Compleynt of the Sowle
O Blyssful lord on hye,
what shal I doo?
Or in what place may I my selue hyde
Refute ne wote I none to drawe to.
[9r] No doute I mote my iugement abyde.
Myn foo is alwey redy by my syde,
Me shappyng to appele and acuse.
I ne can no word my selue to excuse.
I am arryued to a perylous port,
Ne wote I nought to whome I maye retourne.
I am arest, now can I no comfort.
Maugre my self ryght here I mote soiourne,
Wherfor now I may sorowfully morne.
For in my scryp now fynd I no vytayle
Ne my burdon ne doth me none auayle.
Burdon ne scrip may I no lenger bere,
Myn enemy so sore assettyth me.
I hald it best to cast awey this gere
And shape my selue pryuely to fle.
O Blysful Lord, ywys it wol nought be!
And wel thou wost who that me hast abused:
Myn enemy that hath me now accused.
Wherfor now I ama
brought to iugement,
Syth I am falle in meschyef and pouerte,
Ne I ne may to myn accusement,
Ne can nought sey, but after my desert
And my trespaas that knowen is apert
Yf that I shal my reward vnderfonge.
Alas, why haue I synful be so longe?
But best it is yf Reson saye me trouthe,
That of somme help I make purueaunce.
Parde some wyght wyl haue vpon me routhe,
Assay I shal. But for my sustenaunce
My burdon must I bere for suffysaunce.
Of myght withouten it ne haue I none;
I bere it nought, it beryth my persone.
Allas, but I haue none experyence
Of wysedom how my selue to demene.
To excuse me haue I none audyence,
And al my wyt auayleth nought a bene.
Thus is my hope al discomfortyd clene.
I ne can nought done but cryen and weyne
That Charyte nought reckyth of my peyne.
[9v] Why sayth seynt Powle that other yeftes alle
Shul faylen here, only but Charyte
Abydyng is, for she may nought falle?
Where this be soth - but nay as semyth me -
He wold thenne myn aduocate be
And somwhat sey to helpe in my cause,
For I can speke neyther word ne clause.
I am adredde lest Charyte be dede
And sleyn in Erthe of wycked folkes there
Withouten heyer or yssue of hir seed
Left hyr only. Loo this is al my fere
And yf I wyst that she alyue were,
I wold nought spare to calle ne crye
If I her myght in ony place aspye.
O Charyte so good and gracyous
Thou hast ben euer to tho that haue nede.
I that am in this brecke perylous,
In my sckryp my selue for to fede
Haue I no brede. Now of thy almys dede
Somwhat thou help myn hongre to abate,
Hauyng reward vnto my poure estate.
I mene thus: yf ony party of Grace
Reseruyd be in tresour ony where
That thou for me purueye and purchace
Woldest vouchesauf. Grete wonder but there were
Ynow for me, nought elles I requere.
Doo somwhat thenne after thy properte,
And shewe why thou art clepyd Charyte.
But now, allas, ful wel I me record
Whyle I had myght and space of tyme ynowe,
Of this mater ne touchyd I no word,
Ne to no seynt I my selue drowe,
That in my nede for me may speken nowe,
As for no seruyse that I haue hym doo,
But I not to whome to make my mone to.
[10r] If I to ony saynt in specyal
Had ony thyng enforcyd myn entent,
With ony seruyse other grete or smal,
It wold me haue auayled in present.
But thus haue I be slowe and neclygent,
That I no frend haue made, ne seynt y plesyd,
Wherfor as now ful moche I am dysesyd.
To theym I am a straungeour and vnknowe;
I not to whom I shal my seluen dresse
To asken help. As I suppose and trowe,
There is none that wyl doo that besynesse.
And nought for thy this I byhote expresse,
Vnto theym I wyl compleyne and crye,
And make my cause knowen openly.
