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Piers the Plowman's Crede


1 And through the special Spirit that sprang from the two of Them

2 But all my sorrow is coming, for I don't know my Creed (see note)

3 When I shall make known my confession, I must be ruined

4 Therefore, I would be gladdest to learn the faith ("belief")

5 Either unlettered or lettered, who lives in this way

6 Both to the learned and the ignorant, who say they believe

7 A Carmelite friar has agreed to teach me the Creed

8 How should they teach you about God, who don't know themselves?

9 They were not so bold [to] practice such wickedness

10 But whatever glutton of the men (mendicants) may seize any goods

11 Though his brothers lack goods, as far as he is concerned they can die

12 Their patience has vanished and [been] put out to pasture

13 And pride is in their poverty, [in which] there is little to praise

14 When lullabies for the Virgin are sung, to please the women

15 That the lace from Our Lady's shift delivers their children (by easing childbirth)

16 That must be drawn and painted and completely polished

17 And if you could enhance (i.e., enrich) us with your own money

18 With the understanding that I return, he commended me to Christ

19 How might you espy in your brother's eye a mere speck

20 And only afterwards regulate another man's eye

21 With secret postern gates, to come and go when it pleased them

22 Furnished with lookout cells to spy all around

23 The cost of a year's plow-land, of pennies so round, / could not adorn that pillar

24 And saw a dwelling, wonderfully well constructed

25 Of alabaster with coats of arms, decorated appropriately

26 It would not [be enough] to build half that house, I believe

27 With washbasins of brass beautifully fashioned

28 Wouldn't furnish that place, one part to the end

29 With wide tables [all] around, fully furnished with benches

30 A large and fierce peasant, grown [as large] as a barrel

31 His outer garment that covered him very neatly was folded

32 It had good enough soil (i.e., was dirty enough) to grow grain

33 For an Austin friar has recently egged me on urgently

34 Truly, some of those men have more goods themselves

35 If his servant is not ready [to take the penny], put out my eye

36 With martin's fur, or with fitchet's fur, or [with] fine beaver

37 Now they have buckled shoes for sores on their heels

38 But if men knew their trickery and their cunning words

39 A professed Dominican has pledged me his word

40 For they are confident men and more trustworthy

41 I would pay you as great a reward as I can

42 With arrogant hearts, how they hallow churches

43 They concern themselves with messages and weddings of magnates

44 They desire respect; but look to their deeds

45 And note how they live and believe what you see

46 Believe it well, dear man, if men observed properly

47 They are [as] proud as ditch water in which dogs feed

48 Providing you enhance our house with money or [something] else

49 "God forbid," said his companion, "except that she should die"

50 While she intends to leave her money to us

51 God let her live no longer [than my visit], for [there are] many such letters

52 And saw a poor man near me, [who] bent over the plow

53 With his lumpy shoes stuffed with rags

54 All covered with mud as he followed the plow

55 Two mittens, as poor [as the shoes], made all of rags

56 Wrapped in a winnowing-sheet to protect her from foul weather

57 From them I thought I would learn, but now I am at my wits' end

58 They covet [the right to hear] confessions to acquire some wages

59 And burials also, to get paid for singing masses

60 But where profit lies -- they look for nothing else

61 How shall I call you by the name your neighbors call you?

62 Through that trick of that story that is called The Apocalypse of Bishop Golias

63 And he contrives well beforehand, to destroy people

64 Concerning these two (the Pharisee and the friar), I consider them the same

65 Test them according to procedures, and pry into their order

66 Then have I lost all my power of taste, touch, and judgment

67 Criticize them a little bit, and condemn their way of living

68 And straightway call you "nothing," and your name disparage

69 Both with "you lie" and "you lie," in arrogance of soul

70 A lord would be more reluctant to give to a servant

71 They are sewn with white silk, and [with] intricate seams

72 He loves to be met in markets with greetings from poor people

73 God grant that it be a healthy sum of money, for health of the souls

74 And sumptuously as a chieftain stay in his apartment

75 And find for themselves lying stories (fables) which please the people

76 And makes sure that he leaves no house without getting something

77 They don't lack furred garments or a full wardrobe

78 Nor ordained in [an] order but live individually

79 They can pack up their gear in a tar bag (pouch)

80 Their prime of life in penance through works

81 "Or maimed by accident, or sick lepers" (Sk)

82 And their goods are gone, and they are sorry to have to beg

83 He might as well offend a powerful landlord

84 Even though he killed a handsome knight and premeditated his murder

85 Their hearts are as far removed from lofty meditation

86 [That] they should not judge on appearance (by the face) nor judge folk

87 To deal with loans and biddings, like townspeople

88 Now each cobbler's son may go to school

89 And each beggar's brat (child) learn from book(s)

90 Would you believe there could be so many liars?

91 And vegetables cooked without meat, and water to drink

92 And work and wear clothing with the wool toward the body, as we poor ones do

93 It is unlikely that even one in a hundred

94 And brought out our forefathers, and they were very glad

95 The more the matter is broached, the more rattled they become

96 Know Christ's hidden wisdom, who transcends the natural world?


5 A and all myn A-B-C. The narrator explains that he knows his alphabet; he is not illiterate ("lewed"). In lines 6-7 he also says he knows his Pater Noster or Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6.9-13) and his Ave Maria or"Hail Mary" (Luke 1.28-33). These elementary texts are the foundation for his Christian beliefs, but he now wants to learn the Creed (see note to line 8 below).

8 Crede. The simple declaration of faith known as the Apostles' Creed. This begins, in English translation:"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." The Apostles' Creed, whose exact origins are unknown, preceded and formed the basis for the Nicene Creed (A.D. 325), which in turn furnished the standard definition of the Trinity (three Persons, two Natures, one Will). For Piers's version of the Creed -- the Credo -- see lines 795-821.

11 The lengthe of a Lenten. The period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve, a traditional time of fasting, penitence, and austerity in the Christian Church. The forty week days commemorate Christ's forty days and nights in the wilderness and His resistance to the devil's three temptations. See Matt. 4. In lines 11-13 the narrator portrays himself as distraught about facing several meatless weeks and not knowing his Creed.

15 He that leeveth nought. See John 3.15, 18.

31 lok of beleve. The"lock of belief" or"faith" is ironic, since Christ explicitly entrusted Peter (the Church) with the keys of heaven (Matt. 16.19). See also the narrator's citing of this incident when he speaks with the Dominican: lines 276-79. Similarly, the"cofres of Cristendam" (line 30) reflect more on the friars' alleged wealth than their claims to be guardians of the Christian faith.

33 A Menoure. A Minorite or Friar Minor, so-called because the Franciscans -- the Friars Minor -- claimed to be the humble order. St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan order in 1209. For the fraternal orders, see the note to line 153 below.

34 the graith. Wycliffites often testified that the truth was plain and simple, embedded in the Creed and yet sometimes hidden (hence that they and "trewe" Christians generally had the key to discovering it). The author of Vae octuplex says this about the simplicity of Christian belief: "Byleue is an hyd trewþe þat God telluþ in his lawe, and it is declared ynow [sufficiently] in comun crede of cristen men. And 3if þow wole examyne feiþ, where hit be trowþe of Cristus chirche, loke where þat it ys growndyt in ony article of þe crede; 3if it be not growndet þere, take it not as byleue" (ed. Gradon, p. 377).

38 A Carm me hath ycovenaunt. The narrator may be disingenuous here, since he represents himself as speaking with Carmelites later on, beginning line 340. He seems to bait all the friars he meets by mentioning a rival fraternal order and its claims to priority or pretensions to learning.

57-58 They comen out of Carmeli. "The Carmelites, or White Friars, pretended to be of great antiquity, and were originally established at Mount Carmel, from whence they were driven by the Saracens about the year 1238" (Wright). They came to England in 1244.

62-63 And yif thei couthen her Crede. A poem "On the Minorites" alleges that the Franciscans do not know the Creed: "With an O & an I, Men wenen þat þai wede [go mad], / To carpe so of clergy þat can not þair crede" (HP XIV & XV, p. 163).

65 Freres of the Pye. Pied Friars or Fratres de Pica, with habits of black and white like a magpie.

72 "Robartes men, or Roberdsmen, were a set of lawless vagabonds, notorious for their outrages when Pierce Plowman was written. The statute of Edward the Third (an. reg. 5, c. xiv) specifies `divers manslaughters, felonies, and robberies, done by people that be called Roberdesmen, Wastours, and drawlatches"' (Skeat). See also Piers Plowman B Prologue 44:"And risen vp wiþ ribaudie as Roberdes knaues"; and 5.461:"Roberd þe Robbere on Reddite loked."

77-79 And at the lulling. The syntax seems defective or elliptical in these lines, with an understood "they" before "maken wymmen to wenen" (line 78). These lines might be translated: "And during lullabies of Our Lady, to please the women, and [at] miracle-plays [involving] midwives, they give women to believe that the lace of Our Lady's shift helps deliver their children." For a similar construction, see lines 108-17 (with"we" understood beginning line 110). In the N-Town cycle (Ludus Coventriae), midwives who doubt the Virgin Birth eventually come to be believers, although one receives a withered hand for her original disbelief.

84 quenes. The word quenes here can have the sense of "queans," or harlots, which certainly accords with the general sense of this passage (see line 83). But the MED cites this word in PPC as bearing the signification "crones" or old women.

89-94 Wepyng, I warne yow of walkers aboute. The allusion is to Philippians 3.18-19: "For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things."

91 Swich slomerers in slepe. See Ephesians 5.14: "Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee." See also Romans 13.11: "it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep."

92-94 gloppyng of drynk. The emphasis of these lines -- a free translation of Philippians 3.19 (see above note to lines 89-94) -- resembles that of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century penitential lyrics on the relationship between drinking and death. See, for example, "Man may longe liwes [lives] wenen," lines 7-10 (EL XIII, p. 17), and "Whon Men beoþ muriest at heor Mele [are merriest at their meal]," lines 1-12 (from the Vernon MS: RL XIV, p. 143). See also Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale in which three tavern rioters go out to slay Death (the Black Plague) and end up killing one another instead. Chaucer likewise alludes to Philippians 3.18-19.

