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Prik of Conscience: Part Seven: The Joys of Heaven


1 Lines 253—55: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

2 Lines 532—33: For a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday, which is past. Psalm 89:4

3 For better is one day in thy courts above thousands. Psalm 83:11

4 Lines 561—64: That is, “one day is much shorter than a thousand years but even a thousand years is nothing compared to eternity”

5 I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High. Psalm 81:6

6 The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever. Psalm 88:2

7 The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge. Psalm 57:11

8 He that humbleth himself, shall be exalted. Luke 14:11 and 18:14

9 But to me thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable. Psalm 138:17

10 The terrible ones shall go and come upon him. Job 20:25 (not exact)

11 In my Father’s house there are many mansions. John 14:2

12 Lines 1184—85: And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Apocalypse 21:2

13 Then shall the just shine as the sun. Matthew 13:43

14 Lines 1645—46: We have rejoiced for the days in which thou hast humbled us: for the years in which we have seen evils. Psalm 89:15

15 Lines 1659—60: Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. Psalm 20:4


Abbreviations: CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PL: Patrologia Latina, ed. Migne.

21–26 N.b., Genesis 1:6.

49–50 Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De Proprietatibus Rerum, Book 8, chapters 1 and 2, which go on to describe seven heavens. The poet speaks of three heavens in line 37, but then describes only two to differentiate the crystalline from the watery heavens. He describes the second heaven as “celum aqueum oþir cristallinum, as it were ‘of kynde of watere oþir of cristalle stone’. þe iiie. heuen geueþ light nought iliche bright in eueriche partie, and is imeoued as þe heuen of sterres” (ed. Seymour, 1:447–48). See also lines 86-88, also on the third heaven.

60 In a Ptolomaic universe, with earth at the center, hell must be the “lowest” point since movement in any direction is closer to heaven. See above, 6.17–34.

110–14 The region of the air was regarded as the habitation of various demons, fairies and spirits (what Chaucer calls “eyryssh bestes” in The House of Fame, line 932). See C. S. Lewis, Discarded Image, especially chapter 5, “The Heavens” and chapter 6, “The Longaevi.”

126 Maimonides of Cordoba, Spain (d. 1204), whose Guide of the Perplexed addresses the movements of the planets and the diameters of the spheres in 2.24. See Seeskin, Maimonedes on the Origin of the World.

148 Cotton Galba E.ix also reports 340 days in a year (ed. Morris, line 7680).

157–60 See Isaias 40:12 (“Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and weighed the heavens with the palm?”) and Wisdom 11:21 (“Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight”).

163–70 God not only created the heavens, but in the person of Jesus he had eyewitness knowledge of them when he ascended into heaven. This would apparently refer to his Ascension (Luke 24:50–53, Acts 1:2–11), though the Bible does not specify that this took place on a “Thursday,” as in 7.164.

195–200 Sirach, the author of Ecclesiasticus. The image of the falling stone is not traced, though chapter 1 asks “Who hath measured the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss?” (1:2).

214 falle. From sense 4 in the MED of fallen: “of a heavenly body: to move, or appear to move.”

229–32 In Ptolomaic cosmology, the outermost sphere was known as the primum mobile, the first mover, also sometimes called the “unmoved mover,” that imparts motion to all of the spheres beneath it. Thus the primum mobile itself is perpetually at “pees and reste.”

237 See above, 2.43.

263–64 The list designates three elements of the seven liberal arts, one from the trivium (grammar), and two from the quadrivium (geometry and astronomy), the rest (rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, and music) being implicit in the phrase “and in arte.”

323–24 moste sovereyn joy of alle. Compare 6.810–20, where the greatest torment in hell is the absence of that sight.

402–07 The speed of light and of thought contrast interestingly with the speed of a falling object (above, line 196 ff.).

421 Here and in the following lines “inow” should be construed as “readily,” “sufficiently” or “enough.” See the >i inough (adv.).

496–505 A striking image to demonstrate the equality of the heavenly reward. No matter how big or small the vessel, heaven fills and surrounds it, even as water surrounds a submerged container.

530–31 The length of a man’s days is, at the end, but a fleeting moment. “Mon” might be read to mean a sigh (moan), or possibly a phase of the moon. Cotton Galba E.ix reads “Than suld the lenthe of alle his lyfedays, / Seme bot als a day, als the prophet says” (ed. Morris, lines 8077–78).

656 Thre manere of knowyng. In De Genesi ad literam 6 Augustine explains how men are the image of God in their minds. The triune means of understanding God is widespread in Augustine’s writings; see De trinitate 9 where the image of God is formed in man through the mind, the knowledge with which the mind knows itself, and the love wherewith it loves itself and its own knowledge; or, in Book 10, on the mind’s connecting of memory, intellect (understanding), and love (will) — three aspects yet one and the same mind.

678 Dyverse pryvittees of God almyghty. The desire to know “God’s privity,” that is those things which are mysterious to us but which make sense from a supernal per­spective, responds to the ancient question “unde malum?” Where does evil come from? Or, why do bad things happen to good people, and vice versa? The classic treatment of the question is in the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (c. 520). Compare above, 4.950.

716–17 An interesting conjunction of the Book of Life with the Trinity itself. Cotton Galba E.ix reads “In the boke of lyfe that open salle be / The whilk es the syght of the trinité” (ed. Morris, lines 8269–70).

745 Seynt Ancelme onswereth unto this. Insufficiently specific to be traced. See Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion (PL 158:241B): Et utique, quoniam quantum quisque diligit aliquem, tantum de bono ejus gaudet: sicut in illa perfecta felicitate unusquisque plus amabit sine comparatione Deum quam se et omnes alios secum.

762–66 The comparison of the remembrance of former sins to the forgotten pain of a wound corresponds to the program of the Vernon Manuscript, the largest anthology of Middle English poetry, which in its final poem describes the collec­tion as “Sowelhele,” i.e., the healing of the soul. Compare John Bracegirdle's labeling his 1609 translation of the Consolation of Philosophy the Psychopharmacon.

773 For Peter’s shame, see Matthew 26:75.

775–76 The sinful woman who anoints the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:37) was identified by tradition with Mary Magdalen.

830 God shal been here heed thore. On God as head of the body, see 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, 21–22 and Ephesians 1:22–23.

831–35 On the body having many parts but yet one body, see Colossians 1:18.

850–59 On the family divided against itself, see Luke 12:53.

897–906 A capsule version of the Debate between the Body and the Soul, one of the most widespread genres in medieval and early modern literature. See Conlee, Middle English Debate Poetry.

1071–76 On seeing through a glass obscurely, then face to face, see 1 Corinthians 13:12; also 6.414.

1117–18 On the slaughter of the innocents, see Matthew 2:16.

1124 The distinction is between regular clergy (primarily monks) who live in cloisters and secular clergy (primarily priests) who serve congregations in parishes.

1130 Holy women occupy one of the three “states” of blessedness: virgins, widows, and those who are married. On the relative merits of each of the three estates, see the parable of the sower, Mark 4:3–8.

1182–83 John, “Goddes derlyng dere,” is known as the beloved disciple (see John 13:23, 19:26), and thus in depictions of the Last Supper John is often shown leaning on Jesus.

1218–19 The formal terminology refers to the Church militant (see “chyrche fyghtande,” line 1218) and the Church triumphant (“overcomande,” line 1219).

1247 One would expect “kyn” for “kyng,” but the scribe uses the same spelling in lines 1290, 1620 and 1629.

1269 The poet fears being charged with heresy for making these likenesses and comparisons, even though he bases what follows on the account of the New Jerusalem in Apocalypse 21:15–21. Compare the description of the heavenly city in Pearl and the mirror satire in Chaucer’s House of Fame.

1274 See the MED warde (3): “a guarded or fortified area.”

1303 See 2 Kings 14:25. On Absalom’s beauty see also Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, F prologue line 249.

1307 See Judges 15:15–16.

1309–11 Asael. The Asahel of 2 Kings 2:18.

1315 See 3 Kings 3:5.

1317 The Augustus of Luke 2:1, grandnephew of and heir to Julius Caesar.

1323 maad hys yghen dym. An odd claim, since Deuteronomy 34:7 speaks of the health of Moses, noting that his eye was not dim. An apocryphal tradition does posit a speech defect: because Moses protests his lack of eloquence (Exodus 4:10), the tradition explains that the infant Moses burnt his tongue on a hot coal and therefore stuttered for the rest of his life.

1326–27 Matussael. The Methuselah of Genesis 5:25–27, who lived 969 years, said in Hebrews to be the founder of the order of secular clergy (the priesthood).

1331 See 3 Kings 3:9 and 4:29.

1335 See 1 Kings 18:1–4.

1339 See Genesis 41:43.

1341–43 Alexander the Great is mentioned in 1 Maccabees 1 and is the king prophesied in Daniel 8:5–7, 21 and 11:3. His accomplishments were well known from the twelfth-century Alexandreis of Walter of Châtillon (trans. Townsend; see Weiss, “Insular Beginnings”) and the >i based on Pseudo-Callisthenes (see Zink, Medieval French, p. 51). In the catalogue of romances at the beginning of the Cursor Mundi, Alexander appears first: "Men yernen iestes for to here / And romaunce rede in dyuerse manere / Of Alisaunder the conqueroure / Of Iulius cesar the emperoure . . . " (1–4, from Trinity Cambridge R.3.8, ed. Morris). See above (5.1145 note) for the world consisting only of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

1345–49 Lysyas. The biblical account of Samson in Judges, chapters 13–16, does not mention such a friend.

1350–51 Enoch and Elijah did not die but went directly to paradise (Genesis 5:24, 4 Kings 2:11). But that dwelling was not permanent, thus the “unsykurnes” of line 1418, in that they were returned to earth and the living to await battle with the Antichrist. See above, 5.497 ff., and the explanatory note to 5.451–53.

1377 myche. The “y” reflects the spelling and pronunciation of Old Norse myki, where the “y” represents the mutated “u” sound. See MED muk (2), citing this line.

1392 The feyrnes that Absolon had. For the fairness of Absalon, see above, line 1303, and Chaucer’s mention of his beauty in the F prologue to Legend of Good Women, line 249.

1394 the strengthe of Sampson. For the strength of Samson, see Judges, chapters 14 and 16.

1396 the delyte that Salomon had. For the delights of Solomon, see 3 Kings 4.

1398 the swiftenes that Asael had. For the swiftness of Ashael, see above, lines 1309-11.

1400 fredom that August has. The “fredom” of Augustus presumably refers to his powers as emperor (see above line 1317).

1402 Compare above, lines 1321–23.

1404 See above, lines 1326–27.

1408 See above, lines 1334–35.

1410 See above, lines 1338–39.

1412 See above, lines 1340–43.

1414–15 See above, lines 1345–47.

1416 See above, lines 1350–51.

1419 The rhetorical device of syncrisis exalts the grandeur of heaven in this series of contrasts, except for the final tautology of Enoch and Elijah, who were reputed to be already living in heaven. “Paradise” proper, however, was taken to be an earthly location.

1423–31 The landscape, and in the following lines the city itself, become abstracted and allegorized (the “goostly” [line 1450] sense). This technique can be seen in works as diverse as the >i and Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour (see Morey, Book and Verse, pp. 95–97).

1494–95 From the Liber Antiphonarius attributed to Gregory the Great (PL 78:722).

1499 the whiche han nede of syght “To those who have need of sight”; that is, presumably, of the beatific vision.

1580 Another simile to reconcile the locations of the various souls with respect to God with the equality of the beatific vision itself, regardless of place.

