Torpor, ebes sensus, scola parua labor minimusque
Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam:
Qua tamen Engisti lingua canit Insula Bruti
Anglica Carmente metra iuuante loquar
Ossibus ergo carens que conterit ossa loquelis
Absit, et interpres stet procul oro malus.1
Of hem that writen ous tofore
The bokes duelle, and we therfore
Ben tawht of that was write tho:
Forthi good is that we also
In oure tyme among ous hiere
Do wryte of newe som matiere,
Essampled of these olde wyse,
So that it myhte in such a wyse,
Whan we ben dede and elleswhere,
Beleve to the worldes eere
In tyme comende after this.
Bot for men sein, and soth it is,
That who that al of wisdom writ
It dulleth ofte a mannes wit
To him that schal it aldai rede,
For thilke cause, if that ye rede,
I wolde go the middel weie
And wryte a bok betwen the tweie,
Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore,
That of the lasse or of the more
Som man mai lyke of that I wryte.
And for that fewe men endite
In oure Englissh, I thenke make
A bok for Engelondes sake,
The yer sextenthe of Kyng Richard.
What schal befalle hierafterward
God wot, for now upon this tyde
Men se the world on every syde
In sondry wyse so diversed,
That it wel nyh stant al reversed,
As for to speke of tyme ago.
The cause whi it changeth so
It needeth nought to specifie,
The thing so open is at ÿe
That every man it mai beholde.
And natheles be daies olde,
Whan that the bokes weren levere,
Wrytinge was beloved evere
Of hem that weren vertuous;
For hier in erthe amonges ous,
If no man write hou that it stode,
The pris of hem that weren goode
Scholde, as who seith, a gret partie
Be lost; so for to magnifie
The worthi princes that tho were,
The bokes schewen hiere and there,
Wherof the world ensampled is;
And tho that deden thanne amis
Thurgh tirannie and crualté
Right as thei stoden in degré,
So was the wrytinge of here werk.
Thus I, which am a burel clerk,
Purpose for to wryte a bok
After the world that whilom tok
Long tyme in olde daies passed.
Bot for men sein it is now lassed,
In worse plit than it was tho,
I thenke for to touche also
The world which neweth every dai,
So as I can, so as I mai.
Thogh I seknesse have upon honde
And longe have had, yit woll I fonde
To wryte and do my bisinesse,
That in som part, so as I gesse,
The wyse man mai ben avised.
For this prologe is so assised
That it to wisdom al belongeth.
What wys man that it underfongeth,
He schal drawe into remembrance
The fortune of this worldes chance,
The which no man in his persone
Mai knowe, bot the god alone.
Whan the prologe is so despended,
This bok schal afterward ben ended
Of love, which doth many a wonder
And many a wys man hath put under.
And in this wyse I thenke trete
Towardes hem that now be grete,
Betwen the vertu and the vice
Which longeth unto this office.
Bot for my wittes ben to smale
To tellen every man his tale,
This bok, upon amendement
To stonde at his commandement,
With whom myn herte is of accord,
I sende unto myn oghne lord,
Which of Lancastre is Henri named.
The hyhe God him hath proclamed
Ful of knyhthode and alle grace.
So woll I now this werk embrace
With hol trust and with hol believe.
God grante I mot it wel achieve.
Tempus preteritum presens fortuna beatum
Linquit, et antiquas vertit in orbe vias.
Progenuit veterem concors dileccio pacem,
Dum facies hominis nuncia mentis erat:
Legibus vnicolor tunc temporis aura refulsit,
Iusticie plane tuncque fuere vie.
Nuncque latens odium vultum depingit amoris,
Paceque sub ficta tempus ad arma tegit;
Instar et ex variis mutabile Cameliontis
Lex gerit, et regnis sunt noua iura nouis:
Climata que fuerant solidissima sicque per orbem
Soluuntur, nec eo centra quietis habent. 2
If I schal drawe into my mynde
The tyme passed, thanne I fynde
The world stod thanne in al his welthe.
Tho was the lif of man in helthe,
Tho was plenté, tho was richesse,
Tho was the fortune of prouesse,
Tho was knyhthode in pris be name,
Wherof the wyde worldes fame -
Write in cronique - is yit withholde.
Justice of lawe tho was holde,
The privilege of regalie
Was sauf, and al the baronie
Worschiped was in his astat;
The citees knewen no debat,
The poeple stod in obeissance
Under the reule of governance,
And pes, which ryhtwisnesse keste,
With charité tho stod in reste.
Of mannes herte the corage
Was schewed thanne in the visage;
The word was lich to the conceite
Withoute semblant of deceite.
Tho was ther unenvied love,
Tho was the vertu sett above
And vice was put under fote.
Now stant the crop under the rote.
The world is changed overal,
And therof most in special
That love is falle into discord.
And that I take to record
Of every lond, for his partie,
The comune vois which mai noght lie;
Noght upon on, bot upon alle
It is that men now clepe and calle,
And sein the regnes ben divided:
In stede of love is hate guided,
The werre wol no pes purchace,
And lawe hath take hire double face,
So that justice out of the weie
With ryhtwisnesse is gon aweie.
And thus to loke on every halve,
Men sen the sor withoute salve,
Which al the world hath overtake.
Ther is no regne of alle outtake,
For every climat hath his diel
After the tornynge of the whiel,
Which blinde Fortune overthroweth.
Wherof the certain no man knoweth.
