The Former Age

By Geoffrey Chaucer

FormAge 1 A blisful lyf, a paisible and a swete,
FormAge 2 Ledden the peples in the former age.
FormAge 3 They helde hem payed of the fruites that they ete,
FormAge 4 Which that the feldes yave hem by usage;
FormAge 5 They ne were nat forpampred with outrage.
FormAge 6 Unknowen was the quern and ek the melle;
FormAge 7 They eten mast, hawes, and swich pounage,
FormAge 8 And dronken water of the colde welle.
FormAge 9 Yit nas the ground nat wounded with the plough,
FormAge 10 But corn up-sprong, unsowe of mannes hond,
FormAge 11 The which they gnodded and eete nat half ynough.
FormAge 12 No man yit knew the forwes of his lond,
FormAge 13 No man the fyr out of the flint yit fond,
FormAge 14 Unkorven and ungrobbed lay the vyne;
FormAge 15 No man yit in the morter spyces grond
FormAge 16 To clarre ne to sause of galantyne.
FormAge 17 No mader, welde, or wood no litestere
FormAge 18 Ne knew; the flees was of his former hewe;
FormAge 19 No flesh ne wiste offence of egge or spere.
FormAge 20 No coyn ne knew man which was fals or trewe,
FormAge 21 No ship yit karf the wawes grene and blewe,
FormAge 22 No marchaunt yit ne fette outlandish ware.
FormAge 23 No trompes for the werres folk ne knewe,
FormAge 24 Ne toures heye and walles rounde or square.
FormAge 25 What sholde it han avayled to werreye?
FormAge 26 Ther lay no profit, ther was no richesse;
FormAge 27 But cursed was the tyme, I dare wel seye,
FormAge 28 That men first dide hir swety bysinesse
FormAge 29 To grobbe up metal, lurkinge in derknesse,
FormAge 30 And in the riveres first gemmes soghte.
FormAge 31 Allas, than sprong up al the cursednesse
FormAge 32 Of coveytyse, that first our sorwe broghte.
FormAge 33 Thise tyraunts putte hem gladly nat in pres
FormAge 34 No wildnesse ne no busshes for to winne,
FormAge 35 Ther poverte is, as seith Diogenes,
FormAge 36 Ther as vitaile is ek so skars and thinne
FormAge 37 That noght but mast or apples is therinne;
FormAge 38 But, ther as bagges ben and fat vitaile,
FormAge 39 Ther wol they gon, and spare for no sinne
FormAge 40 With al hir ost the cite for to asayle.
FormAge 41 Yit was no paleis-chaumbres ne non halles;
FormAge 42 In caves and wodes softe and swete
FormAge 43 Slepten this blissed folk withoute walles
FormAge 44 On gras or leves in parfit quiete.
FormAge 45 Ne doun of fetheres ne no bleched shete
FormAge 46 Was kid to hem, but in seurtee they slepte.
FormAge 47 Hir hertes were al oon withoute galles;
FormAge 48 Everich of hem his feith to other kepte.
FormAge 49 Unforged was the hauberk and the plate;
FormAge 50 The lambish peple, voyd of alle vyce,
FormAge 51 Hadden no fantasye to debate,
FormAge 52 But ech of hem wolde other wel cheryce.
FormAge 53 No pryde, non envye, non avaryce,
FormAge 54 No lord, no taylage by no tyrannye;
FormAge 55 Humblesse and pees, good feith the emperice.
FormAge 56 Yit was not Jupiter the likerous,
FormAge 57 That first was fader of delicacye,
FormAge 58 Come in this world; ne Nembrot, desirous
FormAge 59 To regne, had nat maad his toures hye.
FormAge 60 Allas, allas, now may men wepe and crye!
FormAge 61 For in oure dayes nis but covetyse,
FormAge 62 Doublenesse, and tresoun, and envye,
FormAge 63 Poyson, manslawhtre, and mordre in sondry wyse.