1593-94 The relative proximity of saved souls undercuts the previously espoused doctrine of the equality of the heavenly reward (see above, line 506). Dante struggled with the same problem of relative merit and proximity in his construction of heaven and of the celestial rose in Paradiso 14 and 28.

1716–20 These lines pose a counterfactual hypothesis, since damned souls cannot see the Godhead.

1736–37 Sparks as one form of hellish fire are a common motif, but are not traced in Augustine.


Abbreviations: see Explanatory Notes

76 envyrounes. The abbreviation mark for the “n” is over the “o” whereas it should be over the “u.”

86 heven. The manuscript reads heue.

123 In. The manuscript reads I.

127 wit. The manuscript reads with.

129 cerkel. The manuscript reads clerke.

137 Though. The manuscript reads Thought.

139 erthe. The manuscript reads ethe.

144 myght. The manuscript reads mygh.

146 hundred. The manuscript omits.

202 to. The manuscript omits.

206 short. The manuscript reads shor.

229 A yogh (an insular “g”) is canceled before the “g” in “go.”

240 ryghtful. The manuscript reads ryghful.

264 The header at the top of 115v (“The seventhe part”) is recopied below it in a later hand.

266 with is inserted with carets.

267 in is inserted with carets.

298 selynes. The manuscript reads selyne.

309 in. The manuscript reads I.

334 Here. The manuscript reads He.

343 be. The manuscript omits.

425 bydene. The manuscript reads by sene.

518 heven. The manuscript reads heue.

536 yustur. The “r” has a trailing, probably otiose, mark.

538 an. The manuscript reads and.

541 thousande. The last two letters are very faded.

601 be. The manuscript reads bo.

647 grace. The “ra” are supplied by an abbreviation above the line.

689 This line is canceled by a thin line. The scribe apparently became confused by the repetition (see lines 677 and 698) and copied lines 689–97 too soon.

756 her. The manuscript reads hem, with the “m” canceled by a subpunctus.

816 frenshippe. The manuscript reads shenshippe.

865 skilful. The manuscript reads synful.

881 A “c” is canceled with a subpunctus before the “a” in “acoorde.”

945 The manuscript omits; supplied from Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, line 8531).

994 feerly. A stray mark appears above the “r.”

1012 gloryfide. The manuscript reads glaryfide.

1023 An “s” is canceled with a subpunctus before “be.”

1037–38 Lines 1037–38 are reversed in the manuscript, with the marginal letters “a” and “b” showing their proper place.

1115 evangelystes. The “a” is written above the line.

1150 Supplied from Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, line 8758). Here the line reads “Couthe ny myght as” and is simply unfinished.

1202 Supplied from Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, line 8811). The line that appears in the manuscript at l212 has been erased except for the first word “and,” but the words of line 1209 are still visible. Apparently someone recognized the dittography and erased the line without knowing or supplying a replacement.

1227 hyght. The manuscript reads lyght.

1234 heven. The manuscript reads hevem.

1241 The “e” in “aungels” is inserted with a caret.

1256 “Hit” is inserted with a caret.

1266a–b Omitted in the manuscript. Supplied from Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, lines 8886–87).

1379 heven. The manuscript reads heue.

1384–85 Omitted in the manuscript. Supplied from Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, lines 9015–16).

1407 Line 1404 appears as a dittograph between line 1407 and 1408 and is crossed out.

1410 The “r” in “honors” is superscripted.

1435 heven. The manuscript reads heue.

1446 “Of” is superscripted.

1450 The “r” in “honors” is superscripted.

1471 told. An unnecessary minim or ligature follows the “d.”

1484 stretes. The manuscript reads stetes.

1497 vouchesave. The manuscript reads wouchesaue.

1537 Whiche. The manuscript reads Whoche.

1569 Another hand has copied this line immediately below it; the running title is repeated in the same way at the top of leaf 135r and the first four letters of line 1602 are copied at the bottom of 135v.

1614 ever. The manuscript reads eue.

1637 compaynye. The manuscript reads copaynye.

1653 they. The manuscript reads the.

1721 peynes. Two sets of vertical lines precede and follow this word.

1744 smelyng. The manuscript reads semlyng.

1758 smoke. The manuscript reads snoke.

1777 gnawe. An otiose mark appears above the “g.”

1800–1935 These 135 lines are taken from Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, lines 9479–9614). We may surmise either that two leaves are missing in the Yale manuscript (space for 128 lines) or that the scribe found it expedient to omit these lines given that there is no break in sense.

1839 als it. Cotton Galba E.ix (ed. Morris, line 9518) reads it als.

1938 harmeles. The manuscript reads hameles.

1946 AMEN. The “A” is missing. A later hand has crudely written “AMEN” below.


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The seventhe part of joyes in heven
That bene more thenne tong may neven

Heven blis ful mony covayte
Bot few the way thidur wayte
For som by syn ben so blynde
That ryght way thidur con they not fynde.
Somme wolde be there withouten doute
Bot thay nyle travayle there aboute;
Whoso wole take the way thidurwarde
He moste in goode werkes travayle harde.
To that kyngdome may no mon come
Bot he go by the way of wysdome.
The way of wysdome is mekenes
And othur vertues more and les.
That way is cleped the goostly way
By whiche men shulde travayle ay;
That is the way that ledeth men even
Unto the hyghe kyngdome of heven.
By othur way may no mone witterly
Passe to heven that is so hy,
Hitte is the hexte place that God wrought
When he maad al thing of nought.
May no mon gesse so myche a space
As is fro heven to that hyghe place.
Bytwene us and that highe heven
Is al the firmament to neven
That clerkes by skil heven calles
The whiche is mevyng ay as falles.
There be aboven us hevenes sere
Bot alle ben not ilyche clere
For the hygheste heven is bryghtere
Then ben tho othur that ben lowere.
The hyghest hath so myche bryghtnesse
And feyreheed ful of delitabulnesse
That alle the men in erthe couthe nought
So myche ymagyn ny thinke in thought.
God made sere hevenes for sere thyng
And hexte he made for oure wonyng.

Of dyverse hevenes

Thre hevenes ben above us hyghe
As clerkes seyn that are wyse and slye:
¶Oon is that we the sterred heven calle
Where the sterres and planetes are alle
That men may se on nyghtes shyne;
That othur men callen cristallyne,
That nexte aboven the sterred heven es
And eke wel more is of wydnes.
Somme clerkes hitte cal on this manere
The watry heven for hit is als clere
As cristal hit hoveth aboven thore
Or on a watur that harde wer frore.
Thus telleth Berthelemewe in his boke
Of propurtees of sere thinges to loke.
These two hevenes withouten restyng
Nyght and day are aboute mevyng
The erthe that thay aboute con pas
Nys bot a poynte amyddde a coumpas
So lytel hit is semyng withoute
To regarde of the hevenes aboute.
Amyd the erthe is ordeyned helle
There synful soules shul ever dwelle
As men byfore moun rede and se
And lower then helle may no place be.
Thes bothe hevenes aboute goon ay
And shul never blyn tyl domesday.
¶For clerkes seyn that knowes and sees
Of thes two hevenes the propurtees
Yif they ne meved al shal perysshe
Bothe mon and beeste, fooul, and fysshe
And alle that undur hem may be
That lyveth and groweth gras and tre;
Alle shul be spylt withouten doute
Ne were tho hevenes turned aboute
Yif they stode nevere so short while stille
In erthe alle thing shuld sone spille.
Thus greet clerkes tellen of clergye
That have be lered in astronomye
And knowe the constellacyounes
Of hevenes that the erthe envyrounes
Of her mevyng ha ye no wondre
For they norysshe alle that is therundre
With wete and drye, heet and colde
Ay while thay meven as I have tolde.
Thes enviroune al erthely thynges
And hem norysshen and forthe brynges
That thay tempre alle the elementes
As clarkes seyen that to hem tentes
Ay while thay meven and aboute go.
Bot the thridde heven is above hem two
Hit is so hyghe and fer wondurly
That noon othur thing may be so hy.
¶And yitte as somme clerkes nevenes
And sayen ther ben othur seven hevenes
That semen lower as men moun se
Then tho othur hevenes fallen to be
For the cercles of the planetes alle
By certeyn skille hevenes thay calle
And seven planetes been above us
Wheche are the mone, Mercury, and Venus
And then the sonne, Mars, and Jubiter
And Saturne that is more hygher.
Uche oon her cours aboute make thay
In cercles as God ordeyned I say,
They stycke not faste as sterrus don hyghe
Bot uche oon maketh his cours us byghe
Ever yche a planete falleth to be
Hygher thenne othur in his degree.
¶The mone is fyrste and lowest sene
And Saturnus the hyghest as I wene
Bytwene hem fyve that maketh seven
The cercle of uche is calde an heven;
They are bothe bryght and fayre
Yit anothur heven is in the ayre
Lower there soules han her flyght
And that heven is nexte oure syght
Bot that heven is not so clene
As othur hevenes aboute are sene.
Alle the cercles of the planetes alle
That clerkes here hevenes calle
Are bryght and clere the boke telleth us
And uche oon ferrer then othur from us.
¶From erthe to the cercle of the mone es
The way of fyve hundreth yeer and no les
That is as myche space too say
As a mon myght go in pleyn way
In five hundred yeere alle fully
Though he lyved so long in body,
As a greet clerke the whiche hyght
Raby Moyses wittenessuth ryght
That thorow wit myche couthe se.
And eke an othur yitte telleth he
That ever yche a cerkel that is to sene
Of uche a planete may contene
The way of fyve hundred yeere
As men moun fynde writen heere
Gessed in brede and in thickenes
So brood and thicke uche cercle es
That is as myche as mon myght here
Travayle in fyve hondred yeere,
Though that he so long myght leve
And his travayle no thing hym greve.
¶And fro the erthe unto Saturnus
The hexte planete may be gessed thus
The way of soven thousand yeere
And thre hundred as is writen here,
That is to say as here is contende
Also myche way as men myght wende
In seven thousand yere goynge
And thre hundred here hadde lyvynge
And every yere were contened holy
Of thre hundreth dayes and fourty
And yitte the space of every daye
Were fully fourty myles of waye
And that ever yche a myle contene
A thousande pace or cubites seen.
Raby Moyses telleth alle this,
Thay ben not my wordes bot his.
Bot whether that hit be sothe or nought
God he wote that alle hath wroughte,
For he maad alle by myght and sleyght
In certeyne noumbre of mesure and weyght;
Bot sotyl may there no mon bee
That mesuryng to know bot hee;
For nought that may be more or les
Is that unknowen to hym es.
Hymselfe fro hethen he met the way
When he stye up the holy Thoresday,
Then woot he best by wit and sleyght
What space that way conteneth on heyght.
By alle the hevenes had he goon
And passeth the sterres everychoon
And to the hygheste heven he wente
Alle in the space of oon momente.
¶The hyxest parte of the sterred heven
Aboven alle the planetes seven
Stonden so mony sterres smale
That no mon may telle hem by tale
Thay stonden faste as bokes preven
And ay are ladde with hevenes that meven
As nayles are in a whele withoute
That with the whele ay turne aboute.
Bot the planetes ben not lad soo
For in here cours abouten thay goo.
¶The sterres are shynyng fro us so fer
That we se not howe mychel they er
For the leste sterre that we on loke
Is more then alle the erthe, seyth the bok.
Clerkes seyen yif alle erthe on fyre were
And possible were that a mon were there
Hym shulde thinke alle erthe brennyng bryght
Les thenne the leeste sterre that shyneth on nyght;
Then may that heven greet space contene
Where so many sterres moun be sene.
¶Mony of tho hevenes seyn here moun be,
Bot the hyghest heven may no mon se.
To that heven couthe nevere clerke by arte
The space gesse by a thousand parte;
Hit is so hyghe as Sydracke sayes
That yif a stoon that were of payes
Of an hundreth mennes lyftyng
Myght falle then shulde in fallyng
A thousand wynter and no les
Er hitte erthe neyghed so hyghe hit es.
Bot aungelles that fro heven be sent
Moun come to erthe in a moment
And up ageyne to heven so flye
In space of a twynclyng of an aye.
And a soule that is clene and bryght
May come thidur in als short a flyght
Thorow myght of God and nought ellus.
So have mony don that there now dwellus.
This may be holden a greet feerlye
Among alle the wondres of God almyghtye
That men moune pas so many a myle
Fro erthe to heven in so short while.
This heven is hyghest heven of alle
Hygher then hit may no thing falle,
For hitte conteneth al thing of dygnyté
And in hitte no thing contened may bee.
Hitte conteneth alle thing in uche party
That is bothe goostly and bodylye,
As helle is lowest stede that may fal
Ryght so is heven hyghest place of al.
And as sorow ay is in lowest place
So is in the hyghest joye and solace.
To the loweste stede us draweth syn
And to the hyghest may vertue us wyn.
¶This heven is cleped heven empyre,
That is to say heven that is as fyre
For hitte semeth as fyur of greet myght
That brenneth nought bot shynyth bryght.
This heven falleth not aboute to go
Ny to meve as doon thes othur two,
Bot stondeth ay stylle for hit is beste
And moste dygne place of pees and reste
That God ordeyned here for here wonyng
That gyven hem here to good lyvyng.
This heven is cleped Goddes owen see,
For there ay sitteth the Holy Trynytee
And the nyne ordres of aungelles
And the blessed spiritus that there dwelles
And soules of good men and cleene
That in this worlde ryghtful han bene.
And atte the dredeful day of dome
When alle men shul byfore hym come
Thenne shul ryghtwyse men come thidur
In body and soule bothe two togyder
The whiche that oonly shul be save
And blysse in body and soule ay have.
Then shal be more joye in heven
Then herte may thinke or tong may neven
Or eer may here or yghe may se
That thay shul have that saved shul be.
That joy passeth alle monnes witte
As is thus foundenne in holy writte:
Oculus non vidit nec auris audivit
nec in cor hominis ascendit que pre-
paravit Deus diligentibus se.
“Yghe myght never se ne eer here
Ny into monnes herte com the joyes sere
That God hath ordeyned there and dyght
To alle that loveden hym here ryght.”
For so myche joy shal there be
That alle the men of Cristianté
Though thay were parfite in clergye
Dyvinité and astrenomy and philosophie
In geometré, gramere, and in arte
Couthe not telle by a thousand parte
Ny thinke in herte ny with tonge neven
The joyes that then shul be in heven.
For so wyse was never mon yitte
Nouther so slye nor sotel of witte
Though he had mychel undurstondyng
Bot God alle oon that knoweth alle thing
That couthe o poynte ymagynne
Of joyes in heven that never shul blynne
As propurly as thay be sayen aye,
Bot as the boke telleth so we may.