104 The pure Apostells life. The issue of the "apostolic life" was of paramount importance in antifraternal and anticlerical literature. The friars based their claims to distinctiveness and purity on their form of life, which they believed was modelled on that of Christ and the apostles (see, for example, Acts 2.45-47 and 4.32-35). Antifraternal writers responded that nowhere does Scripture witness that Christ or the apostles begged for their sustenance.

113 oure parteners. Fraternal orders sometimes invited lay brethren to participate in their activities on a limited basis. Often they charged a fee for services and issued letters of confraternity. For a prominent literary example, see the friar in Chaucer's Summoner's Tale, III 2126-28. See also line 327 and note, and line 417.

146-50 Coveitise . . . Chastete. Personified allegories of Covetousness, Charity (Christian love, as in Faith, Hope, Charity), and Chastity. Such personifications are common in PP but rare in PPC.

153 this foure ordirs. The fraternal orders were the Franciscans ("Menoures"), the Dominicans ("Prechoures" or Friars Preachers, here said to be the "first" order), the Augustinians ("Austens"), and the Carmelites ("Carmes" or"Karmes").

155 Ich. Trinity reads With, the Royal MS ytche; but the 1553 edition, Wright, and Skeat have Ich.

157-218 Swich a bild bold. It has been suggested that the architectural details for this long description of the Dominican convent derive from the London house of Blackfriars. St. Francis, on the other hand, advised Minorites to live in humble buildings of mud and wood.

165 With posternes in pryvytie. "These private posterns are frequently alluded to in the reports of the Commissioners for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII" (Wright).

184-85 These lines are not in the Trinity MS; they are supplied from the Royal MS.

215 And othere. The Trinity MS reads to oþere, but the Royal MS, the 1553 edition, Wright, and Skeat have And oþere or And other.

227-28 Compare Chaucer's friar in GP:"Of double worstede was his semycope, / That rounded as a belle out of the presse" (I[A] 2623).

232 graith. See Piers Plowman C 10. 240:"Ac þe gospel is a glose ther and huydeth þe grayth treuthe."

233 Trinity MS reads willen, but the Royal MS, the 1553 edition, Wright, and Skeat have wissen, which is superior to willen.

261 And who is goer byforne, first schal he serven. An allusion to the vineyard parable (Matt. 20.1-16):"So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen" (v. 16).

262-63 And seyde, `He sawe Satan . . . ben yleyd.' See Luke 10.18:"And he said to them: I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven." See also Isaiah 14.12. The Trinity and Royal MSS read fullowe, the 1553 edition fullow. Wright and Skeat have ful low and ful lowe respectively.

274 fables. The Franciscans were noted storytellers who could illustrate their sermons and lectures with exempla, sometimes with fables. In an antifraternal lyric from the Vernon MS, "ye Mon þat luste to liuen in ese," the anonymous author writes: "Whon Gabriel schal blowe his horn, / His feble fables schul hym rewe" (RL XIV, lines 67-68, p. 154). By contrast, Chaucer's Parson replies to Harry Bailly, "Thou getest fable noon ytoold for me" (X.31) and, citing Paul, denounces "fables and swich wrecchednesse" (X.34).

295 With foyns, or with fitchewes. An antifraternal lyric of 1382 attacks the friars for their rich furs: "For somme vaire, & somme gryse, / For somme bugee, & for somme byse." (HP XIV & XV, p. 159)

308 Paul, primus heremite. St. Paul the Hermit, or St. Paul of Thebes (d. 342), wove baskets to guard against idleness. The Austin friars claimed him as their founder. See Piers Plowman B 15. 286-89.

327 clereliche ensealed. These lines refer to the practice of granting conventual letters of fraternization, kept at the convent to entitle the purchasers all the benefits of prayers, masses, and good works of the order. In Chaucer's Summoner's Tale, Thomas and his wife were lay confraternity members, who held such a letter (CT III [D] 2126-28). See also line 417.

328 oure Provinciall. The Provincial was the director of convents within a province.

338 Karmes. Carmelites or white friars. See above, note to lines 57-58.

340 Two frere Karmes. Friars usually traveled in pairs, according to Christ's instructions to disciples to go forth "two and two" (Luke 10.1). See also the note to line 415 below.

345 hestys. The Trinity MS, 1553 edition, and Wright read hetes, promises; but the Royal MS (=hestys) and Skeat (=hestes) is superior.

354 princes of pride. The popular late-medieval image of the Dominicans was of arrogant friars who wished to associate with fine lords, to own wealth, and to remove themselves from common humanity. See, for example, lines 370-75, and 380-81: "For ryght as Menoures most ypocricie useth, / Ryght so ben Prechers proude purlyche in herte." The image of the Orders Preacher contrasts with the popular idea of the Franciscans, who were generally considered to be more humble and democratic (but hence more susceptible to hypocrisy).

362 Herdforthe, an allusion to the priory of King's Langley in Hertfordshire, a wealthy convent that received lucrative grants from Richard II, Edmund de Langley, and Langley's wife, who were all buried there.

365 curry. This is Skeat's reading, a version of the Royal MS's currey. The Trinity MS reads carry; the 1553 edition and Wright have curreth. The sense of the passage is the Dominicans curry favor with the king and scratch (or "claw") his back, not that they carry the king on their backs.

372 and men ryght lokede. Skeat reads "& men ry3t-lokede" and glosses "righteous, just"; "Apparently corrupted from A.S. rihtlic." But see Williams, Modern Language Review, 4 (1909), 235.

375 digne as dich water. See Chaucer's Reeve's Tale I (A) 3964.

383 in Elyes tyme. The Carmelites claimed that their founders were Elijah and Elisha. See Chaucer's Summoner's Tale III (D) 2116.

411 It was a commonplace of antifraternal literature that friars tried to convince people to be buried by friars rather than at their parish church. FitzRalph says: "þei schul nou3t [shall not] counseil no man to swere neþer [nor] to make avowe [oath]; noþer to pli3t his truþe [nor to pledge his troth], noþer to behote [require] in oþer manere wise [wise people] to chese [choose] buriyng place at her chirche; so þat 3if þei counseileþ þerto eny maner wise, her chirche is entredited [interdicted], & her chirche heye. Oþer 3if þei counseileþ hym, þat haþ y-chose his buriels among hem, nou3t to chaunge his wille; & comynliche it is seide þat freres counseiliþ so men; þanne a parischon may verreilich haue suspecioun þat her place is entredited" (Defensio curatorum, trans. John Trevisa, ed. A. J. Perry, EETS, OS 167 [London: Kegan Paul, 1925], p. 42).

414 anuell. An anuell was money for saying a yearly mass (an"annual"). An antifraternal lyric contains the following lines: "Suche annuels has made þes frers / so wely & so gay, / yat þer may no possessioners / mayntene þair array" ("Preste, ne monke, ne 3it chanoun," in HP XIV & XV, lines 141-44; p. 161). In that same poem see also lines 153-56, p. 162.

415 his. The Trinity MS alone reads this fellawe, which would mean that the same speaker continues his harangue. But the better reading, his, occurs in the Royal MS, the 1553 edition, Wright, and Skeat, thus including the otherwise mute second Carmelite friar mentioned in line 340.

417 letteres. See above, note to line 327.

422 cary was a coarse material. The MED cites Piers Plowman B 5.79, said of Envye: "And clothed in a kaurymaury."

428 Twey mytenes, as mete. Skeat glosses "as middling (or poor) as the shoes were. It is the A.S. mœte, middling, mean. It being a hard word, the scribe of MS. B [Royal MS] erased it, and the old printer misprinted it." But contrast Jones, Modern Language Notes, 67 (1952), 512-16.

430 fen. The Trinity MS reads fern, but the Royal MS and Skeat have fen. Fern and feen (1553 edition, Wright) seem slips for fen.

431 worthen. The Trinity MS reads worþi, worthy, while the 1553 edition and Wright have worthi. The Royal MS reads worthe, but Skeat emends, properly, to worþen, become.

446 Go we. Skeat notes that the exclamation was a common colloquial invitation.

451 fonded. Trinity, Royal, and the 1553 edition read fondes, which makes no sense syntactically. Wright and Skeat emend to fonded.

456 of swich I you warne. See the references to false prophets and false Christs in Matt. 24.11, 23-25, etc.

458 In vestimentis ovium. See Matt. 7.15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

459 wilde wer-wolves. Lit. "man-wolves" but with the additional sense that the rapacious friars resemble those humans who were said to be able to transform themselves literally into wolves.

462 curates. Skeat: "parish-priests with a cure of souls. The friars were continually interfering with and opposing them. '--unnethe may prestes seculers / Gete any service, for thes frers,' &c. (Pol. Poems, i.267)." FitzRalph depicted the plight of the secular clergy in Defensio curatorum.

469 sepultures. The secular clergy violently objected to what they regarded as fraternal incursions into their privileges to hear confessions and bury the dead. John Gower, in Vox clamantis 4.17, writes of this problem: "For a friar demands that he himself bury the dead bodies of those to whom he attached himself as confessor, if they were dignitaries. But if it should be a poor [man's] body, he makes no claim at all, since his piety takes no cognizance of anything unless there is money in it." (Trans. Eric W. Stockton, The Major Latin Works of John Gower [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962). See also JU lines 151-56.

471 there as wynnynge lijth. Compare Chaucer's pilgrim Friar: "And over al, ther as profit sholde arise, / Curteis he was and lowely of servyse" (CT I [A] 249-50).

479 Thorughe that gleym of that gest that Golias is ycalde. "Gleym = bird-lime, and hence subtletly, craft, guile" (Skeat); see line 564 and note. The story called Golias refers to the Apocalypsis Goliae, a twelfth-century satire on the monastic orders. Trinity reads Trowe ye for Thorughe; the 1553 edition and Wright have Trow ye. Royal has Thoughe which is corrected to Thorughe; and this is Skeat's reading (= Þoru3).

486 Of the kynrede of Caym. The friars were often said to be from Cain's (Caym's) kin, i.e., from Augustine's city of man, founded by Cain. (See FDR 105.) Wyclif pointed out that the first letters of the friars' orders spelled the name of Cain: Carmelites, Austins, Iacobites (Dominicans), Minorites (Franciscans). A lyric poem of 1382 ("Preste, ne monke, ne 3it chanoun" [HP XIV & XV 65]) alludes to the same letters: "Þat frer carmes come of a k, / Þe frer austynes come of a, / frer Iacobynes of i, / Of M comen þe frer menours" (lines 110-13).

