HERE BEGYNNETH THE
BOOK , HOW THE SOWLE WAS TAKE OUT
OF PURGATORY, AND LED VP THORUGH
THE HEUENLY SPERES TOWARD THE
Aftera this parlement of
these two ymages I retourne me ageyne to my fyrst
purpoos. And soothly me semyd that wonder lytel or
nought my peynes were abredged
in all this mene tyme. And certeyne, yf it had ben
plesaunt to Grace Dieu, me thought it had ben tyme
that somwhat had ben lessid of my peyne, & that
I had be brought to another, more restfull place.
And sykerly, after this ful longe there I boode in my torment and peyne that I suffred, soo that alwey it decrecyd by a litel and a litel. And soo long I there abode, that I ne felt nomore peyne at al, and that my fardel was wasted and torned to nought; I sawe no more therof.
Thenne semyd I to my self so lyght that I bygan to flee withoute ony lettynge. And so sawe I in to Heuene, whiche was thenne to me disclosid and open, so that I sawe thenne tho thynges whiche I haue before hand seyde were corteyned fro my sight, that is to seye, the Hye Prouost of [88v] Heuene Seynt Mychael sittyng as Iuge, and alle these other that shold make iugementes of all dyuerse peples. The grete clernes that there was within shynyng al aboute made me haue so grete ioye and comfort, that I ne felte no maner of dysese. Myn Angel oftyme flowe vp to that place, and oftyme retorned ayene, & badde me that I shold a whyle abyde and be of good chere, for within a lytel tyme I shold be brought in to Hye Heuene.
`Ful soone', quod he, `shalle I lede the thyder, for I haue leue of the Prouost and alle his assessours that there ben present with hym, for now ben Mysericord and Iustyce acorded to geders. And soo ben as well Reson, Trouthe, and Equyte, withoute ageyne seyng; all they ben one and of one wylle.'
When I thus had abyden a whyle and sene many thynges, that is to saye, the elementes, and al that was within, angels also I sawe fleen to and fro. And Sathanas ful besyly: by ice and land, and in the eyer abouen I sawe hym ful ofte flee hyder and thyder for to espye pylgrymes by pathes and by weyes.
Soo at the laste, myn Aungel took me by the hand, and syngynge he said to me thus: `Now goo we vp in to that Souerayne Cyte withouten more abydyng, for now ben ended thy peynes and tormentes, and fully adetermyned. Now synge we, mounte we, fle we vpward as fast as we may, for full nyhe is the ioye whiche that we abyden. We ben full neyhe to that reste that we haue longe desired, that neuer shalle failen, ne be ended.'
And thus syngynge he ledde me forth, and shewed me the fyrmament. But in this poynt I sawe grete foyson of byrdes in euery side aboute, that songe in the eyer no thyng els seyng, but euer `Ihesu, Ihesu', withoute ony cessyng.
`What may this be?', quod I to myn Angel. `Where haue these byrdes lerned thus to synge so redyly and lustely to nempne this blysful name Ihesu? It is grete ioye and solace to here them, and for to see them, also it is a plesaunt thynge.'
`Certes', quod myn Angel, `of this thynge thou sholdest nought ben abasshed, for thou hast sene them er this, but thou art not auysed therof now at this tyme, ne hast bifore this tyme taken but litel hede of their swete songe, and that hath hyndered the gretely. And grete dole hit is when that mortal folk taketh none hede to theyr owne auauntage.
`These ben the byrdes that God Almyghty maad to that entent that mortal folke shold take theyr example to done as they done. These ben cleped larkes, whiche that in Latyn haue the name of preisyng and of worshypyng, and ben cleped alaude [89r] nought withouten cause, for they rysen and mountenb ferre fro the Erthe, and spredyn theyr wynges in maner of a crosse, & purely they preysen God with theyr mery songe, and alle theyr disport and pley is to syngen "Ihesu". And no byrd is in Erthe, whoos werke and occupacion is haluendele so fayre.
