PATIENCE TEACHES HAUYN THE MEANING OF POVERTY
‘It is the only suit I have,’ daid Haukyn, ‘ so you can hardly blame me if it is often dirty. I even have to sleep in it at night. And what is more, I have a wife and children and servants ( “I have married a wife, And therefore I cannot come”), who keep messing it up in spite of all I can do! It has been washed dozens of times, in and out of Lent – scrubbed with the soap of Sickness which penetrates very deeply, and so cleansed by the loss of money, that I’ve shuddered at the very thought of offending God or any righteous man, so far as I could help it. I’ve been shriven by the priest too, and he gave me as a penance, patience,nand the task of feeding the poor, and told me to keep my coat clean if I wished to keep my baptismal faith.
(Penguin Classics, 1959, 1970)
Piers the Ploughman, the work of an unknown minor cleric of the late fourteenth century, was perhaps the most widely read work of its day and is now recognized as the great representative English poem of the late Middle Ages.
I bought this lovely little book way back in 1970, when I was a student in Leuven, Belgium. I still have to finish reading it 😟. Meanwhile I think it is an important book , in literature, perhaps even more in philosophy and sociology.