Oh hateful misfortune, condition of poverty!
With thirst, with cold, with hunger so distressed!
To ask help you feel shame in your heart;
If you none ask, you are with need so wounded
That need lays bare all your hidden want!
Against your will, you must from indigence
Either steal, beg, or borrow your sustenance!
You blame Christ and say full bitterly
He wrongly divides riches temporal;
Your neighbor you accuse sinfully,
And say you have too little and he has all.
‘By my faith,’ you say, ‘sometime he shall take account,
When his tail shall burn in live coals,
For he helps not the needy in their need.’
Harken to the what is the judgment of the wise:
‘Better is to die than to live in need,
Such that your very neighbor will you despise.’
If you be poor, farewell your respect!
Yet of the wise men take this opinion:
‘All the days of poor men be miserable.’
Beware, therefore, that you come to that condition!