The hevene wot what is to done,
Bot we that duelle under the mone
Stonde in this world upon a weer,
And namely bot the pouer
Of hem that ben the worldes guides -
With good consail on alle sides -
Be kept upriht in such a wyse,
That hate breke noght th'assise
Of love, whiche is al the chief
To kepe a regne out of meschief.
For alle resoun wolde this,
That unto him which the heved is
The membres buxom scholden bowe,
And he scholde ek her trowthe allowe,
With al his herte and make hem chiere,
For good consail is good to hiere.
Althogh a man be wys himselve,
Yit is the wisdom more of tuelve;
And if thei stoden bothe in on,
To hope it were thanne anon
That God his grace wolde sende
To make of thilke werre an ende,
Which everyday now groweth newe.
And that is gretly for to rewe
In special for Cristes sake,
Which wolde His oghne lif forsake
Among the men to geve pes.
But now men tellen natheles
That love is fro the world departed,
So stant the pes unevene parted
With hem that liven now adaies.
Bot for to loke, at alle assaies,
To him that wolde resoun seche
After the comun worldes speche
It is to wondre of thilke werre,
In which non wot who hath the werre.
For every lond himself deceyveth
And of desese his part receyveth,
And yet ne take men no kepe.
Bot thilke Lord which al may kepe,
To whom no consail may ben hid,
Upon the world which is betid,
Amende that wherof men pleigne
With trewe hertes and with pleine,
And reconcile love ageyn,
As He which is king sovereign
Of al the worldes governaunce,
And of His hyhe porveaunce
Afferme pes betwen the londes
And take her cause into Hise hondes,
So that the world may stonde appesed
And His Godhede also be plesed.
Quas coluit Moises vetus aut nouus ipse Iohannes,
Hesternas leges vix colit ista dies.
Sic prius ecclesia bina virtute polita
Nunc magis inculta pallet vtraque via.
Pacificam Petri vaginam mucro resumens
Horruit ad Cristi verba cruoris iter;
Nunc tamen assiduo gladium de sanguine tinctum
Vibrat auaricia, lege tepente sacra.
Sic lupus est pastor, pater hostis mors miserator,
Predoque largitor, pax et in orbe timor. 3
To thenke upon the daies olde,
The lif of clerkes to beholde,
Men sein how that thei weren tho
Ensample and reule of alle tho
Whiche of wisdom the vertu soughten.
Unto the God ferst thei besoughten
As to the substaunce of her scole,
That thei ne scholden noght befole
Her wit upon none erthly werkes,
Which were agein th'estat of clerkes,
And that thei myhten fle the vice
Which Simon hath in his office,
Wherof he takth the gold in honde.
For thilke tyme, I understonde,
The Lumbard made non eschange
The bisschopriches for to change,
Ne yet a lettre for to sende
For dignité ne for provende,
Or cured or withoute cure.
The cherche keye in aventure
Of armes and of brygantaille
Stod nothing thanne upon bataille;
To fyhte or for to make cheste
It thoghte hem thanne noght honeste.
Bot of simplesce and pacience
Thei maden thanne no defence.
The court of worldly regalie
To hem was thanne no baillie.
The vein honour was noght desired,
Which hath the proude herte fyred;
Humilité was tho withholde,
And Pride was a vice holde.
Of holy cherche the largesse
Gaf thanne and dede gret almesse
To povere men that hadden nede;
Thei were ek chaste in word and dede,
Wherof the poeple ensample tok;
Her lust was al upon the bok,
Or for to preche or for to preie,
To wisse men the ryhte weie
Of suche as stode of trowthe unliered.
Lo, thus was Petres barge stiered
Of hem that thilke tyme were,
And thus cam ferst to mannes ere
The feith of Crist and alle goode
Thurgh hem that thanne weren goode
And sobre and chaste and large and wyse.
Bot now men sein is otherwise,
Simon the cause hath undertake,
The worldes swerd on honde is take;
And that is wonder natheles,
Whan Crist Himself hath bode pes
And set it in His Testament,
How now that holy cherche is went
Of that here lawe positif
Hath set, to make werre and strif
For worldes good, which may noght laste.
God wot the cause to the laste
Of every right and wrong also;
But whil the lawe is reuled so
That clerkes to the werre entende,
I not how that thei scholde amende
The woful world in othre thinges,
To make pes betwen the kynges
After the lawe of charité,
Which is the propre dueté
Belongende unto the presthode.
Bot as it thenkth to the manhode,
The hevene is ferr, the world is nyh,
And veine gloire is ek so slyh,
Which coveitise hath now withholde,
That thei non other thing beholde,
Bot only that thei myhten winne.
And thus the werres thei beginne,
Wherof the holi cherche is taxed,
That in the point as it is axed
The disme goth to the bataille,
As thogh Crist myhte noght availe
To don hem riht be other weie.
Into the swerd the cherche keie
Is torned, and the holy bede
Into cursinge, and every stede
Which scholde stonde upon the feith
And to this cause an ere leyth,
Astoned is of the querele.
That scholde be the worldes hele
Is now, men say, the pestilence
Which hath exiled pacience
Fro the clergie in special.
And that is schewed overal,
In eny thing whan thei ben grieved.
Bot if Gregoire be believed,
As it is in the bokes write,
He doth ous somdel for to wite
The cause of thilke prelacie,
Wher God is noght of compaignie.
For every werk as it is founded
Schal stonde or elles be confounded;
Who that only for Cristes sake
Desireth cure for to take,
And noght for pride of thilke astat,
To bere a name of a prelat,
He schal be resoun do profit
In holy cherche upon the plit
That he hath set his conscience.
