fol. 1rI
IN a somer seson . whan softe was þe sonne .
I shoop me in-to shroudes . as I a sheep weere .
In habite as an heremite . vnholy of werkes .
Wente wide in þis world . wondres to here .

Ac on a May morwenynge . on Maluerne hilles .
Me bifel a ferly . of Fairye me þoȝte .
I was wery for-wandred . and wente me to reste .
Vnder a brood bank . by a bournes syde .

And as I lay and lenede . and loked on þe watres .
I slombred in-to a slepyng . it sweyed so murye .

Thanne gan I meten . a merueillous sweuene .
That I was in a wildernesse . wiste I neuere where .
And as I biheeld in-to þe Eest . anheiȝan heiȝ to þe sonne .
I seiȝ a tour on a toft . trieliche ymaked .
A deep dale byneþe . a dongeon þer-Inne .
Wiþ depe diches and derke . and dredfulle of siȝte .
A fair feeld ful of folk . fond I þer bitwene .
Of alle manere of men . þe meene and þe riche .
Werchynge and wandrynge . as þe world askeþ .W.P.19: In the right margin running into the dark stain on the right-hand edge, a later fifteenth-century scribe has written names which are partly legible. They appear to read Ry
vont vont
John rich
. Kane and Donaldson report bond John Rychard.

Some putten hem to þe plouȝ . pleiden ful selde .W.P.20-27: Staining and rubbing on the left edge make the first half-dozen letters very faint, but the readings are secure.
In settynge and sowynge . swonken ful harde .
And wonnen þat wastours . with glotonye destruyeþ .

And somme putten hem to pride . apparailed hem þer-after .
In contenaunce of cloþynge . comenW.P.24: The scribe has supplied in a darker ink pride in the space under comen. degised .

In preieres and penaunces . putten hem manye .
Al for þe loue of oure lord . lyueden ful streyte .
In hope to haue after . heuene-riche blisse .
fol. 1vI
As Ancres and heremites . þat holden hem in hire selles
And coueiten noȝt in contree . to carien aboute
For no likerous liflode . hire likame to plese

And somme chosen chaffare . þei cheueden þe bettre
As it semeþ to oure siȝt . þat swiche men þryueþ

And somme murþes to make . as Mynstralles konne
And geten gold with hire glee . synnelees I leeue

Ac Iaperes and Iangeleres . Iudas children
Feynen hem fantasies . and fooles hem makeþ
And han hire wit at wille . to werken if þei wolde
That Poul precheþ of hem . I wolW.P.38: W alone reads wol; FGH have wyll, and the remaining B witnesses have nel or nyl. nat preue it here
ButW.P.39: W alone has But. All other B manuscripts omit it. . Qui loquitur turpiloquium . is luciferes hyne

Bidderes and beggeres . faste aboute yede
Wiþ hire belies and hire bagges . of breed ful ycrammed
Faiteden for hire foode . fouȝten at þe ale
In glotonye god woot . go þei to bedde
And risen wiþ ribaudie . þo Roberdes knaues
Sleep and sory sleuþe . seweþ hem euere

Pilgrymes and Palmeres . pliȝten hem togidere
For to seken Seint Iame . and Seintes at Rome
They wenten forþ in hire wey . wiþ many wise tales
And hadden leue to lyen . al hire lif after

I seiȝ somme þat seiden . þei hadde ysouȝt Seintes
To ech a tale þat þei tolde . hire tonge was tempred to lye
Moore þan to seye sooþ . it semed bi hire speche

Heremytes on an heep . with hoked staues .W.P.53: Words at the foot of the page in a different hand appear to read And heppyd stanys, prompted by the last words on the page and perhaps misreading staues as stanes.
fol. 2rI
Wenten to walsyngham . and hire wenches after
Grete lobies and longe . þat loþe were to swynke
Cloþed hem in copes . to ben knowen from oþere
And shopen hem heremytes . hire ese to haue

I fond þere Freres . alle þe foure ordres
Prechynge þe peple . for profit of hem-selue
Glosed þe gospel . as hem good liked
For coueitise of copes . construwed it as þei wolde
ManyeW.P.62: The last two letters are covered by a stain, but they are legible. of þise maistre freres . nowW.P.62: W alone reads now. GYC2CLM read mowe. cloþen hem at likyng
For hire moneie and hire marchaundize . marchen togideres
For siþ charite haþ ben chapman . and chief to shryue lordes
Manye ferlies han fallen . in a fewe yeres
But holy chirche and hij . holde bettre togidres
The mooste meschief on Molde . is mountynge wel faste

Ther preched a pardoner . as he a preest were
Brouȝte forþ a bulle . wiþ many Bisshopes seles
And seide þat hym-self myȝte . assoillen hem alle
Of falshede of fastynge . of Auowes ybroken

Lewed men leued itW.P.72: W alone reads it. Other beta witnesses have hym. wel . and liked hise wordes
Comen vp knelynge . to kissen hise bulles
He bonched hem with his breuet . and blered hire eiȝen
And rauȝte with his Rageman . rynges and broches

