Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


The Townley (Wakefield) Mystery Plays

Herod the Great

 

[The text is lightly glossed; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not glossed here.]

 

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510



Moste mighty Mahowne
meng you with mirth!
Both of burgh and of towne,
by felles and by firth,
Both king with crowne,
and barons of birth,
That radly will rowne,
many great girth
Shall be happ.
Take tenderly intent
What sondes are sent,
Else harmes shall ye hent,
And lothes you to lap.

Herode, the hend,
king by grace of Mahowne,
Of Jewry, surmounting
sternly with crowne,
On life that are living
in towre and in towne,
Gracius you greting,
commaundes you be bowne
At his bidding;
Luf him with lewte,
Drede him, that doughty!
He charges you be redy
Lowly at his liking.

What man upon mold,
menes him agane,
Tit teen shall be told,
knight, squiere, or swain;
Be he never so bold,
byes he that bargan,
Twelf thowsand fold,
more than I sayn
May ye trast;
He is worthy wonderly,
Selcouthly sory;
For a boy that is borne her by
Standes he abast.

A king thay him call,
and that we deny;
How shuld it so fall,
great mervell have I;
Therfor over all shall
I make a cry,
That ye busk not to brall,
nor like not to ly
This tide;
Carpes of no king
Bot Herode, that lording,
Or busk to youre beylding,
Youre heedes for to hide.

He is King of Kinges,
kindly I knowe,
Chefe lord of lordinges
chefe leder of law,
Ther wates on his winges,
that bold bost will blow,
Great dukes downe dinges
for his great awe,
And him lowtes.
Tuskane and Turky,
All Inde and Italy,
Cecyll and Surry,
Drede him and doutes.

From Paradise to Padwa,
to Mownt Flascon;
From Egypt to Mantua,
unto Kemp Towne;
From Sarceny to Susa,
to Grece it abowne;
Both Normondy and Norway
loutes to his crowne;
His renowne
Can no tong tell,
From heven unto hell;
Of him can none spell
Bot his cosyn Mahowne.

He is the worthyest of all
barnes that are borne;
Free men are his thrall,
full teenfully torne;
Begin he to brall,
many men cach skorne;
Obey must we all,
or els be ye lorne
At ones.
Downe ding of youre knees,
All that him sees,
Displesed he bees,
And byrken many bones.

Here he commes now, I cry,
that lord I of spake;
Fast afore will I hy,
radly on a rake,
And welcom him worshipfully,
laghing with lake,
As he is most worthy,
and knele for his sake
So low;
Downe dernly to fall,
As renk most ryall:
Hail, the worthyest of all!
To thee must I bow!

Hail, luf lord! lo,
thy letters have I layde;
I have done I couth do,
and peasse have I prayd,
Mekill more therto
openly desplayd;
Bot romoure is rased so,
that boldly thay brade
Amanges thame;
Thay carp of a king,
Thay seasse not sich chatering.
Bot I shall tame thare talking,
And let thame go hang thame:

Stint, brodels, youre din,
yee, everychon!
I red that ye harken
to I be gone, advise
For if I begin,
I breke ilka bone,
And pull fro the skin
the carcass anone,
Yee, perde!
Sesse all this wonder,
And make us no blonder,
For I rife you in sonder,
Be ye so hardy.

Peasse both yong and old,
at my bidding, I red,
For I have all in wold;
in me standes life and dede;
Who that is so bold,
I brane him thrugh the hede;
Speke not or I have told,
what I will in this stede;
Ye wote not
All that I will meve;
Stir not bot ye have leve,
For if ye do, I clefe
You small as flesh to pot.

My mirthes are turned to teen,
my mekenes into ire,
And all for oone I ween,
with-in I fare as fire.
May I se him with eyn,
I shall gif him his hire;
Bot I do as I meen,
I were a full lewde sire
In wones;
Had I that lad in hand,
As I am king in land,
I shuld with this steell brand
Byrken all his bones.

My name springes far and nere;
the doughtyest, men me call,
That ever ran with spere,
a lord and king ryall;
What joy is me to here,
a lad to sesse my stall!
If I this crowne may bere,
that boy shall by for all.
I anger;
I wote not what devil me ailes,
Thay teen me so with tales,
That by Goddes dere nailes,
I will peasse no langer.

