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[ 147 ]

II. THE PLOWMANS TALE.

Here beginneth the Plowmans Prologue.

The Plowman plucked up his plow,
Whan midsommer mone was comen in,
And sayd, 'his beestes shuld ete y-now,
And lig in the grasse, up to the chin;
They ben feble, both oxe and cow,       5
Of hem nis left but boon and skin.'
He shook of share, and cultre of-drow,
And hong his harneys on a pin.

He took his tabard and his staf eke,
And on his heed he set his hat;       10
And sayde, he wolde saynt Thomas seke,
On pilgrimage he goth forth plat.
In scrippe he bar both breed and lekes,
He was forswonke and all forswat;
Men might have seen through both his chekes,       15
And every wang-toth and where it sat.

Our hoste beheld wel all about,
And saw this man was sunne y-brent;
He knew well by his senged snout,
And by his clothes that were to-rent,       20
He was a man wont to walke about,
He nas nat alway in cloystre y-pent;
He coud not religiousliche lout,
And therfore was he fully shent.
[ 148 ]
Our host him axed, 'what man art thou?'       25
'Sir,' quod he, 'I am an hyne;
For I am wont to go to the plow,
And erne my mete yer that I dyne.
To swete and swinke I make avow,
My wyf and children therwith to fynd,       30
And servë god, and I wist how;
But we lewd men ben full[y] blynd.

For clerkes saye, we shullen be fayn
For hir lyvelod [to] swete and swinke,
And they right nought us give agayn,       35
Neyther to ete ne yet to drinke.
They mowe by lawë, as they sayn,
Us curse and dampne to hell[e] brinke;
Thus they putten us to payn,
With candles queynt and belles clinke.       40

They make us thralles at hir lust,
And sayn, we mowe nat els be saved;
They have the corn and we the dust,
Who speketh ther-agayn, they say he raved.'

'What, man,' quod our host, 'canst thou preche?       45
Come neer, and tell us some holy thing.'
'Sir,' quod he, 'I herde ones teche
A prest in pulpit a good preching.'
'Say on,' quod our host, 'I thee beseche.'
'Sir, I am redy at your bidding.       50
I pray you that no man me reproche
Whyl that I am my tale telling.

Thus endeth the prologue, and here foloweth the first
part of the tale.

[ 149 ]
PART I.

A sternë stryf is stered newe
In many stedes in a stounde,
Of sondry sedes that ben sewe;       55
It semeth that som ben unsounde.
For some be gretë growen †on grounde,
Some ben souple, simple and small;
Whether of hem is falser founde,
The falser, foul mote him befall!       60

That oon syde is, that I of tell,
Popes, cardinals, and prelates,
Parsons, monkes, and freres fell,
Priours, abbottes of grete estates;
Of heven and hell they kepe the yates,       65
And Peters successours they ben all;
This is demed by oldë dates;
But falshed, foul mote it befall!

The other syde ben poore and pale,
And people put [al] out of prees;       70
And semë caytifs sore a-cale,
And ever in oon without encrees,
†I-cleped lollers and londlees;
Who toteth on hem, they been untall.
They ben arayed all for the pees;       75
But falshed, foul mote it befall!

Many a countrey have I sought,
To know the falser of these two;
But ever my travail was for nought,
All so fer as I have go.       80
But as I wandred in a wro,
In a wode besyde a wall,
Two foules saw I sitte tho;
The falser, foul mote him befall!
[ 150 ]
That oon did plede on the Popes syde,       85
A Griffon of a grim stature.
A Pellicane withouten pryde
To these lollers layde his lure;
He mused his matter in mesure,
To counsayl Christ ever gan he call.       90
The Griffon shewed as sharp as fyre,
But falshed, foul mote it befall!

The Pellican began to preche
Both of mercy and of mekeness;
And sayd, that "Christ so gan us teche,       95
And meke and merciable gan bless.
The Evangely bereth witness
A lamb, he lykneth Christ over-all,
In tokening that he mekest was,
Sith pryde was out of heven fall.       100

And so shulde every Christned be;
Preestes, Peters successours,
Beth lowlich and of low degree,
And usen none erthly honours,
Neyther crown, ne curious cove[r]tours,       105
Ne †pelure, ne other proudë pall;
Ne nought to cofren up greet tresours;
For falshed, foul mote it befall!

Preest[e]s shuld for no cattel plede,
But chasten hem in charitè;       110
Ne to no batail shuld men lede
For inhaunsing of hir own degree;
Nat wilnë sittings in hy see,
Ne soverayntè in hous ne hall;
All worldly worship defye and flee;       115
For who willeth highnes, foul shal fall!
[ 151 ]
Alas! who may such sayntes call
That wilneth welde erthly honour?
As lowe as Lucifer such shal fall,
In baleful blacknesse y-builde hir bour;       120
That eggeth the people to errour,
And maketh hem to hem [be] thrall;
To Christ I hold suche oon traytour,
As lowe as Lucifer such shal fall.

That willeth to be kinges peres,       125
And hygher than the emperour;
Some that were but pore freres
Now wollen waxe a warryour.
God is nat hir governour,
That holdeth no man his †peragall;       130
Whyl covetyse is hir counsaylour,
All such falshed mot nedë fall.

That hye on horse willeth ryde
In glitterand golde of grete aray,
I-paynted and portred all in pryde;       135
No commun knight may go so gay.
Chaunge of clothing every day,
With golden girdles grete and small;
As boystous as is bere at bay;
All such falshed mot nedë fall.       140

With prydë †punysheth the pore,
And somë they sustayn with sale;
Of holy churche maketh an hore,
And filleth hir wombe with wyne and ale;
With money filleth many a male,       145
And chaffren churches when they fall,
And telleth the people a lewed tale;
Such falsë faytours, foul hem fall!
[ 152 ]
With chaunge of many maner metes,
With song and solace sitting long,       150
And filleth hir wombë, and fast fretes,
And from the metë to the gong;
And after mete with harp and song,
And ech man mot hem lordes call;
And hotë spyces ever among;       155
Such falsë faytours, foul hem fall!

And myters mo than oon or two,
I-perled as the quenes heed;
A staf of golde, and †perrey, lo!
As hevy as it were mad of leed;       160
With cloth of gold both newe and reed,
With glitterand †gown as grene as gall,
By dome will dampnë men to deed;
All suche faytours, foul hem fall!

And Christes people proudly curse       165
With brode bokes, and braying bell;
To putte pennyes in hir purse
They woll sell both heven and hell;
And in hir sentence, and thou wilt dwell,
They willen gesse in hir gay hall;       170
And though the soth thou of hem tell,
In greet cursinge shalt thou fall.

That is blessed, that they blesse,
And cursed, that they cursë woll;
And thus the people they oppresse,       175
And have their lordshippes at full;
And many be marchauntes of woll,
And to purse penyes woll come thrall;
The porë people they all to-pull,
Such falsë faytours, foul hem fall!       180
[ 153 ]
Lordes motë to hem loute,
Obeysaunt to hir brode blessing;
They ryden with hir royall route
On a courser, as it were a king;
With saddle of golde glitt[e]ring       185
With curious harneys quayntly crallit,
Styroppes gaye of gold-mastling;
All suche falshed, foul befall it!

Christes ministers †cleped they been,
And rulen all in robberye;       190
But Antichrist they serven clene,
Attyred all in tyrannye;
Witnesse of Johns prophecye,
That Antichrist is hir admirall,
Tiffelers attyred in trecherye;       195
All suche faytours, foul hem fall!

Who sayth, that some of hem may sinne,
He shal be †demed to be deed;
Some of hem woll gladly winne
All ayenst that which god forbed;       200
"All-holyest" they clepen hir heed,
That of hir rulë is regall;
Alas! that ever they eten breed;
For all such falshed woll foul fall.

Hir heed loveth all honour,       205
And to be worshipped in worde and dede;
Kinges mot to hem knele and coure;
To the apostles, that Christ forbede;
To popes hestes such taketh more hede
Than to kepe Christes commaundëment;       210
Of gold and silver mot ben hir wede,
They holdeth him hole omnipotent.
[ 154 ]
He ordayneth by his ordinaunce
To parish-preestes a powére;
To another a greter avaunce,       215
A greter poynt to his mystere;
But for he is hyghest in erth here,
To him reserveth he many a poynt;
But to Christ, that hath no pere,
Reserveth he neither opin ne joynt.       220

So semeth he above[n] all,
And Christ aboven him nothing;
Whan he sitteth in his stall,
Dampneth and saveth as him think.
Such pryde tofore god doth stink;       225
An angell bad John to him nat knele,
But only to god do his bowing;
Such willers of worship must evil fele.

They ne clepen Christ but sanctus deus,
And clepen her heed Sanctissimus;       230
They that such a sect[ë] sewis,
I trowe, they taken hem amisse.
In erth[ë] here they have hir blisse,
Hir hye master is Belial;
†Christ his people from hem wisse!       235
For all such falsë will foul fall!

