9. The Fishers' and Mariners' Play: The Flood

Ah, Lord that lives eternal life,
I praise you ever with heart and hand,
Who allows me this, by reason rife,
Six hundred years to live on land.
Three seemly sons and a worthy wife
I have, always at my command.
But now my cares are keen as a knife,
Because I know your dread command.
There comes to each country,
Yes, cares both keen and cold.
For God has forewarned me
That the world shall wasted be.
And surely the truth I see,
As our forefathers told.

My father Lamech who, as one might mention,
Here in this world a long time did wend,
Seven hundred years, seventy and seven,
In such a space his time did spend.
He prayed to God, his voice faithful and even,
That He to him a son should send-
And, at the last, there came from Heaven
Such a promise that could greatly amend,
And made him dig and delve
As ordered firmly before.
For he a son should have,
As he always did crave.
And, by the grace God gave,
In the world I then was born.

When I was born, "Noah" he named me,
And said these words with joyful mind:
"Behold," he said, "this one is he
Who shall be a comfort to all mankind."
Sirs, by this you all must see--
My father knew.  By grace within,
By certain signs, he well could see
That all this world should sink for sin--
How God would vengeance take,
As certainly is seen,
And an end of those men make
Who would not sin forsake,
And how the rain should slake,
And a world grow once again.

I would to God it wasted were,
So that I should not have to toil.
My seemly sons!  And daughters dear!
Now pay attention; listen well.

1 SON:
Father, we are all ready here,
Your bidding eagerly to fulfil.

Go call your mother, then come back here
At once, that the flood may us not kill.

1 SON:
Father, we shall hear 
Till your command is done.

All that lives everywhere
Shall, die now, my son, I fear.

1 SON:
Where are you, mother dear?
Come to my father, soon!

What say you, son?

1 SON:
                     Mother, indeed,
My father intends to flee from here.
He bids you come at once, with speed
To him, so nothing may you mar.


Yeah, son, get you back-take heed-
And tell him I will not come near.

1 SON:  
Mother, I would do this deed,
But you must come, or worse it were.

Worse?  How could that be?
We're speaking nonsense, son!

1 SON:  
Mother, to you I say,
My father is going to flee!

Now, surely, I shall see
At once just what he means!

1 SON:  
Father, I've done now as you command;
My mother comes to you this day.

She is welcome; for I understand
This world shall soon be washed away.

Where are you, Noah?

                      Right here at hand.
Come here, and quickly, I you pray.

Do you think that I'll leave the land
And get on that, in all this fray?
No, Noah, I am not bound
To float now over the hills.
Come, children; let's go into town.

No!  Surely then you all will drown!

In faith, Noah, you'd best come down
And go do something else.

Wife, forty days are nearly past
And gone since it began to rain!
Alive no man shall longer last
But we alone; is that not plain?

Now, Noah, in faith, your wits are waste;
This nonsense I'll not hear.  In vain
You speak.  You're mad; I am aghast.
Farewell; I'm going home again.

Oh, woman, are you mad?
My deeds you do not know;
All that has bone or blood
Shall be overflowed by the flood.

In faith, you were as good
My way to let me go.

Help!  Oh, help!

                 What now?  What cheer?

I'll go no nearer at any need.

Help, my sons, to hold her here,
For to her danger she takes no heed.

2 SON:  
Be glad, mother, and amend your cheer;
This world is drowned; now, have no dread.

Alas, that I this word should hear.

You're killing us all; ill may you speed!

3 SON:  
Dear mother, come with us.
There, nothing shall you grieve.

No; I must go home, I must,
My tasks are numerous.

Woman, why do you thus?
To make us more mischief?

Noah, you might have told me of it!
Morning and evening you were out,
And always at home you let me sit,
Never to know what you were about.

My lady, let me be excused for it.
It was God's will, without a doubt.

What?  You think that you're going just yet?
No, by my faith, you're getting a clout!

I pray you, lady, be still;
Thus God would have it wrought.

You should have learned my will,
Whether I would assent theretill.
And Noah, for that same skill,
This bargain shall be dear bought!

Now, at last, I find and feel
Why you have through the forest sought.
You should have told me, us to heal,
When we were to such a bargain brought.

Now, lady, such dread you should not feel,
For to account it cost you nought.
A hundred winters, I know well,
Are gone since I this work had wrought.
And when I made an ending,
God gave me measure fair
Of each and every thing.
He ordered me to bring
Both beasts and birds young,
Of every kind a pair.

Now surely, if we should escape unscathed,
And so be saved, as you say here,
My comrades and my cousins both,
I want them safe with us in there.

Too dangerous, on the flood to float.
Look in, and see, and have no fear.

Alas, to me my life is loath.
I live too long, this news to hear.

Dear mother, mend your mood,
For we shall with you go.

My friends are overflowed;
I've left them in the flood.

Now thank we God all good,
That thus has saved us so.

Mother, of this work you paid no heed,
That all should turn to waters wan.

Father, what may this marvel mean?
Why did God make the Earth, and man?

