By Geoffrey Chaucer
Gent 1 The firste stok, fader of gentilesse —
Gent 2 What man that desireth gentil for to be
Gent 3 Must folowe his trace, and alle his wittes dresse
Gent 4 Vertu to love and vyces for to flee.
Gent 5 For unto vertu longeth dignitee
Gent 6 And noght the revers, saufly dar I deme,
Gent 7 Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.
Gent 8 This firste stok was ful of rightwisnesse,
Gent 9 Trewe of his word, sobre, pitous, and free,
Gent 10 Clene of his gost, and loved besinesse,
Gent 11 Ayeinst the vyce of slouthe, in honestee;
Gent 12 And, but his heir love vertu as dide he,
Gent 13 He is noght gentil, thogh he riche seme,
Gent 14 Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.
Gent 15 Vyce may wel be heir to old richesse,
Gent 16 But ther may no man, as men may wel see,
Gent 17 Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse
Gent 18 (That is appropred unto no degree
Gent 19 But to the firste fader in magestee,
Gent 20 That maketh hem his heyres that him queme),
Gent 21 Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.