7. The Glovers' Play: Cain and Abel

The lord of life everlastingly-
Unmeasured, I say, is his might-
He shaped the sun, the sands and sea,
And wrought this world with words on height.
His angel, clear as crystals bright,
Here unto you thus I am sent
This day.
Abel and Cain, with mood and might
To me entirely be intent.
To give my message am I meant.
Thus I do say:
Almighty God, of powers most,
When he had wrought this world so wide--
Nothing to him seemed wrought in waste.
And, in his blessed realm to abide,
Nine orders, seen on every side,
Of angels bright he bade there be.
With pride,
Too soon, the tenth part sore was tried.
They fell away, as was worthy.
They haled to Hell, that company,
Therein to abide.

Then he made man in his likeness,
That place of pride thus to restore.
And since he showed man such kindness,
Man must return something therefore.
A tenth to tithe he asks, no more,
Of all the goods he has you sent.
Full true
To offer, look that you prepare,
And to my tidings take intent.
Now, everyone to whom life is lent,
So shall you do.

I thank you, Lord, for your goodness,
That has made me, on Earth, your man.
I worship you with worthiness,
With all the honour that I can.
To keep myself from all works wan,
Fulfilling your commandment,
The tithe
Of all my goods, since I began,
You shall have it, since you it sent.
Come, brother Cain, I would we went
With hearts full blithe.

What?  Where to now?  In wasteland gone?
You think I wish this town to leave?
You fool yourself, you vagabond;
I do not wish to talk, you see?

Ah, brother dear, let us take heed,
God's bidding gladly to fulfil,
I say.

The devil take you!  Away from me!
For I will do just as I will.
What right have you, for good or ill,
To speak this way?

To speak this way to you, I may.
But, brother dear, let's go in haste,
Give God our tithes, duly, this day.
He bids us thus; be not distressed.

Yah, Hell, I think that work a waste!
What he gave us, to give him again?
Now see:
A fickle friendship, by that test,
It seems to me, is his, certain.
If he be most in might and main,
What need has he?

He has no need to have your good.
But it will please him, principal,
If you, with mild mind and mood,
Grudge not to give a tenth of all.

What?  Why now should I tithe, dear brother?
Each year's crop is worse than the other.
Now, by him that us dearly bought,
I think that he will lend me nought.

Dearest brother!  Say not so,
But let us forth together go,
As quickly as we may.
I think we must not make delay--

Yeah, yeah, this chatter is a waste!
The devil take me if I make haste.
For if I give away my good,
Then I might go with a tattered hood.
It is better to hold to what I have,
Than go from door to door and crave.

Now, brother, come, in God's own name.
I am afraid we shall earn blame.

Let us go, that we were there.

Oh, go, in the Devil's name, before!

Well, let us both go forth, together.
Blessėd be God, we have good weather.

Lay down your gear upon this hill.

Indeed, dear brother, so I will.
May God in Heaven think it good.

Well, you tithe first.  Your wits are wood.

God that shaped both sand and sea,
I pray that you may listen to me,
And take as thanks, if your will it be,
The tithe I give you here, so free.
For I give it, with good intent,
To you, my Lord, who all has sent.

Rise up!  Let me, since you have done.
Lord of Heaven, hear my boon:
A tithe I now shall give, you see,
Of grain that newly grows for me.
One sheaf, one...and this makes two,
But neither of these may I forego.
Two, two, now this is three...
This also shall remain with me.
Come on, come on!  Four, lo, here!
Better grain grew not this year.
At planting time I sowed good seed;
At harvest, it was choked with weed!
Thistles, briars in great plenty-
And all the nettles that may be.
Four sheaves, four, now this is five-
If I deal out these, I shall not thrive!
Five, and six, and this is seven-
But this is not for God of Heaven.
Seven, seven, now this is eight-

Cain, dear brother, this is not right!

Look!  I did already say
I would not give my goods away!
Whew!  Eight, eight, and nine, and ten is this.
Ah!  Now this one I'll not miss.

Cain, of God you have no dread.

He'll not get more, the Devil me speed!
Not so much, great or small,
That he may wipe his arse withal.

Cain, I say that you should tend
That God of Heaven should be your friend.

My friend he'll be, if that he will.
I did him never any ill.

If you tithe right, then you may find-

Go kiss the Devil's arse behind!
Will you not yet hold your peace?
Of this chattering, now cease!
Now, since that yours has burned just fine,
Now I will set a fire in mine.
Pah!  This smoke does me much shame!
Now burn!  Burn, in the Devil's name!
Ah!  It stinks like the Devil in Hell,
That longer here I may not dwell!