`They ben the fygure and the patron by very lykelyhede of the ioye of Paradys, of angels, and of blessid spyrytes, that there contynuelly worshipen theyr Creatoure with grete reuerence and honoure. And they also haue take ensample at contemplatif men conuersauntc in Erth, that hauen contynuelly "Ihesu" in theyr mouthe. Therof they maken all their song and solace, spredde and extendyd with Cryst on the cros, by compassion of herte, preysynge hym alwey withouten ony styntynge. And thus for to done nought only mortal folke, but alle thynges fourmed of God. Andd so counceyled the thre children in Danyels book89, and Dauyd in the ende of his Sawter90 clepyth alle creatures for to preysen God: "Preysyth God of Heuene, first ye blysfull angels, for ye hauen grettest cause. Preyseth God, bothe sonne & mone, sterres, and alle that yeueth lyght. preyseth God, ye hye Heuens and waters, that ben abouen in the fyrmament, preysith the name of the Hye Lord, for only his name is holye and oweth for to be exaltid and preysyd of alle creatures." And wyte it wel, for sothe, there is no thynge, that it ne dothe his deuoyre, but only mortal man, whiche that is abouen alle creatures bounden moost therto.
`Loo, haddest thou somtyme soo done thy deuoyre lyke to these larkes, thou haddest not soo longe be lette fro this ioye. But euer now here after this shalle be thyn occupacion when thou arte in Heuene; that shal be ful hastely. Goo we fast thyderward, for we ben loked after.'
Thus thenne myn Aungel ledde forthe, and shewed me the fyrmament, whiche with his tornynge aboute made a wonder armonye, soo melodyous and so full of swetenes, that alle Erthely instrumentes that euer haue ben or ben at this tyme ordeyned by deuys of maystres of musyk shold be sett at no reputacion of hym that had herd that solace and that myrthe.
The cause of this melodye is the merueylous mouyng & wonderfull tornynge of the spyeres, whiche I saw tornen & wenden, eueriche within other, by contrarious mouyng & by embelif, tornynge so swetely entrecountedf to geders in their circuite about the Erth, [89v] and alle other elementes withouten ony tyme cessyng or restyng.
Two greete speres sawe I tourne, that one within that other, in the innermore of whiche the sterres were fastned bryghte & clere shynynge, somme more and somme lesse, as it lyketh to the Souerayne Maker. This nether spyere, after the wordes of Tholome, so contraryeth contynuelly the mouynge of that other, that in a honderd yere he hyndereth a degree fro there he was beforne. And thow shalt vnderstande that in the hole compas of the spyere ben of suche degrees thre honderd and syxty. Within this innermost spyere I sawe seuen other spyeres, moche lesse than these other two, of whiche seuen eueriche was lesse than other, as nedes must the lesse be conteyned within the more. And within eueryche of these speres there was a Cercle embelysyng somwhat, and thwarting the thycknes of the spyere, whiche cercle meng clepeth the different.
In the circumference of eueriche of these cercles was sette a lytel cercle, whoos compas ne passid nought the forsaid thyckenes, which cercle is cleped of astronomyens the epicikle. This epicicle was soo wonderful set vpon this difference, soo that it abood not euer in one poynt, but moued vpon this cercle by ordre and by processe fro place to place aboute this forsaid different.
In eueriche of these epycikles was fetched one of the seuene name couthe planetes that ben cleped of clerkes sterres erratiks, saue only that the sonne was withouten epycykle, fitched euer in circumference of his different.
These epycycles beren aboute merueylously the bodyes of the planetes, somtyme forthward, somtyme backward, somtyme abouen, somtyme bynethen, so that who so hadde playnly sene the mouynge of them euerichone at ones, hym shold wel haue semyd that they hadden pleyed and made grete ioye, namely for to here the merueylous melodye whiche that they maden in theyr mouynge.
As I thus beheld this merueylous tornyng of these forsaid spyeres that moche delyted me, myn Angel ledde me heyer, and abouen al these spyeres he shewed me a water whiche that beclypped them in compas al aboute. Soo clere it was, and pure in it self, that Nature shold haue ben abasshed in the beholdynge, for as to my iugement she made neuer suche an other. For clerely sawe I thorugh oute this water alle thyng that I had sene byfore; bothe Erthe and see, and alle other elementes with all these forsaid spyeres enclosid within.
Forth passed we thenne thorugh another spyere that semyd all of cristall, [90r] and forthe I behelde and sawe fer abouen me the Prouost of Heuen, whiche as me semyd I had sene bynethen. And there I sawe al the Court syttynge with the same persones as is bifore seid - alle but Sathanas and the peple abydyng iugement, for them ne sawe I nought.