They mowë both[ë] binde and lose,
And all is for hir holy lyf;
To save or dampne they mowë chose,
Betwene hem now [ther] is gret stryf.       240
Many a man is killed with knyf,
To wete which of hem have lordship shall;
For such, Christ suffred woundes fyve;
For all such falshed will foul fall.
[ 155 ]
Christ sayd: Qui gladio percutit       245
With swerdë shall [he surely] dye;
He bad his preestes pees and grith,
And bad hem not drede for to dye;
And bad them be both simple and slye,
And carkë not for no cattall,       250
And †truste on god that sitteth on hye;
For all [such] falsë shull foul fall.

These wollen makë men to swere
Ayenst Christes commaundëment;
And Christes membres all to-tere       255
On rode as he wer newe y-rent.
Suche lawes they make by commun assent,
Ech on it choweth as a ball;
Thus the pore be fully shent,
But ever falshed foule it †fall!       260

They usen [never] no symonye,
But sellen churches and prioryes;
Ne [yet] they usen no envye,
But cursen all hem contraryes;
And hyreth men by dayes and yeres       265
With strength to holde hem in hir stall;
And culleth all hir adversaryes;
Therefor, falshed! foul thou fall!

With purse they purchase personage,
With purse they paynen hem to plede;       270
And men of warrë they woll wage,
To bringe hir enemyes to the dede.
And lordes lyves they woll lede,
And moche take, and give but small;
But he it so get, from it shall shede,       275
And make such falsë right foul fal!
[ 156 ]
They halowe nothing but for hyre,
Churchë, font, ne vestëment;
And make[n] orders in every shyre,
But preestes paye for the parchement;       280
Of ryatours they taken rent,
Therwith they smere the shepes skall;
For many churches ben oft suspent;
All such falshed, yet foul it fall!

Some liveth nat in lecherye,       285
But haunten wenches, widdowes, and wyves,
And punisheth the pore for putrye;
Them-selfe it useth all their lyves.
And but a man to them [him] shryves,
To heven comë never he shall;       290
He shal be cursed as be captyves,
To hell they sayn that he shall fall.

There was more mercy in Maximien,
And in Nero, that never was good,
Than [there] is now in some of †hem       295
Whan he hath on his furred hood.
They folowe Christ that shedde his blood
To heven, as bucket in-to the wall;
Suche wreches ben worse than wood;
And all such faytours, foule hem fall!       300

They give hir almesse to the riche,
To maynteynours, and to men of lawe;
For to lordes they woll be liche,
An harlottes sone nat worth an hawe!
Sothfastnessë suche han slawe,       305
They kembe hir crokets with cristall;
And drede of god they have down drawe;
All suche faytours, foul hem fall!
[ 157 ]
They maken parsons for the penny,
And canons of hir cardinals;       310
Unnethes amongest hem all any
That he ne hath glosed the gospell fals!
For Christ made never no cathedrals,
Ne with him was no cardinall
Wyth a reed hatte as usen mynstrals;       315
But falshed, foul mote it befall!

†Hir tything, and hir offring both,
They cle[y]meth it by possessio[u]n;
Thérof nill they none forgo,
But robben men as [by] raunsoun.       320
The tything of Turpe lucrum
With these maisters is meynall;
Tything of bribry and larson
Will makë falshed full foul fall!

They taken to fermë hir sompnours       325
To harme the people what they may;
To pardoners and false faytours
Sell hir seles, I dar well say;
And all to holden greet array,
To multiply hem more metall,       330
They drede full litell domes day
Whan all such [falsë] shall foul fall.

Suche harlottes shull men disclaunder
For they shullen make hir gree,
And ben as proude as Alexaunder,       335
And sayn to the pore, "wo be ye!"
By yere ech preest shall paye his fee
To encrese his lemmans call;
Suche herdes shull well yvell thee,
And all such falsë shull foul fall!       340
[ 158 ]
And if a man be falsly famed,
And woldë make purgacioun,
Than woll the officers be agramed,
And assigne him fro town to town;
So nede he must[e] paye raunsoun       345
Though he be clene as is cristall,
And than have an absolutioun;
But all such falsë shull foul fall!

Though he be gilty of the dede,
And that he [yet] may money pay,       350
All the whyle his purse woll blede
He may use it fro day to day!
These bishoppes officers goon full gay,
And this game they usen over-all;
The pore to pill is all †hir pray;       355
All such falsë shull foul fall!

Alas! god ordayned never such lawe,
Ne no such craft of covetyse;
He forbad it, by his sawe,
Such governours mowen of god agryse;       360
For all his rules †ben rightwyse.
These newe poyntes ben pure papall,
And goddes lawë they dispyse;
And all such faytours shul foul fall!

They sayn that Peter had the key       365
Of hevin and hell, to have and hold;
I trowe Peter took no money
For no sinnes that he sold!
Such successours ben to bold,
In winning all their wit they wrall;       370
Hir conscience is waxen cold;
And all such faytours, foule hem fall!
[ 159 ]
Peter was never so great a fole
To leve his key with such a lorell,
Or to take such cursed such a tole       375
He was advysed nothing well.
I trowe, they have the key of hell;
†Hir maister is of that place marshall;
For there they dressen hem to dwell,
And with fals Lucifer there to fall.       380

They ben as proude as Lucifer,
As angry, and as envious;
From good fayth they ben full fer,
In covetyse they ben curious;
To catche catell as covytous       385
As hound, that for hunger woll yall;
Ungoodly, and ungracious;
And nedely, such falshed shal foul fall!

The pope, and he were Peters heyr,
Me think, he erreth in this cas,       390
Whan choyse of bishoppes is in dispeyr,
To chosen hem in dyvers place;
A lord shall write to him for grace,
For his clerke †pray anon he shall;
So shall he spede[n] his purchas;       395
And all such falsë, foule hem fall!

Though he †conne no more good,
A lordes prayer shal be sped;
Though he be wild of will or wood,
Nat understanding what men han red,       400
A boster, and (that god forbede!)
As good a bishop †as my hors Ball,
Suche a pope is foule be-sted,
And at [the] lastë woll foul fall!
[ 160 ]
He maketh bishops for erthly thank,       405
And nothing for Christes sake;
Such that ben ful fatte and rank,
To soulë hele non hede they take.
Al is well don what ever they make,
For they shal answere at †ones for all;       410
For worldes thank, such worch and wake,
And all such falsë shall foul fall!

Suche that †connë nat hir Crede
With prayer shull be mad prelates;
Nother †conne the gospell rede,       415
Such shull now welde hye estates.
The hye goodes frendship hem makes,
They toteth on hir somme totall;
Such bere the keyes of hell-yates,
And all such falsë shall foul fall.       420

They forsake, for Christes love,
Traveyl, hunger, thurst, and cold;
For they ben ordred ever all above
Out of youthe til they ben old.
By the dore they go nat in-to the fold,       425
To helpe †hir sheep they nought travall;
Hyred men all suche I holde,
And all such falsë, foule hem fall!

For Christ hir king they woll forsake,
And knowe him nought for his povert;       430
For Christes lovë they woll wake,
And drink pyment [and] ale apart.
Of god they seme nothing a-ferd;
As lusty liveth, as Lamuall,
And dryve hir sheep into desert;       435
All such faytours shull foul fall!
[ 161 ]
Christ hath twelve apostels here;
Now say they, ther may be but oon,
That may nat erre in no manere;
Who leveth nat this, ben lost echoon!       440
Peter erred, so dide nat John;
Why is he cleped the principall?
Christ cleped him Peter, but himself the stoon;
All falsë faytours, foule hem fall!

Why cursen they the croysery,       445
Christes Christen crëatures?
For bytwene hem is now envy
To be enhaunsed in honours.
And Christen livers, with hir labours,
For they leve on no man mortall,       450
†Ben do to dethe with dishonours;
And all such falsë, foule hem fall!

What knoweth a tillour at the plow
The popes name, and what he hat?
His crede suffyseth him y-now,       455
And knoweth a cardinall by his hat.
Rough is the pore, unrightly lat,
That knoweth Christ his god royall;
Such maters be nat worth a gnat;
But such false faytours, foule hem fall!       460

A king shall knele and kisse his sho;
Christ suffred a sinfull kisse his feet.
Me thinketh, he holdeth him hye y-now,
So Lucifer did, that hye †seet.
Such oon, me thinketh, him-self foryet,       465
Either to the trouth he was nat call;
Christ, that suffred woundes wet,
Shall makë such falshed foul fall!
[ 162 ]
They layeth out hir largë nettes
For to take silver and gold,       470
Fillen coffers, and sackes fettes,
There-as they soules cacche shold.
Hir servaunts be to †hem unhold,
But they can doublin †hir rentall
To bigge hem castels, and bigge hem hold;       475
And all such falsë, foule hem fall!

Here endeth the first part of this tale, and herafter
foloweth the seconde part.

PART II.

To accorde with this wordë "fal"
No more English can I find;
Shewe another now I shall,
For I have moche to say behind,       480
How preestes han the people pynd,
As curteys Christ hath me [y-]kend,
And put this matter in my mind
To make this maner men amend.