Bot in the worldes reverence
Ther ben of suche manie glade
Whan thei to thilke astat ben made,
Noght for the merite of the charge,
Bot for thei wolde hemself descharge
Of poverté and become grete.
And thus for pompe and for beyete
The Scribe and ek the Pharisee
Of Moises upon the See
In the chaiere on hyh ben set;
Wherof the feith is ofte let,
Which is betaken hem to kepe.
In Cristes cause alday thei slepe,
Bot of the world is noght forgete;
For wel is him that now may gete
Office in court to ben honoured.
The stronge coffre hath al devoured
Under the keye of avarice
The tresor of the benefice,
Wherof the povere schulden clothe
And ete and drinke and house bothe;
The charité goth al unknowe,
For thei no grein of pité sowe;
And slouthe kepeth the libraire
Which longeth to the saintuaire;
To studie upon the worldes lore
Sufficeth now withoute more;
Delicacie his swete toth
Hath fostred so that it fordoth
Of abstinence al that ther is.
And for to loken over this,
If Ethna brenne in the clergie
Al openly to mannes ÿe,
At Avynoun th'experience
Therof hath gove an evidence
Of that men sen hem so divided.
And yit the cause is noght decided.
Bot it is seid and evere schal,
Betwen tuo stoles lyth the fal
Whan that men wenen best to sitte.
In holy cherche of such a slitte
Is for to rewe unto ous alle;
God grante it mote wel befalle
Towardes him whiche hath the trowthe.
Bot ofte is sen that mochel slowthe,
Whan men ben drunken of the cuppe,
Doth mochel harm, whan fyr is uppe,
Bot if somwho the flamme stanche;
And so to speke upon this branche,
Which proude Envie hath mad to springe,
Of Scisme, causeth for to bringe
This newe secte of Lollardie,
And also many an heresie
Among the clerkes in hemselve.
It were betre dike and delve
And stonde upon the ryhte feith,
Than knowe al that the Bible seith
And erre as somme clerkes do.
Upon the hond to were a schoo
And sette upon the fot a glove
Acordeth noght to the behove
Of resonable mannes us.
If men behielden the vertus
That Crist in erthe taghte here,
Thei scholden noght in such manere,
Among hem that ben holden wise,
The Papacie so desguise
Upon diverse eleccioun,
Which stant after th'affeccioun
Of sondry londes al aboute.
Bot whan God wole, it schal were oute,
For trowthe mot stonde ate laste.
Bot yet thei argumenten faste
Upon the Pope and his astat,
Wherof thei falle in gret debat;
This clerk seith yee, that other nay,
And thus thei dryve forth the day,
And ech of hem himself amendeth
Of worldes good, bot non entendeth
To that which comun profit were.
Thei sein that God is myhti there,
And schal ordeine what He wile,
Ther make thei non other skile
Where is the peril of the feith,
Bot every clerk his herte leith
To kepe his world in special,
And of the cause general,
Which unto holy cherche longeth,
Is non of hem that underfongeth
To schapen eny resistence.
And thus the riht hath no defence,
Bot ther I love, ther I holde.
Lo, thus tobroke is Cristes folde,
Wherof the flock withoute guide
Devoured is on every side,
In lacke of hem that ben unware
Schepherdes, whiche her wit beware
Upon the world in other halve.
The scharpe pricke in stede of salve
Thei usen now, wherof the hele
Thei hurte of that thei scholden hele;
And what schep that is full of wulle
Upon his back, thei toose and pulle,
Whil ther is eny thing to pile.
And thogh ther be non other skile
Bot only for thei wolden wynne,
Thei leve noght, whan thei begynne,
Upon her acte to procede,
Which is no good schepherdes dede.
And upon this also men sein,
That fro the leese which is plein
Into the breres thei forcacche
Her orf, for that thei wolden lacche
With such duresce, and so bereve
That schal upon the thornes leve
Of wulle, which the brere hath tore;
Wherof the schep ben al totore
Of that the hierdes make hem lese.
Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese,
For though thei speke and teche wel,
Thei don hemself therof no del.
For if the wolf com in the weie,
Her gostly staf is thanne aweie,
Wherof thei scholde her flock defende;
Bot if the povere schep offende
In eny thing, thogh it be lyte,
They ben al redy for to smyte;
And thus, how evere that thei tale,
The strokes falle upon the smale,
And upon othre that ben grete
Hem lacketh herte for to bete.
So that under the clerkes lawe
Men sen the merel al mysdrawe
I wol noght seie in general,
For ther ben somme in special
In whom that alle vertu duelleth,
And tho ben, as th'apostel telleth,
That God of His eleccioun
Hath cleped to perfeccioun
In the manere as Aaron was.
Thei ben nothing in thilke cas
Of Simon, which the foldes gate
Hath lete, and goth in othergate,
Bot thei gon in the rihte weie.
Ther ben also somme, as men seie,
That folwen Simon ate hieles,
Whos carte goth upon the whieles
Of coveitise and worldes Pride,
And holy cherche goth beside,
Which scheweth outward a visage
Of that is noght in the corage.
For if men loke in holy cherche,
Betwen the word and that thei werche
Ther is a full gret difference.
Thei prechen ous in audience
That no man schal his soule empeire,
For al is bot a chirie feire
This worldes good, so as thei telle;
Also thei sein ther is an helle,
Which unto mannes sinne is due,
And bidden ous therfore eschue
That wikkid is, and do the goode.
