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William Langland

(1330 - 1390 / Wales)

Pilgrimage In Search Of Do-Well


Thus y-robed in russet . romed I aboute
Al in a somer seson . for to seke Do-wel;
And frayned full ofte . of folk that I mette
If any wight wiste . wher Do-wel was at inne;
And what man he myghte be . of many man I asked.
Was nevere wight, as I wente . that me wisse kouthe
Where this leode lenged, . lasse ne moore.
Til it bifel on a Friday . two freres I mette
Maisters of the Menours . men of grete witte.
I hailsed them hendely, . as I hadde y-lerned.
And preede them par charite, . er thei passed ferther,
If thei knew any contree . or costes as thei wente,
'Where that Do-wel dwelleth . dooth me to witene'.
For thei be men of this moolde . that moost wide walken,
And knowen contrees and courtes, . and many kynnes places,
Bothe princes paleises . and povere mennes cotes,
And Do-wel and Do-yvele . where thei dwelle bothe.
'Amonges us' quod the Menours, . 'that man is dwellynge,
And evere hath as I hope, . and evere shal herafter.'
'_Contra_', quod I as a clerc, . and comsed to disputen,
And seide hem soothly, . '_Septies in die cadit justus_'.
'Sevene sithes, seeth the book . synneth the rightfulle;
And who so synneth,' I seide, . 'dooth yvele, as me thynketh;
And Do-wel and Do-yvele . mowe noght dwelle togideres.
Ergo he nis noght alway . among you freres:
He is outher while ellis where . to wisse the peple.'
'I shal seye thee, my sone' . seide the frere thanne,
'How seven sithes the sadde man, . on a day synneth;
By a forbisne' quod the frere, . 'I shal thee faire showe.
Lat brynge a man in a boot, . amydde the brode watre;
The wynd and the water . and the boot waggyng,
Maketh the man many a tyme . to falle and to stonde;
For stonde he never so stif, . he stumbleth if he meve,
Ac yet is he saaf and sound, . and so hym bihoveth;
For if he ne arise the rather, . and raughte to the steere,
The wynd wolde with the water . the boot over throwe;
And thanne were his lif lost, . thorough lackesse of hymselve.
And thus it falleth,' quod the frere, . 'by folk here on erthe;
The water is likned to the world . that wanyeth and wexeth;
The goodes of this grounde arn like . to the grete wawes,
That as wyndes and wedres . walketh aboute;
The boot is likned to oure body . that brotel is of kynde,
That thorough the fend and the flesshe . and the frele worlde
Synneth the sadde man . a day seven sithes.
Ac dedly synne doth he noght, . for Do-wel hym kepeth;
And that is Charite the champion, . chief help ayein Synne;
For he strengtheth men to stonde, . and steereth mannes soule,
And though the body bowe . as boot dooth in the watre,
Ay is thi soul saaf, . but if thou wole thiselve
Do a deedly synne, . and drenche so thi soule,
God wole suffre wel thi sleuthe . if thiself liketh.
For he yaf thee a yeres-gyve, . to yeme wel thiselve,
And that is wit and free-wil, . to every wight a porcion,
To fleynge foweles, . to fisshes and to beastes:
Ac man hath moost thereof, . and moost is to blame,
But if he werch wel therwith, . as Do-wel hym techeth.'
'I have no kynde knowyng,' quod I, . 'to conceyven alle your wordes:
Ac if I may lyve and loke, . I shall go lerne bettre.'
'I bikenne thee Christ,' quod he, . 'that on cros deyde!'
And I seide 'the same . save you fro myschaunce,
And gyve you grace on this grounde . goode men to worthe!'
And thus I wente wide wher . walkyng myn one,
By a wilderness, . and by a wodes side:
Blisse of the briddes. . Broughte me a-slepe,
And under a lynde upon a launde . lened I a stounde,
To lythe the layes . the lovely foweles made,
Murthe of hire mowthes . made me ther to slepe;
The merveillouseste metels . mette me thanne
That ever dremed wight . in worlde, as I wene.
A muche man, as me thoughte . and like to myselve,
Cam and called me . by my kynde name.
'What artow,' quod I tho, . 'that thow my name knowest.'
'That woost wel,' quod he, . 'and no wight bettre.'
'Woot I what thou art?' . 'Thought,' seide he thanne;
'I have sued thee this seven yeer, . seye thou me no rather.'
'Artow Thought,' quod I thoo, . 'thow koudest me wisse,
Where that Do-wel dwelleth, . and do me that to knowe.'
'Do-wel and Do-bet, . and Do-best the thridde,' quod he,
'Arn thre fair vertues, . and ben noght fer to fynde.
Who so is trewe of his tunge, . and of his two handes,
And thorugh his labour or thorugh his land, . his liflode wynneth,
And is trusty of his tailende, . taketh but his owene,
And is noght dronklewe ne dedeynous, . Do-wel hym folweth.
Do-bet dooth ryght thus; . ac he dooth much more;
He is as lowe as a lomb, . and lovelich of speche,
And helpeth alle men . after that hem nedeth.
The bagges and the bigirdles, . he hath to-broke hem alle
That the Erl Avarous . heeld and hise heires.
And thus with Mammonaes moneie . he hath maad hym frendes,
And is ronne to religion, . and hath rendred the Bible,
And precheth to the peple . Seint Poules wordes:
_Libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes_:
'And suffreth the unwise' . with you for to libbe
And with glad will dooth hem good . and so God you hoteth.
Do-best is above bothe, . and bereth a bisshopes crosse,
Is hoked on that oon ende . to halie men fro helle;
A pik is on that potente, . to putte a-down the wikked
That waiten any wikkednesse . Do-wel to tene.
And Do-wel and Do-bet . amonges hem han ordeyned,
To crowne oon to be kyng . to rulen hem bothe;
That if Do-wel or Do-bet . dide ayein Do-best,
Thanne shal the kyng come . and casten hem in irens,
And but if Do-best bede for hem, . thei to be there for evere.
Thus Do-wel and Do-bet, . and Do-best the thridde,
Crouned oon to the kyng . to kepen hem alle,
And to rule the reme . by hire thre wittes,
And noon oother wise, . but as thei thre assented.'
I thonked Thoght tho, . that he me thus taughte.
'Ac yet savoreth me noght thi seying. . I coveit to lerne
How Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best . doon among the peple.'
'But Wit konne wisse thee,' quod Thoght, . 'Where tho thre dwelle,
Ellis woot I noon that kan . that now is alyve.'
Thoght and I thus . thre daies we yeden,
Disputyng upon Do-wel . day after oother;
And er we were war, . with Wit gonne we mete.
He was long and lene, . lik to noon other;
Was no pride on his apparaille . ne poverte neither;
Sad of his semblaunt, . and of softe chere,
I dorste meve no matere . to maken hym to jangle,
But as I bad Thoght thoo . be mene bitwene,
And pute forth som purpos . to preven his wittes,
What was Do-wel fro Do-bet, . and Do-best from hem bothe.
Thanne Thoght in that tyme . seide these wordes:
'Where Do-wel, Do-bet, . and Do-best ben in londe,
Here is Wil wolde wite, . if Wit koude teche him;
And whether he be man or woman . this man fayn wolde aspie,
And werchen as thei thre wolde, . thus is his entente'

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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