So strange a sight was never seen,
Since first that God this world began.

Shut and lock your doors indeed,
For better counsel know I none.
This sorrow is sent for sin,
Therefore to God we pray
That he our ills would end.

3 SON:  
May the king of all mankind
Out of this woe us win,
As you are the Lord, and may.

1 SON:  
Yea, Lord, as you let us be borne
In this great evil, some help us bid.

My sons, now see, midday and morn,
To these cattle take good heed.
Keep them well with hay and corn;
And women, take up these birds and feed,
So that from us they're not torn
As long as we this life shall lead.

2 SON:  
Father, we were best
Your bidding to fulfil.
Nine months now are past
Since we were thus oppressed.

3 SON:  
He that of might is most
May amend it when he will.

Oh, children, it grows clear about!
That may you see there where you sit!

1 SON:  
Yes, dear father, look thereout;
See if the water's waning yet.

That shall I do, without a doubt,
Thereby the waning we may wit.
Ah, Lord, to you I bend and bow;
The cataracts, I think, are knit!
Behold, my sons, all three-
The clouds are growing clear!

2 SON:  
Ah, Lord, of mercy free,
Beloved may you be!

I shall essay the sea,
How deep that it is here.

Loved be that Lord that gives all grace,
That kindly thus our cares would heal.

I'll cast a line and look a space,
How deep the water is, every deal.
Fifteen cubits of height it has
Of covering over every hill!
But, be well comforted in this case;
It is waning!  I know it well.
Therefore, a bird of flight
Now quickly I shall send,
To see if he has sight
Of land on which to light;
Then may we know aright
When our mourning shall end.

Of all the birds that one may find,
The raven is boldest, and wise is he.
You are cranky, like all your kind;
Go forth your way, I say now; flee,
And cautiously see, and return on the wind
If you find either land or tree.
Nine months herein we been been pinned,
But when God will, better must be.

That Lord that lends us life
To obey all of his laws,
He made both man and wife;
May he help to end our strife.

Our cares are keen as a knife;
God grant us now good news.

1 SON:  
Father, this bird is gone for long;
I guess that he has found some land
That he can forage for food upon.
That makes him such a failing friend.

Now, son, if he that way has gone,
Since for us all his way he went,
Then may he be, for doing wrong,
Cursed evermore, without an end.
And certainly, to see
When our sorrow shall cease,
Another bird full free
Our messenger shall be.
Now, dove, this order see:
Our comfort to increase.

A faithful bird to send are you,
Above all else in this world wide.
For all our sakes, I pray you go,
And soberly seek, on every side,
Whether the floods be falling now,
That you on the earth may build and abide.
Bring us some sign, that we may know
What will become of us this tide.

Good Lord, now on us look,
And cease our sorrow severe,
Since we all sin forsook
And to thy laws us took.

For twelve months, less twelve weeks,
Have we been hovering here.

Now children, we may be blithe and glad,
And praise our Lord, of Heaven king!
My bird has done as I him bade;
An olive branch I see him bring.
Blessed be, bird, who was not dismayed,
Who in your strength felt no failing.
More joy in heart I never had;
We shall be saved!  Now let us sing!
Come here, my sons, quickly,
For gone is all our strife;
I see here certainly
The Hills of Harmony.

1 SON:  
Loved be that Lord surely,
Who to us has lent our life.

[Then Noah and his sons should sing.]

Now all the sorrows we were in,
And all our trials, are no more.
But Noah, where are all our kin
And company we knew before?

All are drowned-leave off your din-
For all their sins they paid, full sore.
A better life let us begin,
So that we grieve our God no more.
He was grieved in great degree
And greatly vexed in mind
For sin, as all may see,
Dum dixit, "Penitet me."
And sorry then was he
That ever he made mankind.

That makes us now to toil and truss;
But, children, he said-I know well when-
"Arcum ponam in nubibus."
He set his bow to show us then
A covenant between him and us,
In knowledge to all Christian men
That, when the world is ended, thus
He'll never waste it, with water, again.
Thus has God, most of might,
Set his sign full clear
Up in the air, on height.
The rainbow, as is right,
Is clearly seen in sight
All seasons of the year.

2 SON:  
Sir, now, since God, our sovereign sire,
So certainly has set his sign,
Then we may see the world's empire
Shall last forever; that is plain!

No, son, that we must not desire,
For if we do we work in vain.
For it shall all be burned with fire,
And never be the world again.

Ah, sir, our hearts are sore
For these words that you say here;
This mischief must be more?

Be not afraid therefore;
You shall not live so long
By many a hundred year.

1 SON:  
Father, how shall our lives be led
Since none are in this world but we?

Sons, with your wives you shall be set,
And you shall multiply your seed.
Your children shall each other wed
And worship God, in good degree.
Beasts and birds shall all be bred,
And so, a world shall begin to be.
Now, hard work you shall taste
To win your bread and wine,
For all this world is waste.
These beasts must be unbraced;
Now let us go in haste,
With God's blessing, and mine.

Return to York Pageant List.