Chaucer

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Lak of Stedfastnesse

Somtyme the world was so steadfast and stable
That mannes word was obligacioun;
And now it is so fals and deceivable
That word and deed, as in conclusioun,
But nothing lyk, for turned up-so-doun
Is al this word for mede and wilfulnesse,
That al is lost for lak of steadfastnesse.

What maketh this world to be so variable
But lust that folk have in dissensioun?
For among us now  man is holde unable,
But is he can, by som collusioun,
Don his neighbour wrong or oppressioun.
What causeth this but wilful wrecchednesse,
That al is lost for lak of steadfastnesse?

Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable;
Vertu hath now no dominacioun;
Pitee exyled, no man is merciable;
Through covetyse is blent discrecioun.
The world hath mad a permutacioun
Fro right to wrong, fro trouth to fikelnesse,
That all is lost for lak of steadfastnesse.

Lenvoy to King Richard

O prince, desyre to be honourable,
Cherish thy folk and hate extorcioun!
Suffre nothing that may be reprievable
To thyn estat don in thy region.
Shew forth thy swerd of castigacioun,
Dred Go, do law, love trouth and worthinesse
And wed thy folk again to steadfastnesse.