Shortly to shende hem, and shewe now       485
How wrongfully they worche and walke;
O hye god, nothing they tell, ne how,
But in goddes word, †tell many a balke.
In hernes holde hem and in halke,
And prechin of tythes and offrend,       490
And untruely of the gospell talke;
For his mercy, god it amend!
[ 163 ]
What is Antichrist to say
But evin Christes adversáry?
Such hath now ben many a day       495
To Christes bidding full contráry,
That from the trouthë clenë vary;
Out of the wayë they ben wend;
And Christes people untruely cary;
God, for his pitè, it amend!       500

That liven contráry to Christes lyf,
In hye pride agaynst mekenesse;
Agaynst suffraunce they usen stryf,
And angre ayenst sobrenesse;
Agaynst wisdom, wilfulnesse;       505
To Christes tales litell tend;
Agaynst mesúre, outragiousnesse;
But whan god woll, it may amend!

Lordly lyf ayenst lowlinesse,
And demin all without mercy;       510
And covetyse ayenst largesse,
Agaynst trewth[e], trechery;
And agaynst almesse, envy;
Agaynst Christ they comprehend.
For chastitè, they maynteyn lechery;       515
God, for his gracë, this amend!

Ayenst penaunce they use delytes,
Ayenst suffraunce, strong defence;
Ayenst god they use yvel rightes,
Agaynst pitè, punishments;       520
Open yvell ayenst continence;
Hir wicked winning wors dispend;
Sobrenesse they sette in-to dispence;
But god, for his goodnesse, it amend!
[ 164 ]
Why cleymen they hoolly his powére,       525
And wranglen ayenst all his hestes?
His living folowen they nothing here,
But liven wors than witles beestes.
Of fish and flesh they loven feestes,
As lordes, they ben brode y-kend;       530
Of goddes pore they haten gestes;
God, for his mercy, this amend!

With †Dives such shall have hir doom
That sayn that they be Christes frendes,
And do nothing as they shuld doon;       535
All such ben falser than ben fendes.
On the people they ley such bendes,
As god is in erthe, they han offend;
Sucour for suchë Christ now sende us.
And, for his mercy, this amend!       540

A token of Antichrist they be,
His careckes ben now wyde y-know;
Receyved to preche shall no man be
Without[ë] token of him, I trow.
Ech Christen preest to prechen ow,       545
From god abovë they ben send.
Goddes word to all folk for to show,
Sinfull man for to amend.

Christ sente the pore for to preche;
The royall riche he did nat so;       550
Now dar no pore the people teche,
For Antichrist is over-all hir fo.
Among the people he mot go;
He hath bidden, all such suspend;
Some hath he hent, and thinketh yet mo;       555
But all this god may well amend.
[ 165 ]
All tho that han the world forsake,
And liven lo[w]ly, as god bad,
In-to hir prison shullen be take,
Betin and bounden, and forth lad.       560
Herof I rede no man be drad;
Christ sayd, his [servaunts] shulde be shend;
Ech man ought herof be glad;
For god ful well it woll amend.

They take on hem royáll powére,       565
And saye, they havë swerdes two,
Oon curse to hell, oon slee men here;
For at his taking Christ had no mo,
Yet Peter had [that] oon of tho.
But Christ to Peter smyte gan defend,       570
And in-to the sheth bad putte it tho;
And all such mischeves god amend!

Christ bad Peter kepe his sheep,
And with his swerde forbad him smyte;
Swerd is no tole with sheep to kepe       575
But to shep[h]erdes that sheep woll byte.
Me thinketh, suche shep[h]erdes ben to wyte
Ayen hir sheep with swerd that contend;
They dryve hir sheep with greet dispyte;
But al this god may well amend.       580

So successours to Peter be they nought
Whom [that] Christ madë cheef pastour;
A swerd no shep[h]erde usen ought
But he wold slee as a bochour.
For who-so were Peters successour       585
Shuld bere his sheep till his bak bend,
And shadowe hem from every shour;
And all this god may wel amend.
[ 166 ]
Successours to Peter ben these
In that that Peter Christ forsook,       590
That had lever the love of god [to] lese
Than a shep[h]erde had to lese his hook.
He culleth the sheep as doth the cook;
Of hem [they] taken the woll untrend,
And falsely glose the gospell-book;       595
God, for his mercy, †hem amend!

After Christ had take Peter the kay,
Christ sayd, he mustë dye for man;
That Peter to Christ gan withsay;
Christ bad him, 'go behind, Sathan!'       600
Such counsaylours many of these men han
For worldes wele, god to offend;
Peters successours they ben for-than,
But all such god may well amend.

For Sathan is to say no more       605
But he that contrary to Christ is;
In this they lernë Peters lore,
They sewen him whan he did mis;
They folowe Peter forsothe in this,
In al that Christ wolde †him reprende,       610
Nat in that that longeth to hevin blis;
God for his mercy hem amend!

Some of the apostels they sewen in cas,
Of ought that I can understonde,
Him that betrayed Christ, Judas,       615
That bar the purse in every londe;
And al that he might sette on honde,
He hidde and stal, and [gan] mispend;
His rule these traytours han in honde;
Almighty god [now] hem amend!       620
[ 167 ]
And at last his lord gan tray
Cursedly, through his covetyse;
So wolde these trayen him for money,
And they wisten in what wyse!
They be seker of the selfe ensyse;       625
From all sothnesse they ben frend;
And covetyse chaungen with queyntyse;
Almighty god all suche amend!

Were Christ on erthë here eft-soon,
These wolde dampnë him to dye;       630
All his hestes they han fordon,
And sayn, his sawes ben heresy;
Ayenst his †maundëments they cry,
And dampne all his to be [y-]brend;
For it lyketh nat hem, such losengery;       635
God almighty hem amend!

These han more might in England here
Than hath the king and all his lawe,
They han purchased hem such powére
To taken hem whom [they] list nat knawe;       640
And say, that heresy is hir sawe,
And so to prison woll hem send;
It was nat so by elder dawe,
God, for his mercy, it amend!

The kinges lawe wol no man deme       645
Angerliche, withouten answere;
But, if any man these misqueme,
He shal be baited as a bere;
And yet wel wors they woll him tere,
And in prisón woll hem [be] pend       650
In gyves, and in other gere;
Whan god woll, it may [a]mend.
[ 168 ]
The king taxeth nat his men
But by assent of the comminaltè;
But these, ech yere, woll raunsom hem       655
Maysterfully, more than doth he;
Hir seles, by yerë, better be
Than is the kinges in extend;
Hir officers han gretter fee;
But this mischeef [may] god amend!       660

For who-so woll prove a testament
Thát is natt all worth ten pound,
He shall paye for the parchëment
The third part of the money all round.
Thus the people is raunsound,       665
They say, such part to hem shulde apend;
There as they grypen, it goth to ground;
God, for his mercy, it amend!

A simple fornicacioun,
Twenty shillings he shall pay;       670
And than have an absolucioun,
And al the yere usen it forth he may!
Thus they letten hem go a-stray,
They recke nat though the soul be brend;
These kepin yvell Peters key,       675
And all such shep[h]erdes god amend!

Wonder is, that the parliament
And all the lordes of this lond
Here-to taken so litell entent
To helpe the people out of hir hond;       680
For they ben harder in †hir bond,
Wors bete[n] and [more] bitter brend
Than to the king is understond;
God him helpe this to amend!
[ 169 ]
What bisshoppes, what religio[u]ns       685
Han in this lande as moch lay-fee,
Lordshippes, and possessio[u]ns
More than the lordes, it semeth me!
That maketh hem lese charitè,
They mowë nat to god attend;       690
In erthe they have so high degree,
God, for his mercy, it amend!

The emperour yaf the pope somtyme
So hyghe lordship him about,
That, at [the] laste, the sely kyme,       695
The proudë popë putte him out!
So of this realme is in dout,
But lordes be ware and †hem defend;
For now these folk be wonder stout,
The king and lordes now this amend!       700

Thus endeth the seconde part of this tale, and herafter
foloweth the thirde.

PART III.

Moyses lawe forbood it tho,
That preestes shuld no lordshippes welde,
Christes gospel biddeth also
Thát they shuld no lordship helde;
Ne Christes apostels were never so bold       705
No such lordshippes to †hem enbrace;
But smeren hir sheep and kepe hir fold;
God amende hem for his grace!
[ 170 ]
For they ne ben but countrefet,
Men may knowe hem by hir fruit;       710
Hir gretnesse maketh hem god foryet,
And take his mekenesse in dispyt.
And they were pore and had but lyte,
They nolde nat demen after the face,
But norishe hir sheep, and hem nat byte;       715
God amende hem for his grace!"

Grifon. "What canst thou preche ayenst chanons
Thát men clepen seculere?"
Pelican. "They ben curates of many towns,
On erthë they have greet powére.       720
They han greet prebendes and dere,
Some two or three, and some [han] mo,
A personage to ben a playing-fere,
And yet they serve the king also;

And let to fermë all that fare       725
To whom that woll most give therfore;
Some woll spende, and some woll spare,
And some woll laye it up in store.
A cure of soule[s] they care nat for,
Só they mowë money take;       730
Whether hir soules be wonne or lore,
Hir profits they woll nat forsake.