What devil! me think I brast,
for anger and for teen;
I trow these kinges be past,
that here with me has been;
Thay promesed me full fast
or now here to be seen,
For els I shuld have cast
an othere sleght, I ween;
I tell you,
A boy thay said thay soght,
With offering that thay broght;
It meves my hart right noght
To breke his nek in two.

Bot be thay past me by,
by Mahowne in heven,
I shall, and that in hy,
set all on sex and seven;
Trow ye a king as I
will suffre thaym to neven
Any to have mastry,
bot my self full even?
Nay, leefe!
The devil me hang and draw,
If I that losell knaw,
Bot I gif him a blaw,
That life I shall him reve.

For perils yit I wold wist
if thay were gone;
And ye therof her told,
I pray you say anone,
For and thay be so bold,
by God that sittes in trone,
The pain can not be told,
that thay shall have ilkon,
ffor ire;
Sich paines hard never man tell,
For ugly and for fell,
That lucifere in hell
Thare bones shall all to-tire.

Lord, think not ill if I
tell you how thay are past;
I kepe not layn, truly,
syn thay cam by you last,
An othere way in hy thay soght,
and that full fast.
Why, and are thay past me by?
Wee! Out! For teen I brast!
Wee! Fy!
Fy on the devil! where may I bide?
Bot fight for teen and al to-chide!
Thefes, I say ye shuld, have spide
And told, when thay went by;

Ye are knightes to trast!
Nay, losels ye ar, and theves;
I wote I yelde my gast,
so sore my hart it greves.
What nede you be abast?
Ther are no great meschefes
For these maters to gnast.
Why put ye sich repreves
Without cause?
Thus shuld ye not thret us,
Ungainly to bete us,
Ye shuld not rehet us,
Without othere sawes.

Ffy, losels and liars!
Lurdans ilkon!
Traitoures and well wars!
Knaves, bot knightes none!
Had ye bene worth youre eres,
thus had thay not gone;
Get I those land lepars,
I breke ilka bone;
First vengeance
Shall I se on thare bones;
If ye bide in these wones
I shall ding you with stones,
Yee, diti zance doutance.

I wote not where I may sit,
for anger and for teen;
We have not done all yit,
if it be as I ween;
Fy! devil! now how is it?
As long as I have eyn
I think not for to flit,
bot king I will be seen
For ever.
Bot stand I to quart,
I tell you my hart,
I shall gar thaym start,
Or els trust me never.

Sir, thay went sodanly,
or any man west,
Els had met we, yee, perdy,
and may ye trest.
So bold, nor so hardy
agans oure lest,
Was none of that company
durst mete me with fest
For ferd.
Ill durst thay abide,
Bot ran thame to hide;
Might I thaym have spide,
I had made thaym a berd.

What couth we more do
to save youre honoure?
We were redy therto,
and shal be ilk howre.
Now syn it is so,
ye shall have favoure;
Go where ye will,
go by towne and by towre,
Goes hens!
I have maters to mell
With my prevey counsell;
Clerkes, ye bere the bell,
Ye must me encense.

Oone spake in mine eere
a wonderfull talking,
And saide a maiden shuld bere
anothere to be king;
Sirs, I pray you inquere
in all writing,
In Virgill, in Homere,
And all other thing
Bot legende;
Sekes poece-tales;
Lefe pestyls and grales;
Mes, matins, noght avales,
All these I defende;

I pray you tell hendely
now what ye finde.
Truly, sir, prophecy,
it is not blind;
We rede thus by Isay,
he shal be so kinde,
That a maiden, sothely,
which never sinde,
Shall him bere:
"Virgo concipiet,
Natumque pariet;"
"Emanuell" is hete,
His name for to lere,

"God is with us,"
that is forto say.
And othere sayes thus,
trest me ye may:
"Of Bedlem a gracius
lord shall spray,
That of Jewry mightius
king shal be ay,
Lord mighty;
And him shall honoure
both king and emperoure."
Why, and shuld I to him cowre?
Nay, ther thou lyes lightly!

Fy! the devil thee speede,
and me, bot I drink ones!
This has thou done in dede,
to anger me for the nones:
And thou, knave, thou thy mede
shall have, by cokes dere bones!
Thou can not half thy crede!
Out, theves, fro my wones!
Fy, knaves!
Fy, dotty-pols, with youre bookes!
Go kast thaym in the brookes!
With sich wiles and crokes
My wit away raves!

