A balade attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer

The firste stok, fader of gentilesse-
What man that claymeth gentil for to be
Must followe his trace, and alle his wittes dresse
Vertu to sewe, and vyces for to flee.
For unto vertu longeth dignitee,
And noght the revers, sauffly dar I deme,
Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.

This firste stok was ful of rightwisnesse,
Trewe of his word, sobre, pitous, and free
Clene of his gost, and loved besinesse,
Ageinst the vyce of slouthe, in honestee,
And, but his heir love vertu, as dide he,
He is noght gentil, thogh he riche seme,
Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.

Vyce may wel be heir to old richesse;
But ther may no man, as men may wel see,
Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse
That is appropred unto no degree,
But to the firste fader in magistee,
That maketh his his heyre that can him queme,
Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.


Two performances of the poem's first stanza, the first "conciliatory" (if nobles or high clergy were in the audience) and the second "confrontational" (if commoners were the audience).