Original Text

Modern Text

But, certes, I suppose that Avicen
Wroot never in no canon, ne in no fen,
Mo wonder signes of empoisoning
430Than hadde thise wrecches two, er hir ending.
Thus ended been thise homicydes two,
And eek the false empoysoner also.
These two scoundrels suffered horribly as they died. I doubt even Avicenna himself, the great Arab writer on medical herbs and poisons, had ever encountered such awful effects. Anyway, that’s how these two hooligans died shortly after they’d killed their own poisoner.
O cursed sinne, ful of cursednesse!
O traytours homicyde, o wikkednesse!
O glotonye, luxurie, and hasardrye!
Thou blasphemour of Crist with vileinye
And othes grete, of usage and of pryde!
Allas! mankinde, how may it bityde,
That to thy creatour which that thee wroghte,
440And with his precious herte-blood thee boghte,
Thou art so fals and so unkinde, allas!
You see what gluttony, lechery, and gambling gets you! Evil! Sin! Wickedness! Murder! All you arrogant, addicted villains with your swearing on Christ’s body! How is it that you can treat your creator so horribly when he has saved you with his own precious blood?
Now, goode men, God forgeve yow your trespas,
And ware yow fro the sinne of avaryce.
Myn holy pardoun may yow alle waryce,
So that ye offre nobles or sterlinges,
Or elles silver broches, spones, ringes.
Boweth your heed under this holy bulle!
Cometh up, ye wyves, offreth of your wolle!
Your name I entre heer in my rolle anon;
450In-to the blisse of hevene shul ye gon;
I yow assoile, by myn heigh power,
Yow that wol offre, as clene and eek as cleer
As ye were born; and, lo, sirs, thus I preche.
And Iesu Crist, that is our soules leche,
So graunte yow his pardon to receyve;
For that is best; I wol yow nat deceyve.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, may God forgive you for your sins and keep you safe from the sin of greed. A holy pardon from me can save you—for a modest fee of a few silver coins. I also accept jewelry, silverware, and rings, mind you. I mean, this is a great opportunity here for you! This is in your own interest. I’m not trying to trick you here. Come on, ladies, trade in some of your extra clothing for a pardon. I’ll write your name down in my official notebook so that you’ll have no trouble going straight to heaven when you die. I will absolve you—those of you who make an offering, that is—of any past wrongdoing to make you as clean and holy as the day you were born. That’s what I do, and may Jesus Christ, caretaker of our souls, receive my pardon.