Piers Ploughman

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Foreword[edit]

Deal I[edit]

In a summer yeartide when soft was the sun,
I shooped myself into shrouds as if I were a shepherd
I wore weed like a weastensettler unholy of works,
and went wide into this world, with its wonders to hear.
Ack on a Threemilk morning, on Malvern Hills,
a ferly befell me, a fairy's doing, methought.
I was weary and forwandered and went me to rest
under a broad bank by a burnside,
and as I lay and leaned over and looked into the waters
I slumbered into a sleeping, for it sweyed so merry.
Then began I to mete a wonderful sweven
I saw that I was in a wilderness, wist I never where.
Ack as I beheld into the east towards the sun,
I saw a tower on a hill, well made.
A deep dale was beneath, a dung therein
with deep dark ditches, dreadful of sight.
A fair field full of folk found I there between,
'twas of all kind of men, the mean and the rich,
working and wandering as the world asks.
Some put hemselves to the plough, playing full seld,
setting and sowing, to swink full hard
to win that which spillers by eattleness breet.
And some put hemselves to pride, in weed to match,
in lite of fair clothing hy came shrided.
In bead and deedboot many another put hemselves,
all for the love of our lord living full stern
in hope to have heavenrich bliss
Hy lived as ankers and weastensettlers that hold hemselves in hir stows,
wishing not for land to wander about in,
nor for yealse livelihood to queme hir lich.
And some chose trade, hy fared the better
as it seems to our sight that such men thrive.

Deal II[edit]

And some make mirth as shops do,
and nome gold with hir glee; shildless I hold hem.
Ack not Japers and jangelers, children of Judas,
saring hir shinelocks, making hemselves fools,
and have wit at will to work if hy would.
What Paul teaches of hem, I will not say here;
Qui loquitur turpiloquium is Lucifer's hind.
In this same land bindlestiffs and thiggers yede fast about,
hir bellies and hir bags breadful crammed,
fighting for hir food, fighting over ale.
In eattleness, God wits, hy go to bed
and rise with lewdness, the thieving knaves;
sleepy and sorry slothness, ever seek hem.
Meanwhile, pilgrims and palmers plighted hemselves together
to seek Hallow Jame and other hallows in Rome.
Hy went forth in hir way with many wise tales,
and had leave to lie all hir life after.
I saw some that said hy had sought hallows,
yet in each tale that hy told hir tongues were set to lie
more than to speak sooth, it seemed by hir speech.
A heap of weastensettlers with hooked staves
went to Walsingham, with hir wenches coming after.
These were great, tall loafers who were loathe to swink,
clothed in weed to be known from others,
and shooped as weastensettlers to have hir eath.
I found there friars of all four orders
preaching to the leed to gain for hemselves,
teaching the gospel however hy liked.
For greed of weed hy twisted the gospel at will.
Many of these master friars may clothe hemselves at hir liking,
for hir yield and hir goods are in step together.
Since almsgiving has been a tradesman, and chief to shrive lords,
many ferlies have befallen in a few years.
But hy and the Holy Church hold better together;
the most misbehaving on mold is mounting up fast.
There preached a forgiver as if he were a priest.
He Brought forth a bull with bishop's waxtokens,
and said that he could forgive hem all
of hir fastingswike, and broken oaths.
Lewd men believed him well and liked his words,

Deal III[edit]

And came up on hir knees to kiss his seals.
He belirted hem with his brevet, dimmed their eyes,
And with his bookfell got his rings and brooches.
Thus hy gave here gold, eattlemen to keep
And lend it to such louts as follow lewdness.
If the bishop were holy and worth both his ears,
His seal should not be sent to swike the lede,
But a word against bishop the knave never preach.
Parish priest and forgiver share all the silver
That the parish arm would have if he were not there.
Parsons and parish priests bemoaned to the bishop
That their parishes were arm since the quild time,
And asked leave in London to dwell,
And sing deathsongs for wages, for silver is sweet.
Bishops and bachelors, both masters and doctors
That have berth under Christ, and the shavenhead as token
And mark that they should shrive their flock,
Preach and bead for them and feed the arm.
These lodge in London in Lent, and at other times too.
Some thew the king, and tell his silver
In yield and aught doomerns making afterspeech for his shild
Of wards and of wardmoots, castaway and runaways.
And some work as thews to lords and ladies,
And sit instead of stewards in char to deem
Their mass and their morning beads. Their canonical stounds
Are said trothlessly I fear at the last
Lest Christ in his moot damn full many.
I saw of the wield that Peter had to keep,
To bind and to unbind as the book tells,
How he left it with love as our Lord bade
Amongst four custs, the best of all custs
That are called cardinal, for they hinge the gates
Where Christ is in wolder, to close and to shut
And to open it to hem and show heavenly bliss.
But of cardinals at Rome that nam that name
And yield overweened in hem a pope to make.
That they have Peter's might withsake it I will not,
For to love and learning that election belongs.
Therefore I can, and yet cannot, of that doomern speak more.
Then came there a king with knighthood before him.