The Pilgrimage of the Soul

Book I

Here begins the book of the pilgrimage of the soul, late translated out of French into English

As I lay in a St. Laurence night [August 11], sleeping in my bed, a full marvellous dream befell me, which I shall rehearse. It seemed to me that I had travelled a long time toward the holy city of Jerusalem, and that I had made an end and fully finished my fleshly pilgrimage; so that I might travel no further upon my foot, but must needs leave behind my fleshly careyne. Then came cruel death, and smote me with his venomous dart; through which stroke body and soul were parted asunder. And so anon I felt myself lift up into the air, seeing my self departed from my foul body; which, when I beheld lying all dead without any moving, seemed to me so foul and horrible that, had I not right late there before issued therefrom, I would not have supposed that it had ever been mine. Then come there to this body the noble worthy lady dame Misericord [Mercy], and covered it, wrapping it in a clean linen cloth; and so full honestly laid it in the earth. I saw also the Auterer, that clepyd is dame prayer, how that she sped her to heavenward, wonderfully fast before me, for to beseech the sovereign lord of grace and mercy – for no doubt I had full huge mestier [need] thereof – for why the foul horrible Satan I saw coming toward me full cruelly menacing me and saying in this wise.

“I have awaited you a long time  here, and lain privily in wait, so is it now happened that I have not failed of my purpose; for now you are taken with me, and now you must wend in to my habitation, condemned by the right wise judgement of the Sovereign Judge: for now have you lost that lady who was your helper and counsellor, Dame Grace de Dieu [Grace of God]; it avails you nought to look for her. Now you are my prisoner. Cast down your scrip and your burden, for all your pilgrimage is come to a joke. You shall soon be brought in such a cage, where you shall have no talent to laugh nor sing; but well might you say, “Alas! Why, and to what purpose had God formed me for to be encumbered with so much mischief?”

And when I saw and heard, full grievously had I been discomfited, had I not seen a fair youngling of full huge beauty, that always comforted me.

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