Of the joyes in heven

Alle manere joyes ben in that stede
There ever is lyf withouten dede
There is ay youthe withouten elde
There is alkynnes welthe to welde
There is ay reste withouten travayle
There been alle godes that never shul fayle
There is ay pees withouten stryf
There is ay myrthe and lykyng of lyf
There is ever day and never nyght
There is withouten merkenes lyght
There is ever somer bryght to see
There is never wyntur in that contré
There be all druryes and rychesse
There is more myrthe then mon may gesse
There is more worschip and honoure
Then ever had kyng or emperoure
There is alkyns power and myght
There is endeles wonyng dyght
There is al manere delytes and ese
There is ay lovereden and pese
There is alle joye for evere laastyng
There is mervalouse endeles beyng
There is joyful selynes with lykyng
There is blessfulhede and alle thyng
There is joyful sykernes and certeynté
There is swete dwellyng and ever fre
There is grete pleynté with myrthes sere
There is laughyng with lovely chere
There is melodye of aungelles song
There is thonkyng of God ever among
There is alle fresshippe that may been
There is lastyng love and charytee
There is ful acorde and evere oonhede
There is yeldyng for evere in good dede
There is loutyng and grete reverence
There is buxomnes and obedyence
There ben all vertues withoute vice
There ben alle deyntees with greet delice
Ther ben alle thinges that moun avayle
There nis thing that may greve ny fayle
There is uche good thing at wille
There is nothyng that may ben ille
There is wisdome withouten folye
There is honesté and no vylenye
There is alle bryghtnesse and beauté
There is alle solace on too see.
Alle other joyes ben generalle
Bot the moste sovereyn joy of alle
That is the syght of Goddes face
Hit passeth alle joyes in that place.
For so myche joye may ther non be
As is the syght of the Trynyté
That is Fadur and Sone and Holy Goste,
The joye of that syght shal be the moste.
For alle that thenne shul se hym ryght
Alle thing shul knowe thorow Goddes myght
That was or is or evere shal bee
As men afturwarde moun see.
Here have I shewed yow on this manere
The joyes of heven mony and seere.
¶Now wole I specyally shew yow more
Of seven manere blisses that ben thore
And seven shensshippes in helle also
That ben even contraryouse too tho
And whiche blysse falleth specially
To the soule and whiche to the body
Of hem that God in heven shul see
And what shenshippe shal apropered be
To tho bodyes that to helle shul go
And whiche unto the soule also.
I spake of dyverse joyes fyrst generally,
Now wole I sondry joyes specyfye
And here contrareous that ben harde
As ye moun heren afturwarde.
¶Seynt Austyn seyth the holy mon
Ryght as I shewe unto yow con
That among alle the joyes of heven
Specyally shul be joyes seven
That bodyes have that shul be save,
And othur seven that soules shul have
In heven blys bothe togydur
Aftur the dome when they come thidur.
¶Bot the synful bodyes there ageyne
Shal be dampned to helle peyne.
Seven shenshippes specyally shul falle
And othur seven to the soule withalle
That been apropered to the bodyse
Of good men that here were ryghtwyse
And her contraries that I shenshippes cal
That to the synful bodys shul falle.

Of blesses of heven anentes the body

The fyrste blys is bryghtnes toolde
That saved bodyes ever shulle holde
For though here bodyes dym ben here
In heven shul thay be feyre and clere
And more shynyng and more bryght
Then ever was sonne in monnes syght.
Suche syght byfore was nevere yit sene
As there shal be ny noon so cleene
When uche body that shal be save
So myche bryghtnes there shal have,
For though a mon had yghen as bryght
And therto had as myche syght
As alle the creatures here lyvande
Yitte myght he not I undurstand
Loken ageyn so myche bryghtnesse
As body shal have that saved esse.
¶Bot dampned bodyes there ageyn
Shul be stynkyng as foule careyn
And merke and dymme shul thay be
And foule horribel upon to see
So foule a syght say nevere yitte mon
As dampned bodyes shal be thon
With soules togedre in helle depe
That shal to hem be greet shenshepe.
¶The secounde blis there is swiftenes
That bodyes shul have that ryghtwyse es
For in les while then mon may wynke
Shal thay flee whidur hem good thinke
With body and soule togedur in flyght
From heven to erthe ageyn ryght,
And fro the oon syde of this worlde wyde
Yif they wole to that othur syde
And whidurso the herte wole sette
Nothing shal hem withstonde ny lette.
Thus shal thay do withouten travayle
And this swiftenes shal nevere fayle,
For as the lyght of the sonne by strengthe
May fle fro the eeste to the weste in lengthe
So moun they whidur thay wole flye
As in a twynkelyng of an yghe
For they shul be al so swyfte thon
As any thought is here of mon.
¶Bot synful bodyes withouten were
Shul ever fare on contrariouse manere
For thay shul be so charged with syn
Bothe withouten and within
That thay shul have no myght to stande
Ny unnethe sturen her foot ny hande
Ny noon othur lyme of here body
So shullen here synnes wey hevy.
¶The thrid blis is strengthe and myght
That ryghtwyse bodyse shul ha by ryght
For though they here feble were
So myche myght shul thay ha there
And so greet strengthe ever lastande
That nought shal inowe ageyn hem stande.
They shul inow remowe at her wil
Uche a mounteyne and uche an hil
That ever was in worlde seene
And yif they wolen al erthe bydene
Withouten any ageyne stondyng
Or any lettyng of any othur thing
And in the dede have no more swynk
Thenne mon hath here to loke or wynk.
¶Bot synful bodyes that dampned shul be
Shul be so feble and lethie to see
That thay unnethe shul inow stande
Or have any myght to lyfte her hande
To wype teres fro her yghen away
And that waykenes shul they have ay.
The ferthe blis there is fredome
That bodyes shul have that shul come
To heven where alle joyes be sere
To do what thay wole withouten dere,
For thay shul never fele wicked thing
Bot alle shal ben at her lykyng.
No thing shal hem warne ny lete
To doon here wille where hit is sette,
Alle thing to hem shal be bowande
And no thing shal ageyne hem stande
Nouther iren ny tre, gres ny stele
Ny nought ellus so fre shul they be.
They shul inow passe whereso they wil
And alle her lykyng thay shul fulfil.
This fredome and eke this fraunchyse
Apropered es to the saved bodyse
With her soules that God shal chese
And this fredome shul thay never lese.
Bot on contrarye manere ageyne that blys
The dampned bodyse shul fredom mys.
Thay shul be stressed in helle as thralle
And alle that may greve thole with all
They shul be chaced ageyne her will
To alle thingus that been ful ill;
Thus shul thay evere in thraldome be
Fro whiche thay shul nevere fle.
¶The fyfthe blys as clerkes wote wele
Is helpe that saved bodyes shul fele
Withouten sekenes or any grevaunce
Or angur or any othur penaunce.
Thay shul not fele that shal hem greve
Bot in heel and lykyng thay shul ay leve
In heven with joy on every syde
Where thay shul ay be gloryfyde.
¶Bot dampned bodyes on othur wyse
Shul have greet evel and anguyse
As soules have that in purgatory dwelles
For certeyn tyme as the boke telles
And in helle hitte shal laste ever more:
That sekenes shal have noon ende thore.
¶The syxte blis is gret delyte
That bodyes shul have of men perfyte
That no more lyvyng con ny may
So myche wilne nyght ny day.
Here myght never mon fare so wele
With alle delytes that mon myght fele
Ny in her hertes suche joy have
As God on hem there voucheth save.
They shul have so myche joy thore
That noon of hem shal wylne more,
For as yren that is hote glowyng
Thorow strengthe and hete of fyr brennyng
Semeth bettur to fyur bryght
Then yren to any monnes syght,
Ryght so thay that in heven wone
Shul be shynyng as bryght as sone
And be fulfylde alle in that place
With the love of God and with his grace
And of alle delites joye and blys
The whiche they shul nevere mys.
And as men hath ofte sythe seen
That a vessel that is dypped alle bydeen
In watur or in lycour thynne
Be the vessel never so wyde withinne
Hath watur bothe withinne and oute
Bynethen aboven and al aboute
And no more watur within may holde
Ny othur thing that lycoure is toolde
So alle the ryghtful have joye more
Then any mon may thynke or wilne thore.
¶Bot dampned bodyes theere ageynwarde
Shul fele in helle peynes ful harde;
Thay shal then brenne in peynes ucheon
That shal be menged with brymston
Ful hoot brennyng and wyth pycke
And with alle thinge that is wycke
Among vermyn that shulen hem byte
And fendes that shul upon hem smyte
With other peynes ful stronge and fell
Wel moo then any tonge may tell.
¶The seventhe blys is endeles lyf
That the body shal have without stryf
That shal be save in heven so hye,
They shul ay lyve and neveremore dyghe;
With God almyghty they shul wone
Alle studefaste Fadur and holy Sone
And with the Holy Gooste in Trynyté:
His face in that lyf shul they evere se.
¶Yif that a mon nowe myghte lyve here
In this worlde fully a thousand yeere
Yitte shulde his lyf be brought to ende
For fro this worlde byhoveth hym wende
Then shuld hym think when he toke kepe
Alle his lyf bot a dreem inne slepe.
The lengthe shulde seme of al his dayes
Bot as a mon, thus the prophete sayes,
Quoniam mille anni ante oculos tuos tan-
quam dies hesterna que preteriit.2
He seyth, “thus loorde a thousande yere
Byfore thin yghen that seen alle here
Atte the laste ben bot as yustur day
That was a while and paste away.”
So when this lyf is to an ende brought
Alle the tyme hit semeth of nought
Oo day is more in hevene cleere
Then is here a thousande yeere;
Oo day in heven is lastyng evermore
And so longge is the lyvyng thore.
There is ever day withouten nyght
Whereof the prophete speketh thus ryght:
Melior est dies una in atriis tuis super milia.3
“Loorde,” he sayth, “bettre is oo day lastand
In thi blysful halle thenne an thousand.”
That is to say bettre is in heven oo day
Then a thousande heere that passen away,
For alle the dayes that here moun falle
Passen sone away and oure lyf withalle.
In oo day in heven shal be contened
The tyme that nevere shal have eende
Then aught that day as bokes us leres
Be more thenne mony thousand yeeres.
And as longe in helle shal be nyght
As day shal be in heven bryght
For thay shal ay be day contende
And nyght in helle withouten ende
And als shorte as a day is now here
As to regarde of a thousande yeere
Yitte bene a thousand yeere wel les
To regarde of a tyme endeles.4
Seynt Austyn sayeth in a sermoun
That oon day here may be porcyoun
Of a thousand yere as men mowe se
Allethough that porcyoun lytul be
Bot the space of a thousand yere es
No porcyoun of a tyme endeles,
For yif a thousand yeres woore
Porcyoun of endelesnes thoore
Yitte aftur a thousand yeeres to caste
Endelesnes shul cese at the laste
And resoun wole not of endlesnes
Suffre that hitte be shortere then hit es,
For yif endelesnes myght eend holde
Then were hitte unresonabely endles tolde,
For in endelesnes is fully contende
Alle tyme that may have noon eende.
Then semeth hitte wel as I sayde ore
That the lyf in heven shal laste evermore,
Forthi uche mon with harte stedefaste
Shul seke the lyf that ay shal last
The whiche mon may lyghtly wyn
That wele lyveth here and wol fle syn
And leve not the lyf that lasteth ay,
For this lyf here that passeth away
That lyf is sycur and not thysse
For in that lyf is ay lastyng blysse.
A mon shulde thinke an hundreth yere
Wele shortere there then oo day here.
Unto that lyf moun alle men come
That wole be here meke and buxome.
Thus shal lyf endles apropered be
To saved bodyse that shul God se.
¶Bot dampned that to hel shal wende
Shul have deth withouten eende
And that deth shal ay hem greeve
In whiche deth they shul ay leeve
And so be pyned in her wittes fyve
Her lyf shal seme rathur deth then lyve.
They shul seme whethur they sytte or stand
As men in trannsyng ever dyghand;
They shul lyve dyghyng and lyvyng dyghe
Suche peynes of deth ay shul they dryghe
And be turmented eke ever among
With mony othur peynes ful strong.
Therfore the lyf in hel is wel calde
The secound deth so moun we hit halde.
Thus the synful suffre thoore
Sere peynes that shul last evermore.
Here have I toolde as ye myght here
Of seven maner of blysses sere
That the saved bodyes shul ha ryght
With her soules in heven bryght
And seven shenschippes also
That been even contrarye thereto
The bodyes in helle shul have ay
That shul be dampned at domesday.
¶Nowe wole I shewe that with alle
Seven manere of blysses that shul falle
Unto the soules with here bodyse
Of alle tho men that been ryghtwyse
That shul be saved atte that tyde
And hyghe in heven been gloryfyde,
And seven shenssheppes wol I neven
Contrarye unto the blysses seven
That shullen byfalle withouten ende
To the synful soules that shulle wende
With the bodyes into helle pytte
As is founden in holy wrytte.

