Saturday, 30 April 2011

Langland on Mercy

From Passus V of Piers Plowman; the speaker is Repentance, who has just heard confessions from personifications of the seven deadly sins:

"Have mercy in thi mynde, and with thi mouth biseche it,
For [his] mercy is moore than alle hise othere werkes -
Misericordia eius super omnia opera eius, &c -
And al the wikkednesse in this world that man myghte werche or thynke
Nis na moore to the mercy of God than in[middes] the see a gleede:
Omnis iniquitas quantum ad misericordiam Dei est quasi scintilla in medio maris...

And thanne hadde Repentaunce ruthe and redde hem alle to knele.
"For I shal biseche for alle synfulle Oure Saveour of grace
To amenden us of oure mysdedes and do mercy to us alle.
Now God,' quod he, "that of Thi goodnesse gonne the world make,
And of naught madest aught and man moost lik to thiselve,
And sithen suffredest hym to synne, a siknesse to us alle -
And al for the beste, as I bileve, whatevere the Book telleth:
O felix culpa! O necessarium peccutum Ade!
For thorugh that synne thi sone sent was to this erthe
And bicam man of a maide mankynde to save -
And madest Thiself with Thi sone us synfulle yliche:
Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram; Et anoi
Qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo;

And siththe with Thi selve sone in oure sute deidest
On Good Fryday for mannes sake at ful tyme of the day;
Ther Thiself ne Thi sone no sorwe in deeth feledest,
But in oure secte was the sorwe, and Thi sone it ladde:
Captivum duxit captivitatem.
The sonne for sorwe therof lees sight for a tyme
Aboute mydday whan moost light is and meel-tyme of seintes -
Feddest tho with Thi fresshe blood oure forefadres in derknesse:
Populus qui ambulabat in tenebris vidit lucem mugnam.
And the light that lepe out of Thee, Lucifer it blente,
And blewe alle Thi blessed into the blisse of Paradys!
"The thridde day therafter Thow yedest in oure sute:
A synful Marie The seigh er Seynte Marie Thi dame,
And al to solace synfulle Thow suffredest it so were -
Non veni vocare iustos set peccatores ad penitenciam.
"And al that Marc hath ymaad, Mathew, Johan and Lucas
Of Thyne doughtiest dedes was doon in oure armes:
Verbum caro factum est et hubitavit in nobis.
And by so muche it semeth the sikerer we mowe
Bidde and biseche, if it be Thi wille
That art oure fader and oure brother - be merciable to us,
And have ruthe on thise ribaudes that repenten hem soore
That evere thei wrathed Thee in this world, in word, thought or dede!'

Thanne hente Hope an horn of Deus tu conversus vivificabis nos
And blew it with Beati quorum remisse sunt iniquitate
That alle Seintes in hevene songen at ones
"Homines et iumenta salvabis, quemadmodum multiplicasti misericordiam tuam."
A thousand of men tho thrungen togideres,
Cride upward to Crist and to his clene moder
To have grace to go seke Truthe - God leve that they moten!

"Have mercy in thy mind, and with thy mouth beseech it,
For his mercy is greater than all his other works -
His mercy is over all his works.
And all the wickedness in this world that man may do or think
Is no more, compared to the mercy of God, than a spark of fire in the midst of the sea:
All sins are like a little spark in the middle of the sea, compared to the mercy of God...

And then Repentance had pity, and prayed them all to kneel.
"For I shall beseech our Saviour for grace for all sinners
To amend us of our misdeeds and show mercy to us all.
Now God," quoth he, "that of thy goodness did the world make,
And of nothing madest everything, and man the most like thyself,
And then suffredest him to sin, a sickness to us all -
And all for the best, as I believe, all as the Book telleth:
O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam!
For through that sin thy son sent was to this earth
And became man of a maid, mankind to save -
And madest thyself with thy son like us sinners:
Let us make man in our own image and likeness; And also:
Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.

And then [thou] with thine own son in our suit died
On Good Friday for man's sake at full time of the day;
There thyself nor thy son no sorrow felt in death,
But among our sort was the sorrow, and thy son led it forth:
He led captivity captive.
The sun for sorrow thereof lost sight for a time
About midday, when most light is, and meal-time of saintes -
Feddest thou with thy fresh blood our forefathers in darkness:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
And the light that leapt out of thee, Lucifer it blinded,
And blew all thy blessed into the bliss of Paradise!
"The third day thereafter thou went in our suit:
A sinful Mary saw thee before Saint Mary thy mother,
And all to solace the synful thou sufferedest it to be so -
I did not come to call the just but sinners to repentance.
"And all that Mark hath made, Matthew, John and Lucas
Of thine doughtiest deeds was done in our arms:
The word became flesh and dwelt among us.
And by so much it seemeth the more surely we may
Bid and beseech, if it be thy will
Thou that art our father and our brother - be merciful to us,
And have ruth on these sinners that repent themselves sorely
That ever they wrathed thee in this world, in word, thought or deed!'

Then took Hope an horn of Turn, O God, and quicken us
And blew it with Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
That all saints in heaven sung at once
"Thou wilt save both man and beast; how thou hast multiplied thy mercy!"
A thousand of men then thronged together,
Cried upward to Christ and to his pure mother
To have grace to go seek Truth - God grant that they might!

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