They have a gedering procuratour
That can the pore people enplede,
And robben hem as a ravinour,       735
And to his lord the money lede;
And cacche of quicke and eke of dede,
And richen him and his lord eke,
And to robbe the pore can give good rede
Of olde and yonge, of hole and seke.       740
[ 171 ]
Therwith they purchase hem lay-fee
In londë, there hem lyketh best,
And builde †als brode as a citè
Both in the est, and eke in the west.
To purchase thus they ben ful prest,       745
But on the pore they woll nought spend,
Ne no good give to goddes gest,
Ne sende him some that all hath send.

By hir service such woll live,
And trusse that other in-to tresour;       750
Though all hir parish dye unshrive,
They woll nat give a rosë-flour.
Hir lyf shuld be as a mirrour
Bothe to lered and to leude also,
And teche the people hir leel labour;       755
Such mister men ben all misgo.

Some of hem ben hardë nigges,
And some of hem ben proude and gay;
Some spende hir good upon [hir] gigges,
And finden hem of greet aray.       760
Alas! what think these men to say
That thus dispenden goddis good?
At the dredfull domes day
Such wrecches shul be worse than wood.

Some hir churc[h]es never ne sye,       765
Ne never o peny thider ne sende;
Though the pore parishens for hunger dye,
O peny on hem wil they nat spende.
Have they receivinge of the rent,
They reck never of the remënant;       770
Alas! the devill hath clene hem blent!
Suche oon is Sathanas sojournant.
[ 172 ]
And usen horedom and harlotry,
Covetysë, pompe, and pride,
Slouthë, wrathe, and eke envy,       775
And sewen sinne by every syde.
Alas! where thinkë such t'abyde?
How woll they accomptes yeld?
From hy god they mow hem nat hyde,
Such willers wit is nat worth a neld.       780

They ben so roted in richesse,
That Christes povert is foryete,
Served with so many messe,
Hem thinketh that manna is no mete.
All is good that they mow get,       785
They wenë to live evermore;
But, whan god at dome is set,
Such tresour is a feble store.

Unneth mot they matins say,
For counting and for court-holding;       790
And yet he jangleth as a jay,
And understont him-self nothing.
He woll serve bothe erl and king
For his fynding and his fee,
And hyde his tything and his offring;       795
This is a feble charitè.

Other they ben proude, or coveytous,
Or they ben harde, or [els] hungry,
Or they ben liberall or lecherous,
Or els medlers with marchandry;       800
Or maynteyners of men with maistry,
Or stewardes, countours, or pledours,
And serve god in hypocrisy;
Such preestes ben Christes fals traytours!
[ 173 ]
They ben false, they ben vengeable,       805
And begylen men in Christes name;
They ben unstedfast and unstable;
To tray hir lord, hem thinketh no shame.
To servë god they ben full lame,
Goddes theves, and falsly stele;       810
And falsly goddes word defame;
In winning is hir worldes wele.

Antichrist these serven all;
I pray thee, who may say [me] nay?
With Antichrist such [folk] shull fall,       815
They folowen him in dede and fay;
They servin him in riche array,
To servë Christ such falsly fayn;
Why, at the dredful domes day,
Shull they not folowe him to payn?       820

That knowen hem-self, that they don ill
Ayenst Christes commaundëment,
And amende hem never ne will,
But serve Sathan by one assent.
Who sayth [the] sothe, he shal be shent,       825
Or speketh ayenst hir fals living;
Who-so well liveth shal be brent,
For such ben gretter than the king!

Pope, bishoppes, and cardinals,
Chanons, persons, and vicaire,       830
In goddes service, I trow, ben fals,
That sacramentës sellen here.
And ben as proude as Lucifere;
Ech man loke whether that I ly!
Who-so speketh ayenst hir powére,       835
It shall be holden heresy.
[ 174 ]
Loke how many orders take
Only of Christ, for his servyce,
That the worldes goodes forsake?
Who-so taketh orders †on other wyse,       840
I trow, that they shall sore agryse!
For all the glose that they conne,
All sewen not this [same] assyse;
In yvell tyme they thus bigonne.

Loke how many among hem all       845
Holden not this hyë way!
With Antichrist they shullen fall,
For they wolden god betray.
God amende hem, that best may!
For many men they maken shende;       850
They weten well, the sothe I say,
Bút the divell hath foule hem blend.

Some [up]on hir churches dwell,
Apparailled porely, proude of port;
The seven sacraments they don sell,       855
In cattel-cacching is hir comfort.
Of ech mattér they wollen mell,
And don hem wrong is hir disport;
To afray the people they ben fell,
And holde hem lower then doth the lord.       860

For the tythinge of a ducke,
Or of an apple, or an ay,
They make men swere upon a boke;
Thus they foulen Christes fay.
Such beren yvell heven-kay,       865
They mowen assoyl, they mowë shryve;
With mennes wyves strongly play,
With trewë tillers sturte and stryve
[ 175 ]
At the wrestling, and at the wake;
And chefe chauntours at the nale;       870
Market-beters, and medling make,
Hoppen and houten with heve and hale.
At fayrë freshe, and at wynë stale,
Dyne and drinke, and make debat;
The seven sacraments set at sale;       875
How kepe such the kayes of heven-gat?

Mennes wyves they wollen holde;
And though that they ben right sory,
To speke they shull not be so bolde
For sompning to the consistory;       880
And make hem say [with] mouth "I ly,"
Though they it sawë with hir y;
His lemman holden openly,
No man so hardy to axë why!

He wol have tythinge and offringe,       885
Maugrè who-so-ever it gruche;
And twyës on the day woll singe;
Goddes prestes nere none suche!
He mot on hunting with dogge and bic[c]he,
And blowen his horn, and cryën "hey!"       890
And sorcery usen as a wicche;
Such kepen yvell Peters key.

Yet they mot have som stocke or stoon
Gayly paynted, and proudly dight,
To maken men [to] †leven upon,       895
And say, that it is full of might;
About such, men sette up greet light,
Other such stockes shull stand therby
As darkë as it were midnight,
For it may make no ma[i]stry.       900
[ 176 ]
That lewed people see it mow,
Thou, Mary, worchest wonder thinges;
About that, that men offren to now,
Hongen broches, ouches, and ringes;
The preest purchaseth the offringes,       905
But he nill offre to none image;
Wo is the soule that he for singes,
That precheth for suche a pilgrimage!

To men and women that ben pore,
That ben [in] Christes own lykenesse,       910
Men shullen offre at hir dore
That suffren honger and distresse;
And to suche imáges offre lesse,
That mow not felë thurst ne cold;
The pore in spirit gan Christ blesse,       915
Therfore offreth to feble and old.

Buckelers brode, and swerdes longe,
†Baudriks, with baselardes kene,
Such toles about hir necke they honge;
With Antichrist such preestes been;       920
Upon hir dedes it is well sene
Whom they serven, whom they hono[u]ren;
Antichristes they ben clene,
And goddes goodes fa[l]sly deuouren.

Of scarlet and grene gay[ë] gownes,       925
That mot be shapë for the newe,
To clippen and kissen counten in townes
The damoseles that to the daunce sewe;
Cutted clothes to sewe hir hewe,
With longë pykes on hir shoon;       930
Our goddes gospell is not trewe,
Eyther they serven the divell or noon!
[ 177 ]
Now ben prestes pokes so wyde,
Men must enlarge the vestëment;
The holy gospell they don hyde,       935
For they contrarien in rayment.
Such preestes of Lucifer ben sent,
Lyk conquerours they ben arayd,
Proude pendaunts at hir ars y-pent,
Falsly the truthe they han betrayd.       940

Shryft-silver suchë wollen aske is,
And woll men crepë to the crouche;
None of the sacraments, save askes,
Without[ë] mede shall no man touche.
On hir bishop their warant vouche,       945
That is lawe of the decrè;
With mede and money thus they mouche,
And †this, they sayn, is charitè!

In the middes of hir masse
They nill have no man but for hyre,       950
And, full shortly, let forth passe;
Such shull men finde[n] in ech shyre
That personages for profite desyre,
To live in lykinge and in lustes;
I dar not sayn, sans ose ieo dyre,       955
That such ben Antichristes preestes.

Or they yef the bishops why,
Or they mot ben in his servyce,
And holden forth hir harlotry;
Such prelats ben of feble empryse.       960
Of goddes grame such men agryse,
For such mattérs that taken mede;
How they excuse hem, and in what wyse,
Me thinketh, they ought greetly drede.
[ 178 ]
They sayn, that it to no man longeth       965
To reprove †hem, though they erre;
But falsely goddes good they fongeth,
And therwith maynteyn wo and werre.
Hir dedes shuld be as bright as sterre,
Hir living, lewed mannes light;       970
They say, the popë may not erre,
Nede must that passë mannes might.