Thus þei gyuen hire gold . glotons to kepe
And leneþW.P.77: The reading could as well be leueþ. it swiche Losels . as leccherie haunten

Were þe Bisshop yblessed . and worþ boþe hise eris
His seel sholde noȝt be sent . to deceyue þe peple
Ac it is noȝt by þe bisshop . þat þe boy precheþ
For þe parisshe preest and þe pardoner . parten þe siluer
That þe poraille of þe parisshe sholde haue . if þei ne were
fol. 2vI
Persons and parisshe preestes . pleyned hem to þe Bisshop
That hire parisshes weren pouere . siþ þe pestilence tyme
To haue a licence and leue . at London to dwelle
And syngen þer for symonie . for siluer is swete

Bisshopes and Bachelers . boþe maistres and doctours
That han cure vnder crist . and crownynge in tokene
And signe þat þei sholden . shryuen hire parisshens
Prechen and praye for hem . and þe pouere fede
Liggen at Londoun . in Lenten and ellis

Somme seruen þe kyng . and his siluer tellen
In Cheker and in Chauncelrie . chalangen hise dettes
Of wardes and of wardemotes . weyues and streyves

And somme seruen as seruauntz . lordes and ladies
And in stede of Stywardes . sitten and demen
Hire messe & hire matyns . and many of hire houresW.P.97: A smudge, possibly a punctus, appears at the end of the line.
Arn doon vndeuoutliche . drede is at þe laste
Lest crist in Consistorie . acorse ful manye

I parceyued of þe power . þat Peter hadde to kepe
To bynden and vnbynden . as þe book telleþ
How he it lefte wiþ loue . as oure lord hiȝte
Amonges foure vertues . þe beste of alle vertues
That Cardinals ben called . and closynge yates
There is cristW.P.105: W alone reads is crist. Other beta witnesses have crist is. in his kyngdom . to close and to shette
And to opene it to hem . and heuene blisse shewe

Ac of þe Cardinals at court . þat kauȝte of þat name
And power presumed in hem . a pope to make
To han þat power þat Peter hadde . impugnen I nelle
For in loue and in lettrure . þe eleccion bilongeþ
For-þi I kan & kan nauȝt . of court speke moore
fol. 3rI
Thanne kam þer a kyng . knyȝthod hym ladde
Might of þe communes . made hym to regne

And þanne cam kynde wit . and clerkes he made
For to counseillen þe kyng . and þe commune saue

The kyng and knyȝthod . and clergie boþe
Casten þat þe commune . sholde hem-self fynde

The commune contreued . of kynde wit craftes
And for profit of al þe peple . Plowmen ordeyned
To tilie and to trauaille . as trewe lif askeþ

The kyng . and þe commune . and kynde wit þe þridde
Shopen lawe and leaute . ech man to knowe his owene

Thanne loked vp a lunatik . a leene þyng wiþ-alle
And knelynge to þe kyng . clergially he seide

Crist kepe þee sire kyng . and þi kyngryche
And lene þee lede þi lond . so leaute þee louye
And for þi riȝtful rulyng . be rewarded in heuene

And siþen in þe Eyr anheiȝan heiȝ . an Aungel of heuene
Lowed to speke in latyn . for lewed men ne koude
Iangle ne Iugge . þat Iustifie hem sholde
But suffren and seruen . for-þi seide þe Aungel

Sum Rex sum princeps . neutrum fortasse deinceps .
O qui iura regis . christi specialia regis .
Hoc quod agas melius . iustus es . esto pius .
Nudum ius a te . vestiri vult pietate
Qualia vis metere . talia grana sere
Si ius nudatur . nudo de iure metatur
fol. 3vI
SiW.P.138: The reading is obviously Si, but a crease in the manuscript makes the <i> illegible. seritur pietas . de pietate metas

Thanne greued hym a Goliardeis . a gloton of wordes
And to þe Aungel anheiȝan heiȝ . answerde afterW.P.140: The apparent punctus at the end of the line is probably the final stroke of <r>.
Dum rex a regere . dicatur nomen habere
Nomen habet sine re . nisi studet iura tenere

Thanne gan al þe commune . crye in vers of latyn
To þe kynges counseil . construe who-so wolde
Precepta Regis . sunt nobis vincula legis

Wiþ þat ran þer a route . of Ratons atonesat ones
And smale mees mydW.P.147: W alone reads myd. Other B witnesses have with. hem . mo þan a þousand
And comen to a counseil . for þe commune profit
For a cat of a contree . cam whan hym liked
And ouerleep hem liȝtliche . and lauȝte hem at his wille
And pleide wiþ hem perillousli . and possed aboute
For doute of diuerse dredes . we dar noȝt wel loke
And if we grucche of his gamen . he wol greuen vs alle
Cracchen vs or clawen vs . and in hise clouches holde
That vs loþeþ þe lif . er he late vs passe
Miȝte we wiþ any wit . his wille wiþ-stonde
We myȝte be lordes o-lofte . and lyuen at oure ese

A Raton of renoun . moost renable of tonge
Seide for a souereyn . help to hym-selue

