nec ibi michi lumina spero;
Nam via vulgaris tenebris viciatur amaris.
Plebs racione carens hec est, sine moribus, arens,
Cuius subiectam vix Cristus habet sibi sectam.
Sunt aliqui tales quos mundus habet speciales,
Fures, raptores, homicide, turbidiores.
Sunt et conducti quidam pro munere ducti,
Quos facit assisa periuros luce rescisa.
Rustica ruralis non est ibi spes aliqualis,
Quo nimis obscura pallent sine lumine rura.
Sic magis illicebras mundanas quisque tenebras
Nunc petit, et vota non sunt ad lumina mota.
Sic prior est mundus, et si Deus esse secundus
Posset, adhuc talis foret in spe lux aliqualis.
Set quasi nunc totus Deus est a plebe remotus,
Sic absente duce perit orbis iter sine luce.
O nimis orbatus varii de labe reatus,
Omnis in orbe status modo stat quasi prevaricatus.
Cum tamen errantes alios, sine lege, vagantes,
Cecos deplango, mea propria viscera tango.
Cecus ut ignorat quo pergere, dumque laborat,
Sic iter explorat mea mens que flebilis orat.
Et quia perpendo quod lucis ad ultima tendo,
Nunc iter attendo quo perfruar in moriendo.
Tu, qui formasti lucem tenebrasque creasti,
Crimina condones et sic tua lumina dones.
In terram sero tunc quando cubicula quero,
Confer candelam, potero qua ferre medelam.
Hec Gower scribit lucem dum querere quibit;
   Sub spe transibit ubi gaudia lucis adhibit.
   Lucis solamen det sibi Cristus. Amen.
Alas, because the earth is defiled with dense shadows,
There is scarcely a place that offers a level path for man's journey.
If you go to Rome to purify your lights,
Take marvelous lights, because there are two popes in Rome.
And if the lights of the clergy require more searching,
The rejected lamp lies hidden under a bushel.
The world hides the duties of the Church's presider far from wisdom,
And no light shines from him while he wears the medallion of Simon;
He takes a vile route who enters the sheepfold in such a way.
Nor does he well discern the light who shuns the light.
Such a defiled head produces nothing pure from its members,
And a man thus blind has with him one blind to himself.
Or if you want clear steps to follow, a professed order will not show them to you,
For shadows will obscure them with excessive caution.
It is especially obvious in cloistered orders
That the light grows dim there, light which the more envious mind does not know.
And the moral light of priests also grows dark:
The clear day is passing, and no lamp remains for them.
There are lamps there, and jokes, leisure, prostitutes, taverns:
The veil of these things often serves as an aid for the practice of vice.
Thus the model of light perishes, where a stormy cloud
Has engulfed the temple, and put out all the lights.
Thus in place of the shepherds that Christ formerly chose
From good men, look, the world has set up a chorus.
If the light of those now ruling the world is examined,
The earth grows dim because of their wars.
Now Rome seeks kings for itself, so that the laws not be voided,
So that that father might know which mother believes in him.
The schism of the two new present-day fathers
The kings would remove, if they saw the laws of Christ;
A light thus royal is especially fitting for the Church;
Under its glow the nurturing house of God may maintain its hope of peace.
The pagan gods and their raging wars bear witness that
Rarely does faith increase where the royal light grows dark.
We have heard these things, but we also know these things to be very true,
And the eye of our mind does not find them in the light of a present ruler.
Seek further, if you want to have light,
For David invoked lights that were more dark to him.
If you look in another place at the nobility of the kingdom for light,
Consider that good weather is not constant there,
And while you think that it holds, you will feel your way along, for
No one sees clearly when hail will come from the whirlwind.
Blind wealth deceives itself without light;
Before any rich man falls, scarcely does he make out where he is going.
Thus the secure path of the nobility is not without cares.
It befits burdensome Honor to view deeds,
But nevertheless when it views the present extensive scene,
From the sphere of the nobility, true lights are not rising.
If I examine the light of their warriors,
The gladiator is a dark bearer of light.
There one finds the teaching of wantonness, destruction, rapine,
And they do not seek splendor, but to have gore.
Thus the armed warrior, because of the stain of his sin,
Does not see the light, and his status wanders burdened in the world.
If the law is examined, light will not be found there.
No indeed, violence and desire force law to be lawless.
No judge led by Mammon will shed any light on the people,
And, where equity is often seen, he makes it blind.
Lawless law is given if coin speaks in its ear;
The light in his face is dimmed by the gleam of gold.
Every lawyer lives as if under that law,
By which the law becomes darker from the word of the purse.
If lights are sought in the habits of the merchants,
No light will shine out where fraud resides in the city.
The subtle form of usury covers the figure's
Masked face, which the rich man pretends is his own.
If deceit in your mansion could have seals,
Scarcely will you, though famous, repay the money that the miser lends you;
And thus our greater men cheat lesser men as often as they can,
And from this the throngs grieve, bearing the murmur of the people in the city.
Thus the rich man wanders among the citizens without light,
And since he knows no trustworthiness, the light of peace recedes in the city.
If I search our country, I have no hope of finding light for myself there;
For the path of the people is corrupted by bitter darkness.
This is a people lacking reason, dry, without moral character,
A sect which Christ scarcely holds subject to himself.
There are some men whom the world holds dear,
Thieves, plunderers, murderers, disturbers of the peace.
And there are witnesses, enticed by money,
Made perjurors by the assize cut off from light.
There in the countryside there is no hope of any sort,
Where the dark fields dim even more without light.
Thus each man seeks even more the darkness of worldly seductions
These days, and prayers are not directed towards the light.
Thus the world comes first, and if God could be second,
As such there would still be some hope of light.
But now it is as if God has totally been removed from the people,
And, bereft of its leader, the path of the world perishes without light.
O world so abandoned because of the stain of your manifold guilt,
Every class in this world now exists as if in a state of transgression.
However when I weep for others, lost, wandering without law,
And blind, I touch upon my own heart.
As the blind man does not know where he goes, and on he toils,
So my mind with tears and prayers seeks its own path.
And because I consider that I am headed toward the final shores of light,
I now attend to the path by which I may achieve it when I die.
You, who formed the light and created the darkness,
Forgive my sins and thus grant me your light.
Then when I seek my final resting place in the earth at last,
Bring me a candle, by which I can amend my way.
Gower writes these things while he is able to seek the light;
   He will pass on in hope to the place where he will come to the joys of light.
   May Christ grant him the consolation of the light. Amen.

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