Though a prest ly with his lemman al night,
And tellen his felowe, and he him,
He goth to massë anon-right,       975
And sayeth, he singeth out of sinne!
His bryde abydeth him at his inne,
And dighteth his dyner the mene whyle;
He singeth his masse for he wolde winne,
And so he weneth god begyle!       980

Hem thinketh long till they be met;
And that they usen forth all the yere;
Among the folk when he is set,
He holdeth no man half his pere;
Of the bishop he hath powére       985
To soyle men, or els they ben lore;
His absolucion may make †hem skere;
And wo is the soul that he singeth for!"

The Griffon began for to threte,
And sayd, "of monkes canst thou ought?"       990
The Pellican sayd, "they ben full grete,
And in this world moch wo hath wrought.
Saynt Benet, that hir order brought,
Ne made hem never on such manere;
I trowe, it cam never in his thought       995
That they shulde use so greet powér[e];
[ 179 ]
That a man shulde a monk lord cal,
Ne serve on kneës, as a king.
He is as proud as prince in pall
In mete, and drink, and [in] all thing;       1000
Some weren myter and ring,
With double worsted well y-dight,
With royall mete and riche drink,
And rydeth on courser as a knight.

With hauke[s] and with houndes eke,       1005
With broches or ouches on his hode,
Some say no masse in all a weke,
Of deyntees is hir moste fode.
With lordshippes and with bondmen
This is a royall religioun;       1010
Saynt Benet made never none of hem
To have lordship of man ne town.

Now they ben queynte and curious,
With fyn cloth cladde, and served clene,
Proude, angry, and envyous,       1015
Malyce is mochë that they mene.
In cacching crafty and covetous,
Lordly liven in greet lyking;
This living is not religious
According to Benet in his living.       1020

They ben clerkes, hir courtes they oversee,
Hir pore tenaunts fully they flyte;
The hyer that a man amerced be,
The gladlyer they woll it wryte.
This is fer from Christes povertè,       1025
For all with covetyse they endyte;
On the pore they have no pitè,
Ne never hem cherish, but ever hem byte.
[ 180 ]
And comunly suche ben comen
Of pore people, and of hem begete,       1030
That this perfeccion han y-nomen;
Hir †faders ryde not but on hir fete,
And travaylen sore for that they ete,
In povert liveth, yonge and old;
Hir †faders suffreth drought and wete,       1035
Many hongry meles, thurst, and cold.

All this the monkes han forsake
For Christes love and saynt Benet;
To pryde and esë have hem take;
This religio[u]n is yvell beset.       1040
Had they ben out of religioun,
They must have honged at the plow,
Threshing and dyking fro town to town
With sory mete, and not half y-now.

Therfore they han this all forsake,       1045
And taken to riches, pryde, and ese;
Full fewe for god woll monkes hem make,
Litell is suche order for to prayse!
Saynt Benet ordayned it not so,
But bad hem be [ful] cherelich;       1050
In churlich maner live and go,
Boystous in erth, and not lordlych.

They disclaunder saynt Benet,
Therfore they have his holy curse;
Saynt Benet with hem never met       1055
But-if they thought to robbe his purse!
I can no more herof [now] tell,
But they ben lykë tho before,
And clenë serve the divell of hell,
And ben his tresour and his store.       1060
[ 181 ]
And all suche other counterfaytours,
Chanons, canons, and such disgysed,
Ben goddes enemies and traytours,
His true religion han foul dispysed.
Of freres I have told before       1065
In a making of a 'Crede,'
And yet I coud tell worse and more,
But men wold werien it to rede!

As goddes goodnes no man tell might,
Wryte ne speke, ne think in thought,       1070
So, hir falshed and hir unright
May no man tell, that ever god wrought."
The Gryffon sayd, "thou canst no good,
Thou cam never of no gentill kind;
Other, I trow, thou waxest wood,       1075
Or els thou hast [y-]lost thy mynd.

Shuld holy churchë have no heed?
Who shuld be her governayl?
Who shuld her rule, who shuld her reed,
Who shuld her forthren, who shuld avayl?       1080
Ech man shall live by his travayl;
Who best doth, shall have moste mede;
With strength if men the churche assayl,
With strength men must defende her nede.

And the pope were purely pore,       1085
Nedy, and nothing ne had,
He shuld be driven from dore to dore;
The wicked of him nold not be drad.
Of such an heed men wold be sad,
And sinfully liven as hem †list;       1090
With strength, amendes †shuld be made,
With wepen, wolves from sheep be †wist.
[ 182 ]
If the pope and prelats wold
So begge and bidde, bowe, and borowe,
Holy churche shuld stand full cold,       1095
Hir servaunts sitte and soupë sorowe!
And they were noughty, foule, and horowe,
To worship god men woldë wlate;
Bothe on even and on morowe
Such harlotry men woldë hate.       1100

Therfore men of holy churche
Shuld ben honest in all thing,
Worshipfully goddes workes werche,
So semeth it, to serve Christ hir king
In honest and in clene clothing;       1105
With vessels of golde and clothes riche,
To god honestly to make offring;
To his lordship non is liche."

The Pellican caste an houge cry,
And sayd, "alas! why sayest thou so?       1110
Christ is our heed that sitteth on hy,
Heddes ne ought we have no mo.
We ben his membres both also,
And †fader he taught us to cal him als;
Maysters be called defended he tho;       1115
All other maysters ben wicked and fals,

That taketh maystry in his name,
Gostly, and for erthly good;
Kinges and lordes shuld lordship han,
And rule the people with myldë mode.       1120
Christ, for us that shedde his blood,
Bad his preestes no maystership have,
Ne carkë nat for cloth ne fode;
From every mischef he will hem save.
[ 183 ]
Hir riche clothing shal be rightwysnesse,       1125
Hir tresour, trewë lyf shal be;
Charitè shal be hir richesse,
Hir lordship shal be unitè;
Hope in god, hir honestè;
Hir vessell, clenë conscience;       1130
Pore in spirit, and humilitè,
Shal be holy churches defence."

"What," sayd the Griffon, "may thee greve
That other folkes faren wele?
What hast thou to donë with hir †leve?       1135
Thy falsheed ech man may fele.
For thou canst no catell gete,
But livest in londe, as a lorell,
With glosing gettest thou thy mete;
So fareth the devell that wonneth in hell.       1140

He wold that ech man ther shuld dwell,
For he liveth in clene envy;
So with the tales that thou doest tell
Thou woldest other people distry,
With your glose, and your heresy,       1145
For ye can live no better lyf,
But clenë in hypocrisy,
And bringest thee in wo and stryf.

And therwith have [ye] not to done,
For ye ne have[n] here no cure;       1150
Ye serve the divell, †not god ne man,
And he shall payë you your hyre.
For ye woll farë well at feestes,
And warm [be] clothed for the colde,
Therfore ye glose goddes hestes,       1155
And begyle the people, yonge and olde.
[ 184 ]
And all the seven sacraments
Ye speke ayenst, as ye were sly,
Ayenst tythings with your entents,
And on our lordes body falsly ly.       1160
All this ye don to live in ese,
As who sayeth, ther ben non suche;
And sayn, the pope is not worth a pese,
To make the people ayen him gruche.

And this commeth in by fendes,       1165
To bringe the Christen in distaunce;
For they wold that no man were frendes;
Leve thy chattring, with mischaunce!
If thou live well, what wilt thou more?
Let other men live as hem list;       1170
Spende in good, or kepe in store;
Other mennes conscience never thou nist.

Ye han no cure to answere for;
What meddell ye, that han not to don?
Let men live as they han don yore,       1175
For thou shalt answere for no †mon."
The Pellican sayd, "Sir, nay, [nay],
I dispysed not the pope,
Ne no sacrament, soth to say;
But speke in charitè and good hope.       1180

But I dispyse hir hyë pryde,
Hir richesse, that shuld be pore in spryt;
Hir wickednesse is knowe so wyde,
They servë god in fals habyt;
And turnen mekenesse into pryde,       1185
And lowlinesse into hy degrè,
And goddes wordes turne and hyde;
And that am I moved by charitè
[ 185 ]
To lettë men to livë so
With all my conning and al my might,       1190
And to warne men of hir wo
And to tell hem trouth and right.
The sacraments be soulë-hele
If they ben used in good use;
Ayenst that speke I never a del,       1195
For then were I nothing wyse.

But they that use hem in mis manére,
Or sette hem up to any sale,
I trow, they shall abye hem dere;
This is my reson, this is my tale.       1200
Who-so taketh hem unrightfulliche
Ayenst the ten commaundëments,
Or by glosë wrechedliche
Selleth any of the sacraments,

I trow, they do the devell homage       1205
In that they weten they do wrong;
And therto, I dar well wage,
They serven Satan for al her song.
To tythen and offren is hoolsom lyf,
So it be don in dew manére;       1210
A man to houselin and to shryve,
Wedding, and all the other in-fere,

So it be nother sold ne bought,
Ne take ne give for covetyse;
And it be so taken, it is nought;       1215
Who selleth hem so, may sore agryse.
On our Lordes body I do not ly,
I say soth, thorow trewë rede,
His flesh and blood, through his mystry,
Is there, in the forme of brede.       1220
[ 186 ]
How it is there, it nedeth not stryve,
Whether it be subget or accident,
But as Christ was, when he was on-lyve,
So is he there, verament.
If pope or cardinall live good lyve,       1225
As Christ commaunded in his gospell,
†Ayenës that woll I not stryve;
But, me thinketh, they live not well.