Who that here wordes understode,
It thenkth thei wolden do the same;
Bot yet betwen ernest and game
Ful ofte it torneth otherwise.
With holy tales thei devise
How meritoire is thilke dede
Of charité, to clothe and fede
The povere folk and for to parte
The worldes good, bot thei departe
Ne thenken noght fro that thei have.
Also thei sein, good is to save
With penance and with abstinence
Of chastité the continence;
Bot pleinly for to speke of that,
I not how thilke body fat,
Which thei with deynté metes kepe
And leyn it softe for to slepe,
Whan it hath elles al his wille,
With chastité schal stonde stille.
And natheles I can noght seie,
In aunter if that I misseye.
Touchende of this, how evere it stonde,
I here and wol noght understonde,
For therof have I noght to done.
Bot He that made ferst the mone,
The hyhe God, of His goodnesse,
If ther be cause, He it redresce.
Bot what as eny man accuse,
This mai reson of trowthe excuse;
The vice of hem that ben ungoode,
Is no reproef unto the goode.
For every man hise oghne werkes
Schal bere, and thus as of the clerkes
The goode men ben to comende,
And alle these othre God amende.
For thei ben to the worldes ÿe
The mirour of ensamplerie,
To reulen and to taken hiede
Betwen the men and the Godhiede.
Vulgaris populus regali lege subactus
Dum iacet, vt mitis agna subibit onus.
Si caput extollat et lex sua frena relaxet,
Vt sibi velle iubet, Tigridis instar habet.
Ignis, aqua dominans duo sunt pietate carentes,
Ira tamen plebis est violenta magis. 4
Now for to speke of the comune,
It is to drede of that fortune
Which hath befalle in sondri londes.
Bot often for defalte of bondes
Al sodeinliche, er it be wist,
A tonne, whanne his lye arist,
Tobrekth and renneth al aboute,
Which elles scholde noght gon oute;
And ek fulofte a litel skar
Upon a banke, er men be war,
Let in the strem, which with gret peine,
If evere man it schal restreigne.
Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth,
He is noght wys who that ne troweth,
For it hath proeved ofte er this.
And thus the comun clamour is
In every lond wher poeple dwelleth,
And eche in his compleignte telleth
How that the world is al miswent,
And ther upon his jugement
Gifth every man in sondry wise.
Bot what man wolde himself avise,
His conscience and noght misuse,
He may wel ate ferste excuse.
His God, which evere stant in on,
In Him ther is defalte non,
So moste it stonde upon ousselve
Nought only upon ten ne twelve,
Bot plenerliche upon ous alle,
For man is cause of that schal falle.
And natheles yet som men wryte
And sein that fortune is to wyte,
And som men holde oppinion
That it is constellacion,
Which causeth al that a man doth.
God wot of bothe which is soth.
The world as of his propre kynde
Was evere untrewe, and as the blynde
Improprelich he demeth fame,
He blameth that is noght to blame
And preiseth that is noght to preise.
Thus whan he schal the thinges peise,
Ther is deceipte in his balance,
And al is that the variance
Of ous, that schold ous betre avise.
For after that we falle and rise,
The world arist and falth withal,
So that the man is overal
His oghne cause of wel and wo.
That we fortune clepe so
Out of the man himself it groweth
And who that otherwise troweth,
Behold the poeple of Irael:
For evere whil thei deden wel,
Fortune was hem debonaire,
And whan thei deden the contraire,
Fortune was contrariende,
So that it proeveth wel at ende
Why that the world is wonderfull
And may no while stonde full,
Though that it seme wel besein.
For every worldes thing is vein,
And evere goth the whiel aboute,
And evere stant a man in doute:
Fortune stant no while stille,
So hath ther no man al his wille.
Als fer as evere a man may knowe,
Ther lasteth nothing bot a throwe.
The world stant evere upon debat,
So may be seker non astat:
Now hier now ther, now to now fro,
Now up now doun, this world goth so,
And evere hath don and evere schal,
Wherof I finde in special
A tale writen in the Bible,
Which moste nedes be credible.
And that as in conclusioun
Seith that upon divisioun
Stant, why no worldes thing mai laste,
Til it be drive to the laste.
And fro the ferste regne of alle
Into this day, hou so befalle,
Of that the regnes ben muable
The man himself hath be coupable,
Which of his propre governance
Fortuneth al the worldes chance.
Prosper et aduersus obliquo tramite versus
Immundus mundus decipit omne genus.
Mundus in euentu versatur ut alea casu,
Quam celer in ludis iactat auara manus.
Sicut ymago viri variantur tempora mundi,
Statque nichil firmum preter amare deum. 5
The hyhe almyhti pourveance,
In whos eterne remembrance
Fro ferst was every thing present,
He hath his prophecie sent,
In such a wise as thou schalt hiere,
To Daniel of this matiere,
Hou that this world schal torne and wende
Til it befalle to his ende.
Wherof the tale telle I schal,
In which it is betokned al.
As Nabugodonosor slepte,
A swevene him tok, the which he kepte
Til on the morwe he was arise,
For he therof was sore agrise.
To Daniel his drem he tolde,
And preide him faire that he wolde
Arede what it tokne may,
And seide, "Abedde wher I lay,
Me thoghte I syh upon a stage
Wher stod a wonder strange ymage.
His hed with al the necke also
Thei were of fin gold bothe tuo;
His brest, his schuldres, and his armes
Were al of selver, bot the tharmes,
The wombe, and al doun to the kne,
Of bras thei were upon to se;
The legges were al mad of stiel,
So were his feet also somdiel,
And somdiel part to hem was take
Of erthe which men pottes make.
