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The Parson
    A holy-minded man of good renown 
There was, and poor, the Parson to a town, 
Yet he was rich in holy thought and work. 
490  He also was a learned man, a clerk, 
Who truly knew Christ’s gospel and would preach it 
Devoutly to parishioners, and teach it. 
Benign and wonderfully diligent, 
And patient when adversity was sent 
495  (For so he proved in much adversity) 
He hated cursing to extort a fee, 
Nay rather he preferred beyond a doubt 
Giving to poor parishioners round about 
Both from church offerings and his property; 
500  He could in little find sufficiency. 
Wide was his parish, with houses far asunder, 
Yet he neglected not in rain or thunder, 
In sickness or in grief, to pay a call 
On the remotest, whether great or small, 
505  Upon his feet, and in his hand a stave.°
This noble example to his sheep° he gave 
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught; 
And it was from the Gospel he had caught 
Those words, and he would add this figure too, 
510  That if gold rust, what then will iron do? 
For if a priest be foul in whom we trust 
No wonder that a common man should rust; 
And shame it is to see—let priests take stock— 
A shitten shepherd and a snowy flock. 
515  The true example that a priest should give 
Is one of cleanness, how the sheep should live. 
He did not set his benefice to hire°
And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire 
Or run to London to earn easy bread 
520  By singing masses for the wealthy dead, 
Or find some Brotherhood and get enrolled.°
He stayed at home and watched over his fold 
So that no wolf should make the sheep miscarry. 
He was a shepherd and no mercenary.°
525  Holy and virtuous he was, but then 
Never contemptuous of sinful men, 
Never disdainful, never too proud or fine, 
But was discreet in teaching and benign. 
His business was to show a fair behavior 
530  And draw men thus to Heaven and their Savior, 
Unless indeed a man were obstinate
And such, whether of high or low estate,°

He put to sharp rebuke, to say the least.

Unless indeed a man were obstinate;

And such, whether of high or low estate,

He put to sharp rebuke, to saw the least.

I think there never was a better priest.

He sought no pomp or glory in his dealings,

No scrupulosity had spiced his feelings.

Christ and His Twelve Apostles and their lore

He taught, but followed it himself before.


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