Of blysses and shenshippes anentes the body

The fyrste blys that the soule shal have
Of ryghtwyse men that shul be save
Is wysdome to knowen and see
Alle thing that was, is, or shal bee.
They shul have knowyng of God fully —
Of the myght of the Fadur almyghtye,
The witte of the Sone eke shul they taste,
And also the godenes of the Holy Gaste;
Thus shal here knowyng parfite bee
On hyghe in heven on the holy Trynyté.
Alle shul there knowe and wyte
That God hath doon or shal do yite
In heven, in helle, in erthe aywhore.
Thus wyse shul thay ben everemore,
They shul have there so myche grace
When they shul se God face to face
That nothing that evere God dydde
Shal be fro hem leyned ny hidde,
Of nothing that God voucheth save
That any creature may knowyng have.
¶Seynt Austyn that myche couthe of clergye
Seyth in a sermoune thus openlye
In the syght of God that thay shul see
Thre manere of knowyng to hem shal be:
They shul se hym bothe God and mon,
And also hymselfe in hymme thon.
Thay shul wele knowe in that syght thore
Alle men and thinges les and more
As we moun se thre thinges here
In a myrroure of glas that is clere:
Oon is the myrroure that byfore us es,
Anothur oure owen face and lyknes,
And also we moun see therinne yitte
Othur thing that is withouten hitte.
¶Soo shul men see God ryght as he es
In the cleen myrroure of hys bryghtnes
As propurly as possible may be
For any creature hym for to se.
They shul se hemself in hym so bryght
And alle othur men togedre at o syght,
And alle othur thinges thay shul know
And se over alle bothe hyghe and low
As thay shul se that there shul dwelle
Alle the creatures in heven and helle.
Thay shul also there seen openly
Dyverse pryvittees of God almyghty
That no mon myght here know ny wyt
Thorow clergye nor by holy writte
That is how invysybul hee es
And unchaungeable and endles,
And howe he was byfore alle thing
Ever withouten any bygynnyng,
And how and whi that he shal be
Withouten endyng they shul se.
Alle thing that now is fro hem hyd
Shal then to hem be knowen and kyd.
Thay shul thenne se there openly
And whi somme of stature were uncomly
And somme ben ryche and som lyven porely
And why som children geten in horedom
Ben baptysed and have Cristendom,
And whi somme that ben in wedlok born
Er thay be cristened bene dede and lorn,
And whi some bygynne to be stedfaste
And lyven and enden evel at the laste.
¶They shul then se there openly
Of alle thing skil and enchesoun whi
That oon of God here is chosen and taken
And whi an othur is lafte forsaken,
Whi oon is taken up to a kyngdome
And anothur is putte to thraldome,
And whi somme children ben dede and lorne
In her modur wombe when they be borne.
They shul know als withouten dred
Whi som dyghen in here childehoede
And som when thay most wightnes welde
And whi somme lyven to her most elde.
Thay shul witte enchesoun thonne
Whi som have feyre shap of monne
And whi somme have evel bygynnyng
And atte the laaste haven gode endyng.
The soules that thenne knowe openly
Alle thees thinges and othur mony
In the boke of lyf that open shal be
Whiche that is the holy Trynytee.
Thus shul alle that in heven dwelles
Knowe and se as Seynt Austyn telles.
There shal uche mon as wele know othur
As here dooth any his sustur or his brothur
And knowe of what contré thay were
And who hem gaat and who hem bere.
Uche mon shal there know otheres thought
And alle the dedes that ever thay wrought;
Thus wyse shul thay be that shul come
To the blys aftur the day of dome.
They shullen alle be to Good lyche
His sones and eyres of heven riche
And eke as goddes of greet myght
As seyth the prophete in the sauter ryght
Ego dixi dii estis et filii excelsi omnes.5
“I say,” seyth he, “ye be goddes alle
And Goddes sones men shul yow cal,”
Wherfore hitte semeth when they thidur come
Thay shul be thonne ful of wysdome
And ful of myght lastyng evermore
When thay shul be as goddes thore.
¶Bot now moun men wel ask me here
A questyoun and say on this manere,
“Shulde they ought think that saved be thore
On syn that thay here shryven of wore
And in her lyf have maad hem clene
And that of hem assoyled have beene?”
¶Seynt Ancelme onswereth unto this
Tho that shul be in hevenne blys
Shul love God and thonke hym thore
Of alle the godes bothe lasse and more
That he hath doon unto hem here,
And to alle othur on the same manere
That aftur the greet doom shul be save
And endeles blys with hym to have.
Greet good he doth the while thou lyves
Whenne he thi synne heere forgyves;
Thou shalt hym thonke with herte free
That he hath her so forgyven thee
Alle the synnes that ever thow wrought
Yif thou myght thinke hem in thi thought.
¶Bot thou shalte undurstonden wele
That no more grevaunce shalt thou fele
Ny have no more myslykyngge
When thou haste on thi synnes menyng
Then he that som tyme in stryfe
Was sore wounded with swerde or knyf
And parfitely is heled and wele,
Of whiche he may no more sorow fele,
And as thou shamest not of thi dede
That thou dydest in thy childeheede.
No more shal thee than shame in thought
Of alle the synne that thou here wrought
That thow were shryven of parfytely
And God forgaf thorow his mercy;
No more thenne Seynt Petre hath now shame
That he forsooke oure Lorde by name,
Or Mary Maudeleyn of here synne
That sheo sumtyme delyted here inne.
No more shame shul tho men have
Of alle here synnes that shul be save
Bot for that God that bought us fre
Wolde thorow his mercye and his pité
And couthe thorow his wit so cleere
And wele myght by his owen powere
So greet synnes frely foorgeve
And hele the woundes that were so greve.
Therfore they shul hym love the more
And the more hym thonk therfore
And as wele for othur mennes trespas,
As for here synnes that he heled has
As for here owen that thay dyden here.
Therfore seyth Davyd thus in the sautere,
Misericordias domini in eternum cantabo.6
He seyth, “I shal the mercy syng
Of oure Lorde withouten cesyng.”
And so shullen alle withoute ende
That to the blys of heven shul wende,
And so myght thay on no wyse syng
Yif they of here synnes have menyng
Whiche they had doon here bodyly
And God forgave thorow his mercy.
Thus shul the soules have wisdome thore
And know and se bothe las and more,
Bot soules that with here bodyes synke
Shulen in helle of no good thynke
Ny have no witte ny know ny fele
No dede that evere here was doon wele.
On here peynes shal be al here thought
And on here synnes that thay ha wrought,
Of nothing shul they have menyng
Bot oonly of here wicked lyvyng
And on here wo withouten ende
And on here sorow that shal hem shende
That thay shul ever byfore hem see
That syght to hem shenshippe shal be.
¶The secounde blis as clerkes wote wele
That soules with here bodyes shul fele
Is more frenshippe and perfyte love
Then any mon in erthe may prove.
Uche on shal othur more love thonne
Then ever yitte here loved any mon
And that love shal be so studefaste
That hitte shal ever hoolde and laste,
For as every lyme of oo bodye
Loveth alle erthely lymes kyndly
And greetly wilneth ever her hele
So shal here love be perfyte and lele.
They shullen alle be of oon assente
And of oon wille and of oon entente.
For thay shul be ryght as oo body
In seere lymes with a soule only,
And God shal been here heed thore
And love hem ever as myche or more
As heed doth the body that here leveth
And othur lymes that on hitte meveth
That bonde of lof shal never slake
Thorow no stryf that mon con make.
¶Bot even the contrarye shul men se
Amonge the dampned soules be,
For they shul be ful of felony
Of hatereden, wratthe, and envy
And strangle hem yif that they myght
And uche oon wolde with othur fyght.
Thus shul thay stryve and hate uch oon
For pees shul thay never have noon.
And God almyghty and alle hys
That thenne shul be in heven blys
In sorow and pyne shul hem see
And of hem theere have no pytee
Bot alle hem hate as Goddes enemyse
And that haterede shal be ryghtwyse:
The fadur thenne that shal be save
No pyté on his sone shalle have
Ny the sone shal have noo pytee
On his fadur though he dampned bee;
Ny the modur on the same maneere
Of hire doughter that was hire dere
Ny the sustur on hire owen brothur
Ny noon of hem shal rewe on othur
Ny noon that shul be saved thonne
Shul have pyté of dampned monne.
When the ryghtwyse the synful shul see
Pyned in helle glad shul thay bee.
And for two skilles thay shul be fayne:
Oon is for thay been passed alle payne,
Anothur skil for Goddes vengeaunce
Is skilful and eke his ordynaunce.
The prophete this preveth and sheweth to us
Where he sayeth in the sauter boke thus:
Letabitur iustus cum uiderit vindictam.7
He seyth that “everyche a ryghtful mon
Ful glad and blythe shal be thon
Whan that thay Goddes vengeaunce se
On synful that dampned then shul be.”
¶The thridde blys as men moun rede
Is verrey acorde and ever oonhede
That soules shul have in heven togydre
With bodies when thay comen thydur
For uche oon shal doon otheres wille
And uche oon otheres lykyng fulfylle
As thine oon yghe foloweth by ryght
That othur there he settes his syght;
God shal acoorde there with alle his
And uche oon with othur there in that blys
And to what thing the soule wole tente
To the same sone the body shal assente,
And what that God wole then have doon
To that thay shul assente ful soon
And what kyns thing so that they wille
God shal hitte thenne ful soon fulfille.
This ilke acoorde shal nevermore cees
Bot ever lasten in reste and pees:
Alle shul they been in compeynye
Ryght as oon soule and oon bodye.
¶Bot the dampned shul there ageyn stryve
Evermore for here wickedde lyve;
Uche oon shal have othur thonne
And uche oon othur warye and banne.
The body shul hate the soule by skille
For the soule thought heere the ille,
And the soule shal hate the body
For that hitte wrought here the foly
And for the soule fyrst synne thought
And the body hitte aftur wrought
And wolde not leve ny stonde ageyn
Untoo deeth the body had slayen.
¶Forthi togedre shul thay bothe dwel
Withouten ende in the pyne of hel.
¶The ferthe blys is greet powere
That soules shul have in heven clere,
For they shul have so greet maystrye
And lordeshippe and be so myghtye
That thenne alle thing schal be doon
Atte here wille smartely and soon.
Whatso thay thinke then in thought
Atte here wille shal hitte be wrought
For alle thing shal be to hem bowande
And no thing shal ageyn hem stande.
God shal fulfille alle here lykyng
And folowe here wille in alle thing.
Thus shul they have greet powere
And hyghenes for here lownes here
Whiche they hadde in her lyf dayes,
As oure loorde God in the gospel sayes:
Qui se humiliat exaltabitur.8
“He that loweth hym ryght
He shal be hyghe in heven bryght.”
¶Bot alle the dampned soules holy