`What maye this be, deere Wardeyn', quod I,`me thynketh that I saw many yere ago this same Prouost syttyng in his Assyses in another place, whyder ye hadde brought me for to answere to Sathanas myn aduersary of myn olde errour.'
Thenne beganne this Aungel softely to smylen, and said in this wyse: `Hast thou nought mynde', quod he, `vpon the black corteyne that was drawen bytwene the and the Prouost, what tyme that thou were there abydyng thy iugement?'
`Certes', quodh I, `ful wel I remembrei .' `Therby', quodj this Aungel, `thou must vnderstanden that the fyrmament was but as a corteyn bytwene thy syght and that thou seest now presently. And moche more clerely shalt thou sene hereafter, what tyme that thou arte passid somwhat ouermore. This corteyne semyd black by cause of the syght that deceyued the, that so fowle was infect with filth of thy synne. Also it was nought well apertynent that thou haddest that tyme seyen ony thynge that shold haue gladed the, or caused ony ioye in thy herte. Ful soothe it is, that for a lytel moment that corteyn was withdrawen, to that ende, that thou sholdest see how fowle thou were deceyued that thou thorugh thy foly haddest lorne soo moche blysse.
`If that this Court semyd the lowe at that tyme, and not here on hyhe, as thou seest now in soothnes, yet was it not so in very trouthe, but this same place it was that now thou seest it inne. But to synful wretchis this Court semeth lowe and nyhe to theyr syght, for the more peyne and drede that they shold haue therof.
`What tyme that thou were alowe at thy iugement, thou sawest this Court nyhe the, for as moche as thou haddest deseruyd the dethe of endeles dampnacion. But now thou art escaped by the grete Grace that God hath done the.
`The semyth that the Court hath chaunged his place. Neuertheles, in soothe, hit is no thynge so, as thou shalt knowen clerely when thou art passed the corteyn, of whiche thou art now fulle nyghe. The entre, that is the Crystallyn, that yett is not ouerpassed, this same hit is, which that thou clepedest the corteyne.'
'Soothely', quod I,`soo am I surprysed of the ioye of this countreye, that I [90v] not what to asken, ne wherof for to speke.'
`Seye or aske', quod he, `what that the lyketh. The grete comforte and solace of this countre is soo moche merueylous, and the perdurable ioyes so blysful & glorious, that herte may not thynke, ne no tong telle. This is Ierusalem, the noble Royal Cyte, to which thou were excited for to trauaylen somtyme in thy youthe. This is ende of thy iourney and the fynall reste of alle thy pylgremage.'
Thus, this Angel talkynge to me and ledynge me forth thorugh the Cristallyn, I come wher he made me to behold and loken al aboute. There sawe I soo grete syght and clerte, that it myght not fall in no mans mynde fully to descryuen it. And though that the sonne were seuen sythes clerer than it is now, it suffyseth nought to shewen hym self in presence of that lyght that was so excellent.
Ful soothe it is that oure Blysful Lord Ihesu said in his Gospel that in his faders hous were many dyuerse mansions. And this founde I veryly trewe, for this hows is chyef and pryncipalle of alle other howses. And to this hows all other ben subget and seruauntes, whether they wylle or noo. And for to vnderstande shortly the manere of this hows, the largenes therof maye not be comprehended by thought of mannes wytte, for it is infynyte.
Now shall I seye yow of these mansions and of the grete dwellyng places that ben in that noble Cyte after my power and after that I myght sene hit my self. For soothly, I sawe therof not the hondred part, ne no parte proporcianable as to regard of alle the hole Cyte, for why this Cyte is so large, that it is endeles, bothe in lengthe and in brede, and of endeles thynge maye no proporcion be lymyted ne acounted. And no doute, the grete Heuen with the sterres, in regard of whiche the erthe hath no proporcion sensible that may ben assigned at certeyne, and yet it is nought endeles ne infynyte, as clerkes knowen wel, ne may nought enclosen within it self soo many smalle pelote of the quantite of a small pese, as this noble Cyte may enclosen within it seluen of such worldes as we sene and dwellen in, acountyng the world for as moche as is enclosed within the sterred Heuene; and yet shold it semen neuer the fuller, for a thynge that is infynyte maye not be fulfylled, wherfore I may full wel seyn and affermen that I ne sawe not the hondred parte of royal habitacions that weren in that Cyte. And euery habytacion yet semyd me as moche, and no doute wel more, than alle this wyde world.
