English Satires

English Satires

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This opening satire constitutes the whole of the Eighth Passus of Piers Plowman's Vision and the First of Do-Wel. The "Dreamer" here sets off on a new pilgrimage in search of a person who has not appeared in the poem before—Do-Well. The following is the argument of the Passus.—"All Piers Plowman's inquiries after Do-Well are fruitless. Even the friars to whom he addresses himself give but a confused account; and weary with wandering about, the dreamer is again overtaken by slumber. Thought now appears to him, and recommends him to Wit, who describes to him the residence of Do-Well, Do-Bet, Do-Best, and enumerates their companions and attendants."

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 preède them par charité, · 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....