Hard I never sich a trant,
that a knave so sleght
Shuld com like a sant
and reve me my right;
Nay, he shall on slant;
I shall kill him downe stright;
War! I say, let me pant;
now think I to fight
For anger;
My guttes will out thring
Bot I this lad hing;
Without I have a venging,
I may lif no langer.

Shuld a carll in a kave,
bot of oone yere age,
Thus make me to rave?
Sir, peasse this outrage!
A-way let ye wave
all such langage,
Youre worship to save,
is he oght bot a page
Of a yere?
We two shall him teen
With oure wittes between,
That, if ye do as I meen,
He shall dy on a spere.

For drede that he reign,
do as we red;
Thrughout Bedlem,
and ilk othere stede,
Make knightes ordein,
and put unto dede
All knave children
of two yeres brede,
And with-in;
This child, may ye spill
Thus at youre awne will.
Now thou says here til
A right nobill gin!

If I live in land,
good life, as I hope,
This dar I thee warand
to make thee Pope. guarantee
O, my hart is resand
now in a glope!
For this nobill tithand
thou shall have a drope
Of my good grace;
Markes, rentes, and poundes,
Great castels and groundes;
Thrugh all sees and sandes
I gif thee the chace.

Now will I procede,
and take vengeance;
All the flowre of knighthede
call to legeance;
Bewshere, I thee bid,
it may thee avance.
Lord, I shall me spede,
and bring, perchaunce,
To thy sight.
Hark, knightes, I you bring
Here new tything;
Unto Herode king
Hast with all youre might!

In all the hast that ye may,
in armoure full bright,
In youre best aray
looke that ye be dight.
Why shuld we fray?
This is not all right.
Sirs, withouten delay
I drede that we fight.
I pray you,
As fast as ye may,
Com to him this day.
What, in oure best aray?
Yee, sirs, I say you.

Somwhat is in hand,
what ever it meen.
Tarry not for to stand
ther or we have been.
King Herode, all weldand,
well be ye seen! all ruling
Youre knightes are comand
in armoure full sheen,
At youre will.
Hail, doughtiest of all!
We are comen at youre call
For to do what we shall,
Youre lust to fullfil.

Welcom, lordinges,
Jewes both great and small!
The cause now is this
that I send for you all:
A lad, a knave, borne is
that shuld be king ryall;
Bot I kill him and his,
I wote I brast my gall;
Therfor, Sirs,
Vengeance shall ye take,
All for that lad sake,
And men I shall you make
Where ye com ay where, sirs.

To Bedlem loke ye go,
and all the coste aboute,
All knave children ye slo,
and, lordes, ye shal be stoute;
Of yeres if they be two
and within, of all that route
On life lieve none of tho
that lyges in swedyll clowte,
I red you;
Spare no kins bloode,
Let all run on floode,
If women wax woode;
I warn you, sirs, to spede you;

Hens! Now go youre way.
That ye were thore.
I wote we make a fray;
bot I will go before.
A, think, sirs; I say
I mon whet like a bore.
Set me before ay
good enogh for a skore;
Hail hendely!
We shall for youre sake
Make a dulfull lake.
Now if ye me well wrake
Ye shall find me freindly.

Go ye now til oure note,
and handell thaim weell.
I shall pay thaym on the cote,
begin I to reel.
Hark, felowse, ye dote;
yonder commes unseel;
I hold here a grote
she likes me not weell
Be we parte;
Dame, think it not ill,
thy knave if I kill.
What, thefe! Agans my will?
Lord, kepe him in qwarte!

Abide now, abide!
No farther thou gose.
Peasse, thefe! Shall I chide
and make here a noise?
I shall reve thee thy pride;
kill we these boyse!
Tid may betide;
kepe well thy nose,
Fals thefe!
Have on loft on thy hode.
What, hoore, art thou woode?
Out, alas, my childes bloode!
Out, for repreve!

Alas, for shame and sin!
Alas that I was borne!
Of weping who may blin
to see hir childe forlorne?
My comforth and my kin,
my son thus al to-torne!
Vengeance for this syn
I cry both even and morne.
Well done!
Com hedir, thou old stry!
That lad of thine shall dy.
Mercy, lord, I cry!
It is min awne dere son.