But alle these forsaide mansiones weere cleere and [91r] transparaunt, soo that I myght sene clerely thorugh oute them alle as ferre as me lyst. These mansions so wonderly were disposid, that euerichone enuyronned and enclosid this world that we ben inne.
The centre of the myddes of this Cyte was oure Lord hym seluen, fulfyllynge alle this huge noble and merueylous Cyte. But the boundes or the bordures of this Cyte ne mowe nought be founde.
The beaute of this mansion ne maye no man telle, ne diffyne the ioye and the grete arraye, the enhabitours of the places, the ordynaunce of theyr dwellyng, theyr ioyefull occupacion, the swote lusty smelle, the glorious disportes. The swete and lusty sownes and delicious songes maden alle heuynes fully to be foryeten, and for to conceyue a ioye and a gladnes withouten ony ende, contynuelly with grete reuerence to worshipe, preysen, and honouren oure Blessid Saueoure.
In the place next to this Crystallyn was put this comyn peple that come fro Purgatory, and they contynuelly answered to them, that songen aboue. Ful often was rehercyd this word Sanctus, and ful deuoutly songen aboue and bynethen. There was no tune of musik that ther was foryeten; the fayre dyapente, the swete dyapason, and ofte amonges other the lusty dyatesseron, felle in theyr songes. And who that had herd the song that was among the Angels by wonderfull entermellynge and full swete acord, he myght wel haue saide that there was a feste, disparayle to alle other festes that euer he sawe before.
Thenne was I entalented to knowe ofk Seynt Poule91, of whome I had redde in his owne scripture that he was rauysshed in to the thyrd Heuene, and there he sawe secretes wherof he wold not speke, seyenge that no man ne owed ne durst speke therof. And fayne I wold haue wyst whiche that he cleped the thyrdde Heuene, sithe hit soo was, that I sawe soo moche merueylous clerte and ioye, that ther is no creature in this Erthely regyon, that myght thynken or conceyue soo moche as I saw.'
Thenne said me myn Aungel of the apostle Paule: `I say the for certeyne, that he hath his Heuen aboue, as many other Seyntes haue. But he was rauysshed in to a full hyhe place, where that was shewed hym moche of Goddes pryuytees, whiche that were shewed to none but to tho that were fully bylouyd, whiche pryuytees were nought to be tolde to them that dwellen alowe in Erthe, for they wold not byleuen hit. Soo sholde they neuer be the better, thouh thatl it were told them.
`On that other side these priuitees were so grete & merueilous, thatm he hold hym self vnable & vnworthy [91v] to speken ought therof. And soothe hit is, that he ne myght nought seye hit, for hit passed his wytte. Thenne muste hit nedes passen the power of his speche. And also no doute euery man is holde for to kepen pryue the counceylle of his Lord, but yf he haue commaundement, or leue at the lest, for to telle hit forthe.
`But in as moche as Saynt Powle was cleped of God a vessel of election92, and shold ben excellent in the pryncipal merites, for whiche merytes he sholde deserue the treuble aureole, that is to sey for maydenhode, for prechyng of Goddes Lawe, and for martirdom, sheddynge his bloode for the loue of Crist, therfor was he rauysshed thorugh oute the twoo in to the thirdde and hyest, that is Martirdom.
`In the first Heuen of Vyrgynyte, that first is worchynge and first is deseruyd, he was taught in the lore that bylongeth to maydens and also to them that ben maryed, wherof he speketh in his epystel to the Corynthes, where he seyth de virginibus93.
'In the second was shewed hym the fourme of Cristes feithe and alle the hoole Gospel, ryght as he shold prechen it after. Loo thus he seyth hym self: notum vobis facio Euangelium94, I make knowen to yow to wyte that the Gospel prechid of me, I had neuer of man, but only by reuelacion of oure Lord Ihesu.
`In the thyrd Heuen was shewed hym the mede and the reward that he sholde receyue yf he dyd his deuoyre, to that ende that he sholde be the more bolden afterward for to done his besynes in ful hope and trust for to receyuen that noble reward whiche no tonge maye telle, ne herte thynke, ne no creature maye veryly ne worthyly deserue but only of the grete goodnes of our Blessid Lord, as hym self seith:non sunt condigne passiones huius temporis95, all the passiones and peynes of his lyf ne ben nought condigne ne euen worthy to the ioye and blysse that shalle be shewed in vs.