Shul wante hope powere and maystry
And therewith they shullen wilne al thing
Of whiche mon myght have lykyng
For they shul be in drede and awe
And ay undur foot be holden lawe.
Thay shul nought have atte her wille
Bot thing that hem shal lyken ille.
Michel sorow then shal hem bytyde
For her hyghenes here and her pryde
As this book here bereth wittenes
And in the same gospel writen es:
Et qui se exaltat humiliabitur.
He seyth, “that hyghes hym here to telle
He shal be lowed in the pyne of helle.”
¶The fyfthe blis is honoure and worship
That saved soules in heven shul kepe,
For they shul there have seere honoures
With crounes as kynges or emperoures
And sytt in setyls schynand bryght
With alle kyng nobley dubbed and dyght
With bryghtenes thenne they be cledde
And greet reverence unto hem bedde
And be honoured as Goddes frendes dere
For the worshippe they dyd God heere
In good werkes that to hym were swete,
For thus seyth Davyd the good prophete:
Nimis honorati sunt amici tui Deus.9
“Thi frendes, Loorde, that honoured thee
Ben mychel honoured and ay shal bee.”
¶Bot dampned that with syn be fyled
There ageyn shul be foul revyled
And eke despysed ever with alle
And stressed ageyn here wil as thralle
And pyned with gretter peynes sere
Then tonge may telle or ere may here.
They shul alle thole that shenship es
With pyne and sorow that is endles —
With hete and colde, vermyn and stynk,
And alle wicke thing that herte may thynk.
¶The syxte blis is greet sykurnesse
That soule shal have that saved esse
To have with body and be certeyn
Of endeles joy and never of peyn
And dwelle in heven withouten doute
Of any lettyng or puttynge oute
And withouten any maneere of drede,
For nothing thar hem have neede.
Thay shul not fare as men fare here
That ever lyven in drede and were
As bysshopes and kynges and emperours
Han alle greet drede to lese her honours
And uche othur mon hath drede also
His ryches and goodes too forgo
And every mon that here fareth wele
Hath evere drede anguisshe to fele.
Bot tho that shullen have heven blys
Shule nevere ha drede that joy to mys
For they shul be sykur inow thore
That joye shal lasten hem evermore.
¶Bot the dampned shul there ageyn
Forever be dredyng in her peyn
Leste that here peyne shul eched be
And maad wel more grevous to se,
For develes among hem shal ymagyn
Howe they may there echen here pyn
And the more peyn that they to the synful seke
The more they shul here owen gregge and eke
And of this thing is ryght no feerly
For they ben evermore ful of felony.
The develes shul thenne upon hem goon
And trede faste with her feet and toon
And threste hem doun in hete and smoke
As seyth the holy mon thus in his boke,
Vadent et uenient super eos demones horribiles.10
“Ful grysly develes shul goo and come
On hem” that were to God here unbuxome,
Thus dredyng shul they ever bee thore
That here pyne shal be more and more;
They shul be certeyn there to dwelle
And never for to come oute of helle.
¶The seventhe blys is joye parfyte
That soules shul have with gret delyte
With tho bodyes that saved shul bee
And wone in heven evere God to see,
Forwhi uche oon shul there that tyde
In body and soule be ful gloryfide
And joy and blys have wyth alle
With alle delites that moun befalle.
Uche oon with othur wel shal be knowen
And fele otheres joy ryght as here owen
More joye and blis myght nevere bee
Thenne uche oon shal thenne on othur see.
Thay shul se in heven brode and wyde
Mony sere joyes on every syde
Of whiche syght they shul more joy have
Thenne any mon myght wilne or crave.
Uche oon shal there be payed so wel
On his owen joye that he shal fele
Whiche he shal have parfytely thore
That he on no wyse shal wilne more
Uche oon shul mony a thousand see
In sere joyes as hymself shal bee,
And alle that shullen to heven be brought
Shul see that joy that God hath wrought,
And the syght of that joye shal bee
Greet joy to hem that shullen hit see.
Uche oon shal have mo joyes in heven
Then herte may thinke or tong may neven.
They shul have joyes withinne and oute
Aboven, bynethen, and over all aboute:
Aboven they shul have joy fullye
Of the swete syght of God almyghtye;
Bynethen of the sterres and planetes sere
And of the worlde that shal be so clere;
Abouten hem of heven that they shul se
And of creatures that so feyr shul be;
Withinne the gloryfying of monne
Of body and soule toogidur thonne;
Withouten of blysful compenyes
Of aungelles and othur ryghtwyse bodyes.
¶They shul have joyes in alle here wittes
In heven with God ryght there he sittes.
Fyrst shul they see with yghen bryght
Ful mony a lykyng and blesful syght.
They shullen her God apertely see
And alle the persones in the Trynytee,
The Fadur and Sone and the Holy Goste.
The syght shal be joye alther moste
For as he is so shul they see hym thon
Studefaste God and sothefast monne
Thorow whiche syght they shul knowe
And se alle thinges bothe hyghe and lowe
And alle the werkes that ever God wrought
And eche monnes dedes and his thought
And alle that shul in helle be thon
Uche a devel and uche a synful mon.
And alle the peynes that shul be thore
Shul they see thenne bothe les and more
And alle the erthe and hevenes aboute
And alle that there is withinne and oute,
This shul they see with myght and grace
In the greet bryghtnes of Goddes face
And for they shullen ay hym byholde
They shul knowe al thing that they wolde.
In this lyf here men seen hem nought
Bot thorow ryght trouthe oonly in thought
As in a mirroure to shew by lyknes,
Bot there shul men se hym as he es.
Menne seen hym here goostly by grace
Bot there shul men see hym face to face
And that syght shul alle men have
Withouten ende that shul be save.
Also they shullen see there apertly
His blysful modur Seynt Mary
That next hym sitteth so feyre and bryght
Aboven alle aungelles as hit is ryght,
For he hire cees to his modur goode
And here of hyre toke flesshe and blode
And vouchedsave to souke hire breste
Forthi is skil she sitte hym nexte.
Sche is feyre there as she syttes
That hire feyrnes passeth al mennes wittes
A ful greet joy may that bee toolde
Hire feyrnes there for to byholde.
They shul se there as the boke telles
The nyne orderes of bryght aungelles.
They been so feyre uponne to loke
And eke so bryght as seyth the boke
That alle the feyrnes of this lyf heere
That ever was seyn outher fer or neere
That men myght ordeyne defauteles
And were not bot oon poynt of her feyrnes
That they shul see there in thatte syght
Of alle the ordres of aungelles bryght.
They shullen hem see for plesyng thon
And serviable to God and to monne.
Ever yche an ordre in here degree
Shal doo that most lykyng shal be
Bothe to God and too monne ryght
Greet joy shal be there of that syght,
For every angelle by hymself oon
Shal clerer shine then ever sonne shoon.
That syght men moun a greet joy cal
To se the aungelles so bryght shine al.
So feyre a syght as that shal seme
Couthe never yitte mon ymagyn ny deme.
They shul yitte in heven see also
Patriarkes, prophetes, and othur mo
And eke aposteles and evangelystes
That foloweden no wey here bot Crystes.
They shul see innocentes there mony on
Of the whiche som for God were slon
And of martyres and also confessoures
And holy heremytes and doctoures
That holy writte gonne teche and kenne
And nomely many othur holy menne
Lered and lewed that lyved wel here
Bothe religyouse and eke seculere.
Holy maydenes there shul they se
That for God lyvyden in chastité
And for his love here lyf wolde lese
And othur mony that God shal cese,
And wedded folke that lyved wel here
And wydowes and othur in states sere.
A feyre syght shal this be for to see
On so feyre folke that there shul be
That bryghtere shul shine then any sonne,
This shul alle see that there shul wonne.
They shul also yitte verrely see
Uche oon be worshiped in hire degré
With grete nobeley and sere honours
And be as kynges or emperours
Corouned alle with coroune of blys
A delytable thing schal thenne be this.
Also they shul see there greet meede
That men shul have for here gode dede
Uche oon aftur that thay lyveden here
They shul have there so mony and sere
That nevere shul enden bot lastenne ay
That mesure hem no mon wele may.
Here meed shal be there so precyose
And so delytable and so plenteuose
That no monne hem as the boke sayse
Couthe ny myght tham gesce or prays.
To othur shal hem lyke as weele
As unto hem that shulle hem feele.
Heven hitte is bothe large and wyde
Even and rounde on uche a syde
Shynyng bryghtere then evere sonne shone
Ful wele is hem that there shulle wone.
A ful delytable syght shal that bee
To alle that dwellen in that contree
That londe is so feyre on too looke
And so bryght as seyth thee booke
That alle this worlde there we wone yitte
Were nought bot as a myddyng pitte
To regarde of that contré braade
That God so myche and feyre hath maade.
Hitte is holden so large a londe
Within the whiche space there myght stande
Mony a thousand of worldes seere
Of suche as we now inne heree,
That itté is cleped sovereynlye
The hyghe kyngdome of God almyghtye
Tho whiche is maad lyke aan cytee
There mony wonyng stedes shul bee
That holy menne shullen inne dwel.
Forthi seyth Godde thus in the gospel,
In domo patris mei mansiones multe sunt.11
“In my fadres house God almyghtye
Wonyng stedes,” he seyth, “be monye.”
Oure Lorde his faderes house he calleth
His kyngdome that to alle his falleth
The whiche is aan cittee ryght
With alle kyns ryches dubbed and dyght
As seyth Seynt Joon Goddes derlyng dere
In the appocalippes on this manere:
Vidi ciuitatem sanctam Ierusalem nouam descendentem
de celo sicut sponsam ornatam viro suo.12
“I sawe,” he sayth, “the holy cytee
Of Jerusaleem alle new on to se
Comyng a doun fro heven bryght
Of God almyghty ful richely dyght
As bryde maade feyre to hire brydegom.”
Thus sayeth Seynt Jon he saw hit com.
The citee is thus to undurstande
Holy chirche that is here ay fyghtande
Ageyn the Devel and eke his myght
That hitte assayleth both day and nyght,
Bot that fyght shal not laste ay
For hitte shal enden at domesday.
Then shal holy chirche of fyghtyng cese
And be with God in reste and pese,
For hitte is bryde and God brydegom.
Then shual thay bothe togyder come
And in heven won ay togidur
And alle here children shal com thidur
That were to hem buxome and trewe
And that bytokeneth the cyté newe,
For holy chirche shal here at that tyde
Be there in heven alle gloryfyde
And wone ay with God almyghtye
In joye and myrthe and melodye.
Bot holy chirche that is Goddes bryde
Byhoveth yitte fyghte and here abyde
The comyng of Criste that is brydegoome
And ever is myghtye to overcoome
Holy chirches batayles of Goddes ryght
And God overcometh hem by hys myght.

