Monk and usurer

Monk & usurer.
Monk & usurer

Dethe to the Monk

Sire monke also / with ȝowre blake abite
Ȝe mai no lenger / holde here soioure
Ther is no thinge / that mai ȝow here respite
Aȝeyn my myght / ȝow for to do socoure
Ȝe mote accounte / towchyng ȝowre laboure
How ȝe haue spente hit / in dede worde & thowght
To erthe and asshes / turneth eueri floure
The life of man / is but a thynge of nowght.

The Monk answereth

I had leuere / in [the] cloystre be
Atte my boke / and studie my seruice
Whiche is a place / contemplatif to se
But I haue spente / my life in many vise
Liche as a fole / dissolute and nyce
God of his merci / graunte me repentaunce
Be chere owtewarde / harde to deuyce
Al ben not meri / whiche that men seen daunce.
had leuere: would rather

Liche as a fole: Like a fool

Dethe to the Vsurere

Thow vserere loke vp & be-holde
Un to wynnynge / thow settest al thi peyne
Whose couetise / wexeth neuer colde
Thi gredi thruste / so sore the dothe constreyne
But thow shalt neuer / thi desire atteyne
Suche an etik / thyn herte frete shal
That but of pite / God his honde refreyne
Oo parilous stroke / shal make the lese al.

The Vsurere answereth

Now me behoueth / sodeynly to dey
Whiche is to me / grete peyne & grete greuaunce
Socowre to fynde / I see no maner weie
Of golde ne siluer / be no cheuisshaunce
Dethe thrugh his haste / a-bitte no puruiaunce
Of folkes blynde / that can not loke welle
Ful ofte happeth / be kynde or fatal chaunce
Somme haue feyre yȝen / that seen neuer adele.
Now I must die suddenly

cheuisshaunce: borrowing or lending money

[The pore man to þe Usurere]

Usure to god / is ful grete offence
And in his sight / a grete abusioun
The pore borweth / par cas for Indigence
The riche lent / be fals collucioun
Onli for lucre / in his entencioun
Dethe shal hem bothe / to accomptes fette
To make rekennynge / be computacioun
No man is quytte / that is be-hynde of dette.

hem: them, fette: fetch


The poor man is not really a part of the dance. First of all he breaks the alternation of clergy and laity - secondly, being poor, he should appear much later in the dance along with the labourer /peasant.

The poor man is included in order to characterise the usurer - just as the pope is characterised by his triple cross and the physician by his urine glass. However, in some of the French and some of the English manuscripts he gets a speaking part.