To the Ihesu, the sone of God aboue,
That were of Mary veray mayd bore
In veray flesshe & bloode for mans loue,
To the wyl I appelen now byfore,
Syth thou art veray man, and ferthermore
Oure broder & a parte of oure kynde,
Good ryght it is that we thy fauour fynde.
This dar I sey: syth that thou wylfully
Were done to deth only for mans sake,
And of thy selue was none encheson why,
This wote I wel, thou wylt nought forsake
That to thy Grace wyl al hym self bytake
And aske it; as often haue I lernyd
Was neuer none yet, to whom it was biwernyd
This wote I wel, I haue ful soore offendyd,
The mageste, wherof I me repente.
Ful late it was or I my lyf amendyd,
But yet ne come it neuer in myn entent
To desalowe thy gouernement,
That Lord and Kyng I haue the clepyd euer,
Thy lawes also ne forsoke I neuer.
[10v] My skryp of feyth ne haue I nought forlete,
But hole ryght as it was bytaken me
I haue it kepte, but that no thynges grete
This wote I wel, susteyned I for the,
Ne done that I was bounden of dewte.
Yet wote I wel, so grete is nought my synne
As Grace and Mercy is the, Ihesu, withynne.
Alweyes yet nought euery dele that Grace
Dyspendyd is, that tho in thy persone
Was plentyous when that so pale a face
For me thou henge vpon the crosse alone.
But for we beggyng wretches euerychone
Ben procuryng alwey for our purueyaunce,
Thy Grace woldest hyde now per chaunce.
Yet may we by the percyd hooles wel,
And by tho eke that large ben and wyde,
Byhalde and see that certeyne euery dele
Not spendid is, though that thou woldest it hide,
For though there ranne a ryuer fro thy syde
That al the world hath fully ouerflowe.
Thy Grace is hoole, as euery man may knowe.
Syth yet thy Grace is nought dispendyd al,
Whiche that thou hast me shewyd in to present,
I come, and with the argue thus I shal,
Syth it alwey hath ben affluent,
Decrecyng nought, ne none appeyrement
Byfallyth it though neuer so largely
Thou yeue it where the lyst habundauntly.
Thou owest to defende me this day,
Kepyng my cause, that stondyth al in doute,
Ageyne my foo, whiche al that euer he may,
Thy Grace me to byreuen is aboute
And me for to passen al withoute.
Ful ofte he hath me greuyd here byfore,
And hopeth now that al I haue forlore.
[11r] Though that my speche be sowyng to foly,
Yet, Blysful Lord, displese it nought the
That I haue spoken of aduocacye,
So that thou sholdest myn aduocate be,
That art the Souerayne Iuge of Equyte,
And nought for thy to them that on the tryst
Theyr aduocate art whan that the lyst.
For sothe it is where synne and wretchydnesse
Haboundyth most, there nedyth moost of Grace.
To tho that asken the foryeuenesse
Hit sytteth the nought to wrye awey thy face;
Thy charyte wyl clayme there his place.
But this were soth grete peryl most redounde:
Al mortal folk with meschyef to confounde.
Now maid & moder, of this world Pryncesse
Soo ful of Grace that replenysshed were
When Gabryel his message gan expresse,
And Aue was resownyng in thyn ere,
By whiche oure Blysful sauyour thou bere,
And of thy blood took his humanyte,
My cause also appele I vnto the.
As aduocate for man and procuresse,
Approued often by experyence,
Soo be myn help to auoyde and represse
Myne enemy, whiche that by vyolence
Wold shenden me, but yf thy resystence
Now be myne help. O Blysful Heuen Quene,
Lete somwhat of thy Grace on me be sene.
Syth that thy sone and thou of one acord
Ben veryly, as skyle is that ye be.
I, that for drede vnnethe can speke a word
But tremble as doth a leef vpon a tree,
Thou, lady ful of Mercy and pyte,
Now must thou be my help and my socoure
Of refuyte in this auentures houre.