The fieble meynd was with the stronge,
So myhte it wel noght stonde longe.
And tho me thoghte that I sih
A gret ston from an hull on hyh
Fel doun of sodein aventure
Upon the feet of this figure,
With which ston al tobroke was -
Gold, selver, erthe, stiel, and bras –
That al was into pouldre broght,
And so forth torned into noght."
This was the swevene which he hadde,
That Daniel anon aradde,
And seide him that figure strange
Betokneth how the world schal change
And waxe lasse worth and lasse,
Til it to noght al overpasse.
The necke and hed, that weren golde,
He seide how that betokne scholde
A worthi world, a noble, a riche,
To which non after schal be liche.
Of selver that was overforth
Schal ben a world of lasse worth;
And after that the wombe of bras
Tokne of a werse world it was.
The stiel which he syh afterward,
A world betokneth more hard.
Bot yet the werste of everydel
Is last, whan that of erthe and stiel
He syh the feet departed so,
For that betokneth mochel wo.
Whan that the world divided is,
It moste algate fare amis,
For erthe which is meynd with stiel
Togedre may noght laste wiel,
Bot if that on that other waste;
So mot it nedes faile in haste.
The ston, which fro the hully stage
He syh doun falle on that ymage,
And hath it into pouldre broke,
That swevene hath Daniel unloke,
And seide how that is Goddes myht,
Which whan men wene most upryht
To stonde, schal hem overcaste.
And that is of this world the laste,
And thanne a newe schal beginne,
Fro which a man schal nevere twinne.
Or al to peine or al to pes
That world schal lasten endeles.
[Daniel's Prophecies Fulfilled]
Lo thus expondeth Daniel
The kynges swevene faire and wel
In Babiloyne the cité,
Wher that the wiseste of Caldee
Ne cowthen wite what it mente;
Bot he tolde al the hol entente,
As in partie it is befalle.
Of gold the ferste regne of alle
Was in that kinges time tho,
And laste manye daies so,
Therwhiles that the monarchie
Of al the world in that partie
To Babiloyne was soubgit;
And hield him stille in such a plit,
Til that the world began diverse.
And that was whan the king of Perse,
Which Cirus hyhte, agein the pes
Forth with his sone Cambises
Of Babiloine al that empire,
Ryht as thei wolde hemself desire,
Put under in subjeccioun
And tok it in possessioun,
And slayn was Baltazar the king,
Which loste his regne and al his thing.
And thus whan thei it hadde wonne,
The world of selver was begonne
And that of gold was passed oute.
And in this wise it goth aboute
Into the regne of Darius;
And thanne it fell to Perse thus,
That Alisaundre put hem under,
Which wroghte of armes many a wonder,
So that the monarchie lefte
With Grecs, and here astat uplefte,
And Persiens gon under fote,
So soffre thei that nedes mote.
And tho the world began of bras,
And that of selver ended was.
Bot for the time thus it laste,
Til it befell that ate laste
This king, whan that his day was come,
With strengthe of deth was overcome.
And natheles yet er he dyde,
He schop his regnes to divide
To knyhtes whiche him hadde served,
And after that thei have deserved
Gaf the conquestes that he wan;
Wherof gret werre tho began
Among hem that the regnes hadde,
Thurgh proud Envie which hem ladde,
Til it befell agein hem thus.
The noble Cesar Julius,
Which tho was king of Rome lond,
With gret bataille and with strong hond
Al Grece, Perse, and ek Caldee
Wan and put under, so that he
Noght al only of th'orient
Bot al the marche of th'occident,
Governeth under his empire,
As he that was hol lord and sire,
And hield thurgh his chivalrie
Of al this world the monarchie,
And was the ferste of that honour
Which tok the name of Emperour.
Wher Rome thanne wolde assaille,
Ther myhte nothing contrevaille,
Bot every contré moste obeie.
Tho goth the regne of bras aweie,
And comen is the world of stiel,
And stod above upon the whiel.
As stiel is hardest in his kynde,
Above alle othre that men finde
Of metals, such was Rome tho
The myhtieste, and laste so
Long time amonges the Romeins
Til thei become so vileins,
That the fals Emperour Leo
With Constantin his sone also
The patrimoine and the richesse,
Which to Silvestre in pure almesse
The ferste Constantinus lefte,
Fro holy cherche thei berefte.
Bot Adrian, which Pope was,
And syh the meschief of this cas,
Goth into France for to pleigne,
And preith the grete Charlemeine,
For Cristes sake and soule hele
That he wol take the querele
Of holy cherche in his defence.
And Charles for the reverence
Of God the cause hath undertake,
And with his host the weie take
Over the montz of Lombardie;
Of Rome and al the tirandie
With blodi swerd he overcom
And the cité with strengthe nom
In such a wise; and there he wroghte
That holy cherche agein he broghte
Into franchise, and doth restore
The Popes lost, and gaf him more.
And thus whan he his God hath served,
He tok, as he wel hath deserved,
The diademe and was coroned.
Of Rome and thus was abandoned
Th'empire, which cam nevere agein
Into the hond of no Romein;
Bot a long time it stod so stille
Under the Frensche kynges wille,
Til that Fortune hir whiel so ladde,
That afterward Lombardy it hadde,
Noght be the swerd, bot be soffrance
Of him that tho was kyng of France,
Which Karle Calvus cleped was;
And he resigneth in this cas
Th'empire of Rome unto Lowis
His cousin, which a Lombard is.