A difference of holy chirche

On two maneres may holy chirche be tan
And atte the laste thay shul bothe be aan.
On oon manere is holy chyrche fyghtande
And on an othur manere overcomande.
Thes clerkes seyn as the bokes witnes
That holy chirche that here fyghtyng es
Is no thing ellus bot a gederyng
Of Cristen men in lawful lyvyng;
Holy chirche eke overcometh therto
Wheche is Good of the compeny of tho
That with hym dwel there in hiys blys
The wheche he hath hyght to alle his.
Thidur hooly chirche that fyghtyng es
Are alle Cristen men bothe more and les.
Undur holy chirche that is overcomyng
Are alle holy menne that been lyvyng
Bot holy chirche that here fyghteth fast
Unto the day of doom shalle last
And aftur in the cytee of heven wone
With hire owen spouse Criste Goddes sone,
For atte that tyme shal fulfilled be
The noumbre of holy men in that cyté
Thorow holy chirche that is Goddes spouse
Wheche cyté God calleth his fadur house.
There shul alle ryghtwyse menne holy
Dwelle evermore in aungels compeny;
Uche oon shal have feyr wonyng
And parfite joy withouten endyng.
The stretes of heven so wyde and brade
No mon may wyte how they are made
Ny noon con ymagyn fully in thought
Of what kyng thing they are wrought,
For they were never maad with hande
Bot thorowe myght of God alle weldand.
We fynden that hitte is feyre and bryght
Bot hitte descreve con no mon ryght
For so wyse a clerke was never on lyve
That the feyrnes couth descryve,
Bot though I ne con descreve that stede
I wolde imagynne on myn owen hede
For to gyven hit a discripsyoune
For I have thertoo greet affeccyoun.
A greet coumforte hitte is unto me
To thinke and speke of that cyté
That travayle may me greve no thing
For I have thereinne so greet lykyng
Ageyn ryght trouthe ne thinketh that I do
To lykne that citee that me longeth to.
Men moun hitte lykne on summe party
To bodyly thing and also too goostly.
Bot alle thing that cleer is and bryght
Es mast lykand here tylle bodily syght
Tharfor I wille it lyken tille bodily thing]
That feyre is with goostly undurstondyng.
Ful longe and brode is heven cyté
Of the whiche no comperysoun made may be.
Bot as I ymagynne in my thought
I lykne hitte to a cyté that were wrought
Of goolde and precyouse stones sere
Set on a moot of berille ful clere
With walles and wardus and turrettes
Ane entree and gates and eke garettes.
And alle the walles were of that cyté
Of precyouse stones and ryche perré
And alle the turrettes of cristal clene
And alle the wardes enamayled bydene
And the gates of charbocle shuld falle
And the garettes of rubies and coralle
And hitte had lones and stretes wyde
And feyre byldynges on every syde
And shining as golde bryght burnyssht
And with alle rychees ful repleynyssht,
And alle the stretees and loones
Were even paved with precyouse stoones
And the breed and the lengthe of that cité
Were wel more then here is any contré.
And alle kyng manere of melody
Of musyk and myrthe and mynstralcye
That myght be maad with mouthe or hand
Were contynuely thereinne sounande
And that uche a lone and uche a strete
Were ever more ful of savoure swete
Of ryche spicery and othur thingge
That any swete savoure myght of spryng
And plenté ever were of mete and drynk
And alle delytes that men myght think,
And alle the cytesyns that wone thore
Hadden as myche beauté or ellus more
As had Absolon that so feyre was
That his beauté al mens dyd pas
And hadde as myche strengthe among
As Sampsoun hadde that was so strong
That a thousand men armed fulle cleen
Overcome and felled alle doun bydeen,
And that uche were so swifte to pas
And eke to renne as Asael was
That so swyfte was to ren or goo
That he myght turne bothe buk and doo.
And uche oon had as myche lykyng
And alle her wille in al kyns thing
As on Salomon God vouchedsave
That had alle thinge that he wolde crave,
And uche oon had as myche fredom
As Auguste that was emperour of Rom
Unto whom alle londes aanboute
Oughten servyse and weren undurloute
As that uche oon had as good heele
As Moyses had that was ay leele,
For God wolde nevere let evel dere hym
Save he maad hys yghen dym
And that uche oon myght lyve thore
As long yif that hitte possible wore
As Matussael dyd in this lyf here
That lyved ny honde a thousand yeere,
And uche myght as myche wisdom welde
As dyd Salamon that men wyse helde
That thorow his wysdome had knowyng
Of alle kyns thing an undurstondyng
And uche oon loved as myche or more
And als good frendes to othur wore,
As Davyd to Jonathas was knowen and kyd
When he hym loved as he hymself dyd.
And uche oon of hem honoured woore
Of alle the othur that woned thore
As Joseph was the Egipcyenes ryght
Whom they louted as her lord of myght
And that uche oon were in alle thinge
As myghty as was Alysaundre the kyng
That conquered Affryke Europe and Asye
Wheche contenen alle worlde holy.
And that uche oon acorde in oonhede
As Lysyas and Sampson dyden in dede
Of whiche nouther wolde nothing do
Bot yif that both assenteden therto;
And that uche of hem as sykur wore
Of here dwellyng to wone long thoore
As Ennok and Ely on the same wyse
That sykur ben dwellyng in paradyse,
And that uche oon as myche joy had
As a mon shulde have that were lad
Toward the galowes and in that gaate
Were taken and putte in a kynges staate
And that uche oon of hem shulde falle
Alle the joyes that they myght have alle.
He that hadde alle that here toolde es
Shul passe alle the worlde in worthines.
Whoso hadde alle this withouten doute
He hadde joyes inowe over alle aboute
With alle delytes he myght have here
And that specyally in thes wittes sere
That is to say in syghte and heryng
In smellyng tastyng and in felyng.
Bot alle thes blesses that I here neven
Were not to regarde of the blysses in heven
Bot foule wrechednes and eke freelté,
For as myche difference there may be
Bytwene hyghe heven and kynges paleys
And an stynkyng swyn sty lytul to preys,
No more comperysoun there may be maade
Bytwene that cyté of heven so braade
And suche cyté of golde and perre
Then bytwene the worlde and a folde may be.
Alle kyns rychesse that may here be sen
Were bot as myche that were unclen
To regarde of that noble rychesse
In that cyté of heven that noon may gesse.
Alle the melodyse of this worlde here
Were nought there bot as sorowes seere
To regaarde of that swete melody
That in the cyté of heven is ay redy,
And alle swete savours that men may fele
Of alkyn thing that here savours wele
Were bot stynke to regarde of that refleyre
That is in the cytee of hevene so feyre.
Alle manere worshippe that here may be
Were not bot shenshippe thereon to se
As to regarde of that grete worshipe
That men shullen in that cyté kepe.
The feyrnes that Absolon had in syght
Hitte were bot foulnes in heven bryght;
Alle the strengthe of Sampson that was pereles
Were nought toolde there bot feblenes;
Alle the delyte that Salomon had the kyng
Were nought there bot as myslykyng.
Alle the swiftenes that Asael had in his lyve
Were there bot slowenes withouten stryve.
Alle the fredom that August has whilome
Were nought toolde bot as thraldome;
Alle the hele that here hadde Moyses
Were nought ellus there bot as sekenes;
Alle the eelde that Matussael had here
Were les there then the lest day of a yeere;
Alle the witte that Salamon hadde redy
Were there nought ellus bot alle foly;
Alle the love that Davyd Jonathas loved
Were nought there bot hatereden proved;
Alle the honors that the Egipcyens to Joseph dyd
Ne were there bot a shenshippe kyd.
Alle the myght that Alysaundre had aywhore
Were nought toolde bot feblenes thore;
Alle the acorde that Lysyas had in his lyve
With Sampson were nought there bot stryve;
And sykurnes that had Ennok and Ely
Of alle here dwellyng in paradyse nomly
Were not ellus bot as unsykurnes
To the wonyng in heven that is endles.
Thus moun men lykenne and ymagyn
The citee of heven and the blys there in
To a sitee of golde and precyouse stones sere.
Bot the cytee of heven is ferre more clere
And is sette on so hyghe ane hille
That no synful mon may wynne thertille.
That hille I lyken to byrelle cleene
Bryghter then any that here is seen;
That hille nys ellus by undurstondyng
Bot holy thought and brennyng yernyng
That holy men hadden in that steede
While thay lyved here byfore here dede,
For God wole that thay als hyghe pas
As here yernyng upwardes was.
Yitte I lyken forther in my thought
The walles of heven as they were wrought
Of alle manere of precyouse stones sere
And thertoo were sette in goolde ful clere.
Bot so bryght goolde and eke so clene
In this worlde was there nevere noon sene
Ny so ryche stones nor so precyouse
As there been ny noon so vertuouse.
Tho precyouse stones goostly moun be
Good werkus and the goolde charyté
And abouten hem shal schine ful clere
That dyden good werkus and charité here.
The turrettes of heven grete and smale
I lycken to turrettes of cleer cristale,
Bot turrettes ben more shynaand
Then ever was cristalle in any laand.
Goostly tho turrettes moun sere honors be
That good men in heven shul feele and se;
The wardes of the cyté in heven bryght
I lykne to wardes ful stalworthy dyght
Of silver and goolde wel enamayled
And clenly dyght and wel entayled.
Bot the wardes of the cytee of heven
Ben more trysty thenne mon con neven;
Goostly to speke the waardes so dyght
Moun be called strengthe, power, and myght
That thay shul have that in heven dwelle
As ye myghte here me byfoore telle.
The gatetes I lyken of heven braade
To gatees that were of charbocle maad;
The gatees moun be calde mekenesse
Of ryght feyth, fredome, and buxomnesse
Whiche gyven entre to menne buxom
Into the cytee of heven too com.
The garettes aboven the gates bryght
Of the cyté of heven I lykenne ryght
For tho garettes of a cyté fyne rede gold
That were wrought as I byfore told
Of fyne coralle and rych rubyse
And othur noble stones of greet pryse,
With fyn goolde weren aboute frette
With bryghte besauntes among hem sette.
The garettes of heven goostly moun be
Hyghe states and lordeschippe of dignité
For alle tho men that shal wone thore
Shul bere hyghe state for evermore.
The lones and eke the stretus alle
That in the cytee of heven moun falle
And the dwellyng stedes that ben therinne
I lyken ryght thus as I ymagynne
To the lones and stretes les and more
Of the cyté of goolde that I speke of ore,
With byldynges on yche a syde to stonde
And alle fyne goolde bryght shynande.
Bot in no cytee that mon may neven
Are so bryght wonyng stedes as in heven
Where ryghtful men shul wone atte ese
In joyful quiete reste and pees.
And therfore holy chirche that preyeth
For soules in purgatory thus seyeth:
Tuam deus deposcimus pietatem vt eis tribuere
digneris quietas et lucidas mansiones.
“Lorde we asken thy greete pytee
That thou vouchesave as we preye thee
To gyve hem wonyng stedes bryght
And resteful,” the whiche han nede of syght.
No bodyly yghe myght nevere no poynt se
Of suche bryghtnes as there shal be;
Of heven uche a loone and uche a strete
Shul shine ful bryght for there shul mete
Aungels and men bryghtere shynande
Then ever sonne shone in any lande.
Uche monnes body shal shine so bryght
That on to a contré myght gyve lyght
For everylke an here there on her hede
And on her bodyse on everyche a stede
Shal be as bryght as is the sonne
That we moun se here where we wonne
Ryght shynyng even aboven us,
And therfore seyth the boke ryght thus:
Fulgebunt iusti sicut sol.13
“The ryghtwyse menne shul schine as sonne,”
In heven where thay shul ever wonne.
And yitte shalle alle that gret bryghtnes
That ryghtful men shul have be les
Then the bryghtnes of God almyghty
As hitte shal be knowen there openly.
Ryght as the sterres here where we won
Semen to bryghtnes of the son
Men shul be as sterres in bryghtnes
And God bryghtest as son of ryghtwisnes.
Uche a loon and street that there may be
In heven is larger then is here a contré
For that space the whiche is contend
In the cité of heven may ha non end.
The stretes and lones goostly to telle
Are holy men that there shul dwelle
And the wonyng stedes are the grete medes
That they shul have for here good dedes.
In that cité shal be wel more riches
Then alle men of this worlde moun ges;
Alle the ryches gostly to undurstand
Are sere delytes and blysses ay lastande
Whiche alle that to heven shal wende
Shulle fele and see withouten ende.
The pament of heven may lykened be
To a pament of precyouse stones and perre
Bot that pament shal shine more clere
Then goolde or precyouse stones ever dyd here
Tho whiche shal nevere crevece be seen
Bot ever more hole and even and cleen.
This pament of precyouse stones and perre
Goostly to undurstonde moun wel be
Good parfite love and lyf a endles
With pees and reste and sykurnes
That alle shal have that shal wone thore
And this pament shal laste evermoore.
Thus may a monne that conne and wille
The cytee of hevene to lyken by skille
To bodyly thing that is feyre and bryght
And moste delitable unto oure syght
And to precyouse stones of greet vertue
And to silver and goolde of gret value
That men moun here wele bodyly se
Bot suche thing may in heven non be.
Of verrey ryches greet plenté is thore
That shal not fayle bot laste everemore
That is alle thing that God vouchethsave
That menne in heven wol yerne and have.
Aboute the cyté shal nought be seen
Bot bryght bemes oonly as I ween
The whiche shul shine fro Goddes face
And speden aboute over alle that place.
His bryght face shullen alle thoo see
That shul wone thore in that cytee
And that syght is moste joye in heven
As men myght here me byfore neven.
And though that cyté be longe and wyd
Menne shul hym see from the ferrest syde
As wel tho that shul be fro hym ferre
As tho that shul be to hym nerre,
As men of her londes moun have syght