For if the pope lived as god bede,
Pryde and hyghnesse he shuld dispyse,       1230
Richesse, covetyse, and crowne on hede,
Mekenesse and povert he shulde use."
The Gryffon sayd, he shulde abye—
"Thou shal[t] be brent in balefull fyre;
And all thy secte I shall distrye,       1235
Ye shal be hanged by the swyre!

Ye shullen be hanged and to-drawe.
Who giveth you levë for to preche,
Or speke †agaynës goddes lawe,
And the people thus falsly teche?       1240
Thou shalt be cursed with boke and bell,
And dissevered from holy churche,
And clene y-dampned into hell,
Otherwyse but ye woll worche!"

The Pellican sayd, "that I ne drede;       1245
Your cursinge is of litell value;
Of god I hope to have my mede,
For it is falshed that ye shewe.
For ye ben out of charitè
And wilneth vengeaunce, as did Nero;       1250
To suffren I woll redy be;
I drede not that thou canst do.
[ 187 ]
Christ bad ones suffre for his love,
And so he taught all his servaunts;
And but thou amend for his sake above,       1255
I drede not all thy mayntenaunce.
For if I drede the worldes hate,
Me thinketh, I were litell to prayse;
I drede nothing your hye estat,
Ne I drede not your disese.       1260

Wolde ye turne and leve your pryde,
Your hyë port, and your richesse,
Your cursing shuld not go so wyde;
God bring you into rightwysnesse!
For I drede not your tyranny,       1265
For nothing that ye can doon;
To suffre I am all redy,
Siker, I recke never how soon!"

The Griffon grinned as he were wood,
And loked lovely as an owle!       1270
And swor, by cockes hertë blood,
He wolde him terë, every doule!
"Holy churche thou disclaundrest foule!
For thy resons I woll thee all to-race;
And make thy flesh to rote and moule;       1275
Losell, thou shalt have hardë grace!"

The Griffon flew forth on his way;
The Pellican did sitte and weep;
And to him-selfë he gan say,
"God wolde that any of Christes sheep       1280
Had herd, and y-takë kepe
Eche a word that here sayd was,
And wolde it wryte and well it kepe!
God wolde it were all, for his grace!"
[ 188 ]
Plowman. I answerde, and sayd I wolde,       1285
If for my travayl any wold pay.
Pelican. He sayd, "yes; these that god han sold;
For they han [greet] store of money!"
Plowman. I sayd, "tell me, and thou may,
Why tellest thou mennës trespace?"       1290
Pelican. He said, "to amende hem, in good fay,
If god woll give me any grace.

For Christ him-selfe is lykned to me,
That for his people dyed on rode;
As fare I, right so fareth he,       1295
He fedeth his birdes with his blode.
But these don yvell †ayenës good,
And ben his foon under frendes face;
I tolde hem how hir living stood;
God amende hem, for his grace!"       1300

Plowman. "What ayleth the Griffon, tell [me] why,
That he holdeth on that other syde?"
Pellican. "For they two ben [of kind], lykly,
And with [lyk] kindes robben wyde.
The foul betokeneth [evill] pryde,       1305
As Lucifer, that hygh †flowe was;
And sith he did him in evell hyde,
For he agilted goddes grace.

As bird [that] flyeth up in the ayr,
And liveth by birdes that ben meke,       1310
So these be flowe up in dispayr,
And shenden sely soules eke.
The soules that ben in sinnes seke,
He culleth hem; knele therfore, alas!
For brybry goddes forbode breke,       1315
God amende it, for his grace!
[ 189 ]
The hinder part is a lyoun,
A robber and a ravinere,
That robbeth the people in erth a-down,
And in erth holdeth non his pere;       1320
So fareth this foul, both fer and nere;
With temporel strength they people chase,
As a lyon proud in erthë here;
God amende hem for hys grace!"

He flew forth with his winges twayn,       1325
All drouping, dased, and dull.
But soone the Griffon cam agayn,
Of his foules the erth was full;
The Pellican he had cast to pull.
So greet a nombre never seen ther was;       1330
What maner of foules, tellen I woll,
If god woll give me of his grace.

With the Griffon comen foules fele,
Ravins, rokes, crowes, and pye,
Gray foules, agadred wele,       1335
Y-gurd, above they woldë hye.
Gledes and bosardes weren hem by;
Whyt molles and puttockes token hir place;
And lapwinges, that wel conneth ly,
This felowship han for-gerd hir grace.       1340

Longe the Pellican was out,
But at [the] laste he cometh agayn;
And brought with him the Phenix stout.
The Griffon wolde have flowe full fayn;
His foules, that flewen as thycke as rayn,       1345
The Phenix tho began hem chace;
To fly from him it was in vayn,
For he did vengeaunce and no grace.
[ 190 ]
He slew hem down without mercy,
Ther astartë neyther free ne thrall;       1350
On him they cast a rufull cry
When the Griffon down was fall.
He beet hem not, but slew hem all;
Whither he hem drove, no man may trace;
Under the erthe, me thought, they yall;       1355
Alas! they had a feble grace!

The Pellican then axed right,
"For my wryting if I have blame,
Who woll for me fight of flight?
Who shall sheldë me from shame?       1360
He that had a mayd to dame,
The lamb that slayn [for sinners] was,
Shall sheldë me from gostly blame;
For erthly harm is goddes grace.

Therfore I praye every man,       1365
Of my wryting have me excused."
This wryting wryteth the Pellican,
That thus these people hath dispysed;
For I am, fresh, fully advysed,
I nill not maynteyn his manace.       1370
For the devell is †oft disguysed,
To bringe a man to yvell grace.

Wyteth the Pellican, and not me,
For herof I nil not avowe,
In hy ne in low, ne in no degrè,       1375
But as a fable take it ye mowe.
To holy churche I will me bowe;
Ech man to amende him, Christ send space!
And for my wryting me alowe
He that is almighty, for his grace.'       1380

Finis.


From Thynne (ed. 1542). I give rejected spellings.

1. Ploweman; plowe. 3. eate ynowe. 4. lyge; chynne. 5. cowe. 6. bone; skynne. 7. shoke; -drowe. 8. honge; pynne. 9. toke; tabarde; staffe. 12. pylgremage; platte. 13. bare. 14. forswatte. 15. sene. 17. behelde wele. 18. sawe. 19. knewe; snoute. 23. coulde; loute.

27. plowe. 28. meate. 29. auowe. 30. wyfe; fynde. 31. howe. 32. leude; bene; full (read fully; see l. 24); blynde. 33. fayne. 34. her; supply to; swet. 35. agayne. 36. eate. 37. The (for They; 1550, They); sayne. 38. hell. 39. payne. 41. her. 42. sayne. 43. corne. 44. speaketh. 45. preache. 46. nere; thynge. 47. ons (1550, ones); teache. 48. preachynge. 49. Saye; the. 51. praye; noman. 52. Whyle; tellynge. Colophon: fyrst parte.

53. stryfe. 55. bene. 57. great; vngrounde (!). 58. souble (error for souple). 60. foule. 61. one. 63. freers. 64. great. 65. heuyn. 68. foule mought. 70. Supply al; prease. 71. caytyffes. 72. one; encrease. 73. I-clepeth (!); londlese. 74. bene. 75. peace. 76. foule. 78. knowe. 79. trauayle. 80. ferre. 82. wodde. 83. sawe.

85. one. 86. grymme. 89. measure. 90. counsayle. 91. sharpe. 92. foule. 93. preache. 94. mekenesse. 95. teache. 96. blesse. 97. beareth wytnesse. 98. lambe; lykeneth. 99. tokenynge. 103. lowlyche; lowe. 105. crowne; couetours (read covertours). 106. pylloure (for pelure). 107. great treasours. 108. foule. 109. Preests shulde. 111. bateyle shulde. 112. her owne. 113. syttynges; hye. 114. souerayntie; house. 115. worshippe. 116. Who so (omit so); foule shall.

117. suche. 118. erthlye. 119. suche shall. 120. y-buylden her boure. 122. them to hem; supply be. 123. holde; one. 124. suche one shall (om. one). 125. peeres. 127. poore freers. 128. Nowe. 129. her. 130. noman; permagall. 131. Whyle; her. 132. suche; mote. 134. glytterande; great araye. 136. commen; maye; gaye. 137. daye. 138. great. 139. baye. 140. suche; mote. 141. punyshed (!); see l. 143. 142. sustayne. 144. her. 147. leude. 148. Suche; foule them befall (see ll. 156, 164).

