From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

N-Town Cycle, Play 20 - The Slaughter of the Innocents and the Death of Herod

Tunc, respiciens, Senescallus vadyt ad Herodem dicens:

1 SENESCALLUS Lord, I haue walkyd be dale and hylle
2 And wayted as it is 3oure wyll.
3 The kyngys iij stelyn awey full styll
4 Thorwe Bedleem londe.
5 They wyl nevyr, so moty the,
6 Com in þe lond of Galylé
7 For to se 3oure fay[r] ceté
8 Ne dedys of 3oure honde.

9 HERODES REX I ryde on my rowel, ryche in my regne!
10 Rybbys ful reed with rape xal I rende!
11 Popetys and pap-hawkys I xal puttyn in peyne,
12 With my spere prevyn, pychyn, and to-pende!
13 The gomys with gold crownys ne gete nevyr [geyn]!
14 To seke þo sottys sondys xal I sende.
15 Do howlott howtyn, Hoberd and Heyn!
16 Whan here barnys blede vndyr credyl bende,
17 Sharply I xal hem shende!
18 The knaue childeryn þat be
19 In all Israel countré,
20 Thei xul haue blody ble
21 For on I calde vnkende!

22 It is tolde in Grw
23 His name xulde be Jesu
24 Ifownde.
25 To haue hym 3e gon;
26 Hewe þe flesch with þe bon,
27 And gyf hym wownde!

28 Now, kene knyghtys, kythe 3oure craftys,
29 And kyllyth knaue chylderyn and castyth hem in clay!
30 Shewyth on 3oure shulderys scheldys and schaftys,
31 Shapyht amonge schelchownys a shyrlyng shray!
32 Doth rowncys rennyn with rakynge raftys
33 Tyl rybbys be to-rent with a reed ray!
34 Lete no barne beleve onbete baftys
35 Tyl a beggere blede be bestys baye!
36 Mahound þat best may.
37 I warne 3ow, my knyghtys,
38 A barn is born, I plyghtys,
39 Wolde clymbyn kynge and knytys
40 And lett my lordly lay.

41 Knyghtys wyse,
42 Chosyn ful chyse,
43 Aryse, aryse,
44 And take 3oure tolle!
45 And every page
46 Of ij 3ere age,
47 Or evyr 3e swage,
48 Sleyth ilke a fool!

49 On of hem alle
50 Was born in stalle.
51 Folys hym calle
52 Kynge in crowne!
53 With byttyr galle
54 He xall down falle!
55 My myght in halle
56 Xal nevyr go down!

57 PRIMUS MILES I xall sle scharlys
58 And qwenys with therlys;
59 Here knaue gerlys
60 I xal steke!
61 Forth wyl I spede
62 To don hem blede.
63 Thow gerlys grede
64 We xul be wreke!

65 SECUNDUS MILES For swerdys sharpe
66 As an harpe
67 Quenys xul karpe
68 And of sorwe synge!
69 Barnys 3onge,
70 They xul be stunge;
71 Thurwe levyr and lunge
72 We xal hem stynge!

73 ANGELUS Awake, Joseph, and take þi wyff,
74 Thy chylde also, ryd belyff.
75 For Kynge Herowde with sharpe knyff
76 His knyghtys he doth sende.
77 The Fadyr of Hevyn hath to be sent
78 Into Egypte þat þu be bent,
79 For cruel knyghtys þi childe haue ment
80 With swerd to sle and shende.

81 JOSEPH Awake, good wyff, out of 3oure slepe,
82 And of 3oure childe takyght good kepe
83 Whyl I 3oure clothis ley on hepe
84 And trus hem on þe asse.
85 Kynge Herowde þe chylde wyl scloo,
86 þerfore to Egypte muste we goo--
87 An aungel of God seyd me soo.
88 And þerfore lete us passe.

Tunc ibunt milites ad pueros occidendos, et dicat Prima Femina:

89 PRIMA FEMINA Longe lullynge haue I lorn!
90 Alas! Qwhy was my baron born?
91 With swappynge swerde now is he shorn,
92 þe heed ryght fro þe nekke!
93 Shanke and shulderyn is alto-torn!
94 Sorwyn I se behyndyn and beforn,
95 Both mydnyth, mydday, and at morn--
96 Of my lyff I ne recke!

97 SECUNDA FEMINA Serteynly I sey þe same:
98 Gon is all my good game!
99 My lytyll childe lyth all lame
100 þat lullyd on my pappys.
101 My fourty wekys gronynge
102 Hath sent me sefne 3ere sorwynge.
103 Mykyl is my mornynge
104 And ryght hard arne myn happys.