[11v] For but yf thou my cause wyl defende
Ageyne hym whiche that is thyne enemy,
That redy isb to greue and offende
Bothe thec and al that wolde hertely
The serue and thy Blysful sone on hye,
He wyl me caste in to helle dyke,
And beryth on hand that I am hym y lyke.
I am byknowe that I haue done amys
Eternal deth deseruyd with my dede,
But Gracyous Lady, Quene of Heuen Blys,
Thow be my help and comforte in this nede.
But I record and this is al my drede,
That wonder sympely I haue the seruyd,
Soo that I haue no thyng of the deseruyd.
And not for thy this burdon is my tryst,
In whiche I haue my solace and disport.
On this pomel wyl I my seluen rest,
That specyally to me yeueth good comfort.
My feble ghoost hit helpyth to supporte:
That is thy selue, Moder, Mayde and Wyf,
The sustenaunce and solace of my lyf.
And I shal neuer trowen ne suppose,
Sith he the whiche of Mercy is the welle
Within thy sydes wold hym selue close
Ryght as thy child in veray flesshe and felle
That he shold let the fowle fende of helle
To execute malyce or vengeaunce
On theym that the byseketh with instaunce
There nys leon ne cruel leonesse
So fyers ne soo dyspytous of courage,
That theyr malyce attempren and oppresse
Ne wyl, and cessen of theyr fel courage
To tho that lowely wyl them seluen wage
With meke herte, and to the ground obeye.
Suche is theyr nature as these old clerkes seye.
[12r] I am that same that hyely haue myswrought
Ageyne thy child Ihesu, and eke the.
Yet wote I wel that leon is he nought,
Ne thou ne myght no leonesse be.
In yow there is malyce ne cruelte,
But Mercy, Pyte, Goodlyhede and Grace
In yow they haue theyr veray propre place.
Wherfor I shal the preye and byseke
That thou ageyne me be no thyng meuyd -
With lowely herte syth in my selue meke -
Though that I haue thy sone and the agreued.
By the is al my trust to be releuyd,
And that thou shalt my quarell take on hande
This foule wyghtes malyce to withstande.
For wel I wote thyne old renomme,
As for my cause wylt thou nought refuse,
Ne that thy Grace thou wylt nought werne me,
But that thou wylt thyne old maner vse,
My quarell now to helpe and execute,
And be my socour in this perylous day,
Chacyng fro me this fowle ghoost away.
For alwey hath he be myn enemy,
Syth I was chyld and tendre in my youthe.
Me thynketh thou sholdest lettend hym for thy
To procede in his accyon as nouthe,
Or suffre hym accuse though he couthe.
Thou sholdest nought ne bere no wytnesse
That is hym self conuyct of cursydnesse.
For sykerly this is the comyn lawe,
That he ne shold in accyon procede,
That ones oute of Court hath be withdrawe,
Conuyct as fals. Now here to taketh hede:
(This wote wel euery wyght, it is no drede)
Thy sone hym bannysshed fro Heuen Blys,
As for infamed; he, and al his.
[12v] Mychael Prouoste, on the take I record.
Thy selue dydest this execucyon.
Though I my self wold lye ony word,
Yet am I nought of this oppynyon
To keuere so by excusacyon
Of this infame the malyce of my synne.
This were a foolysshe purpoos to begynne.
But this put I in thy discrescyon:
That suche a fals deformed one as he
I maye refuse by excepcyon,
That this quarel shal nought receyued be
Here in this Courte. Ne to accuse me
He shold nought ben admytted as by ryght,
But put awey, that fowle fals wyght.
For why, Syr Prouost Mychael gracyous,
And al the Angels of thy company
That hym infamed haueth fore iuged thus
And fals conuycte clere and openly,
And cast hym in to peyn eternally,
In helle fyr to be withouten ende
With tho that soo deformed ben in kynde,
Ful humbly attones I reclame
You al to donee your deuoyr in this caas.