Of the sonne that shineth here bryght
Ryght so the face of God alle myghty
Shalle be schynyng there ful openly
To alle the men that thidur shul wende
Though they dwelle atte the ferrest eende.
Bot uche mon as he loved God heere
Shal wonne there som fer and som nere
For som loved God here more then som
And som loved les that thidur shul com.
They that loved God here alther best
When thay come thidur shal be nexst.
The more nyghe that thay hym bee
The more verrely thay shul hym see
And the more verrely they se his face
The more shal be there here solace.
Bot thoo that here loved hym lees
Shal wone there aftur that here love es.
Uche monne shal see hym in his degré
In whatte syde of heven that he be.
¶Als uche shul have in here herynge
Greet joy in heven and greet lykyng
For they shul here there aungels song
And holy men shul syng there among
With delytable voys and ryght cleere
And eke with that thay shul ay heere
Alle othur manere of swete melodye
Of delytabul voys and mynstralcye,
And uche oon swete tones of musyke
That to any monnes herte may lyke
And of alle othur voyces that swete be
Shullen uche oon heren in that cytee
Withoute any kyns instrumentes ringand
And withoute mevyng foot, mouth, or hand
And withoute any maner travayle,
And this shal neveremore cees ny fayle.
Suche melodye as there shal be thon
Herde in this worlde never erthely mon
For alle the of this world heere
That ever yitte hath ben fer or nere
Were nought bot as sorow and care
Unto the leeste poynt of melody thare.
¶Amonge hem eke shal be swete savoure
So swete was never here herbe ny floure
When they ben moste in her vertue
Or beste to taste or feyreste of hewe
Ny of spycery myght never spryng
Ny of no kyng othur manere of thing
That by kynde shuld savoure wele
So swete a savour as they shul fele
Ny herte may thinke ny tong telle
How swete uche oon to othur shal smelle.
That savoure shal be so plenteuouse
And so swete and ful delycyouse
That alle kyng spycery that mon may fele
Of alle othur thing that savoreth wele
Were bot a thing that stonke soure
To regarde of that swete savoure.
¶Also uche oon that shal wone thore
Shul syng with aungels as I seyd ore,
Bot they shul preyse God in hire songe
And thonke hym of his mercy evere among
And everyche of alle that compaynye
Shal speke with othur ful swetelye
With laughyng and with lovely sembland —
Ful wele is hem that there bee wonande,
And thonke God ay that hem con wysse
To mekenes that ladde hem to that blysse
With angur they hadde in her lyf dayse
Thenne moun thay saye as Davyd sayse,
Letati sumus pro diebus quibus nos humiliasti
et annis quibus uidimus mala.14
“Lorde ful glad for the dayes ben we
In whiche thou madest us lowe to be
In yeeres in the whiche we sey illes.”
Thus moun men seyen for certeyn skilles;
Thenne shal here syngyng and her spekyng
To hem be greet joye and greet lykyng.
¶Also they shul fele worshipes grete
For uche oon shal sitte in a bryght sete
And as kynges or quenes corouned be
With crounes dyght of ful ryche perre
And with noble stones precyouse of prys
As Davyd to God speketh on this wys:
Posuisti domine super capud eius
coronam de lapide precyoso.15
“Lorde on his hede thou shal sette ryght
A coroune of precyouse stones wel dyght.”
This coroune is the coroune of blysse
And the stones joy that shal nevere mysse;
The worship that they shul fele shal passe
Alle the worshippe that ever here wasse.
Thus shul they [have] in her wittes fyve
Parfyte joyes with endles lyve
In that blysful hyghe citee of heven
Where joy is more then mon con neven.
They shul mony hundreth thousand se
Of men and wymmen in that cité
That mony dyverse joyes shul have
As thay ben worthy and God vouchethsave,
And alle the joy that thay shul see
Grete joy unto hemself shal be.
Other mennes joyesshul lyke hem as wel
Ryght as here owen that they shul fele,
Then shal mon have mo joyes in heven
Then any tonge may telle or neven
For uche shal have specyal joyes and mede
For uche good thought and uche good dede
That he thought or wrought open or pryve,
Then moun here joyes never noumbred be
That uche in heven when he cometh thidur
Shal have in body and soule togydur
Evermore withouten any yrkyng
For they shul be ay new and at bygynnyng
Of wheche the leest is more to fele or se
Then alle the joyes of this worlde pryve.
They shul be fed nobly and wele
With joyes of syght that they shul fele.
They shul worche noon othur thing,
Bot preyse God ay withoute yrkyng
As a versyfyour seyth therebye
In oon of his vers thus openlye,
Est visio victus, laus accio, lumen amictus.
“With the syght of God shul they be fed,
With bryghtnes of lyght they shul be cled,
And her werkes shal be ay preysyng”
In whiche they shul have ay lykyng.
Bot the moste joy in heven shal bee
The gloryouse syght of the Trynitee
The whiche they shul see evermore
That joye shalle pas alle other thore
For ay while they shul that syght see
Of alle joyes shul they fulfilled bee,
And yif that they shuld that syght mys
Thay myght thenne have parfyte blys,
For though a mon were pyned in helle
With mo peynes then tonges myght telle
And he of Goddes face myght sen ought
Alle hys peyne myght dere hym nought.
¶Now have I redde yow how men shul have
Sere joyes in heven that shullen be save,
Bot the dampned folke there ageyn
Shul have ay sorowe and parfite peyn
Withoute eende for here wicked lyve,
For they shul have in her wittes fyve
Ful grete turmentes on sere manere
With peynes grysly mony and seere
That is to say syght and heryng,
Smellyng, tastyng, and felyng.
Fyrste they shul aboute hem in hel se
More sorowe then in this worlde may be
And the sorowe that they shul see thore
Shal be strong peyne to hem evermore.
Her dwellyng in helle as seyth the boke
They shul see ful of fyre and smoke
And ful grysly merkenes and dym
And alle aboute hem fendes ful grym
That with peynes sere shul peyn hem ay
As men myght here me beforen say
And though tho in helle have no lyght
Yitte shul they of uche peyn ha syght
By sparkes as seyth Seynt Austyn
Not hem to coumforte bot to eche her pyn.
Yitte more sorowe hem shalle betyde
For they shul heren on every syde
Ful hydous noyse and deolful dyn
Of develes and synful men therin;
They shul here develes there hydously
And the synful pepul goule and cry.
They shul in smelyng fele more stynk
Thenne tonge may telle or herte may thynk
Of brennyng brymstoon and als of pyck
And of othur thing that is fulle wyck.
That stynke as [yhe] moun undurstond wele
Shal be strong peyne hem for to fele,
And yitte thertoo uche oon shal othur wary
And myssey and sklaundre God almyghty.
They shul ay stryve and be atte debate
And uche oon of hem shal othur hate;
Amonges hem shal there never be pees
Ny here grete peynes shul nevere cees.
Here throtes shullen be fylled among
With alle thing that is byttur and strong
Of leme of smoke of stormes lothe
And brymston and pycke togedre meyned bothe
And molten bras and leed with alle
And with alle othur wellyng metalle:
This shal be a strong peyne to taste
Amonges alle othur leeste and maste.
Also they shul felen as I ere tolde
Outrageouse hete and outrageous coolde
For now they shul frese and now brenne
And eke be knawen withoute and inne:
Withinne as yee shul undurstaande
With wormes of conscience ay bytande,
Withouten of dragonnes fel and kene
So hydous were here never noon sene
With neddres todes and othur vermyn
And othur hidous beestes of ravyn
As wolves lyouns and beres ful felle
That shul not be bot develes of helle
In lykenes of bestes and of vermynne
That shul hem gnawe and eche here pyne
And therto the develes shul smyte folly
With glowyng homores huge and hevy
The whyche shul semen of yren and steel,
This peyn they shul ever there feel.
Thus shul thay ever be pyned thore
In here fyve wittes as I seyde ore
With sondry peynes as is gode skille
For here wyttes here they useden ille.
Alle these peynes that I of here telle
And mony othur moo shul ben in helle
That they shul thole that shul wende thidur
In body and soule bothe togydur.
Thus shul thay evermore contynuely
Have parfyte peyne withouten mercy
Fro the whiche peyne God us chylde
Thorow preyeres of his modur mylde
And the ryght wey of lyf us wysse
That we moun come unto his blysse.
¶Nowe is the laste parte of this bok sped
And alle the materes therin be red
The whiche conteneth as yee myght here
Bothe generalle and specyal joyes sere
That alle thas that til heven sal come
Sal haf aftir the day of dome,
And sere schendschepes of helle alswa
That er even contrary til tha
The whilk thas that sal til helle wende
Sal haf thar withouten ende.
Wharfor whaswa of this wil take hede
May be stird til luf and drede:
Til drede thurgh mynde of the hydusnes
Of payne and sorow that in helle es,
Til luf thurgh mynd of joyes and blisse sere
That God hetes til alle that lufes hym here.
Bot the drede es noght medeful to prufe
That accordes noght halely with that lufe,
For if drede stand by itself anely
Na mede of God it es worthy.
Tharfor drede suld be lufes brother
And ayther of tham stand with other
For whaswa lufes God on ryght manere
He has grete drede to wrethe hym here.
Than lufes he his bydynges to fulfille
And dredes to do oght ogayne his wille,
Delites to be with God ay
And dredes to be put fra hym oway.
For men suld noght drede God anly for payne
Bot men suld drede to tyn the joy soverayne
That es the syght of God of heven
The whilk yhe herd me byfor neven,
That es that luf ay with that drede
And that dred of God es worthy mede.
For thogh we suld never helle se
Ne syn suld never punyst be
In purgatory ne in helle
Ne in this werld whar we duelle,
Yhit suld we luf God for hymself ryght
And drede to tyne hys luf and of him the syght,
For sikerly I dar wele say this
That whaswa wyst what joy and blys
Of the syght of God in heven war
And als proprely had sene als it es thar,
He had lever thole here this payne
Ilk day anes alle qwik to be flayne
Ar he the syght of his face suld tyne
That in heven so bright sal shyne.
Many sere joys ma thar sal falle
Bot that sight es mast principalle joy of alle
For that joyful sight sal contene
Alle other joyes that sal thar be sene
Of whilk joys the lest sal pas
Alle the joy that ever here was,
For joy here es noght bot passand vanité
Bot the joyes that er thar evermar sal be
Til whilk joyes that has nan ende
God us bring when we hethen wende. Amen.
Now haf I here als I first undirtoke
Fulfilled the seven partes of this boke
That er titeld byfor to have in mynde.
The first es of the wrechednes of mans kynde,
The secunde es of the werldes condicions sere
And of the unstabelnes of the werld here;
The thred es of the ded that es bodily
The ferthe alswa es of purgatory
The fift es of domesday the last day of alle
And of the takens that byfor sal falle;
The sext es of the paynes of helle to neven
And the sevend part es of the joyes of heven.
In thir seven er sere materes drawen
Of sere bukes of whilk som er unknawen,
Namly til lewed men of England
That can noght bot Inglise undirstand.
Tharfor this tretice drawe I wald
In Inglise tung that may be cald
Prik of Conscience als men may fele,
For if a man it rede and understande wele
And the materes tharin til hert wil take
It may his conscience tendre make
And til right way of rewel bryng it bilyfe
And his hert til drede and mekenes dryfe
And til luf and yhernyng of heven blis
And to amende alle that he has done mys,
For the undirstandyng of thir maters seven
That men may in this buke se and neven
May make a man knawe and halde in mynde
What he es here of his awen kynde,
And what he sal be if he avyse hym wele
And whar he es for to knaw and fele.
Yhit may he se when he it redes
What he es worthy for his dedes,
Whether he es worthy joy or payne
This tretice may make hym be certayne,
For tharin may he many thynges se
That has bene and es and that sal be.
Thus may this tretice with the sentence
Pryk and stirre a mans conscience
And til mekenes and luf and drede it dryfe
For to bring hym til ryght way of lyfe.
Of alle theis I haf sere maters soght
And in seven partes I haf tham broght
Als es contende in this tretice here
That I haf drawen out of bukes sere
Aftir I had in tham understandyng
Alle if I be of symple kunnyng.
Bot I pray yhou alle par charité
That this tretice wil here or se
Yhe haf me excused at this tyme
If yhe fynde defaut in the ryme,
For I rek noght thogh the ryme be rude
If the maters tharof be gude.
And if any man that es clerk
Can fynde any errour in this werk
I pray hym do me that favour
That he wille amende that errour,
For if men may here any errour se
Or if any defaut in this tretice be
I make here a protestacion
That I wil stand til the correccion
Of ilka rightwyse lered man
That my defaut here correcte can.
This tretice specialy drawen es
For to stirre lewed men til mekenes
And to make tham luf God and drede,
For whaswa wil it here or rede
I hope he sal be stirred tharby
Yf he trow that God es allemyghty.
And he sal it here or se
And may noght tharby stirred be
It semes that he es wittles
Or over mykel hardend in wikkednes.
Bot alle thas that redes it loud or stille
Or heres it be red with gode wille
God graunt tham grace that thai may
Be stird tharby til ryghtwyse way
That es tille the way of gude lyfyng
And at the last be broght til gude endyng.
And yhe that has herd this tretice red
That now es broght til ende and sped,
For oure Lordes love swete Jhesu
Prey for hym specyally that hit drew
That gyve he lyve God save hym harmeles
And mayntene hys lyf in alle godenes,
And yif he be dede as falleth kyndly
That God on his soule have mercye
And bryng hitte to that blysful place
Where joye evere is and eke solace,
To the whiche place he us alle bryng
That for oure heele on rode con hyng.


