By Geoffrey Chaucer
Sted 1 Somtyme the world was so stedfast and stable
Sted 2 That mannes word was obligacioun,
Sted 3 And now it is so fals and deceivable
Sted 4 That word and deed, as in conclusioun,
Sted 5 Ben nothing lyk, for turned up-so-doun
Sted 6 Is al this world for mede and wilfulnesse,
Sted 7 That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse.
Sted 8 What maketh this world to be so variable
Sted 9 But lust that folk have in dissensioun?
Sted 10 For among us now a man is holde unable,
Sted 11 But if he can by som collusioun
Sted 12 Don his neighbour wrong or oppressioun.
Sted 13 What causeth this but wilful wrecchednesse,
Sted 14 That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse?
Sted 15 Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable,
Sted 16 Vertu hath now no dominacioun;
Sted 17 Pitee exyled, no man is merciable.
Sted 18 Through covetyse is blent discrecioun.
Sted 19 The world hath mad a permutacioun
Sted 20 Fro right to wrong, fro trouthe to fikelnesse,
Sted 21 That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse.
Sted 22 O prince, desyre to be honourable,
Sted 23 Cherish thy folk and hate extorcioun.
Sted 24 Suffre nothing that may be reprevable
Sted 25 To thyn estat don in thy regioun.
Sted 26 Shew forth thy swerd of castigacioun,
Sted 27 Dred God, do law, love trouthe and worthinesse,
Sted 28 And wed thy folk agein to stedfastnesse.