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Of Hym That Togyder Wyll Serve Two Maysters

By Sebastian Brant (1458–1521)

A FOLE he is and voyde of reason

Whiche with one hounde tendyth to take

Two harys in one instant and season;

Rightso is he that wolde undertake

Hym to two lordes a servaunt to make;

For whether that he be lefe or lothe,

The one he shall displease, or els bothe.

A fole also he is withouten doute,

And in his porpose sothly blyndyd sore,

Which doth entende labour or go aboute

To serve god, and also his wretchyd store

Of worldly ryches: for as I sayde before,

He that togyder will two maysters serve

Shall one displease and nat his love deserve.

For he that with one hounde wol take also

Two harys togyther in one instant

For the moste parte doth the both two forgo,

And if he one have: harde it is and skant

And that blynd fole mad and ignorant

That draweth thre boltis atons in one bowe

At one marke shall shote to[o] high or to[o] lowe….

He that his mynde settyth god truly to serve

And his sayntes: this worlde settynge at nought

Shall for rewarde everlastynge joy deserve,

But in this worlde he that settyth his thought

All men to please, and in favour to be brought

Must lout and lurke, flater, laude, and lye:

And cloke in knavys counseyll, though it fals be.

If any do hym wronge or injury

He must it suffer and pacyently endure

A double tunge with wordes like hony;

And of his offycis if he wyll be sure

He must be sober and colde of his langage,

More to a knave, than to one of hye lynage.

Oft must he stoupe his bonet in his honde,

His maysters back he must oft shrape and clawe,

His brest anoyntynge, his mynde to understonde,

But be it gode or bad therafter must he drawe.

Without he can Jest he is nat worth a strawe,

But in the mean tyme beware that he none checke;

For than layth malyce a mylstone in his necke.

He that in court wyll love and favour have

A fole must hym fayne, if he were none afore,

And be as felow to every boy and knave,

And to please his lorde he must styll laboure sore.

His many folde charge maketh hym coveyt more

That he had lever serve a man in myserye

Than serve his maker in tranquylyte.

But yet when he hath done his dylygence

His lorde to serve, as I before have sayde,

For one small faute or neglygent offence

Suche a displeasoure agaynst hym may be layde

That out is he cast bare and unpurvayde,

Whether he be gentyll, yeman grome or page;

Thus worldly servyse is no sure herytage.

Wherfore I may prove by these examples playne

That it is better more godly and plesant

To leve this mondayne casualte and payne

And to thy maker one god to be servaunt,

Which whyle thou lyvest shall nat let the want

That thou desyrest justly, for thy syrvyce,

And than after gyve the, the joyes of Paradyse.