BALLADE OF GOOD COUNSEL

GEOFFREY CHAUCER 1340-1400

 

 

Flee from the crowd and dwell with truthfulness:

Suffice thee with thy goods, tho' they be small:

To hoard brings hate, to climb brings giddiness;

The crowd has envy, and success blinds all;

Desire no more than to thy lot may fall;

Work well thyself to counsel others clear,

And Truth shall make thee free, there is no fear!

 

Torment thee not all crooked to redress,

Nor put thy trust in fortune's turning ball;

Great peace is found in little busy-ness;

And war but kicks against a sharpened awl;

Strive not, thou earthen pot, to break the wall;

Subdue thyself, and others thee shall hear;

And Truth shall make thee free, there is no fear!

 

What God doth send, receive in gladsomeness;

To wrestle for this world foretells a fall.

Here is no home, here is but wilderness:

Forth, pilgrim, forth; up, beast, and leave thy stall!

Know thy country, look up, thank God for all:

Hold the high way, thy soul the pioneer,

And Truth shall make thee free, there is no fear!

 

Therefore, poor beast, forsake thy wretchedness;

No longer let the vain world be thy stall.

His mercy seek who in his mightiness

Made thee of naught, but not to be a thrall.

 Pray freely for thyself and pray for all

    Who long for larger life and heavenly cheer;

    And Truth shall make thee free, there is no fear!

 

[Modern version by HENRY VAN DYKE]