No mercy thou meve;
it mendes thee not, Maud!
Then thy skalp shall I cleve!
Lest thou be clawd?
Lefe, lefe, now by lefe!
peasse, bid I, bawd!
Fy, fy, for reprefe!
Fy, full of fraude!
No man!
Have at thy tabard,
Harlot and holard!
Thou shall not be sparde!
I cry and I ban!

Out! morder! Man, I say,
strong tratoure and thefe!
Out! alas! and waloway!
My child that was me lefe!
My luf, my blood, my play,
that never did man grefe!
Alas, alas, this day!
I wold, my hart shuld clefe
In sonder!
Vengeance I cry and call,
On Herode and his knightes all!
Vengeance, lord, upon thaym fall,
And mekill worldes wonder!

This is well wroght gere
that ever may be;
Comes hederward here!
Ye nede not to fle!
Will ye do any dere
to my child, and me?
He shall dy, I thee swere
his hart blood shall thou see.
God for-bede!
Thefe! thou shedes my childes blood!
Out, I cry! I go near wood!
Alas! my hart is all on flood,
To see my child thus blede!

By God, thou shall aby
this dede that thou has done.
I red thee not stry
by sun and by moon.
Have at thee, say I!
Take the ther a foin!
Out on thee I cry
have at thy groin
An othere!
This kepe I in store.
Peasse now, no more!
I cry and I rore,
Out on thee, mans mordere!

Alas! my babe, min Innocent,
my fleshly get! For sorow
That God me derly sent
of bales who may me borow?
Thy body is all to-rent;
I cry both even and morow,
Vengeance for thy blod, thus spent
out! I cry, and horow!
Go lightly!
Get out of thise wones,
Ye trattes, all at ones,
Or by cokes dere bones
I make you go wightly!

Thay are flayd now, I wote,
thay will not abide.
Let us run fote hote;
now wold I we hide,
And tell of this lot,
how we have betide.
Thou can do thy note;
that have I aspide;
Go furth now,
Tell thou Herode oure tail!
For all oure avail,
I tell you, saunce fail,
He will us alow.

I am best of you all
and ever has bene;
The devil have my soul
bot I be first sene;
It fittes me to call
my lord, as I wene.
What nedes thee to brall?
Be not so kene
In this anger;
I shall say thou did best,
Save meself, as I gest.
Wee! That is most honest.
Go; tary no langer!

Hail Herode, oure king
full glad may ye be!
Good tithing we bring;
harken now to me;
We have made riding
thrugh out Jure:
Well wit ye one thing,
that morderd have we
Many thousandes.
I held, thaym full hote,
I paid them on the cote;
Thare dammes, I wote,
Never binde them in bandes.

Had ye sene how I fard
when I cam amang them!
Ther was none that I spard
bot lade on and dang them.
I am worthy a rewarde
where I was amanges them.
I stud and I stard
no pitee to hang them
Had I.
Now, by mighty Mahowne,
That is good of renowne!
If I bere this crowne
Ye shall have a lady

Ilkon to him laid,
and wed at his will.
So have ye lang saide
do somwhat thertil!
And I was never flayde
for good ne for ill.
Ye might hold you well paide
oure lust to fulfil,
Thus think me,
With tresure untold,
If it like that ye wold,
Both silver and gold,
To gif us great plentee.

As I am king crownde
I think it good right!
Ther goes none on grounde
that has sich a wight;
A hundreth thousand pounde
is good wage for a knight,
Of pennes good and rounde
now may ye go light
With store;
And ye knightes of oures
Shall have castels and towres,
Both to you and to youres,
For now and ever more.

Was never none borne
by downes ne by dales,
Nor yit us beforne
that had sich avales.
We have castels and corne
mych gold in oure males.
It will never be worne
without any tales;
Hail hendely!
Hail lord! Hail king!
We are furth founding!
Now Mahowne he you bring
Where he is lord freendly;

Now in peasse may I stand
I thank thee, Mahowne!
And gif of my lande
that longes to my crowne;
Draw therfor nerehande
both of burgh and of towne;
Markes ilkon a thowsande
when I am bowne,
Shall ye have.
I shal be full fayn
To gif that I sayn!
Wate when I com again,
And then may ye crave.

I set by no good,
now my hart is at ease,
That I shed so mekill blode
pes all my ryches!
For to see this flode
from the fote to the nese
Meves nothing my mode
I lagh that I whese;
A, Mahowne!
So light is my soul,
That all of sugar is my gall;
I may do what I shall,
And bere up my crowne.

