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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > William Langland Quotes

William Langland
(c. 1332 - c. 1386)

English writer who is attributed as the author of a Middle English allegorical poem, The Vision of Piers Plowman, dating from about 1362, with two more variant manuscript versions before 1386. The poem concerns a quest for truth through faith, featuring personifications of Conscience, Reward, Thought, Wit, Study, and Imagination.

Science Quotes by William Langland (7 quotes)

Ac astronomye is an hard thyng,
And yvel for to knowe;
Geometrie and geomesie,
So gynful of speche,
Who so thynketh werche with tho two
Thryveth ful late,
For sorcerie is the sovereyn book
That to tho sciences bilongeth.

Now, astronomy is a difficult discipline, and the devil to learn;
And geometry and geomancy have confusing terminology:
If you wish to work in these two, you will not succeed quickly.
For sorcery is the chief study that these sciences entail.
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 186. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Chief (25)  |  Confusing (2)  |  Devil (18)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Discipline (38)  |  Geometry (99)  |  Learn (160)  |  Quickly (9)  |  Sorcery (3)  |  Study (331)  |  Succeed (11)  |  Terminology (7)  |  Wish (62)  |  Work (457)

Ac kynde wit cometh
Of alle kynnes syghtes,
Of briddes and of beestes,
Of tastes of truthe and of deceites.

Mother-Wit comes from all kinds of experiences,
Of birds and beasts and of tests both true and false.
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 235. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 123.
Science quotes on:  |  Beast (32)  |  Biology (150)  |  Bird (96)  |  Both (52)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  False (79)  |  Observation (418)  |  Science (1699)  |  Test (96)  |  True (120)  |  Zoology (28)

For-thi loke thow lovye,
As longe as thow durest;
For is no science under sonne
So sovereyn for the soule.

So long as you live, see that you love,
For no science under the sun can so heal the soul.
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 184. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Heal (4)  |  Life (917)  |  Love (164)  |  Science (1699)  |  Soul (139)

Lyveris to-forn us
Useden to marke
For selkouthes that thei seighen,
Hir sones for to teche;
And helden it an heigh science
Hir wittes to knowe.
Ac thorugh hir science soothly
Was nevere no soule y-saved,
Ne broght by hir bokes
To blisse ne to joye;
For alle hir kynde knowynges
Come but of diverse sightes.
Patriarkes and prophetes
Repreveden hir science,
And seiden hir wordes and hir wisdomes
Nas but a folye
And to the clergie of Crist
Counted it but a trufle.

Our ancestors in olden days used to record
The strange things they saw, and teach them to their sons;
And they held it a high science, to have knowledge of such things.
But no soul was ever saved by all that science,
Nor brought by books into eternal bliss;
Their science was only a series of sundry observations.
So patriarchs and prophets disapproved of their science,
And said their so-called words of wisdom were but folly—
And compared with Christian philosophy, a contemptible thing.
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 235-236. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 123.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancestor (35)  |  Bliss (3)  |  Book (181)  |  Christian (17)  |  Compared (8)  |  Contemptible (7)  |  Eternal (43)  |  Folly (27)  |  High (78)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Observation (418)  |  Old (104)  |  Patriarch (3)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Prophet (8)  |  Record (56)  |  Science (1699)  |  Series (38)  |  Son (16)  |  Soul (139)  |  Strange (61)  |  Sundry (4)  |  Teach (102)  |  Wisdom (151)  |  Word (221)

Or any science under sonne,
The sevene artz and alle,
But thei ben lerned for oure Lordes love
Lost is al the tyme.

Every science under the sun, including the Seven Arts,
Unless learned for love of Our Lord, is only time lost.
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 212. An associated Note on p.539 lists: “The seven arts studied in the schools were very famous throughout the middle ages. They were grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, music, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy; and were included in the following memorial distich:—
“Gram, loquitur, Dia. vera docet, Rliet. verba colorat,
Mus. canit, Ar. numerat, Geo. ponderat, As. colit astra.”
Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 109.
Science quotes on:  |  Learning (174)  |  Lord (12)  |  Lost (28)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sun (211)  |  Time (439)

Yet ar ther fibicches in forceres
Of fele raennes makyng,
Experimentz of alkenamye
The peple to deceyve;
If thow thynke to do-wel,
Deel therwith nevere.

There are many men, also, who makes use of strange devices,
Alchemical experiments for the deception of others:
If you desire to do well, have no dealings with these.
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 186. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Alchemy (28)  |  Dealing (9)  |  Deception (3)  |  Desire (101)  |  Device (24)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Strange (61)

“Ye, sire,” I seide,
“By so no man were greved,
Alle the sciences under sonne,
And alle sotile craftes,
Ich wolde ich knewe and kouthe
Kyndely in myn harte.”

“Yes, sir,” I said, “so long as no one minds. All science under the sun, and all subtle arts. Were it possible, I would know and hold naturally within my heart!”
— William Langland
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 297. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 157.
Science quotes on:  |  Craft (7)  |  Heart (110)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sun (211)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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