487 Farysens. The friars were often compared with the Pharisees whom Christ denounced as hypocrites in Matthew 15 and 23.

489 kynde ypocrites. See Matt. 23.28: "So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just; but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

492 Wo worthe you. See Matt. 23.23: "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith." See also Luke 11.46.

495 Youre faderes fordeden hem. Luke 11.47: "Woe to you who build the monuments of the prophets: and your fathers killed them."

498 ben 'Maysters' ycalled. Matt. 23.7, on the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees: ". . . and [they love] to be called by men, Rabbi." See also line 574.

515-16 But now . . . opon trewthe. The sense of these lines is that the friars have created (unleashed) unauthorized interpretations of Scripture, overlarding the text with self-serving commentaries.

520 Yblessed mote thei ben. Matt. 5.3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Piers often contrasts the friars with those whom Christ blessed in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5.3-11; Luke 6.20-22).

528 Wytnesse on Wycliff. The author shows himself to be in general sympathy with John Wyclif's views on clerical corruption. Wyclif, who died in 1384, was for most of his career regarded as an important Oxford theologian; but toward the end of his career he denounced the Pope and attacked the doctrine of Transubstantiation in so far as the Eucharist was understood to be "accident without substance" (having the appearance of bread but being something else in reality). The author of PPC does not deny the doctrine of Transubstantiation ("Fulliche His fleche and His blod," line 823). See also Jack Upland's accusation about the friars in JU line 280.

532 And overal lollede him. Friars and other clerics accused Wyclif of professing heretical doctrines, or chaff (compare Latin lolia: chaff). The term Lollard was applied both to the followers of Wyclif and to friars, whom Wyclif and the Wycliffites attacked.

542 Both with 'thou leyest,' and 'thou lext'. See Piers Plowman B 5.162-63: "Of wikkede wordes I, wraþe, hire wortes made / Til 'þow lixt!' and 'þow lixt!' lopen out at ones." In Langland, these liars speak as if personified. See also C 6.137-38.

545 a beggere, the beste. Compare CT I.252: "He [the Friar] was the beste beggere in his hous."

546 beth. Trinity alone reads heþ. Royal and the 1553 edition have beth; Wright Beth, Skeat beþ.

551 And launceth heighe her hemmes. See Matt. 23.5: "For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes."

561 be. So Royal and Skeat; Trinity, the 1553 edition, and Wright have by.

564 lym-yerde. "Lime-yards" were used to lure and capture birds; they became proverbial for the devil's tricks for attracting humans to damnation.

567 He loveth in markettes ben met. "And [they love] salutations in the market place" (Matt. 23.7).

581 Masters of Dyvinitie. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries a remarkable number of masters of divinity were friars, including the Franciscan Roger Bacon, who taught at Oxford; the Franciscan general St. Bonaventure, who taught at Paris; the Dominican Thomas Aquinas, who taught at Paris; the Franciscan John Duns Scotus; and the Franciscan William of Ockham, who taught at Oxford.

587-90 God forbad . . . Gost of Himselve. The argument here concerns divine inspiration rather than human ingenuity and elaborate commentary (glosses) in the interpretation of Scripture. See Mark 13.11: "And when they shall lead you and deliver you up, be not thoughtful beforehand what you shall speak; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye. For it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost." In line 589 Trinity alone reads some for same.

597 a lymitour. A limiter was a friar or monk who had a specific ("limited") territory in which to beg alms. Chaucer's pilgrim Friar was a "lymytour" (CT I [A] 209).

600 Bagges and beggyng. Christ never explicitly prohibited begging; but see His advice from the Sermon on the Mount, quoted in the note to line 602 below. Archbishop FitzRalph distinguished between civil dominion (established by humans) and natural dominion (Christ's lordship, which regained the lordship that the first Adam lost). Because civil dominion (and hence private property) arose through Adam's Fall, property should not be sought after and acquired through "bags and begging." Mendicancy was thought to be all the more sinful when able-bodied men and women engaged in it, as detailed in lines 603-10 or in PP B-passus 6 and 7. See also JU lines 224-25: "for if a man suffice to hym silf bi goodis or bi strengthe, he synneth for to begge."

602 And all that nedly nedeth. See Matt. 6.25: "Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?"

612 That wepen for wykkednes. See Luke 6.21: "Blessed are ye that hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now, for you shall laugh." See also line 619.

614 And put all in pur clay, with pottes on her hedes. The meaning of this line is unclear, but the general sense seems to be that the friars, through their conduct, are virtual dead men, almost buried in clay. Skeat emends the Trinity MS's reading clay to clath, cloth, based on the 1553 edition.

618 terre powghe. The Glossary to the 1553 edition glosses "terre powghe" as "tar box."

626 his bed is ygreithed. The friar who fails to beg successfully will be slain.

629-30 blessed / That han mercy. See Matt. 5.7: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."

637 The clene hertes of Crist. See Matt. 5.8: "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God."

645 the pesible blissed. See Matt. 5.9: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

648-49 On the friar's volatile anger one is reminded of the outraged friar in Chaucer's Summoner's Tale, whose waspish wrath is, apart from his lechery, his dominant trait.

651 All the blissing. "They walk (i.e., live) without any of God's blessings." Beouten = OE butan, without, outside [of].

654 Thei han the benison of God. See Matt. 5.10: "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

657 Wat Brut. Walter Brute, a Welsh esquire, who questioned Church doctrines and who defended certain people charged with heresy until 1393.

659 hym. Skeat's emendation of hem (Trinity, Royal, 1553 edition, Wright). The antecedent is "Wat Brut" (line 657), hence hym is correct.

663 thei chewen charitie. The pun (eschew; chew; show) occurs likewise in Piers Plowman B 1.193: "Chewen hire charite and chiden after moore."

669 forbade. Trinity reads forladde, all others forbad or forbadde.

670 never the folke demen. See Matt. 7 for the issue of judgment.

677 schenden. Trinity reads schenden oþer schenden (= dittography); all others have shamen or schamen.

681 possessioners were beneficed or endowed clergymen who were allowed to have possessions. Fraternal rules prohibited the owning of property.

691 ante tronum. See Apoc. 4.10: "the twenty-four elders will fall down before him who sits upon the throne."

695-96 undernethen whijt . . . Blak. This is the habit of the Dominicans, black over white.

703 Hyldegare. Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1180), who predicted the corruptions of monastic orders. The pronoun in line 703 would more correctly be "ho" rather than "he," but there is no manuscript support for this emendation.

713-14 a pena . . . a culpa. "And completely absolved people both from punishment and blame." See Piers Plowman B 7.3: "And purchaced hym a pardoun a pena & a culpa."

719 Thei usen russet also. Franciscan friars, best known as the Greyfriars, also wore reddish-brown habits. See Piers Plowman B 15.167-68: "[Charite] . . . is as glad of a gowne of gray russet / As of a tunycle of tarse or of trie scarlet."

725 als. Trinity alone reads all for als.

726-28 And ryght as dranes. See the Summoner's Prologue, CT III (D) 1692-99, which compares friars to bees in a derogatory context.

729 furste-froyt. Chaucer's Summoner alludes to "firste fruyt" in an antifraternal context when the lord's squire explains that the friar, because of his pre-eminence, should first partake of the fart divided upon twelve. See CT III (D) 1271-86. Both here and in Chaucer the Pauline notion of "firstfruit" for God is perverted.

748-49 So of that begger's brol . . . prese to sitten. The issue of newly-advanced sons arises in Piers Plowman B, and in similar language. Lady Mede denounces Conscience by alluding to the hardships of the French wars: "I dorste haue leyd my lif and no lasse wedde / He sholde haue be lord of þat lond in lengþe and in brede, / And ek kyng of þat kiþ his kyn for to helpe, / The leeste brol of his blood a Barones piere" (B 3.202-05; cf. C 3.258-61). In his edition to Piers Plowman, Skeat directs to Promptorium parvulorum, s.v. "Breyel [for breþel?], Brollus, brolla, miserculus," i.e., little wretch, brat.

758 The word faytoures, meaning "deceivers" or "(false) beggars," appears several times coupled with freres in Piers Plowman B-text. See passus 10. 72: "Freres and faitours han founden vp swiche questions." See also John A. Alford, Piers Plowman: A Glossary of Legal Diction (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1988), s.v. Faitour.

773 But scheten. The idea here is that women should give careful consideration before inviting friars into their homes. See also Harry Bailly's admonition against bringing monks into your home: CT VII (B2) 442.

788 wolward gon. Wear wool clothing without benefit of linen to mitigate the rough fabric. See Piers Plowman B 18.1.

801 That. Trinity alone reads It.

808 And fet oute our formfaderes. A reference to Christ's Harrowing of Hell to save the virtuous pagans. The issue of the virtuous pagans was important in the late fourteenth century. See Piers Plowman B 11.140-66, 12.210-17, 18.261-423.

816 generall Holy Chirche. The Catholic, universal Church, as opposed to those aspects of the Church that require reform.

817-21 These lines are recorded only in the 1553 edition. Wright prints them (his lines 1629-38); and Skeat prints them in brackets and in italics, since he believed they were spurious.

822-23 sothfast God on is. The author here affirms the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist: that Christ is truly present, "fully" His flesh and blood.

827-28 Lat the losels alone . . . nede worthe. Lines 827 and 828 do not occur in the 1553 edition, which prints five lines that Skeat regarded as spurious. Skeat surmises that the editor of the 1553 edition deleted the reference to Christ's presence in the communion for doctrinal reasons, and inserted a penitential passage to cover up for the omission.

828-30 These lines are lacking in the 1553 edition and in Wright's edition.

833 of. Trinity alone reads or.

838 ben. Trinity reads þen, which makes no sense. The 1553 edition, Wright, and Skeat have ben, Royal bene.

839 no. Trinity alone reads on, which seems to be anticipation of on his pild pate.

