The Parable of the Vinyard Laborers

Canto IX

"That courtesy is too free of deed,
If it be so what thou dost say.
Thou livest not two years in our glebe;
Thou couldst not God either please nor pray,
Nor ever knew either Pater nor Creed,
And made a queen the very first day?
I cannot believe--so God me speed!
That God would wander so wrong away.
As countess, damsel, by my faith,
'Twere fair in heaven that far to climb,
Or else a lady of less array--
But a queen? That is too dear a time!"


"There is no 'time' to his goodness,"
Then said to me that worthy wight,
"For all is truth in his largesse
And he may nothing do but right.
As Matthew mentions in your mass,
In truthful Gospel of the God of Might,
An example he can full easily assess
And liken it heaven's light:
'My kingdom,' he sayeth, 'is like on high
To a lord who had a vineyard fine,
Where the season of year to term was nigh
That vineyard labor was dear of time.


"'That time of year well know these servants.
The lord full early up he rose
To hire workmen for his vineyard
And findeth there some for his purpose.
Into accord they could incline
For a penny a day; and forth the group goes,
Twisting and toiling at cost of great pain
To cut and carry and bind the crop close.
Later to market the lord again goes
And findeth men whiling the time away.
"Why standeth ye idle?" he sayeth to those,
"Know ye not what is the time of the day?"


"'"Ere it was daytime, hither we'd come,"
So all the same was the answer he sought.
"We've been standing here since up rose the sun,
And no man at all bids us do aught."
"Go into my garden; do what ye can,"
So saith the lord, making it taut.
"What reasonable hire may be run up
I will pay you in deed and in thought."
Into the vineyard they went and they wrought.
All thru the day the lord was steadfast;
And new men to his vineyard he brought
Until the daytime well-nigh was passed.


"That day, at time of evensong,
An hour before the sun goes down,
He yet saw idle men full strong
And saith to them with sober sound,
"Why stand ye idle this whole day long?"
They said their hire was nowhere found.
"Go to my vineyard, yeomen young,
And work and do whate'er ye might."
Soon all the world nestled toward night."
The sun was down, and it waxed late.
To take their hire did he invite;
The day was all a time past date.

Copyright (c) 1983