105 PRIMUS MILES Lorde in trone,
106 Makyght no mone.
107 Qwenys gyn grone
108 In werdl aboute.
109 Upon my spere
110 A gerle I bere,
111 I dare well swere.
112 Left moderys howte!

113 SECUNDUS MILES Lord, we han spad
114 As 3e bad:
115 Barnis ben blad
116 And lyne in dych!
117 Flesch and veyn
118 Han tholyd peyn.
119 And 3e xul reyne
120 Euyrmore rych!

121 HERODES REX 3e xul haue stedys
122 To 3oure medys,
123 Londys and ledys,
124 Fryth and fe!

125 Wele haue 3e wrought,
126 My fo is sought,
127 To deth is he brought!
128 Now come up to me.

129 In sete now am I sett as kynge of myghtys most.
130 All þis werd for þer loue to me xul þei lowt,
131 Both of hevyn, and of erth, and of helle cost!
132 For dygne of my dygnyté þei haue of me dowt!
133 þer is no lord lyke on lyve to me wurth a toost,
134 Nother kyng nor kayser in all þis worlde abought!
135 If any brybour do bragge or blowe a3ens my bost,
136 I xal rappe þo rebawdys and rake þem on rought
137 With my bryght bronde!
138 þer xal be neythe[r] kayser nere kynge
139 But þat I xal hem down dynge,
140 Lesse þan he at my byddynge
141 Be buxum to myn honde!

142 Now, my jentyll and curteys knyghtys, herke to me þis stownde:
143 Good tyme sone, methynkygh, at dyner þat we were.
144 Smertly, þerfore, sett a tabyll anon here ful sownde,
145 Couerid with a coryous cloth and with rych wurthy fare--
146 Servyse for be lovelyest lorde þat levynge is on grownde.
147 Beste metys and wurthyest wynes loke þat 3e non spare,
148 þow þat a lytel pynt xulde coste a thowsand pownde!
149 Brynge alwey of þe beste, for coste take 3e no care.

150 Anon þat it be done!
151 SENESCALLUS My lorde, þe tabyl is redy dyght.
152 Here is watyr, now wasch forthryght.
153 Now blowe up, mynstrall, with all 3oure myght!
154 þe servyse comyth in sone.

155 HERODES REX Now am I sett at mete
156 And wurthely servyd at my degré.
157 Com forth, knyghtys, sytt down and ete
158 And be as mery as 3e kan be.
159 PRIMUS MILES Lord, at 3owre byddynge we take oure sete,
160 With herty wyl obey we the.
161 þer is no lorde of myght so grett
162 Thorwe all þis werde in no countré,
163 In wurchepp to abyde.
164 HERODES I was nevyr meryer herebeforn
165 Sythe þat I was fyrst born
166 Than I am now ryght in þis morn--
167 In joy I gynne to glyde!

168 MORS Ow! I herde a page make preysyng of pride!
169 All prynces he passyth, he wenyth, of powsté.
170 He wenyth to be be wurthyest of all þis werde wyde,
171 Kynge ovyr all kyngys þat page wenyth to be!
172 He sent into Bedlem to seke on every syde,
173 Cryst for to qwelle yf þei myght hym se.
174 But of his wykkyd wyl, lurdeyn, 3itt he lyede!
175 Goddys sone doth lyve! þer is no lord but he.
176 Ouyr all lordys he is kynge.
177 I am Deth, Goddys masangere.
178 Allmyghty God hath sent me here
179 3on lordeyn to sle, withowtyn dwere,
180 For his wykkyd werkynge.

181 I am sent fro God; Deth is my name.
182 Allthynge þat is on grownd I welde at my wylie:
183 Both man, and beste, and byrdys wylde and tame,
184 Whan þat I come them to, with deth I do them kylle.
185 Erbe, gres, and tres stronge, take hem all in-same;
186 3a, be grete myghty okys with my dent I spylle.
187 What man þat I wrastele with, he xal ryght sone haue schame--
188 I 3eve hym such a trepett he xal evyrmore ly stylle.
189 For Deth kan no sporte.
190 Wher I smyte þer is no grace,
191 For aftere my strook man hath no space
192 To make amendys for his trespace
193 But God hym graunt comforte.