And so hit laste into the yeer
Of Albert and of Berenger;
Bot thanne upon dissencioun
Thei felle, and in divisioun
Among hemself that were grete,
So that thei loste the beyete
Of worschipe and of worldes pes,
Bot in proverbe natheles
Men sein, ful selden is that welthe
Can soffre his oghne astat in helthe,
And that was on the Lombardz sene;
Such comun strif was hem betwene
Thurgh coveitise and thurgh Envie
That every man drowh his partie,
Which myhte leden eny route,
Withinne burgh and ek withoute.
The comun ryht hath no felawe,
So that the governance of lawe
Was lost, and for necessité,
Of that thei stode in such degré
Al only thurgh divisioun,
Hem nedeth in conclusioun
Of strange londes help beside.
And thus for thei hemself divide
And stonden out of reule unevene,
Of Alemaine princes sevene
Thei chose in this condicioun,
That upon here eleccioun
Th'empire of Rome scholde stonde.
And thus thei lefte it out of honde
For lacke of grace, and it forsoke,
That Alemans upon hem toke.
And to confermen here astat,
Of that thei founden in debat
Thei token the possessioun
After the composicioun
Among hemself, and therupon
Thei made an emperour anon,
Whos name as the cronique telleth
Was Othes; and so forth it duelleth,
Fro thilke day yit unto this,
Th'empire of Rome hath ben and is
To th'Alemans. And in this wise,
As ye tofore have herd divise
How Daniel the swevene expondeth
Of that ymage, on whom he foundeth
The world which after scholde falle,
Come is the laste tokne of alle.
Upon the feet of erthe and stiel
So stant this world now everydiel
Departed, which began riht tho,
Whan Rome was divided so.
And that is for to rewe sore,
For alway siththe more and more
The world empeireth every day.
Wherof the sothe schewe may,
At Rome ferst if we beginne.
The wall and al the cit withinne
Stant in ruine and in decas;
The feld is wher the paleis was,
The toun is wast, and overthat,
If we beholde thilke astat
Which whilom was of the Romeins,
Of knyhthode and of citezeins,
To peise now with that beforn,
The chaf is take for the corn.
As for to speke of Romes myht,
Unethes stant ther oght upryht
Of worschipe or of worldes good,
As it before tyme stod.
And why the worschipe is aweie,
If that a man the sothe seie,
The cause hath ben divisioun,
Which moder of confusioun
Is wher sche cometh overal,
Noght only of the temporal
Bot of the spirital also.
The dede proeveth it is so,
And hath do many day er this,
Thurgh venym which that medled is
In holy cherche of erthly thing.
For Crist Himself makth knowleching
That no man may togedre serve
God and the world, bot if he swerve
Froward that on and stonde unstable;
And Cristes word may noght be fable.
The thing so open is at ÿe,
It nedeth noght to specefie
Or speke oght more in this matiere;
Bot in this wise a man mai lere
Hou that the world is gon aboute,
The which wel nyh is wered oute,
After the forme of that figure
Which Daniel in his scripture
Expondeth, as tofore is told.
Of bras, of selver, and of gold
The world is passed and agon,
And now upon his olde ton
It stant of brutel erthe and stiel,
The whiche acorden nevere a diel;
So mot it nedes swerve aside
As thing the which men sen divide.
Th'apostel writ unto ous alle
And seith that upon ous is falle
Th'ende of the world; so may we knowe,
This ymage is nyh overthrowe,
Be which this world was signified,
That whilom was so magnefied,
And now is old and fieble and vil,
Full of meschief and of peril,
And stant divided ek also
Lich to the feet that were so,
As I tolde of the statue above.
And this men sen, thurgh lacke of love
Where as the lond divided is,
It mot algate fare amis.
And now to loke on every side,
A man may se the world divide,
The werres ben so general
Among the Cristene overal,
That every man now secheth wreche,
And yet these clerkes alday preche
And sein, good dede may non be
Which stant noght upon charité.
I not hou charité may stonde,
Wher dedly werre is take on honde.
Bot al this wo is cause of man,
The which that wit and reson can,
And that in tokne and in witnesse
That ilke ymage bar liknesse
Of man and of non other beste.
For ferst unto the mannes heste
Was every creature ordeined,
Bot afterward it was restreigned.
Whan that he fell, thei fellen eke,
Whan he wax sek, thei woxen seke;
For as the man hath passioun
Of seknesse, in comparisoun
So soffren othre creatures.
Lo, ferst the hevenly figures,
The sonne and mone eclipsen bothe.
And ben with mannes senne wrothe;
The purest eir for senne alofte
Hath ben and is corrupt ful ofte,
Right now the hyhe wyndes blowe,
And anon after thei ben lowe,
Now clowdy and now clier it is.
So may it proeven wel be this,
A mannes senne is for to hate,
Which makth the welkne to debate.
And for to se the propreté
Of every thyng in his degree,
Benethe forth among ous hiere
Al stant aliche in this matiere.
The see now ebbeth, now it floweth,
The lond now welketh, now it groweth,
Now be the trees with leves grene,
Now thei be bare and nothing sene,
Now be the lusti somer floures
Now be the stormy wynter shoures,
Now be the daies, now the nyhtes,
So stant ther nothing al upryhtes.
Now it is lyht, now it is derk,
And thus stant al the worldes werk
After the disposicioun
Of man and his condicioun.
Forthi Gregoire in his Moral
Seith that a man in special
The lasse world is properly,
And that he proeveth redely.