Cros, and curteis Crist, this begynnynge spede,
For the Faderes frendchipe, that fourmede hevene,
And thorugh the speciall Spirit that sprong of hem tweyne, 1
And alle in on godhed endles dwelleth.
A and all myn A-B-C after have I lerned,
And patred in my Pater Noster iche poynt after other,
And after all myn Ave Marie almost to the ende.
But al my kare is to comen, for I can nohght my Crede. 2
Whan I schal schewen myn schrift, schent mote I worthen: 3
The prest wil me punyche, and penaunce enjoyne.
The lengthe of a Lenten, flech moot I leve
After that Estur ys ycomen, and that is hard fare;
And Wedenesday iche wyke withouten flech-mete.
And also Jesu hymself to the Jewes he seyde:
"He that leeveth nought on me, he leseth the blisse."
Therfor lerne the byleve levest me were, 4
And if any werldly wight wille me couthe,
Other lewed or lered, that lyveth therafter, 5
And fulliche folweth the feyth, and feyneth non other,
That no worldliche wele wilneth no tyme,
But lyveth in lovynge of God, and His lawe holdeth,
And for no getynge of good never his God greveth,
But followth Him the full wey, as He the folke taughte.
But to many maner of men this matter is asked,
Bothe to lered and to lewed, that seyn that they leveden 6
Hollich on the grete God, and holden alle His hestes.
But by a fraynyng forthan faileth ther manye.
For first I fraynede the freres, and they me fulle tolden,
That alle the frute of the fayth was in here foure ordres,
And cofres of Cristendam, and the keye bothen,
And the lok of beleve lyeth in her hondes.
   Thenne wende I to wyten, and with a whight I mette,
A Menoure in a morow-tide, and to this man I saide:
"Sire, for grete God's love, the graith thou me telle --
Of what myddelerde man myghte I best lerne
My Crede? For I can it nought, my kare is the more;
And therfore, for Cristes love, thi councell I praie.
A Carm me hath ycovenaunt the Crede me to teche. 7
But for thou knowest Carmes well, thi counsaile I aske."
   This Menour loked on me, and lawghyng he seyde,
"Leve Cristen man, I leve that thou madde!
Whough schulde thei techen the God, that con not hemselve? 8
Thei ben but jugulers and japers, of kynde,
Lorels and lechures, and lemmans holden.
Neyther in order ne out, but unnethe lybbeth,
And byjapeth the folke with gestes of Rome.
It is but a faynt folk, ifounded upon japes,
Thei maken hem Maries men -- so thei men tellen --
And lieth on our Ladie many a longe tale.
And that wicked folke wymmen bitraieth,
And bigileth hem of her good with glaverynge wordes,
And therwith holden her hous in harlotes werkes.
And, so save me God, I hold it grete synne
To gyven hem any good, swiche glotones to fynde,
To maynteyne swiche maner men that mychel good destruyeth.
Yet seyn they in here sutilte to sottes in townes,
They comen out of Carmeli Crist for to followen,
And feyneth hem with holynes, that yvele hem bisemeth.
Thei lyven more in lecherie and lieth in her tales
Than suen any god liife -- but lyrken in her selles,
And wynnen werldliche god, and wasten it in synne.
And yif thei couthen her Crede other on Crist leveden,
Thei weren nought so hardie swich harlotri usen. 9
Sikerli I can nought fynden who hem first founded,
But the foles foundeden hemself, Freres of the Pye,
And maken hem mendynauns, and marre the puple.
But what glut of the gomes may any good kachen, 10
He will kepen it hymself, and cofren it faste,
And theigh his felawes fayle good, for him he may sterven. 11
Her money may biquest and testament maken,
And no obedience bere, but don as hym luste.
And ryght as Robertes men raken aboute
At feires and at ful ales, and fyllen the cuppe,
And precheth all of pardon to plesen the puple.
Her pacience is all pased and put out to ferme, 12
And pride is in her poverte, that litell is to preisen. 13
And at the lulling of oure Ladye, the wymmen to lyken, 14
And miracles of mydwyves, and maken wymmen to wenen
That the lace of oure Ladie smok lighteth hem of children. 15
Thei ne prechen nought of Powel, ne penaunce for synne,
But all of mercy and mensk that Marie may helpen.
With sterne staves and stronge they over lond straketh
Thider as her lemmans liggeth, and lurketh in townes,
Grey grete-hedede quenes with gold by the eighen,
And seyn that her sustren thei ben that sojourneth aboute;
And thus about they gon and Godes folke bytraieth.
It is the puple that Powell preched of in his tyme.
He seyde of swich folk that so aboute wente,
`Wepyng, I warne yow of walkers aboute.
It beth enemyes of the Cros, that Crist upon tholede.
Swich slomerers in slepe slauthe is her ende,
And glotony is her god, with gloppyng of drynk,
And gladnes in glees, and gret joye ymaked;
In the schendyng of swiche schall mychel folk lawghe.'
Therfore, frend, for thi feyth, fond to don betere,
Leve nought on tho losels, but let hem forth pasen,
For thei ben fals in her feith, and fele mo othere."
   "Alas! frere," quath I tho, "my purpos is i-failed,
Now is my counfort a-cast; canstou no bote,
Where I myghte meten with a man that myghte me wissen
For to conne my Crede, Crist for to folwen?"
   "Certeyne, felawe," quath the frere, "withouten any faile.
Of all men opon mold we Menures most scheweth
The pure Apostells life, with penance on erthe,
And suen hem in saunctite, and suffren well harde.
We haunten none tavernes ne hobelen aboute;
At marketts and myracles we medleth us nevere.
We hondlen no money but menelich faren,
And haven hunger at the meate, at ich a mel ones;
And haven forsaken the worlde and in wo lybbeth
In penaunce and poverte, and precheth the puple,
By ensample of oure life, soules to helpen;
And in povertie praien for all oure parteners
That gyveth us any good, God to honouren,
Other bell other booke, or breed to our fode,
Other catell other cloth to coveren with our bones,
Money or money-worthe -- here mede is in heven.
For we buldeth a burwgh, a brod and a large,
A chirche and a chapaile with chambers alofte,
With wide windowes ywrought and walles well heye
That mote bene portreid and paynt and pulched ful clene 16
With gaie glittering glas, glowing as the sonne.
And myghtestou amenden us with money of thyn owne, 17
Thou chuldest cnely bifore Crist, in compas of gold,
In the wide windowe westwarde, wel nighe in the myddell,
And Seynt Fraunces himself schall folden the in his cope,
And presente the to the Trynitie, and praie for thy synnes.
Thy name schall noblich ben wryten and wrought for the nones;
And, in remembraunce of the, yrade the forever.
And, brother, be thou nought aferd. Bythenk in thyn herte,
Though thou conne nought thi Crede, kare thou no more.
I schal asoilen the, syre, and setten it on my soule,
And thou maie maken this good, thenk thou non other."
   "Sire," I saide, "in certaine I schal gon and asaye" --
And he sette on me his honde, and asoilede me clene,
And their I parted him fro, withouten any peine;
In covenant that I come agen, Crist he me betaughte. 18
Thanne saide I to myself: "Here semeth litel trewthe.
First to blamen his brother, and bacbyten him foule,
Theire-as curteis Crist clereliche saide,
`Whow myght-tou in thine brother eighe a bare mote loken, 19
And in thyn owen eighe nought a bem toten?
See fyrst on thiself, and sithen on another,
And clense clene thi syght, and kepe well thyn eighe,
And for another mannes eighe ordeyne after."' 20
And also I sey Coveitise catel to fongen,
That Crist hath clerliche forboden and clenliche destruede,
And saide to his sueres forsothe on this wise:
`Nought thi neighbours good covet yn no tyme.'
But Charite and Chastete ben chased out clene,
But Crist seide, `by her fruyt men shall hem ful knowen."'
Thanne saide I, "Certeyn, sire, thou demest full trewe."
   Thanne thought I to frayne the first of this foure ordirs,
And presede to the Prechoures to proven here wille.
Ich highede to her house to herken of more;
And whan I cam to that court I gaped aboute.
Swich a bild bold, ybuld opon erthe heighte
Say I nought in certeine siththe a longe tyme.
I yemede upon that house and yerne theron loked
Whough the pileres weren ypeynt and pulched ful clene,
And queynteli icorven with curiouse knottes,
With wyndowes well ywrought wide up o-lofte.
And thanne I entrid in, and even-forth went,
And all was walled that wone, though it wide were,
With posternes in pryvytie, to pasen when hem liste; 21
Orcheyardes and erberes evesed well clene,
And a curious cros craftly entayled,
With tabernacles ytight to toten all abouten. 22
The pris of a plough-lond, of penyes so rounde,
To aparaile that pyler were pure lytel. 23
   Thanne I munte me forth the mynstre to knowen,
And awaytede a woon, wonderlie well ybeld, 24
With arches on everiche half and belliche ycorven,
With crochetes on corners, with knottes of golde,
Wyde wyndowes ywrought, ywritten full thikke,
Schynen with schapen scheldes to schewen aboute,
With merkes of marchauntes ymedled bytwene,
Mo than twenty and two twyes ynoumbred.
Ther is none heraud that hath half swich a rolle,
Right as a rageman hath rekned hem newe.
Tombes opon tabernacles tyld opon lofte,
Housed in hirnes harde set abouten,
Of armede alabaustre, clad for the nones, 25
Made upon marbel in many maner wyse,
Knyghtes in her conisantes, clad for the nones,
All it semed seyntes ysacred opon erthe;
And lovely ladies ywrought leyen by her sydes
In many gay garmentes that were gold-beten.
Though the tax of ten yer were trewly ygadered,
Nolde it nought maken that hous half, as I trowe. 26
Thanne kam I to that cloister and gaped abouten
Whough it was pilered and peynt and portred well clene,
All yhyled with leed, lowe to the stones,
And ypaved with peynt til, iche poynte after other;
With kundites of clene tyn closed all aboute,
With lavoures of latun lovelyche ygreithed. 27
I trowe the gaynage of the ground in a gret schire
Nolde aparaile that place, oo poynt til other ende. 28
Thanne was the chaptire hous wrought as a greet chirche,
Corven and covered and queyntliche entayled,
With semliche selure yset on lofte,
As a Parlement hous ypeynted aboute.
Thanne ferd I into fraytour, and fond ther an other,