search for

desire to be
will not





(see note)


perpetually moving as [it] does

highest; dwelling


(see note)
of various things to be observed

(see note)



from [their] knowledge


to [those who] pay attention to them



by us
Each and every

(see note)


was called
(see note)

each and every circle; (t-note)

Estimated (ordained) in breadth

If he so long might live; (t-note)



(see note)

each and every mile [would] contain


wisdom; (see note)


hence he measured; (see note)

by counting

how big they are

may be seen here

(see note)

approached (drew near)




move; (see note)

And it may not be contained within anything
in each part

[allow] us to achieve
called heaven empyrean

moves; (see note); (t-note)

their dwelling
Who gave themselves here

(see note)



hear; eye


perfect in knowledge
(see note)



But only God who

said always


all kinds of wealth to wield

love tokens

living prepared

love counsels; peace

happiness; (t-note)


countenance (cheer)

always among everyone

harmony (oneness)


is not [any] thing

(see note)




shame; be assigned; (t-note)

their contraries


with regard to


Look at




fly where they think [it] good

back directly


(see note)



Nor scarcely stir

weigh heavily

readily; (see note)
remove; their

indeed; (t-note)
Without any resistance

weak (forgetful, lethargic)


be in plenty

deny nor impede





know well

health; always live

no more [of the] living
So much desire

bestows (vouchsafes)



often times; (see note)


each one




took heed

(see note)




For they shall always by day be contained

have an end



pained; (t-note)

trance; dying





torments; name






concealed nor

who knew much of learning

(see note)

outside it


secrets; (see note)
nor understand


Christian belief


reason and grounds

vitality wielded


(see note)

begat; bore

be like God

Should those saved there think at all
From; were shriven of

(see note)

good [things]


remembrance; (see note)

[be] ashamed


(see note)

(see note)



nor knowledge




part (limb)


(see note)
(see note)


(see note)

reasons; joyful

fair and also his judgment; (t-note)

true concord; unity



at once


curse and condemn
(see note)

leave or oppose (the sin)
Until death had slain the body






Great; befall
Because of their arrogance

whoever raises himself here


thrones shining; (t-note)
attired and adorned




suffer whatever torment



they need for nothing


sure enough there


aggravate and increase
wonder; (t-note)



at that time

on another


pleased (rewarded); (t-note)






most of all

And each of man’s deeds

(see note)




create faultless

pleasure then

nor judge


(see note)

make known

secular; (see note)


various; (see note)



according to how they

guess or appraise; (t-note)


where we still dwell
In comparison with

Like the one we now [live] in here

dwelling places

Dwelling places

his [believers] belongs

adorned and set

(see note)





taken (understood)
church militant; (see note)
[church] triumphant


called to be his; (t-note)

who were living

dwell; (t-note)




kind of thing; (see note)




right belief
yearn for
compare somewhat

(see textual note); (t-note)
(see textual note)

(see note)

moat of beryl
fortifications; (see note)


carbuncle should consist






(see note)

completely; (see note)

Asahel; (see note)

(see note)

subservient; (see note)
Whereby; health
ever loyal
(see note)

Methuselah; (see note)
nigh on one thousand

(see note)

(see note)

worshiped; (see note)

(see note)

the whole world
(see note)

(see note)




nothing in comparison to


All kinds of riches
muck; (see note)
In comparison to


ever present


[an] embarrassment

(see note)

(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
without strife (without any argument)
once (whilom); (see note)

health; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)

(see note); (t-note)
Would be proclaimed only as a disgrace there
everywhere; (see note)

(see note)
assurance; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)


is to be understood as nothing else
Than; burning yearning

their death


such bright gold and also so pure



earthly place
Spiritually; (t-note)

fortified places
stoutly built

exactly formed; decorated




To the garrets of a city [of] fine red gold



lanes and also



(see note)

grant; (t-note)
dwelling places
(see note)

one to a country
each and every hair
in every place






infer (guess)



In which shall never [a] crevice

always endless

to liken by reason


will yearn for



them [the beams]

(see note)


best of all


shall be there their

according to what their

(see note)
Also each

For all those [melodies]


Nor of any kind of other thing

all kinds of spices

In comparison to



Against the anger

definite reasons


set with rich pearl





in secret
Then may their joys


[not traced]



see at all

Great (Multitudinous)
(see note)
perpetual; utter


(see note)
increase their


[you] might


flame of smoke and foul storms; (t-note)
pitch together mingled


beasts of prey

increase their pain; (t-note)



utter (perfect)


those who; (t-note)

multiple torments

The which those who shall

advantageous to experience


to make him [God] angry here


Each and every day to be flayed alive
Ere; lose

Of which joys the least shall surpass

passing (temporary)




rule; quickly

yearning for



Even though



And he [who] shall

But all those who read it

if he live; (t-note)

as happens by nature

Who for our salvation on the cross did hang

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