I was casten in care
so frightly afraid,
Bot I thar not despare
for low is he layd
That I most dred are
so have I him flayd;
And els wonder ware
and so many strayd
In the strete,
That oone shuld be harmeles,
and skape away hafles,
Where so many childes
Thare bales can not bete.

A hundreth thowsand, I wat,
and fourty are slayn,
And four thowsand; ther-at
me aght to be fain;
Sich a morder on a flat
shall never be again.
Had I had bot oone bat
at that lurdan
So yong,
It shuld have bene spoken
How I had me wroken,
Were I dede and rotten,
With many a tong.

Thus shall I tech knaves
ensampyll to take,
In thare wittes that raves
sich mastre to make;
All wantoness wafes
no langage ye crak!
No sufferan you saves
youre nekkes shall I shak
In sonder;
No king ye on call
Bot on Herode the ryall,
Or els many oone shall
Upon youre bodes wonder.

For if I here it spoken
when I com again,
Youre branes bese broken
therfor be ye bayn;
Nothing bese unloken
it shal be so plain;
Begin I to reken
I think all desdain
For-daunche.
Sirs, this is my counsell --
Bese not too cruell,
Bot adew! -- to the devil!
I can nomore Fraunch!
Mahowne = a pagan deity
make you merry

woods. . . forest


quickly; whisper;
protection

notice
messages
take
hatreds

courteous
Mahowne = a pagan deity





ready

love. . . loyalty


pleasure

man on earth
speaks against him
quickly sorrow
quickly harm

buys (i.e., pays for)


trust

unusually sad

abashed







hasten. . . brawl

at this time
speak

rush. . . dwelling



by nature


are at his bidding

beats, strikes

bows to him


Sicily and Syria
fear






above

bow



speak



boys

painfully

if he begins to fight



kneel


break



hasten
quickly on my way

pleasure



quietly
royal




beloved



much

boast

speak




wretches


to = until

each


by God
Cease
trouble
tear you apart





in my power

brain

or = ere

move, do




sorrow
wrath




say, intend





break






sieze my place

pay for all


pain

hold my peace






or = ere





moves




haste


name

mastery
believe (it)

scamp

take away

know



and=if
throne

each one

heard
fierce (one)

tear in pieces



care not to conceal

in haste





sorrow. . . argue
thieves


trust
scamps

know

mischiefs
be troubled




rebuke
more talk


louts each one




land-leapers



dwelling places
beat
I speak truly (fractured French)








flee

in safety

make them jump



west = wist, knew it

trust

desire

fist




I.e., I'd have tricked them










deal with












except ecclesiastical texts
poetic narratives
leave aside Epistles and Graduals
mass-books, service-books do not avail
forbid





Isaiah


sinned



called
learn




trust

spring forth













cock's (God's)

dwelling places

crazy-heads

crooked tricks


trick

saint
take away
come to grief




thrust
hang
vengeance





cease (peace)












Bethelhem


death

growth
and under (two years)


here-to
device





racing
palpitation
tiding





choice





Fair Sir





tiding






ready
be afraid












where previously


coming




shall = must









burst











company

lie in swaddling cloths

kind of
run




(I would that) you



whet (tusks); boar




doleful amusement
avenge


business




unhappiness
bet here a groat

(when) we part



safety





take away





whore . . . crazy





cease
lost

torn apart



hither. . . hag


own




Do you want to be
Leave it, dear, by my life





debauchee

curse


flagrant

dear



cleave




great





harm









pay for




stab









offspring

evils. . . redeem






trots, old women
cock's (God's)











tale


praise







brawl



supposed








Jewry

murdered









beat



stood





































assistance

much. . . purses
worn out, used up



forth hastening










ready



know







nose

breathe








need not

ere, previously


were, would be


unhurt



know


ought to be happy

field

lout







example

mastery
waive, put aside

sovereign





message



brains are
ready
is to be revealed


squeamishness
overnice, too squeamish





 
Spelling lightly regularized and glossed, from the edition by George England and Alfred W. Pollard, EETS, e.s. 71. London, 1897 [Widener 11473.71]. A newer and better edition is ed. by Martin Stevens and A.C. Cawley, EETS 1994. Note that this new edition has lineation that differs from that in the old EETS edition and that in the version printed above. This form of lineation as been adopted in this text, but note the line numbers of the old EETS edition are used (since this text is based on that edition).

 
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