INCIPIT LIBER PRIMUS
HERE BEGYNNETH THE BOOK OF THE PYLGREMAGE OF THE SOWLE, LATE TRANSLATED OUTE OF FRENSSHE IN TO ENGLYSSHE
Fyrste, How the Sowle Departyth fro the Body, and How the Fowle Fend Assayleth the Sowle
As I laye in a seynt Laurence nyght1,
slepynge in my bedde, me bifelle a full merueylous
dreme, whiche I shal reherce.
Me thought that I had longe tyme trauayled to ward
the Holy Cyte of Ierusalem, and that I had made an
ende and fully fynysshed my flesshely pylgremage, so
that I myght no further trauayle
vpon my foote, but nedes muste leue behynde my
Thenne come cruel Dethe and smote me with his
venemous darte, thorugh whiche stroke bodye and
sowle were partyd a sonder.
And soo anone I felte my self lyft vp in to the eyer, seyng my self departed fro my fowle bodye whiche whan I byhelde lyeng al dede withouten ony mouyng, semyd me so fowle and horryble, that had I nought ryght late ther byfore yssued ther fro, I wold nought haue supposed that it euer had ben myn. Thenne come ther to this body the noble worthy lady Dame Misericord, & keuered it lappyng in a clene lynnen clothe, and so ful honestly leide it in the erthe. I sawe also the auterer that clepyd is Dame Prayer, how that she sped hyr to Heuen ward wonder hastely bifore me, for to byseke the Souerayne Lord of grace and of mercy, for no doute I had ful huge mestier ther of, for why the fowle horrible Sathanas I sawe comyng to ward me ful cruelly manacyng me, and seyng in this wise:
`I haue here long tyme abyden the & priuely for the leyn in awayte. Soo is it now bifalle that I haue not failed of my purpos, for now art thou taken with me & now must thou wende in to myne habitacyon, condempnyd by ryghtwis iugement of the Souerayne Iuge. For now hast thou loste that lady that was thyne helper and thyne counceilour Dame Grace de Dieu. Hit auayleth the nought for to loke after hyr.
`Now arte thou myn prysonner. Caste doune thy scrippe and thy burdon2, for al thy pilgremage is comen to a iape. Thou shalt ful [2v] sone be brought in suche a cage where thou shalt no talent haue to laugh, ne to synge. But wel myght thou wel say: Allas, why and to what purpoos had God formed me for to ben encombred with soo moche meschyef.'
And whan I this sawe and herd, ful greuously hadde I be discomfortyd, hadde I nought sene a fayr yonglyng of ful huge beaute that me alwey costeyed. And at the laste he neyhed me, and sone I apperceyued his persone and his offyce. He bygan to speke and sayd to this Sathanas `Thy malyce', quod he, `and thy cursydnesse is euer prest and redy for to tarye and dysese symple sowles, with whiche thou hast nought at al to medle ne entermete. But wonder wyckedly woldest thou trete them, yf soo were that no wyght wold help them ne defende. Flee thy weye fast, and goo clayme thy ryght in other place, for with this sowle thou shalt nought haue to medle.'
Than sayd this Sathanas with a despytous chere: `Flee thou fast hennes', quod he, for thou hast nought to withsaye me of pylgryms that mysgoyn, whiche by theyr own mysgouernauncea forlettyth the ryght way of vertu & take my wey. I ne clayme nought ther thy ryght is. Nomore ne clayme thou ther myn is. For what tyme that the Souerayne Kynge had banysshed me oute of his Blysful Presence, and cast me doune in to this mysery and mescheuous estate that I now am ynne, he yafe me thenne lycence - at the leste he hath me suffred - to doo moche thyng to engendre and to portreye fygures to my resemblaunce, the whiche I clepe myne owne creature, as Enuye, Treson, and suche other with al the generacyon of these olde vyces that walkyn by the world in my name for to lette pilgryms of theyr weye. And now haue I done so moche, that the multytude of my generacyon is grete and euery day encrecynge. Wherfor it must nedes come to that ende, that no pylgrym escape, that he ne shal be snarlyd in my trappe. And al they must passe by me. And namely they that wylfully foruoyen, as this hath done whiche that I clayme as for my prysoner, for he ne couthe euer gone other than wrong wey - this wotest thou wel thyself - ne neuer beleuyd the of no thyng, ne dyde by thy conseyl, but alwey enforcyd hym for to do that was to thy dysplesyng syth the tyme that thou fyrste took hym and the charge of hys gouernaunce. That was the tyme whan thou sawest himb fyrste passe the water for to come in to the hows of Grace Dieu, where that [3r] she yaf hym many fair yeftes. There where thou thy self specially assigned for to withdrawe hym by thy good counceil fro all maner of euyl and for to defende hym fro my handes. And also be it that thou hast done thyne labour and besinesse, he couthe the neuer thanck - this wotest thou wel thy self - ne neuer he ne sette by the, ne dide the reuerence, ne lefte his fowle lustes in priue ne aperte, by cause of thy presence. I wote neuer why thou defendist hym. Hit semeth me folye, thou hast no cause therto. Lete me alone therfor to do that my ryght is, for noo thyng skylfully maye lette me therof.'