An halle for an heygh kinge, an housholde to holden,
With brode bordes aboute, ybenched wel clene, 29
With windowes of glas, wrought as a chirche.
Thanne walkede I ferrer and went all abouten,
And seigh halles full hyghe and houses full noble,
Chambers with chymneyes, and chapells gaie;
And kychens for an hyghe kinge in castells to holden;
And her dortour ydighte with dores ful stronge;
Fermery and fraitur, with fele mo houses,
And all strong ston wall sterne opon heithe,
With gaie garites and grete, and iche hole yglased;
And othere houses ynowe to herberwe the quene.
And yet thise bilderes wilne beggen a bagg-ful of wheate
Of a pure pore man, that maie onethe paie
Half his rente in a yer, and half ben behynde.
   Thanne turned I agen, whan I hadde all ytoted,
And fond in a freitour a frere on a benche,
A greet cherl and a grym, growen as a tonne, 30
With a face as fat as a full bledder
Blowen bretfull of breth, and as a bagge honged
On bothen his chekes, and his chyn with a chol lollede
As greet as a gos eye growen all of grece,
That all wagged his fleche as a quyk myre.
His cope that biclypped him wel clene was it folden, 31
Of double worstede ydyght doun to the hele.
His kyrtel of clene whijt clenlyche ysewed;
Hyt was good ynow of ground greyn for to beren. 32
   I haylsede that herdeman, and hendliche I saide:
"Gode syre, for Godes love, canstou me graith tellen
To any worthely wijght that wissen me couthe
Whou I schulde conne me Crede, Crist for to folowe,
That levede lelliche himself, and lyvede therafter,
That feynede non falshede, but fully Crist suwede?
For sich a certeyn man syker wold I trosten,
That he wolde telle me the trewthe and turne to none other.
And an Austyn this ender daie egged me faste; 33
That he wolde techen me wel he plyght me his treuthe,
And seyde me, `serteyne, sythen Crist died,
Oure ordir was yvelles and erst yfounde."'
   "Fyrst, felawe," quath he, "fy on his pilche!
He is but abortijf, eked with cloutes.
He holdeth his ordynaunce withe hores and theves,
And purchaseth hem pryvileges with penyes so rounde.
It is a pur pardoner's craft -- prove and asaye!
For have thei thi money a moneth therafter,
Certes, theigh thou come agen, he nyl the nought knowen.
But, felawe, our foundement was first of the othere,
And we ben founded fulliche, withouten fayntise;
And we ben clerkes ycnowen, cunnynge in scole,
Proved by procession, by processe of lawe.
Of oure ordre ther beth bichopes wel manye,
Seyntes on sundry stedes that suffreden harde;
And we ben proved the prijs of popes at Rome,
And of gretest degre, as godspelles telleth."
   "A, syre," quath I thanne, "thou seyst a gret wonder,
Sithen Crist seyd Hymself to all His disciples:
`Which of you that is most, most schal he werche,
And who is goer byforne, first schal he serven,'
And seyde, `He sawe Satan sytten full heyghe,
And ful lowe ben yleyd.' In lyknes He tolde
That in povernesse of spyrit is spedfullest hele,
And hertes of heynesse harmeth the soule.
And therfore, frere, fare well. Here fynde I but pride.
I preise nought thi preching but as a pure myte."
   And angerliche I wandrede, the Austyns to prove,
And mette with a maister of tho men, and meklich I seyde:
"Maister, for the moder love that Marie men kalleth,
Knowest thou ought, ther thou comest, a creature on erthe,
That coude me my Crede teche and trewliche enfourme,
Withouten flaterynge fare, and nothing feyne?
That folweth fulliche the feith and none other fables,
Withouten gabbynge of glose, as the godspelles telleth?
A Menour hath me holly byhyght to helen my soule,
For he seith that her sekte is sykerest on erthe,
And ben keperes of the keye that Cristendome helpeth,
And purliche in poverte the apostells they suweth."
   "Alas!" quath the frier, "almost I madde in mynde,
To sen hough this Minoures many men begyleth!
Sothli, somme of tho gomes hath more good himselve 34
Than ten knyghtes that I knowe of catell in cofers.
In fraytour thei faren best of all the foure orders,
And usen ypocricie in all that they werchen,
And prechen all of parfitnes; -- but loke now, I the praye,
Nought but profre hem in pryvite a peny for a masse,
And, but his cnave be prest, put out myne eighe, 35
Though he hadde more money hid than marchauntes of wolle!
Loke hough this loresmen lordes bytrayen,
Seyn that they folwen fully Fraunceses rewle,
That in cotynge of his cope is more cloth yfolden
Than was in Fraunces froc, whan he hem first made.
And yet, under that cope, a cote hathe he furred
With foyns, or with fitchewes, other fyn bever, 36
And that is cutted to the kne, and queyntly ybotend,
Lest any spirituall man aspie that gile.
Fraunces bad his bretheren barfote to wenden.
Nou han thei bucled schon for bleynynge of her heles, 37
And hosen in harde weder, yhamled by the ancle,
And spicerie sprad in her purse to parten where hem lust.
Lordes loveth hem well, for thei so lowe crouchen;
But knewen men her cautel and her queynt wordes, 38
Thei wolden worchypen hem nought but a litel,
The image of ypocricie, ymped upon fendes.
But, sone, yif thou wilte ben syker, seche thou no ferther.
We friers be the first, and founded upon treuthe.
Paul, primus heremite, put us himselve
Awey into wildernes, the werlde to dispisen;
And there we lengden full longe, and lyveden full harde,
Forto all this freren folke weren founded in townes
And taughten untrulie -- and that we well aspiede.
And for chefe charitie, we chargeden us selven;
In amending of this men we maden oure celles
To ben in cyties yset, to styghtle the people,
Preching and praying, as profetes schulden.
And so we holden us the heved of all Holy Chirche.
We have power of the pope purliche assoilen
All that helpen our hous, in helpe of her soules,
To dispensen hem with in dedes of her synne --
All that amendeth oure hous, in money other elles,
With corne, other catell, or clothes of beddes,
Other bedys or broche, or breed for our fode.
And yif thou hast any good, and wilt thiself helpen,
Helpe us herteliche therwith; and here I undertake
Thou schalt ben brother of our hous, and a boke habben,
At the next chaptire, clereliche ensealed;
And thanne oure Provinciall hath power to assoilen
Alle sustren and bretheren that beth of our order.
And though thou conne nought thi Crede, knele downe here.
My soule I sette for thyn to asoile the clene,
In covenaunt that thou come againe and katell us bringe."
   And thanne loutede I adoun, and he me leve grauntede,
And so I partid him fro and the frere left.
Thanne seid I to myself, "Here is no bote!
Heere pride is the Pater Noster, in preyinge of synne;
Here Crede is coveytise, now can I no ferther.
Yet will I fonden forth and fraynen the Karmes."
   Thanne totede I into a taverne, and ther I aspyede
Two frere Karmes with a full coppe.
There I auntrede me in, and aisliche I seide:
"Leve syre, for the Lordes love that thou on levest,
Lere me to som man, my Crede for to lerne,
That lyveth in leel lijf and loveth no synne,
And gloseth nought the godspell, but halt Godes hestys,
And nether money ne mede ne may him naught letten,
But werchen after Godes worde, withouten any faile.
A Prechour yprofessed hath plight me his trewthe 39
To techen me trewlie; but woldest thou me tellen
For thei ben certayne men and syker on to trosten, 40
I wolde quyten the thi mede, as my mighte were." 41
   "A trefle!" quath he, "trewlie, his treuth is full litell.
He dyned nought with Domynike sithe Crist deide!
For with the princes of pride the Prechours dwellen.
Thei bene as digne as the devel that droppeth fro hevene.
With hertes of heynesse wough halwen thei chirches 42
And deleth in devynitie, as dogges doth bones.
Thei medleth with messages and mariages of grete; 43
They leeven with lordes, with lesynges ynowe;
They biggeth hem bichopryches with bagges of golde;
Thei wilneth worchipes; but waite on her dedes. 44
Herken at Herdforthe hou that they werchen,
And loke whou that thei lyven and leeve as thou fyndest. 45
They beyn counseilours of kinges, Crist wot the sothe,
Whou they curry kinges and her back claweth.
God leve hem leden well in lyvinge of heven,
And glose hem nought for her good to greven her soules.
I pray the, where ben thei pryve with any pore wightes,
That maie not amenden her hous ne amenden hemselven?
Thei prechen in proude harte and preiseth her order,
And werdliche worchype wilneth in erthe.
Leeve it well, lef man, and men ryght lokede, 46
Ther is more pryve pride in Prechours' hertes
Than ther lefte in Lucyfer er he were lowe fallen.
They ben digne as dich water that dogges in bayteth. 47
Loke a ribaut of hem that can nought wel reden
His Rewle and his Respondes but be pure rote,
Als as he were a connynge clerke he casteth the lawes,
Nought lowli but lordly, and leesinges lyeth.
For ryght as Menoures most ypocricie useth,
Ryght so ben Prechers proude purlyche in herte.
But, Cristen creatour, we Karmes first comen
Even in Elyes tyme, first of hem all,
And lyven by our Lady and lelly hir serven
In clene comun life; kepen us out of synne,
Nowt proude as Prechours beth, but prayen full still
For all the soules and the lyves that we by lybbeth.
We connen on no queyntyse -- Crist wot the sothe --
But bysieth us in oure bedes, as us best holdeth.
And therfore, leve leel man, leeve that ich sygge,
A masse of us mene men is of more mede
And passeth all praiers of thies proude freers.
And thou wilt gyven us any good, I would the here graunten
To taken all thy penance in peril of my soule;
And though thou conne nought thy Crede, clene the assoile,
So that thou mowe amenden our hous with money other elles, 48
With some katell, other corne, or cuppes of silver."
   "Trewely, frere," quath I tho, "to tellen the the sothe,
Ther is no peny in my palke to payen for my mete.
I have no good ne no gold, but go thus abouten,
And travaile full trewly to wynnen withe my fode.
But woldest thou, for Godes love, lerne me my Crede,
I schulde don for thy will whan I wele hadde."
   "Trewlie," quath the frere, "a fol I the holde!
Thou woldest not weten thy fote and woldest fich kacchen!
Our pardon and oure preiers so beth they nought parted;