194 Ow! Se how prowdely 3on kaytyff sytt at mete!
195 Of deth hath he no dowte: he wenyth to leve evyrmore!
196 To hym wyl I go and 3eve hym such an hete
197 þat all be lechis of þe londe his lyf xul nevyr restore.
198 A3ens my dredful dentys it vaylyth nevyr to plete!
199 Or I hym part fro I xal hym make ful pore.
200 All þe blood of his body I xal hym owt swete,
201 For now I go to sle hym with strokys sad and sore,
202 þis tyde.
203 Bothe hym and his knyghtys all,
204 I xal hem make to me but thrall.
205 With my spere sle hem I xall
206 And so cast down his pride!

207 HERODES REX Now, kende knyghtys, be mery and glad,
208 With all good diligens shewe now sum myrth!
209 For, be gracyous Mahound, more myrth nevyr I had,
210 Ne nevyr more joye was inne from tyme of my byrth!
211 For now my fo is ded and prendyd as a padde.
212 Aboue me is no kynge on grownd nere on gerth.
213 Merthis, þerfore, make 3e, and be ryght nothynge sadde.
214 Spare nother mete nor drynke, and spare for no dyrthe
215 Of wyne nor of brede.
216 For now am I a kynge alone,
217 So wurthy as I may þer be none!
218 þerfore, knyghtys, be mery echone,
219 For now my fo is dede.

220 PRIMUS MILES Whan þe boys sprawlyd at my sperys hende,
221 By Sathanas oure syre, it was a goodly syght!
222 A good game it was þat boy for to shende
223 þat wolde a bene oure kynge and put 3ow from 3oure ryght.
224 SECUNDUS MILES Now trewly, my lorde þe kynge, we had ben vnhende,
225 And nevyr non of us able for to be a knyght,
226 If þat any of us to hem had ben a frende
227 And a savyd any lyff a3en þi mekyl myght,
228 From deth hem to flytt.

229 HERODES REX Amongys all þat grett rowthte,
230 He is ded, I haue no dowte.
231 þerfore, menstrell, rownd abowte,
232 Blowe up a mery fytt!

Hic, dum buccinant, Mors interficiat Herodem et duos milites subito, et Diabolus recipiat eos

233 DIABOLUS All oure! All oure! þis catel is myn!
234 I xall hem brynge onto my celle.
235 I xal hem teche pleys fyn,
236 And shewe such myrthe as is in helle!
237 It were more bettyr amongys swyn
238 þat evyrmore stynkyn, þerbe to dwelle,
239 For in oure logge is so gret peyn
240 þat non erthely tonge can telle!
241 With 3ow I go my way.
242 I xal 3ow bere forth with me
243 And shewe 3ow sportys of oure gle.
244 Of oure myrthis now xal 3e se
245 And evyr synge "Welaway!"

246 MORS Off Kynge Herowde all men beware,
247 þat hath rejoycyd in pompe and pryde.
248 For all his boste of blysse ful bare,
249 He lyth now ded here on his syde.
250 For whan I come I cannot spare;
251 Fro me no whyht may hym hyde.
252 Now is he ded and cast in care
253 In helle pytt evyr to abyde--
254 His lordchep is al lorn.
255 Now is he as pore as I,
256 Wormys mete is his body.
257 His sowle in helle ful peynfully
258 Of develis is al to-torn.

259 All men dwellyng upon þe grownde,
260 Beware of me, be myn councel;
261 For feynt felachep in me is fownde--
262 I kan no curtesy, as I 3ow tel!
263 For, be a man nevyr so sownde,
264 Of helth in herte nevyr so wel,
265 I come sodeynly within a stownde.
266 Me withstande may no castel!
267 My jurnay wyl I spede.
268 Of my comyng no man is ware,
269 For whan men make most mery fare,
270 þan sodeynly I cast hem in care,
271 And sle þem evyn in dede!

272 Thow I be nakyd and pore of array
273 And wurmys knawe me al abowte,
274 3it loke 3e drede me nyth and day;
275 For whan Deth comyth 3e stande in dowte!
276 Evyn lyke to me, as I 3ow say,
277 Shull all 3e be here in þis rowte,
278 Whan I 3ow chalange at my day,
279 I xal 3ow make ryght lowe to lowth
280 And nakyd for to be.
281 Amongys wormys, as I 3ow telle,
282 Vndyr þe erth xul 3e dwelle,
283 And thei xul etyn both flesch and felle,
284 As þei haue don me.

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 20 - The Slaughter of the Innocents and the Death of Herod. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.