Cain, this tithing is a joke.
Your grain should burn without such smoke.

Oh, go and kiss the Devil's arse!
It is your fault it burns the worse.
I wish it all were in your throat,
Fire and sheaf and every sprout!

Cain, why does you so rebel
Against your brother dear, Abel?
You need not either chide nor fight.
You will have much if you tithe right;
And be sure, if you tithe untrue,
You will receive then all your due.

Who is that Hob-Over-the-Wall?
Who was it that squeaked so small?
Come on, Abel, let us go.
I think that God is now my foe.

Brother dear, I now must go
Into the field, my beasts unto,
To see if they are well or sick.

No, wait!  We have a bone to pick.
I owe you a foul despite,
And it is time I you requite.

Brother, why speak you thus to me?

Thief!  Why burned your tithe brightly,
When mine did but smoke,
As if it would us both choke?

God's will I suppose it were,
That mine burned so clear.
If yours smoked, am I to blame?

What?  Yeah!  And you'll pay for the same!
With this jawbone, as I thrive,
I'll let you stay no more alive!
So, lie there now and take your rest.
Thus are villains chastised best.

Vengeance, vengeance, Lord, I say!
For, without guilt, I die this day.

Yeah, lie there, villain!  Lie there!  Lie!
And if any of you think I did amiss,
I shall do worse yet than it is.
Ho!  Brewbarret!  Come hither, I say!

All hail, all hail, out of my way!

Come, boy, and help this churl to haul.
For I must hide him first of all.

What?  Lift him?  It may not be.
My back is sore, it seems to me.

A plague on that!  I must him hide,
Or sorrow is sown.
For never shall I well abide
If this be known.

My shoulder-ah!-is sundered quite.
Therefore I may not lift on height
Or help to carry such a freight
As I see here.

Oh, go on!  I shall do this right,
So have no fear.
But go and fetch more sheaves of wheat,
So that we may some supper eat.
For I have wine, but we need bread
To make a meal.

Indeed, I go, now have no dread
In any deal!

Now, Angel dear, go you to Cain,
And tell him what to you I say.
Because he has his brother slain,
Now cursed is he, and falls away
From blessings all, and from this day,
Because of wicked deeds he did,
He'll be
A vagabond, and wander ay.
For from me may nothing be hid.


It shall be done, Lord, as you bid,

Lo, master Cain, what sheaves bring I!
The very best that carry seed.
Now, to the field, I will me hie,
To fetch you more, if you have need.

Come up, sir knave!  The devil you speed!
You will not come unless you're made!

Ow!  Master Cain, I broke my toe!

Come up now, sir! I say indeed,
You shall drink before thou go!

You!  Cursėd Cain!  Where is Abel?
What have you done with your dear brother?

Why ask me that tale to tell?
For yet his keeper was I never.

Behold and hear:  what have you done?
The voice of his blood cries vengeance
From Earth to Heaven, with great passion!
Be still!
Your deeds have given God grievance;
Take heed!  I shall, for this mischance,
These tidings tell.

You shall be cursed upon the ground.
God sends his curse for all to see.
Though you might till the world around,
No fruit you'll get for all your fee.
A son of wickedness to be,
You shall be wandering here and there
For ay.
In bitter pain remain, and be
Outcast, in sorrow and care.
No man shall pity you anywhere:
Thus do I say.

Alas!  For sorrow, so I say:
My sin surpasses all mercy!
Ask it from the Lord?  But nay,
To have it I am not worthy!
I shall be hidden, speedily;
You cast me, Lord, from kin away,
From land!
Both here and there outcast am I;
What man I may meet from this day,
In fen or forest, will me slay,
With his own hand!

Nay, Cain, not so.  Have you no dread.
Whoever slay you shall punished be
Sevenfold for such a deed.
Therefore a sign now shall you be:
It shall be printed for all to see,
That every man shall know you well.

Then will I even farther flee,
For shame.
Since I am put thus out of well,
That curse I have-now go to Hell!
I give you the same!

God has sent you his curse down,
From Heaven to Hell, maledictio Dei!

Take it yourself, upon your crown!
Quia non sum custos fratris mei,
Or thine.

God has sent you his curse down,
And inwardly I give you mine.

The same curse light upon your crown!
And just so might it ever be
For He that sent this greeting down!
The Devil take both Him and thee!
Foul may you fall!
Here is a crooked company;
Therefore, God's curse upon you all!

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