Oure power lasteth nought so feer, but we some peny fongen.
Fare well," quath the frere, "for I mot hethen fonden,
And hyen to an houswife that hath us bequethen
Ten pounde in hir testament, to tellen the sothe.
Ho draweth to the dethe-warde, but yet I am in drede
Lest ho turne her testament; and therfore I hyghe
To haven hir to our hous and henten, yif I mighte,
An anuell for myn owen use, to helpen to clothe."
   "Godys forbode," quath his fellawe, "but ho forth passe 49
Wil ho is in purpose with us to departen. 50
God let her no lenger lyven, for letteres ben manye." 51
   Thanne turned I me forthe and talked to myselve
Of the falshede of this folk, whou feithles they werne.
And as I wente be the waie, wepynge for sorowe,
And seigh a sely man me by, opon the plow hongen. 52
His cote was of a cloute that cary was ycalled,
His hod was full of holes, and his heer oute,
With his knopped schon clouted full thykke. 53
His ton toteden out as he the londe treddede,
His hosen overhongen his hokschynes on everiche a side,
Al beslombred in fen as he the plow folwede. 54
Twey myteynes, as mete, maad all of cloutes; 55
The fyngers weren forwerd and ful of fen honged.
This whit waselede in the fen almost to the ancle,
Foure rotheren hym byforn that feble were worthen.
Men myghte reken ich a ryb, so reufull they weren.
His wijf walked him with, with a longe gode,
In a cutted cote, cutted full heyghe,
Wrapped in a wynwe schete to weren hire fro weders, 56
Barfote on the bare ijs, that the blode folwede.
And at the londes ende laye a litell crom-bolle,
And theron lay a litell childe lapped in cloutes,
And tweyne of tweie yeres olde opon another syde,
And alle they songen o songe, that sorwe was to heren;
They crieden alle o cry, a carefull note.
The sely man sighede sore and seide, "Children, beth stille!"
   This man loked opon me, and leet the plow stonden,
And seyde, "Sely man, why syghest thou so harde?
Yif the lakke lijflode, lene the ich will
Swich good as God hath sent. Go we, leve brother."
   I saide thanne, "Naye, sire, my sorwe is wel more,
For I can nought my Crede, I kare well harde.
For I can fynden no man that fully byleveth
To techen me the heyghe weie, and therfore I wepe.
For I have fonded the freres of the foure orders,
For there I wende have wist, but now my wit lakketh; 57
And all my hope was on hem, and myn herte also.
But thei ben fully feithles, and the fend sueth."
   "A, brother," quath he tho, "beware of tho foles!
For Crist seyde Himselfe `of swich I you warne,'
And false profetes in the feith He fulliche hem calde,
'In vestimentis ovium, but onlie withinne
Thei ben wilde wer-wolves that wiln the folk robben.'
The fend founded hem first the feith to destroie,
And by his craft thei comen in to combren the Chirche,
By the coveitise of his craft the curates to helpen.
But now they haven an hold, they harmen full many.
Thei don nought after Domynick, but dreccheth the puple,
Ne folwen nought Fraunces, but falslyche lybben,
And Austynes rewle thei rekneth but a fable,
But purchaseth hem pryvylege of popes at Rome.
Thei covetun confessions to kachen some hire, 58
And sepultures also, some wayten to cacchen. 59
But other cures of Cristen thei coveten nought to have,
But there as wynnynge lijth -- he loketh none other." 60
   "Whough schal I nemne thy name that neighboures the kalleth?" 61
   "Peres," quath he, "the pore man, the plowe-man I hatte."
   "A, Peres," quath I tho, "I pray the, thou me telle
More of thise tryflers, hou trechurly thei libbeth?
For ichon of hem hath told me a tale of that other,
Of her wicked lijf, in werlde that hy lybbeth.
I trowe that some wikked wyght wroughte this orders
Thorughe that gleym of that gest that Golias is ycalde, 62
Other ells Satan himself sente hem fro hell
To cumbren men with her craft, Cristendome to schenden?"
   "Dere brother," quath Peres, "the devell is ful queynte.
To encombren Holy Churche he casteth ful harde,
And fluricheth his falsnes opon fele wise,
And fer he casteth to-forn, the folke to destroye. 63
Of the kynrede of Caym he caste the freres,
And founded hem on Farysens, feyned for gode.
But thei with her fals faith michel folk schendeth;
Crist calde hem Himself `kynde ypocrites.'
How often He cursed heme, well can I tellen.
He seide ones Himself to that sory puple:
`Wo worthe you, wyghtes, wel lerned of the lawe!'
Eft he seyde to hemselfe, `Wo mote you worthen,
That the toumbes of profetes tildeth up heighe!
Youre faderes fordeden hem and to the deth hem broughte.'
Here I touche this two, twynnen hem I thenke, 64
Who wilneth ben wisere of lawe than lewde freres,
And in multitude of men ben `Maysters' ycalled,
And wilneth worchips of the werlde, and sitten with heye,
And leveth lovynge of God and lowness behinde.
And in beldinge of tombes thei travaileth grete
To chargen her chirche-flore, and chaungen it ofte.
And the fader of the freers defouled hir soules --
That was the dygginge devel that dreccheth men ofte.
The divill by his dotage dissaveth the Chirche,
And put in the Prechours, ypaynted withouten.
And by his queyntise they comen in, the curates to helpen,
But that harmede hem harde, and halp hem full litell!
But Austines ordynaunce was on a good trewthe,
And also Domynikes dedes weren dervelich y-used,
And Frauncis founded his folke fulliche on trewthe,
Pure parfit prestes, in penaunce to lybben,
In love and in lownesse, and lettinge of pride,
Grounded on the godspell, as God bad Himselve.
But now the glose is so greit in gladding tales
That turneth up two-folde, unteyned opon trewthe,
That thei bene cursed of Crist, I can hem well prove;
Withouten His blissinge, bare beth they in her werkes.
For Crist seyde Himselfe to swiche as Him folwede:
`Yblessed mote thei ben that mene ben in soule.'
And alle povere in gost God Himself blisseth.
Whou fele freers fareth so, fayn wolde I knowe.
Prove hem in proces, and pynch at her ordre, 65
And deme hem after that they don; and dredles, I leve
Thei willn wexon pure wroth wonderliche sone,
And schewen the a scharp will in a schort tyme,
To wilne wilfully wraththe, and werk therafter.
Wytnesse on Wycliff, that warned hem with trewthe:
For he in goodnesse of gost graythliche hem warned
To wayven her wikednesse and werkes of synne.
Whou sone this sory men seweden his soule,
And overal lollede him with heretykes werkes!
And so of the blessinge of God thei bereth litel mede.
Afterward another onliche He blissede,
The meke of the myddel herth thorugh myght of His Fader.
Fynd foure freres in a flok that folweth that rewle,
Thanne have I tynt al my tast, touche, and assaie! 66
Lakke hem a litil wight, and here lijf blame, 67
But he lepe up on heigh, in hardynesse of herte,
And nemne the anon nought, and thi name lakke 68
With proude wordes apert that passeth his rule,
Bothe with `thou leyest,' and `thou lext,' in heynesse of sowle, 69
And turne as a tyrant that turmenteth himselve.
A lord were lothere for to leyne a knave 70
Thanne swiche a beggere, the beste in a toun.
Loke now, leve man: beth nought thise i-lyke
Fully to be Farisens in fele of thise poyntes.
Al her brod beldyng ben belded withe synne,
And in worchipe of the werlde her wynnynge thei holden.
Thei schapen her chapolories, and streccheth hem brode,
And launceth heighe her hemmes, with babelyng in stretes;
Thei ben ysewed with whight silk, and semes full queynte, 71
Ystongen with stiches that stareth as silver.
And but freres ben first yset at sopers and at festes,
Thei wiln ben wonderly wroth, ywis, as I trowe.
But they ben at the lordes borde, louren they willeth,
He mot bygynne that borde a beggere (with sorwe!)
And first sitten in se in her synagoges --
That beth here heyghe helle-hous, of Kaymes kynde!
For though a man in her mynster a masse wolde heren,
His sight schal so be set on sundry werkes,
The penounes and the pomels and poyntes of scheldes
Withdrawen his devocion, and dusken his herte.
I likne it to a lym-yerde to drawen men to hell
And to worchipe of the fend, to wraththen the soules.
And also Crist Himselfe seide to swiche ypocrites:
`He loveth in markettes ben met with gretynges of povere, 72
And lowynge of lewed men in Lentnes tyme.'
For thei han of Bichopes ybought with her propre silver,
And purchased of penaunce the puple to assoile.
But money may maken mesur of the peyne,
After that his power is to payen, his penance schal faile.
God lene it be a good help for hele of the soules! 73
And also this myster men ben `Maysters' i-called,
That the gentill Iesus generallyche blamed,
And that poynt to his Apostells purly defended.
But freres haven forgetten this -- and the fend suweth,
He that maystri lovede, Lucifer the olde --
Wher Fraunceis or Domynik other Austen ordeynide
Any of this dotardes doctur to worthe,
Masters of Dyvinitie, her matens to leve,
And chereliche as a cheveteyne his chambre to holden 74
With chymene and chapell, and chesen whan him liste,
And served as a sovereine, and as a lorde sitten.
Swiche a gome Godes wordes grysliche gloseth.
I trowe he toucheth nought the text, but taketh it for a tale.
God forbad to His folke and fullyche defended
They schulden nought stodyen biforn, ne sturen her wittes,
But sodenlie the same word with her mowth schewe
That weren yeven hem of God thorugh Gost of Himselve.
Now mot a frere studyen and stumblen in tales,
And leven his matynes and no masse singen,
And loken hem lesynges that liketh the puple, 75
To purchasen him his pursfull to paye for the drynke.
And, brother, when bernes ben full and holly tyme passed,
Thanne comen cursed freres, and croucheth full lowe;
A losel, a lymitour, over all the lond lepeth,
And loke that he leve non house that somwhat he ne lacche; 76
And ther thei gilen hemself and Godes worde turneth.
Bagges and beggyng He bad His folk leven,
And only serven Himself and Hijs rewle sechen,
And all that nedly nedeth, that schuld hem nought lakken.
Whereto beggen thise men and ben nought so feble --
Hem faileth no furrynge, ne clothes at full -- 77
But for a lustfull lijf, in lustes to dwellen?
Withouten any travaile, untrewliche lybbeth:
Hy beth nought maymed men, ne no mete lakketh,
Yclothed in curious cloth, and clenliche arayed.
It is a laweles lijf, as lordynges usen,
Neyther ordeyned in ordir but onlie libbeth. 78
Crist bad blissen bodies on erthe
That wepen for wykkednes that he byforne wroughte.
That ben fewe of tho freres, for thei ben ner dede
And put all in pur clay, with pottes on her hedes;
Thanne he waryeth and wepeth and wicheth after heven,
And fyeth on her falshedes that thei bifore deden.
And therfore of that blissinge, trewlie, as I trowe,
Thei may trussen her part in a terre powghe! 79
All tho blissed beth that bodyliche hungreth --
That ben the pore penyles, that han overpassed
The poynt of her pris lijf in penaunce of werkes, 80
And mown nought swynken ne sweten, but ben swythe feble,
Other maymed at myschef, or meseles syke, 81
And here good is a-gon, and greveth hem to beggen. 82
Ther is no frer in feith that fareth in this wise;
But he maie beggen his bred, his bed is ygreithed.
Under a pot he schal be put, in a pryvie chambre,
That he schal lyven ne last but litell while after.
Almighti God and man the merciable blessed
That han mercy on men that misdon hem here.
But whoso forgabbed a frere yfounden at the stues
And broughte blod of his bodi on bak or on side,
Hym were as god greven a greit lorde of rentes. 83
He schulde sonner bene schryven, schortlie to tellen,
Though he kilde a comlye knyght and compased his morther, 84
Thanne a buffet to beden a beggere frere.
The clene hertes of Crist He curteysliche blissed,
That covetyne no katel but Cristes full blisse,
That leeveth fulliche on God and lellyche thenketh
On His lore and His lawe, and lyveth opon trewthe.
Freres han forgeten this and folweth an other:
That thei may henten, they holden, byhirneth it sone.
Heir hertes ben clene yhid in her highe cloistre, 85
As kurres from kareyne that is cast in dyches.
And parfite Crist the pesible blissed,
That bene suffrant and sobre, and susteyne anger.
Asay of her sobernesse and thou might yknowen
Ther is no waspe in this werlde that will wilfullokr styngen
For stappyng on a too of a stynkande frere!
For nether sovereyn ne soget thei ne suffreth never.
All the blissing of God beouten thei walken,
For of her suffraunce, for sothe, men seth but litell!
Alle that persecution in pure lijf suffren,
Thei han the benison of God blissed in erthe.
I praie, parceyve now the pursut of a frere,
In what measure of meknesse thise men deleth.
Byhold opon Wat Brut, whou bisiliche thei pursueden
For he seyde hem the sothe, and yet, syre, ferthere,
Hy may no more marren hym; but men telleth
That he is an heretike, and yvele byleveth,
And prechith it in pulpit to blenden the puple.
Thei wolden awryien that wight for his well dedes;
And so thei chewen charitie as chewen schaf houndes.
And thei pursueth the povere, and passeth pursutes,
Bothe thei wiln and thei wolden yworthen so grete
To passen any mans might to mortheren the soules.
First to brenne the bodye in a bale of fijr,
And sythen the sely soule slen, and senden hyre to helle.
And Crist clerlie forbade his Cristene, and defended,
Thei schulden nought after the face never the folke demen." 86
   "Sur," I seide myself, "thou semest to blamen.
Why dispisest thou thus thise sely pore freres,
None other men so mychel, monkes ne preistes,
Chanons ne Charthous, that in Chirche serveth?
It semeth that thise sely men han somwhat the greved
Other with word or with werke, and therfore thou wilnest
To schenden other schamen hem with thi sharpe speche,
And harmen holliche, and her hous greven."
   "I praie the," quath Peres, "put that out of thy mynde.
Certen for sowle hele I saie the this wordes.
I preise nought possessioners but pur lytel;
For falshed of freres hath fulliche encombred
Many of this maner men, and maid hem to leven
Here charite and chastete, and schosen hem to lustes,
And waxen to werldly, and wayven the trewthe,
And leven the love of her God, and the werlde serven.
But for falshed of freres I fele in my soule
(Seynge the synfull lijf) that sorweth myn herte
How thei ben clothed in cloth that clennest scheweth;
For aungells and arcangells all thei whijt useth,
And alle aldermen that bene ante tronum.
Thise tokens haven freres taken; but I trowe that a fewe
Folwen fully that cloth, but falsliche that useth.
For whijt in trowthe bytokneth clennes in soule;
Yif he have undernethen whijt, thanne he above wereth
Blak, that bytokneth bale for oure synne,
And mournynge for misdede of hem that this useth,
And serwe for synfull lijf -- so that cloth asketh.
I trowe ther ben nought ten freres that for synne wepen,
For that lijf is here lust, and theryn thei libben
In fraitour and in fermori; her fostringe is synne.
It is her mete at iche a mel her most sustenaunce.
Herkne opon Hyldegare, hou homliche he telleth
How her sustenaunce is synne; and syker, as I trowe,
Weren her confessiones clenli destrued,
Hy schulde nought beren hem so bragg, ne helden so heyghe,
For the fallynge of synne socoureth tho foles,
And bigileth the grete with glaverynge wordes.
With glosinge of godspells thei God's worde turneth,
And pasen all the pryvylege that Petur after used.
The power of the Apostells thei pasen in speche,
For to sellen the synnes for silver other mede,
And purlyche a pena the puple assoileth,
And a culpa also, that they may kachen
Money other money-worthe, and mede to fonge,
And bene at lone and at bode, as burgeses usithe. 87
Thus they serven Satanas, and soules bigileth,
Marchantes of malisons, mansede wreches!
Thei usen russet also, somme of this freres,
That bitokneth travaile and trewthe opon erthe.
Bote loke whou this lorels labouren the erthe,
But freten the frute that the folk full lellich biswynketh.
With travail of trewe men thei tymbren her houses,
And of the curious clothe her copes thei biggen;
And als his getynge is greet, he schal ben good holden,
And ryght as dranes doth nought but drynketh up the huny,
Whan been withe her bysynesse han brought it to the hepe,
Right so fareth freres with folke opon erthe:
They freten up the furste-froyt and falsliche lybbeth.
But alle freres eten nought ylich good mete,
But after that his wynnynge is, is his well-fare;
And after that he bringeth home, his bed schal ben graythed,
And after that his rychesse is raught he schal ben redy served.
But see thiself in thi sight, whou somme of hem walketh
With cloutede schon and clothes ful feble,
Wel neigh forwerd, and the wlon offe;
And his felawe in a froke worth swiche fiftene,
Arayd in rede scon -- and elles were reuthe! --
And sexe copes or seven in his celle hongeth.
Though for fayling of good his fellawe schulde sterve,
He wolde nought lenen him a peny, his lijf for to holden.
I might tymen tho troiflardes to toilen with the erthe,
Tylyen and trewliche lyven, and her flech tempren.
Now mot ich soutere his sone setten to schole, 88
And ich a begger's brol on the booke lerne, 89
And worth to a writere, and with a lorde dwell,
Other falsly to a frere the fend for to serven!
So of that begger's brol a bychop to worthen,
Among the peres of the lond prese to sitten,
And lordes sones lowly to tho losells aloute,
Knyghtes crouketh hem to, and crucheth full lowe --
And his syre a soutere ysuled in grees,
His teeth with toylinge of lether tatered as a sawe!
Alaas, that lordes of the londe leveth swiche wrechen,
And leneth swiche lorels for her lowe wordes!
They schulden maken bichopes her owen brethren childre,
Other of some gentil blod, and so it best semed,
And foster none faytoures, ne swiche false freres
To maken fatt and full, and her fleche combren.
For her kynde were more to yclense diches
Than ben to sopers yset first and served with silver!
A great bolle-full of benen were betere in his wombe,
And with the randes of bakun his baly for to fillen,
Than partriches or plovers or pekokes yrosted,
And comeren her stomakes with curious drynkes
That maketh swich harlottes hordome usen,
And with her wicked worde wymmen bitraieth.
God wold her wonynge were in wildernesse,
And fals freres forboden the fayre ladis chaumbres!
For knewe lordes her craft, trewlie, I trowe,
They schulden nought haunten her hous so homly on nightes,
Ne bedden swiche brothels in so brode schetes,
But scheten her heved in the stre, to scharpen her wittes;
Ne ben kynges confessours of custom, ne the counsell of the rewme knowe.
For Fraunces founded hem nought to faren on that wise,
Ne Domynik dued hem never swiche drynkers to worthe,
Ne Helye ne Austen swiche lijf never used,
But in poverte of spirit spended her tyme.
We have sene ourself, in a schort tyme,
Whou freres wolden no flech among the folke usen;
But now the harlottes han hid thilke rewle,
And, for the love of oure Lorde, have leyd hire in water.
Wenest thou ther wold so fele swiche warlawes worthen, 90
Ne were wordlyche wele and her welfare?
Thei schulden delven and diggen and dongen the erthe,
And mene-mong corn bred to her mete fongen,
And wortes flechles wroughte, and water to drinken, 91
And werchen and wolward gon, as we wrecches usen. 92
An aunter yif ther wolde on amonge an hol hundred 93
Lyven so for Godes love in tyme of a wynter!"
   "Leve Peres," quath I tho, "I praie that thou me tell
Whou I maie conne my Crede in Cristen beleve."
   "Leve brother," quath he, "hold that I segge,
I will techen the the trewthe, and tellen the the sothe."
* * * * * * *
Leve thou on oure Louerd God, that all the werlde wroughte,
Holy heven opon hey hollyche He fourmede,
And is almighti Himself over all His werkes,
And wrought, as His will was, the werlde and the heven;
And on gentyl Jesu Crist, engendred of Himselven,
His own onlyche Sonne, Lord over all yknowen,
That was clenly conseved clerly, in trewthe,
Of the hey Holy Gost; this is the holy beleve;
And of the mayden Marye man was He born,
Withouten synnfull sede -- this is fully the beleve;
With thorn ycrouned, crucified, and on the Crois dyede,
And sythen His blessed body was in a ston byried,
And descended adoune to the derk Helle,
And fet oute our formfaderes, and hy full feyn weren; 94
The thridde daye rediliche Himself ros fram deeth,