149. meates. 150. songe; syttynge longe. 151. her. 152. meate; gonge. 153. meate; harpe; songe. 154. eche; mote. 155. amonge. 156. Suche; foule. 157. one. 159. staffe; pyrrey; read perrey. 160. made; lead. 161. golde; redde. 162. glytterande; golde (repeated from l. 161; read gown). 164. foule. 167. her. 168. hel. 169. her. 170. her gaye. 172. great. 179. poore. 180. Suche; foule.

182, 3. her. 184. kynge. 185. glyttryng (1550, glytteryng). 187. golde. 188. foule. 189. clepen (!); bene. 194. Antichriste; her. 196. foule. 198. done (but 1550, dome; read demed). 200. whiche. 201, 202. her. 204. suche; foule. 205. Her. 207. mote. 208. forbede (= forbēd). 209. suche. 211. mote; her.

215, 216. greater. 224. thynke. 225. Suche; stynke. 227. bowynge. 228. must nede euyll; I omit nede. 231. suche; sect sewys. 233. her. 234. Her. 235. Chrystes (!); read Christ his. 236. suche; foule. 238. her; lyfe. 240. Supply ther; great stryfe. 241. a knyfe (om. a). 243. suche. 244. suche; foule.

246. Supply he surely. 247. peace. 248. bade. 251. trusteth (!). 252. Supply such; foule. 256. roode. 257. commen. 258. Echeon. 259. poore. 260. befall; read fall. 261. Supply never. 263. Supply yet. 266. her. 267. her. 268. foule; falle. 272. her. 276. suche; foule.

282. shyppes (!); 1550, shepes. 283. ofte. 284. suche; foule. 287. poore. 289. Supply him. 292. sayne. 295. Supply there; nowe; them. 296. hoode. 297. blode. 298. buckette; (wall = well). 299. wode. 300. suche. 301. her. 302. Omit to? 304. sonne; worthe. 306. her crokettes; christall. 307. downe. 308. foule.

310. her. 315. Redde; vsyn. 316. falsshed foule. 317. Their (read Hir); her. 318. clemeth; see l. 525. 320. Supply by; raunsome. 324, 332, 340. foule. 324. to fall (omit to). 325. her. 328. her seales; dare. 329. great. 332. suche; supply false. 334. her. 336. sayne; poore. 337. eche preeste. 338. encrease. 339. heerdes; the. 340. suche.

341. falsely. 344. towne (twice). 345. raunsome. 346. christall. 348. suche. 348, 356, 364. foule. 349. gyltie. 350. Supply yet; maye. 352. maye. 353. gone. 355. poore; theyr (read hir). 356. suche. 357. suche. 358. suche crafte. 359. forbade. 360. Suche. 361. is (read ben). 363. dispyce. 364. suche. 365. sayne. 366. heuyn; holde. 367. toke. 368. solde. 369. Suche; bolde. 370. wytte. 371. colde. 372. suche.

374. leaue. 375. suche (twice). 378. Theyr (for Hir). 380. false Lucifere. 381. Lucifarre. 383. faythe; farre. 386. hounde; hungre. 387. vngratious. 388. suche. 388, 396, 404. foule. 389. heyre. 390. thynke; case. 391. dispeyre. 393. lorde. 394. anone pray. 395. purchase. 396. suche. 397. can (read conne). 398. spedde. 399. wylde. 400. redde. 401. leude boster (om. leude). 402. byshoppe; is (read as); horse. 403. be stedde. 404. Supply the; last.

405. byshoppes. 407. Suche; ranke. 408. heale none. 409. done. 410. one fors (!); misprint. 411. thanke suche. 412. suche. 412, 420, 436. foule. 413. canne; read conne; her. 414. made. 415. canne. 416. Suche; nowe. 418. her. 419. Suche. 420. suche. 422. Traueyle hungre; colde. 424. olde. 425. folde. 426. theyr (for hir); shepe. 428. suche. 429. her. 430. pouerte. 432. drynke; pyement; supply and; aparte. 433. a ferde. 434. as dyd (om. dyd). 435. dryuen her shepe; deserte. 436. suche.

437. xij. 438. Nowe; there; one. 440. echone. 443. stone. 447. nowe. 449. her. 450. leuyn. 451. But (read Ben). 452. suche. 453. plowe. 454. hate (!). 455. to hym (om. to); ynowe. 456. hatte. 457. poore; latte. 459. Suche; gnatte. 460. suche. 461. showe. 462. to kysse (om. to); fete. 463. ynowe. 464. sette; read seet (= sat). 465. Suche one; hym selfe foryete. 466. For call read tall (?); cf. l. 74. 467. wete. 468. suche; foule.

469. her. 470. golde. 472. catche sholde. 473. Her seruauntes; them (read hem); vnholde. 474. theyr (for hir). 475. holde. 476. suche. 478. fynde. 479. nowe. 480. saye behynde. 481. Howe; pynde. 482. kende; see l. 530. 483. putte; mynde. 484. amende. 485. nowe. 486. Howe. 487. howe. 488. worde; telleth (see l. 487). 490. offrende. 492. amende.

493. saye. 495. Suche hathe nowe. 497. varry. 498. wende. 500. pytie; amende. 501. lyfe. 503. sufferaunce; stryfe. 505. wysedome. 506. tende. 507. measure. 508. maye amende. 509. lyfe. 514. comprehende. 515. maynteyne. 516. amende. 517. delyghtes. 518. stronge. 519. vsen. 520. Agaynste pytie punishementes. 522. Her; worse dispende. 524. amende.

525. holy. 528. worse; wytlesse. 529. fyshe; fleshe. 530. ykende. 531. poore. 532. amende. 533. Dyuers (read Dives); suche; her dome. 534. sayne. 535. shulde done. 536. suche. 537. suche. 538. offende. 539. nowe. 540. amende. 542. nowe; yknowe. 544. trowe. 545. Eche; owe (!). 546. sende. 547. worde; folke; showe. 548. amende. 549. poore. 551. Nowe dare; poore. 552. her foe. 553. Amonge; mote. 554. suche suspende. 555. hente. 556. amende.

557. worlde. 558. loly; badde. 559. her. 560. forthe ladde. 561. dradde. 562. Supply servaunts; shende. 563. Eche; gladde. 564, 572, 580, 588. amende. 567. One; one. 569. Supply that; one. 570. defende. 571. badde. 572. suche. 573. badde; shepe. 574. forbade. 575. Swerde; shepe. 576. shepe. 578. her shepe; swerde; contende. 579. her shepe; great. 582. Supply that; chefe pastoure. 583. swerde. 584. bochoure. 586. Shulde; shepe; backe bende. 587. shoure.

590. forsoke. 591. Supply to (as in l. 592). 592. hoke. 593. shepe; dothe; coke. 594. Supply they; vntrende. 595. -boke. 596. them amende. 600. badde; behynde. 601. Suche. 602. offende. 604. suche; amende. 606. Read contrar. 608. mysse. 610. Peter (read him); reprehende. 611. But nat (om. But); heuyn blysse. 612. amende. 613. case. 616. bare. 618. stale; supply gan; myspende. 620. Supply now; amende.

622. hys false (om. false). 626. frende = fremd. 628. amende. 629. efte sone. 631. fordone. 632. sayne. 633. And ayenst (omit And); commaundementes (read maundements); crye. 634. brende. 635. suche. 636. amende. 637. Englande. 638. kynge. 639. suche. 640. Supply they (or hem); lyste. 641. her. 642. prysone; sende. 644. amende. 648. bayghted. 649. worse. 650. prysone; supply be; pende. 652. maye mende.

654. assente. 655. eche. 657. Her seales. 658. extende. 660. mischefe; supply may; amende. 662. worthe tenne pounde. 664. thyrde parte; rounde. 665. raunsounde. 666. saye suche parte; apende. 667. gothe; grounde. 668. amende. 669. fornycatioun. 670. shyllynges; paye. 671. absolution. 672. forthe; maye. 674. soule; brende. 676. suche; amende. 678. londe. 680. her honde. 681. theyr (for hir); bonde. 682. Worse beate; supply more; brende. 683. vnderstande. 684. amende.

685. Read religiouns. 686. moche laye. 690. attende. 691. hyghe. 692. amende. 694. aboute. 695. Supply the. 697. doute. 698. them defende. 699. nowe; folke; stoute. 700. kynge; nowe; amende. 701. forbode. 702. shulde. 704. shulde; lordshyppe. 705. bolde. 706. suche lordeshyppes; them (for hem). 707. her shepe; her folde.

709. countrefete. 710. her fruite. 711. Her; foryete. 712. dispyte. 713. poore. 715. her shepe. 720-1. great. 722. thre; supply han. 723. playeng. 724. kynge. 725. lette. 729. soule; fore. 731. her. 732. Her profytes. 734. poore. 736. lorde. 737. catche. 738. lorde. 739. poore. 740. syke (for seke); see l. 1313.

743. also (read als). 746. poore; spende. 748. sende. 749. her; suche. 750. treasour. 751. her paryshe. 752. -floure. 753. Her lyfe shulde. 755. her lele. 756. Suche. 759. her; supply hir. 760. great. 761. thynke. 763. dredefull. 764. Suche wretches. 765. her. 767. poore; hungre. 769. rente. 770. recke. 772. one.

