Original Text

Modern Text

In Flaundres whylom was a companye
Of yonge folk, that haunteden folye,
As ryot, hasard, stewes, and tavernes,
Wher-as, with harpes, lutes, and giternes,
They daunce and pleye at dees bothe day and night,
And ete also and drinken over hir might,
Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifyse
With-in that develes temple, in cursed wyse,
By superfluitee abhominable;
10Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable,
That it is grisly for to here hem swere;
Our blissed lordes body they to-tere;
Hem thoughte Iewes rente him noght y-nough;
And ech of hem at otheres sinne lough.
And right anon than comen tombesteres
Fetys and smale, and yonge fruytesteres,
Singers with harpes, baudes, wafereres,
Whiche been the verray develes officeres
To kindle and blowe the fyr of lecherye,
20That is annexed unto glotonye;
The holy writ take I to my witnesse,
That luxurie is in wyn and dronkenesse.
Once upon a time there were three young men who lived in Belgium who liked to live on the wild side. They partied, gambled, visited brothels, and went to bars where they stuffed themselves with food and wine and danced all night and day to the music of harps and lutes and guitars. They lived gluttonous lives of sin, worshipping the ways of the devil. They cursed and swore like sailors and would tear the blessed Lord’s body to pieces with their foul language and by using His name in vain, (as if the Jews hadn’t already done enough damage when they’d had him killed). They encouraged each other to sin and would sit around and laugh at all the horrible things they did. And then the thin and shapely dancing girls and the young girls selling fruit and the singers with their harps and the whores and women selling sweets would come over to them to seduce them and encourage them to sin—which is so easy for gluttons to do anyway. Just look in the Bible for all those instances when wine and drunkenness led to sin.