For man of soule resonable
Is to an angel resemblable,
And lich to beste he hath fielinge,
And lich to trees he hath growinge;
The stones ben and so is he.
Thus of his propre qualité
The man, as telleth the clergie,
Is as a world in his partie,
And whan this litel world mistorneth,
The grete world al overtorneth.
The lond, the see, the firmament,
Thei axen alle jugement
Agein the man and make him werre.
Therwhile himself stant out of herre,
The remenant wol noght acorde.
And in this wise, as I recorde,
The man is cause of alle wo,
Why this world is divided so.
[Division and Evil]
Division, the Gospell seith,
On hous upon another leith,
Til that the regne al overthrowe.
And thus may every man wel knowe,
Division aboven alle
Is thing which makth the world to falle,
And evere hath do sith it began.
It may ferst proeve upon a man;
The which, for his complexioun
Is mad upon divisioun
Of cold, of hot, of moist, of drye,
He mot be verray kynde dye,
For the contraire of his astat
Stant evermor in such debat,
Til that o part be overcome,
Ther may no final pes be nome.
Bot otherwise, if a man were
Mad al togedre of o matiere
Ther scholde no corrupcioun
Engendre upon that unité.
Bot for ther is diversité
Withinne himself, he may noght laste,
That he ne deieth ate laste.
Bot in a man yit over this
Full gret divisioun ther is,
Thurgh which that he is evere in strif,
Whil that him lasteth eny lif.
The bodi and the soule also
Among hem ben divided so,
That what thing that the body hateth
The soule loveth and debateth;
Bot natheles fulofte is sene
Of werre which is hem betwene
The fieble hath wonne the victoire.
And who so drawth into memoire
What hath befalle of old and newe,
He may that werre sore rewe,
Which ferst began in Paradis.
For ther was proeved what it is,
And what desese there it wroghte;
For thilke werre tho forth broghte
The vice of alle dedly sinne,
Thurgh which division cam inne
Among the men in erthe hiere,
And was the cause and the matiere
Why God the grete flodes sende,
Of al the world and made an ende
Bot Noë with his felaschipe,
Which only weren saulf be schipe.
And over that thurgh senne it com
That Nembrot such emprise nom,
Whan he the Tour Babel on heihte
Let make, as he that wolde feihte
Agein the hihe Goddes myht,
Wherof divided anon ryht
Was the langage in such entente,
Ther wiste non what other mente,
So that thei myhten noght procede.
And thus it stant of every dede
Wher Senne takth the cause on honde
It may upriht noght longe stonde;
For Senne of his condicioun
Is moder of divisioun
And tokne whan the world schal faile.
For so seith Crist withoute faile,
That nyh upon the worldes ende
Pes and acord awey schol wende
And alle charité schal cesse
Among the men, and hate encresce;
And whan these toknes ben befalle,
Al sodeinly the ston schal falle,
As Daniel it hath beknowe,
Which al this world schal overthrowe,
And every man schal thanne arise
To joie or elles to juise,
Wher that he schal for evere dwelle,
Or straght to hevene or straght to helle.
In hevene is pes and al acord,
Bot helle is ful of such descord
That ther may be no loveday.
Forthi good is, whil a man may,
Echon to sette pes with other
And loven as his oghne brother;
So may he winne worldes welthe
And afterward his soule helthe.
[Example of Arion]
Bot wolde God that now were on
An other such as Arion,
Which hadde an harpe of such temprure,
And therto of so good mesure
He song, that he the bestes wilde
Made of his note tame and milde,
The hinde in pes with the leoun,
The wolf in pes with the moltoun,
The hare in pees stod with the hound;
And every man upon this ground
Which Arion that time herde,
Als wel the lord as the schepherde,
He broghte hem alle in good acord;
So that the comun with the lord,
And lord with the comun also,
He sette in love bothe tuo
And putte awey malencolie.
That was a lusti melodie,
Whan every man with other low;
And if ther were such on now,
Which cowthe harpe as he tho dede,
He myhte availe in many a stede
To make pes wher now is hate;
For whan men thenken to debate,
I not what other thing is good.
Bot wher that wisdom waxeth wod,
And reson torneth into rage,
So that mesure upon oultrage
Hath set his world, it is to drede;
For that bringth in the comun drede,
Which stant at every mannes dore.
Bot whan the scharpnesse of the spore
The horse side smit to sore,
It grieveth ofte. And now nomore,
As for to speke of this matiere,
Which non bot only God may stiere.