773. horedome. 777. suche tabyde. 778. Howe; yelde. 779. hye; mowe. 780. Suche; wytte; nelde. 782. foryet. 785. mowe gete. 787. sette. 788. Suche treasour. 789. mote; saye. 790. holdynge. 791. iaye. 792. selfe nothynge. 793. erle; kynge. 795. tythynge; offrynge. 798. Supply els. 804. false.

808. her lorde. 811. falsely; worde. 812. her. 814. the; supply me. 815. suche; supply folk. 818. suche falsely fayne. 819. dredeful. 820. payne. 821. selfe; done. 825. Supply the. 826. her false. 828. suche. 830. Read vikere. 831. trowe; false. 834. Eche; lye. 835. Read Who speke ayeinës; her.

837. howe. 838. Onely; Christe. 840. or (read on). 841. trowe. 843. Supply same. 845. howe; amonge. 846. waye. 848. betraye. 849. maye. 851. saye. 852. blende. 853. on (read upon); her. 854. poorely; porte. 855. sacramentes; done. 856. catchynge; her comforte. 857. eche. 858. done; wronge; her dysporte. 859. afraye. 860. lorde. 862. aye. 863. sweare. 865. Suche bearen; heauen. 866. assoyle. 868. true (better trewë).

869. wrestlynge. 871. Markette beaters; medlynge. 874. debate. 875. sacramentes; sayle (!). 876. Howe; suche; gate. 879. speake. 880. sompnynge. 881. saye; supply with; lye. 882. her eye. 887. twyse; daye he (om. he). 889. mote. 890. horne. 891. wytche. 892. Suchen. 893. mote; some; stone. 895. Supply to; lyuen. 896. saye. 897. Aboute suche; great. 898. suche; stande. 900. maye.

901. That it leude people se mowe. 902. Mary thou (om. thou). 903. Aboute; nowe. 909. poore. 910. Supply in; owne. 911. her. 914. mowe; colde. 915. poore; sprete; Christe. 916. olde. 917. sweardes. 918. Baudryke (read Baudriks). 919. Suche; her. 920. suche; bene. 921. her. 922. Whome (twice). 923. bene. 925. gay. 926. mote. 929. her. 930. her shone. 932. none.

933. Nowe. 934. That men (om. That). 935. done. 937. Suche. 938. Lyke. arayde. 939. The proude (om. The); pendauntes; her. 940. Falsely; betrayde. 941. Shryfte-. 943. sacramentes. 945. her byshoppe. 948. thus (read this); sayne. 949. her. 952. Suche; eche. 953. profyte. 955. dare; sayne. 956. suche. 957. byshoppes. 958. mote. 959. her. 960. Suche prelates. 961. suche. 962. suche. 963. Howe. 964. greatly.

965. sayne. 966. them (for hem). 967. goddes goodesse (!). 968. maynteyne. 969. Her; shulde. 970. Her lyuynge leude. 971. saye; maye. 972. muste. 973. lye. 975. anone. 978. meane. 981. longe; mette. 983. Amonge; folke; sette. 984. halfe. 985. byshoppe. 987. absolution maye; them (for hem). 988. soule; fore. 993. her. 994. suche. 995. came. 996. great.

997. monke lorde. 998. kynge. 999. proude. 1000. meate; drynke; supply in. 1001. wearen; rynge. 1003. meate; drynke. 1004. on a (om. a). 1007. saye. 1008. deynties; her; foode. 1010. religion. 1012. lordshyppe; towne. 1013. Nowe. 1014. fyne clothe. 1016. meane. 1017. catchynge. 1018. great lykynge. 1019. lyuynge. 1020. Accordynge; Benette; lyuynge. 1021. her; ouerse. 1022. Her poore tenaunce. 1023. hyre (1550, hyer). 1025. farre. 1027. poore. 1028. cheryshe.

1029. commenly. 1030. poore. 1031. perfection. 1032. Her fathers ryden; her. 1034. olde. 1035. Her fathers. 1036. colde. 1037. And all (om. And). 1038. Benette. 1039. ease. 1040. besette. 1042. plowe. 1043. Threshynge; dykynge; towne; towne. 1044. halfe ynowe. 1046. ease. 1050. badde; supply ful; cherelyche. 1051. churlyche. 1052. earth. 1053. Benette. 1055. mette. 1057. Supply now. 1060. treasoure.

1062. suche. 1064. foule. 1065. tolde. 1066. makynge. 1067. coulde. 1068. wolde. 1069. goodnesse. 1070. speake; thynke. 1071. her (twice). 1074. came; kynde. 1075. trowe. 1076. lost; mynde. 1077-80. shulde. 1078. gouernayle. 1080. auayle. 1081. Eche; trauayle. 1083. assayle. 1085. poore. 1086. nothynge; hadde. 1087. shulde. 1088. nolde; dradde. 1089. wolde; sadde. 1090. lust (read list). 1091. such (read shuld). 1092. shepe; wust (read wist).

1093. prelates wolde. 1095. shulde stande; colde. 1096. Her seruauntes. 1098. worshyppe. 1100. Suche. 1102. Shulde; thynge. 1104. her kynge. 1105. clothynge. 1107. offrynge. 1108. lordshypppe (!) none. 1109. crye. 1111. hye. 1114. father. 1115. to be (om. to). 1116. Read wikke? 1118. Goostly; earthly. 1119. shulde; hane. 1121. blode. 1122. Badde. 1124. myschefe.

1125-30. Her. 1125. clothynge. 1126. treasoure; lyfe. 1128. lordshyppe. 1131. Poore; spirite. 1133. the. 1135. haste; lyue (read leve). 1136. eche. 1139. glosynge. 1141. wolde; eche; there shulde. 1142. enuye. 1146. lyfe. 1148. the; stryfe. 1149. Supply ye. 1151. neyther (read not). 1154. warme; supply be.

1157. sacramentes. 1158. speake; slye. 1159. tythynges offringes with (omit offringes); ententes. 1160. lye. 1161. done; ease. 1162. there; none. 1163. sayne; pease. 1167. wolde. 1168. Leaue; chattrynge. 1173. fore. 1174. done. 1175. done. 1176. shalte; man. 1177. Supply nay. 1179. sacramente. 1180. speake. 1181-3. her. 1182. shulde; poore; spirite. 1184. false habyte. 1186. hye.

1190. connynge. 1191. her. 1193. sacramentes. 1195. speake; dele. 1196. nothynge. 1197. vsen; mysse. 1199. trowe. 1200. reason. 1202. commaundementes. 1204. sacramentes. 1205. trowe. 1206. wronge. 1207. dare. 1208. songe. 1209. holsome lyfe. 1210. done; dewe. 1212. Weddynge. 1213. solde. 1216. maye. 1217. lye. 1218. saye; thorowe. 1219. fleshe; blode; mystrye.

1221. Howe. 1222. subgette. 1227. Ayenst. 1230. shulde. 1232. pouerte. 1235. dystrye. 1238. leaue; preache. 1239. speake agaynst. 1240. falsely teache. 1245. sayde. 1248. falshede.

1253. badde. 1254. seruauntes. 1255. amende. 1259. nothynge; estate. 1260. dysease. 1261. leaue. 1262. porte. 1263. cursynge shulde. 1264. brynge. 1266. nothynge; done. 1268. howe soone. 1269. wode. 1271. swore; bloode. 1274. reasons; the. 1275. fleshe. 1276. shalte. 1277. flewe; waye. 1278. wepe. 1279. saye. 1280. shepe. 1281. herde. 1282. worde. 1283. wrytte.

1286. trauayle; any man wolde (om. man). 1287. solde. 1288. Supply greet. 1293. lykened. 1297. done; ayenst gode. 1298. fone. 1299. howe her lyuynge stode. 1301. Supply me. 1303. Supply Pellican (wrongly prefixed to l. 1305); supply of kind. 1304. Supply lyk. 1305. foule; supply evill. 1306. flewe (read flowe; see l. 1311). 1309. byrde; supply that; ayre. 1311. into (read in); dyspayre.

1317. parte. 1319. earth a downe. 1320. none. 1321. foule; ferre. 1322. And wyth (om. And). 1323. proude; earth. 1325. (Pellican is written above this line); flewe; twayne. 1326. droupynge. 1327. came agayne. 1328. earth. 1338. great; sene there. 1336. Igurde. 1338. Whyte; her. 1339. lye. 1340. for gerde her. 1342. Supply the. 1343. stoute. 1344. fayne. 1345. rayne. 1345. flye; vayne.

1349. slewe; downe. 1350. There. 1352. downe. 1353. bete; slewe. 1358. wrytynge. 1361. mayde. 1362. And the lambe (om. And); supply for sinners. 1364. erthely harme. 1366-7. wrytynge. 1369. freshe. 1370. maynteyne. 1371. often (read oft). 1375. hye; lowe. 1378. Eche; sende. 1379. wrytynge.