Monday 25 October 2010

Goddes champion, and as a good child hende

Some snippets of Langland on charity, a kind of meditation on 1 Corinthians 13. The dreamer is questioning Anima, a personification of the rational faculty of the soul. There's a lot more to it than this, but these are my favourite bits of the dialogue.

The whole thing can be found here.

"What is charite?' quod I tho. "A childissh thyng,' he seide -
"Nisi efficiamini sicut parvuli, non intrabitis in regnum celorum -
Withouten fauntelte or folie a fre liberal wille."

"Where sholde men fynde swich a frend with so fre an herte?...
Clerkes kenne me that Crist is in alle places,
Ac I seigh hym nevere soothly but as myself in a mirour:
Hic in enigmate, tunc facie ad faciem.
And so I trowe trewely, by that men telleth of charite,
It is noght chaumpions fight, ne chaffare, as I trowe.'

"Charite,' quod he, "ne chaffareth noght, ne chalangeth, ne craveth;
As proud of a peny as of a pound of golde,
And is as glad of a gowne of a gray russet
As of a tunycle of Tarse of of trie scarlet.
He is glad with alle glade and good til alle wikkede,
And leneth and loveth alle that Oure Lord made.
Corseth he no creature, ne he kan bere no wrathe,
Ne no likynge hath to lye ne laughe men to scorne.
Al that men seyn, he leet it sooth, and in solace taketh,
And alle manere meschiefs in myldenesse he suffreth.
Coveiteth he noon erthely good but heveneriche blisse.'

"Hath he any rentes or richesse, or any riche frendes?'

"Of rentes ne of richesse rekketh he nevere,
For a frend that fyndeth hym, failed hym nevere at nede:
Fiat voluntas tua fynt hym everemoore,
And if he soupeth, eteth but a sop of Spera in Deo.
He kan portreye wel the Paternoster and peynte it with Aves,
And outherwhile he is woned to wenden on pilgrymages
Ther poore men and prisons liggeth, hir pardon to have;
Though he bere hem no breed, he bereth hem swetter liflode,
Loveth hem as Oure Lord biddeth and loketh how thei fare.
For Charite is Goddes champion, and as a good child hende,
And the murieste of mouth at mete where he sitteth.
The love that lith in his herte maketh hym light of speche,
And is compaignable and confortatif, as Crist bit hymselve:
Nolite fieri sicut ypocrite tristes &c.
For I have seyen hym in silk and som tyme in russet,
Bothe in grey, and in grys, and in gilt harneis -
And as gladliche he it gaf to gomes that it neded.
"Edmund and Edward, either were kynges
And seintes yset - stille charite hem folwede.
Ac I ne lakke no lif, but, Lord, amende us alle.
And gyve us grace, goode God, charite to folwe!
For whoso myghte meete with hym, swiche maneres hym eileth -
Neither he blameth ne banneth, bosteth ne preiseth,
Lakketh, ne loseth, ne loketh up sterne,
Craveth, ne coveiteth, ne crieth after moore:
In pace in idipsum dormiam &c.
The mooste liflode that he lyveth by is love in Goddes passion;
Neither he biddeth, ne beggeth, ne borweth to yelde;
Misdooth he no man, ne with his mouth greveth."

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