And on a ston there He stod He steigh up to hevene,
And on His Fader right hand redeliche He sitteth,
That almighti God over all other whyghtes;
And is hereafter to komen Crist, all Himselven,
To demen the quyke and the dede withouten any doute;
And in the heighe Holly Gost holly I beleve,
And generall Holy Chirche also, hold this in thy minde;
The communion of sayntes, for soth I to the sayn;
And for our great sinnes forgivenes for to getten,
And only by Christ clenlich to be clensed;
Our bodies again to risen, right as we been here,
And the lijf everlasting leve ich to habben. Amen.
And in the sacrement also that sothfast God on is --
Fulliche His fleche and His blod -- that for us dethe tholede.
And though this flaterynge freres wyln, for her pride,
Disputen of this Deyte, as dotardes schulden,
The more the matere is moved, the masedere hy worthen. 95
Lat the losels alone, and leve thou the trewthe,
For Crist seyde it is so, so mot it nede worthe;
Therfore studye thou nought theron, ne stere thi wittes:
It is His blissed body, so bad He us beleven.
Thise Maystres of Dyvinitie many, als I trowe,
Folwen nought fully the feith, as fele of the lewede.
Whough may mannes wijt, thorugh werk of himselve,
Knowen Cristes pryvitie, that all kynde passeth? 96
It mot ben a man of also mek an herte
That myghte with his good lijf that Holly Gost fongen;
And thanne nedeth him nought never for to studyen.
He mighte no Maistre ben kald -- for Crist that defended --
Ne puten no pylion on his pild pate;
But prechen in parfite lijf, and no pride usen.
   But all that ever I have seyd, so it me semeth,
And all that ever I have writen is soth, as I trowe,
And for amending of thise men is most that I write;
God wold hy wolden ben war and werchen the better!
But, for I am a lewed man, paraunter I mighte
Passen par aventure, and in som poynt erren;
I will nought this matere maistrely avowen.
But yif ich have myssaid, mercy ich aske,
And praie all maner men this matere amende,
Iche a word by himself, and all, yif it nedeth.
God of His grete myghte and His good grace
Save all freres that faithfully lybben,
And alle tho that ben fals, fayre hem amende,
And gyve hem wijt and good will swiche dedes to werche
That thei maie wynnen the lif that ever schal lesten.
a single
(see note)
repeated; each
know; (see note)
meat must; abstain from; (see note)
each week
believes; loses; (see note)
weal desires
material goods; offends
Wholly; commandments
an inquiry thus many fail
lock; (see note)
know; man
Minorite (Franciscan friar); (see note)
plain truth; (see note)
know; sorrow
(see note)
Dear; believe; rave
tricksters; jokesters, by nature
Villains; keep mistresses
live unconstrained
dupe; tales
only; weak
possessions; flattering
their; scoundrels'
such; much
their craftiness; fools
(see note)
ill suits them
follow; honest; lurk; cells
worldly goods
knew; or; believed; (see note)
(see note)
mendicants; harm people
stash it securely
acts just as he pleases
like robbers [they] roam; (see note)
crowded ale-fests
(see note)
St. Paul's doctrine
There where their
crones; eyes; (see note)
people; Paul
(see note)
slumberers; sloth; (see note)
gulping; (see note)
downfall; many; laugh
many more
said; lost
cast away; know you no remedy
earth; Friars Minor
(see note)
emulate them
frequent; stumble
miracle plays; concern ourselves
every meal
lay brethren (see note)
either bell or
Either possessions
their reward
should kneel
read there
know not
absolve you
absolved me entirely
backbite; foully
eye; perceive
Look; only then
saw Greed seize property; (see note)
forbidden; completely
judge truly
question; (see note)
pressed on; probe
hied; (see note)
building; built; (see note)
saw; for
inspected; eagerly
How; entirely polished
elaborately carved
straight ahead
(see note)
arbors edged all around
handsomely carved
coats of arms
badges; intermingled
no herald
catalogue (list)
of marble; (see note)
identifying emblems
[of] beaten gold
years; gathered
How; fully adorned
painted tiles
believe; income; large shire
curiously engraved
decorated ceiling
dormitory furnished
Infirmary; refectory; many more
walls sturdy in their height
garrets; wholly polished
enough; lodge; (see note)
want [to]
From a wholly poor; scarcely
again; observed
very full
goose egg; fat
[Such] that; quagmire
(see note)
made; heel
surcoat; pure white
greeted; graciously
plain truth; (see note)
person; could teach me; (see note)
truly; accordingly
more surely
guiltless; first established
said; furred clothes
monstrous; dressed meanly in rags
[if] they acquire; month
though; won't know you
founding; prior to
famous; clever
Tested in due course
most excellent
   the Gospels
(see note)
(see note)
greatest health
sound out
master; humbly
mother's; call
at all
inform [about]
(see note)
elaborate commentaries
Franciscan friar; promised
their sect; best
see how
Just offer them secretly
how these teachers
[St.] Francis's rule
Francis's cloak
(see note)
expertly buttoned up
observe that ruse
cut short at
give away
honor them only
grafted; fiends
secure; seek
the first eremite; (see note)
Until; mendicant
took it upon ourselves
totally to absolve
for their
something else
foodstuff; goods
beads or brooches
duly sealed; (see note)
absolve; (see note)
know not
With understanding
venture; ask; (see note)
looked; espied
Carmelites; (see note)
made bold to go; timidly
Dear; believe in
commandments; (see note)
reward; deter
if you would
since; died
(see note)
haughty; fell
live; falsehoods
buy for themselves
Observe what happens; (see note)
knows the truth
How; stroke; (see note)
permit them to teach
deceive (gloze)
financially improve
worldly respect desire
(see note)
(see note)
Choose a rascal
except by
As if; formulates
lies their lies
Elijah's; (see note)
virtuous; ourselves
live by
know; subtlety
prayers, as we think best
dear true; believe; say
humble; worth
absolve thee
bag (poke)
work; earn
become prosperous
catch fish
given away
far; unless; get
must go away
hurry; promised
She; (see note)
she revoke; hasten
get; obtain
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
rag; (see note)
hood; hair gone
toes poked out
Achilles tendon
(see note)
were frazzled; muck
man wallowed; (see note)
heifers; had become; (see note)
count each rib; pitiful
goad (whip)
short; coat
field's edge; scrap-bowl
wrapped in rags
two of two years
a single song
livelihood; loan
Come along, dear; (see note)
don't know
gone to; (see note)
follow the fiend
(see note)
In sheep's clothing; except within; (see note)
wish to rob; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
am called
treacherously; live
each one of them
their; where they
(see note)
Or else
burden; destroy
oppress; schemes
flaunts; many ways
kindred; fashioned; (see note)
Pharisees (hypocrites); (see note)
called; `hypocrites by nature'; (see note)
unhappy people
unto; (see note)
Again; them
slew; (see note)
wish to be
to be; (see note)
powerful people
building tombs
scheming; troubles
devil; flattery deceives
dwells in
deceit; arrayed in comforting; (see note)
poor; (see note)
poor in spirit
How many; gladly
judge; believe
will become incensed
(see note)
spirit readily
charged him; (see note)
middle earth
(see note)
(see note)
dear; like these [friars]; (see note)
Pharisees (hypocrites); many
wide buildings; constructed
(see note)
Interlaced; shine
unless; seated first
Unless; table; glower
from Cain's kindred
(see note)
Distract; darken
compare; (see note)
(see note)
subservience; ignorant
their own
Unless; moderate
According to
fools; become
to forego; (see note)
chooses his schedule
man; wickedly glosses
prohibited (see note)
study; bestir
given them
barns; i.e. Christmas
lout; leaps; (see note)
beguile; corrupt
(see note)
(see note)
[they] live in bad faith
impaired; food
fine lords
repents of; (see note)
nearly dead
(see note)
curses; wishes
say "fie"
(see note)
passed beyond
work; very
Unless; prepared; (see note)
secret room
(see note)
went astray
scorned; prostitutes
sooner; confessed
blow to deliver to
(see note)
Who covet
faithfully think
according to
What; seize; conceal
dogs; carrion
blessed the peaceable; (see note)
Test; discover
more willingly sting; (see note)
stepping; toe than a stinking
without; (see note)
blessing; (see note)
(see note)
told them
harm; (see note)
curse; good deeds
eschew; devour chaff; (see note)
surpass in persecutions
then; slay
disallowed; (see note)
(see note)
Sir; at fault
as much
Canons; Carthusian monks
somehow wronged you
Either with
destroy or; (see note)
completely; persecute
[your] soul's health
very little; (see note)
caused them to forsake
too worldly; abandon
elders; before the throne; (see note)
outward signs
(see note)
sorrow; requires
refectory; infirmary
food; every meal
Hildegard; plainly; (see note)
sustains those fools
surpass; followed
sell [pardons] for; reward
from punishment; (see note)
from blame (guilt); obtain
its equivalent; snare
curses; sinful
wear brown [habits]; (see note)
these ne'er-do-wells
devour; toil for
dainty; buy
To the extent that; (see note)
drones; honey; (see note)
bees; hive
gobble; first-fruits; (see note)
rag shoes
worn out; hems gone
worth fifteen such gowns
red shoes; a pity
compel; malingerers
To till; chastise
offspring; is made; (see note)
press forward
bow down
bow to them; kneel
father a cobbler filthy with grease
leather [as] jagged
give to
tricksters; (see note)
were better suited; ditches
bacon rinds; belly
cram; dainty
shut their head; straw; (see note)
endowed; became
Elijah; Augustine
have sunk it
Were it not for
ordinary; accept
(see note)
remember; say
Lord; created
upon high wholly
conceived in purity; (see note)
(see note)
speedily; arose
judge the living
Holy; wholly
(see note)
say to you; (see note)
I believe I shall have
in; (see note)
Argue about the Deity; fools
(see note)
it needs must be; (see note)
How; wits; (see note)
as meek
forbade; (see note)
priest's cap; bald head; (see note)
since; perhaps
Go too far
forcefully proclaim
misspoken; I
Each word by itself

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