Of those who wrote before us; (t-note)
remain; (see note)
Are instructed from what; then
Cause to be written anew
Exemplified by; wise [men/books]; (see note)
manner; (see note)
Be left behind for; ear
coming; (see note)
But since men say; true
whoever writes only sententiously
Of the one who reads it all day
that same; if you agree
pleasure; learning (wisdom); (see note)
be pleased with what
since; compose; (see note)
plan to make
(see note, for first-recension verses); (see note)
various ways; changed; (t-note)
Compared to time past
in the old days
no one; how; stood
reputation of those who
as one may say
those who did
ignorant clerk; (see note)
About; once came about
since men see; lessened
plan therefore to touch upon
renews [itself]; (see note)
Insofar as I am able and am allowed; (see note)
sickness; (see note)
except the good alone; (see note)
be finished up
[As a book] about love
has toppled many a wise person
way I plan to treat (make a discourse); (see note)
In respect to those who (In submission to those who)
pertain; social position; (t-note)
But since; too small; (see note)
for correction; (t-note)
To submit to
that I have the power to finish
high time of virtue (strength)
valued by report
Written; chronicles; yet maintained
Justice was then upheld by law
Honored; its estate
peace; justice kissed
shown; face (countenance)
like; concept; (see note); (t-note)
top; root (i.e., upside down)
particular; (see note)
unanimous voice of the people; (see note)
what; make appeal
see kingdoms at odds
lawyers; put on (donned) their
see the wound lacking healing ointment
has its share
fact (certainty) no one
moon (i.e., amidst changeability)
in doubt; (see note)
Of those who are
principal means; (t-note)
who; head; (see note)
also their loyalty accept
And welcome them with all his heart; (see note)
hear; (see note)
Who; own life
give peace; (see note)
peace unequally distributed
at any rate
no one knows; worse
trouble its share
men are indifferent (take no heed)
But that very
come to pass
[May he] amend; complain
[may he] reconcile
When thinking; days of old
those; (see note)
For the material wealth of their community
[So] that; besmirch
[so] that; might flee
bankers had not [yet] financed; (see note)
Either with or without spiritual duties
power of the church
brigands (irregular troops)
practiced (held with)
held to be a vice
Gave; distributed quantities of alms
Either; or; pray
untaught in truth (untrained in loyalty)
St. Peter's ship guided
By those who at that time lived
But now [what] men say; contrarywise
From what their [own] formal law; (see note)
Has established; war; contention
material wealth; (t-note)
do not know how
seems to human beings
also so sly
retained [as servant]
Except what they
wars; (see note)
the moment it is requested
tithe (L. decima, "tenth")
bring about justice by other means
What (i.e., the papacy); health
causes us in part to know
such a priestly estate
such [priestly] estate
by reason give profit
in the manner
established his conscience
entrusted to them
there is no forgetting
belongs to the Church (sanctuary)
burns among the clergy; (see note)
Since men see them
two stools lies the fall
Is regrettable for us all
may well turn out
In respect to whoever has
Unless someone should extinguish the flame
to ditch; dig (i.e., work as a plowman)
Is not becoming; advantage
holds according to the inclination
wants, it [the schism] will wear away
must remain; (see note)
debate vigorously; (t-note)
pass the time
In respect to
[About] where peril to faith exists
exerts his desire (lays his heart)
To support his own fortunes
Except where; there; (see note)
broken to pieces
want; those who; careless
who spend their wit
On another part of the world
make a profit
pasture land; open
briars; drive out
Their sheep, because they would [like to] steal
By; cruelty; rob
What [the sheep] shall
what the shepherds; lose
something worthless for something good
apply to themselves; part
lot (OF merel, "token," "coin")
a few here and there
those are; [St. Paul] says; (see note)
Have abandoned; behave contrariously
at Simon's heels
the clerical profession
to us; public assembly
cherry harvest fair
One would think they would behave accordingly
And do not consider [distributing]
do not know how that fattened body
everything else to its desire
can remain steady
On the chance that I am wrong
it is not my business
moon; (see note)
may He redress it
bear; regarding churchmen
righteous will be commended
others may God improve
example; (see note)
commons (third estate)
tun (vessel); its lye boils over; (see note)
before; aware [of it]
does not believe
Every man gives; ways
And not misuse his conscience
what shall befall
its own nature
who should; consider
in accord with how
in turmoil; (see note)
end [of all things]
has been to blame
change and decay; (see note)
dream overwhelmed him; remembered
asked him courteously what
both of them
weak was mingled with
then it seemed to me (see note)
hill on high
clay, steel; brass
So that; powder
explained; (see note)
Is an omen of (Portends); vary
grow less and less valuable
that [the gold] was directly above; (see note)
saw; (see note)
of all; (see note)
must unceasingly go wrong
Unless they both consume one another
mountainous location; (see note)
dream; interpreted (unlocked)
Either entirely for pain or peace; (see note)
Could not figure out; meant
As in part it has [already]come to pass
began to change
Cyrus was named, against the peace
their estate elevated
suffer what needs must be; (see note)
arranged for (shaped); to be divided
according to what they
Distributed; booty; won
Not only all of the East
territories of the West
prowess in warfare; (t-note)
of such honor
resist with equal force
by force took
manner; (see note)
sovereignty; causes to be restored
loss of property
(see note); (t-note)
seldom [it] is
tolerate its own; to be healthy
seen in the case of the
seduced his followers
Whoever might; mob
They had need finally
strengthen their property
that [which]; in turmoil
gained rulership over
According to the agreement
Under jurisdiction of the Germans
prior to this have heard explained
established by interpretation
Scarcely stands; anything
sees the truth
Away from that one (God)
so evident to the eye; (t-note)
come to naught (gone to ruin)
not at all
I do not know how
Who has understanding and intelligence
command (dominion); (see note)
mankind's sins made angry
air; on high
sin; to be hated
causes; heavens to be in turmoil
as learning teaches us
for his part
make war against him
stands out of kilter (ME herre, "hinge")
since his; (see note)
must by [his] very nature die; (see note)
peace be attained; (see note)
separation of parts
survive; (see note)
But that he ultimately dies
fights [against the body]
war sorely lament
sent; (see note)
besides that; came about
enterprise undertook; (see note)
Had made; fight
immediately; (see note)
signifies; (see note)
close to (nigh)
meter/harmonic ratio?; (see note)
citizenry (common people)
such a person
engage in conflict
do not know
goes mad; (t-note)
So that moderation has put licentiousness
In charge of his world
horse's; pierced too sorely
guide (govern); (see note)