I haue yseyen segges quod he . in þe Cite of Londoun
Beren beiȝes ful briȝte . abouten hire nekkes
And somme colers of crafty werk . vncoupled þei wenten
Boþe in wareyne and in waast . where hem-self liked
And ouþer while þei arn ellis-where . as I here telle
Were þer a belle on hire beiȝe . by Iesu as me þynkeþ
Men myȝte witen wher þei wente . and awey renne
fol. 4rI
And riȝt so quod þat Raton . Reson me sheweþW.P.167: The scribe wrote his usual form of <þ> but put a dot above it as though it were a <y>.
To bugge a belle of bras . or of briȝt siluer
And knytten it on a coler . for oure commune profitW.P.169: Following this line all B manuscripts except WHmCr1G read: And hangen it vp on þe cattes hals . thanne here we mowen (as in L).
Wher he ryt or rest . or renneþ to pleye
And if hym list for to laike . þanne loke we mowen
And peeren in his presence . þe while hym pleye likeþ
And if hym wraþeþ be war . and his wey shonye

Al þis route of Ratons . to þis reson þei assented
Ac þo þe belle was ybrouȝt . and on þe beiȝe hanged
Ther ne was Raton in al þe route . for al þe Reaume of Fraunce
That dorste haue bounden þe belle . aboute þe cattes nekke
Ne hangen it aboute þe cattes hals . al Engelond to wynne
AlleW.P.179: W alone reads Alle. Other B manuscripts have And. helden hem vnhardy . and hir counseil feble
And leten hire labour lost . and al hire longe studie

A Mous þat muche good . kouþe as me þouȝte
Strook forþ sternely . and stood bifore hem alle
And to þe route of Ratons . reherced þise wordes

Thouȝ we killen þe cat . yet sholde þer come anoþer
To cacchen vs & al oure kynde . þouȝ we cropen vnder benches
For-þi I counseille al þe commune . to late þe cat worþe
And be we neuere boldeW.P.187: W alone reads bolde. Other beta witnesses have so bolde. . þe belle hym to shewe
For I herde my sire seyn . is seuen yeer y-passed
Ther þe cat is a kitoun . þe court is ful elenge
That witnesseþ holy writ . who-so wole it rede
Ve terre vbi puer Rex est &c
For may no renk þer reste haue . for Ratons by nyȝte
The while he caccheþ conynges . he coueiteþ noȝt youreW.P.193: W alone reads youre. Other B manuscripts have oure. caroyne
But fedeþ hym al wiþ venyson . defame we hym neuere
For bettre is a litel los . þan a long sorweW.P.195: The phrase a feyrse, perhaps meaning "a verse, proverb," is written in the right margin in a later hand as again at W.1.38 and W.1.86. It presumably draws attention to the proverbial nature of the line.
The maze among vs alle . þeiȝ we mysse a sherewe
For many mennes malt . we mees wolde destruyeW.P.197: A crease runs down the center of the leaf, obscuring some characters in the facsimile which are legible in the manuscript.
fol. 4vI
And also ye route of Ratons . rende mennes cloþes
Nere þe cat of þat court . þat kan yow ouer-lepe
For hadde ye rattes youre wille . ye kouþe noȝt rule yow-selue

I seye for me quod þe Mous . I se so muchel after
Shal neuere þe cat ne þe kiton . by my counseil be greued
ThoruȝW.P.203: W alone reads Thoruȝ. Other B manuscripts have Ne. carpynge of þis coler . þat costed me neuere
And þouȝ it hadde costned me catel . biknowen it I nolde
But suffren as hym-self wolde . to doon as hym likeþ
Coupled and vncoupled . to cacche what þei mowe
For-þi ech a wis wiȝt I warne . wite wel his owene

What þis metels bymeneþ . ye men þat ben murye
Deuyne ye . for I ne dar . by deere god in heuene

Yet houed þer an hundred . in howues of selk
Sergeantz it bisemed . þat serueden at þe barre
Pleteden for penyes . and poundes þe lawe
And noȝt for loue of oure lord . vnlose hire lippes ones
Thow myȝtest bettre meete myst . on Maluerne hilles
Than gete a mom of hire mouþ . til moneie be shewed

Barons and Burgeises . and bonde-men als
I seiȝ in þis assemblee . as ye shul here after
Baksteres and Brewesteres . and Bochiers manye
Wollen webbesters . and weueres of lynnen
Taillours and Tynkers . and Tollers in Markettes
Masons and Mynours . and many oþere craftes
Of alle kynne lybbynge laborers . lopen forþ somme
As dykeres and delueres . þat doon hire dedes ille
And dryueþ forþ þe longe day . with Dieu saue dame Emme

Cokes and hire knaues . cryden hote pies hote
Goode gees and grys . gowego we dyne gowego we
fol. 5rI
Tauerners vntil hem . trewelyW.P.227: W alone reads trewely. Other B manuscripts omit it. tolden þe same
Whit wyn of Oseye . and reed wyn of Gascoigne
Of þe Ryn and of þe Rochel . þe roost to defieW.P.229: Following this line all B manuscripts except WYF read: Al þis seiȝ I slepyng . and seuene sythes more (as in L).