`Now shalt thou vnderstande that what tyme Saynt Powle hadde ben ther abouen, and was retorned ageyne in to the world, he consydered, and was wel auysed, of these worldes that he sawe abouen in that blysse, and said in this wise: Regi seculorum96, to the Kynge of worldes inmortal and inuysyble, to hym only, God, honoure and glorye in the World of Worldes.
`Holy Chirche also seith as oftymes as she prayeth God of helpe or of Grace, or dothe hym ony worshippe, hit is nought foryete but that he seith euer in the ende that his regne dureth by worldes infynyte. Ando therof prophecyed Dauyd, & sayd ryght thus: regnum tuum regnum omnium seculorum97, thy regne & thyn empyre is the reame [92r] of alle worldes.'
`Here nedeth hit', quod I,`that thou me answere to a lytel doute which that I am inne. I here yow well speken here of many worldes, but in Latyn the world hath twoo names, for hit is cleped Seculum, & hit is cleped also Mundus. Nought for thy, it is not al one in clere vnderstandyng, though we for defaute of langage take one for another. For well I conceyue that Mundus is the material world, but Seculum is taken for the endurynge of the world. Neuertheles the competister in the craft of the Kalendre, he cleped Seculum the tyme of an honderd yere; and ye clepe Seculum the world here abouen. What mene ye, wold I wyte, by this equyuocacion of that name?'
`Sothly', quod this Aungel. `He that made this compute and the Kalendre ne saw neuer these worldes; only the world bynethen he saw for his tyme, supposyng that there were no moo, ne none other. And for as moche as mannes age passith but seld the place of an honderd yere, therfore he cleped that space seculum, that is the tyme of durynge a mans world. Soo wold he thenne by dystribucion of many honderd yeres, sewynge by succession eueryche after other, shewen thep pluralite of worldes, wherof the scripture maketh so ofte mencion.
`Andq ryght as the world bynethen is made of many honderd yeres, & so of many worldes, whiche though the nombre be vnknowen to man, yet it is atermyned at a certeyne ende in the siht of God, ryht so is this Souerayn World made of infinyte such hole worldes withoute ony nombrer lymyted euer to be endyd.
`So seith Holy Chirche preysynge oure Lorde, that he regneth and shalle regne by worldes infynyte. And that thou trowe me better of this that I sey, what tyme that Hooly Chirche maketh mencion of the Trynyte in the vers gloria Patri98 that ofte is reherced, he seith in this wyse: worship and ioye to the Fader, Sone & Holy Ghost, as was in the begynnyng, now, & euer shalle be, in to the World of Worldes
`Ne it suffiseth not to setten this word Semper, that is euer, but yf he adde therto in Secula Seculorum, whiche wordes no man may conceyue but yf he haue hoole vnderstandynge, for this word semper enclosith nomore but al the tymes of the world binethen, whiche shalle haue an ende. But by this word sewyng in Secula Seculorum, wherby is vnderstande this world here aboue that conteyneth suche worldes withoute nombre infynyte, that neuer shall ben atermyned.
`Yet shall I seye the ferthermore. Oure Lord God, that in hym self is infynyte, sythe that his grete power maye nought be comprehendyd, [92v] no doute his werkes ben infynyte also, so that none entendement ne may them vnderstande, for why he werketh & maketh as many werkes as better ben made than vnmade. And no doute there is noo good thynge vnmade, that he ne may make, and there is no good thynge that he may make, that he ne hath made, maketh now, or shal make herafter. For he is the Welle of all manere of goodness, and he hym seluen is Souerayne Bounte. Therfore hit is conuenyent that his Goodnes be shewed and spred aboute amonrs alle his creatures.
`He must nedes contynuelly flowen oute his Bountet , for ther is nothyng that may therof enpeschen hym. How thenne durst ony wyght trowen or supposen that he wold leuen his regne, that is infinite, vngarnysed of his werkes, as a thyng deserte and wasteu , as thynge that were forsake. But sithe he is Almyghty, that he wolde anone fulfille hit with his creatures, for hit is wel syttynge to eueryche that may doo wel, that he sholde doo hit, wherof he may nought faile that may doo what he wylle. Wherfore when thou herest speken of worldes infynyte, ne be thou nought abasshed, for sith hym seluen is infynyte, his werkes must of reson be endeles, for he maye nought be voyde ne ydell for to werken thynges that ben profitable belongynge to his Worship.'