This cursyd ghoost whom malyce doth inflame
Here in this Courte his malyce haue no place.
This aske I yow of ryght and eke of Grace:
That ye al his crye and al his boost abate
That neuer he noye herafter none estate
Seynt Mychael, yf thou reckyst nought al,
Ne nought rewardyst now myn heuynesse,
Al maner hope awey is fro me falle.
So am I thenne encombred with dystresse,
For Danyel13 the prophete seyth expresse,
That in meschyef and suche aduersyte
He fonde none other helpe but only the.
[13r] Wherfore yf I haue displesyd ought,
Soo that of me thou takest now none hede,
After this houre I mote with al my thought
The doo plesaunce - the better shal I spede.
For who that wol ben holpen at his nede
Ful syker mote Placebo14 goo byfore,
As doth the crosse in lytel chyldres loore.
Baptist and martir, holy man Seynt Iohn,
And al the prophetes of oure Lord on hye
And ye euangelystes euerychone,
And eke Apostles al the companye,
With al my herte I preye so humbely
Of youre merytis superhabundaunce,
As graunteth me of almesse somme pytauncef.
In youre tresoure suche plente is bestowe
Of which yow nedyth nought a dele ywys,
And lorn it maye not be - this wel I knowe,
Decrecyn maye it nought, the sothe it is.
For why of almesse dede I pray yow this:
That I somme maner porcyon may haue,
Where with I may my self help & saue.
Ye that haue suffred hard & greuous peyne,
Of martirdom for Ihesu Crystes loue,
Whiche wel I wote ne was not done in veyne,
Yet meryte is youre mede moche aboue.
I that am poure and hugely byhoue,
Of help I pray yow of almysdede,
Of youre merytis helpyth at this nede.
And syth they shulle endeles endure,
They wastyd nought by dymynucyon.
To me that am so poure a creature
Of almes graunteth now a porcyon.
I yow requyre with hole affectyon,
That Blyssed that syt on hye in throne,
Appesyth hym as toward my persone.
[13v] Ye confessours and other holy sayntes,
And vyrgynes that ben to Criste ful dere,
Entendyth to my pyteous compleyntes.
Be moued now with routhe vppon my chere,
For woman none the whiche that is ful nere
To child beryng soo of hyr peynes dredyth
As I what that my iugement procedeth.
And yf that ye of your merytes grete
Somwhat departe to soo poure a wyght
Wold vouchesauf, and suche a Grace me gete
This fowle ghoost to put oute of my syght.
Yet wol I hope to Ihesu ful of myght,
Of malyce whiche he hath ageyne me spoke
He shold be atteynt, and al his barres broke.
I haue nought whome my self to torne,
In specyal to speke or compleyne,
That may me ony help or socour doo
My symple cause to forther or susteyne,
That me so sore dothe arten and constreyne.
The hole Court of sayntes I appele,
Bytakyng yow my quarel euery dele.
Ye knowe wel ynowe what is my nede
Ageyne the malyce of myn enemy,
That is aboute to noye and mysbede.
Me nedy wretche helpeth me for thy,
Yeueth audyence vnto my pyteous crye,
And to my Kyng now reconcyleth me,
Shewyng the feruour of youre charyte:
The releef of youre excellent merytes,
Ye precyous chosen sayntes euerychone,
Ageyne the malyce of these perylous wyghtes
Whiche that the fende now putteth me vpon,
That whyle I was lyuyng in flesshe & bone,
With his deceytes and fraudys fele,
He drawe me to, and now me doth appele.
[14r] Seynt Paule hym selue wryteth in this wyse,
And seyth that veray parfyte charyte -
A thyng that may to moche folk suffyse -
She haboundonned nought in properte,
Sith it bylongeth than in comynalte
Among the nedy for to be dyspendyd;
Late myn estate with somwhat be amendyd.