34. The Shearmen's Play: The Road to Calvary

Peace, lads and gentlemen who in this place stand!
Stir not once in this place, but stand stone-still,
Or, by the lord that I believe in, I shall make your neck bend.
Unless you are silent when I speak, your speech I shall spill
Smartly, and soon.
For I am sent from Sir Pilate, with pride
To lead this lad our laws to abide.
He gets no better boon.

Therefore, I command you all, on every side,
On pain of imprisonment, that no man appear
To succor this traitor, by time nor by tide,
[Nor any come forward to amend his cheer]:
Not one of this press!
Nor not once be so hardy for to enquire,
But help me wholly, all who are here,
This captive's care to increase.

Therefore, make room, and rule yourselves right,
That we may with this new-condemned wight
Easily go on our way.
He napped not all last night,
And today his death is in sight.
Let us see who shall dare say nay!
Because tomorrow shall prove
To be our dear Sabbath day,
We wish that no evil be moved,
But mirth, in every way.

We have been busy, all this morn,
To clothe him and also to crown him with thorn,
As befits a carnival king.
But now, I believe, our fellows show scorn;
They said that they would be here this morn
This faker forth to bring.
To nap now is no good-
Hey!  How!  High may he hang!

Peace, man, for Mahound's own blood,
Why make you such a crying?

What?  Don't you know as well as I,
This fellow is going to Calvary,
And there to be done on a cross?

Since judgement is given that he must die,
Let us call to us more company,
Or we'll be too few, to our loss.

Our gear must all be well-arrayed,
And our fellows assembled soon;
For Sir Pilate had said
He must be dead by noon.

Where is Sir Wymond, do you know ought?

He went to see that a cross should be wrought
To carry this cursed knave.

I wish it would be quickly here brought,
For afterwards, other gear must be sought
That we shall need to have.

We'll need to have ladders and ropes
To yank him until he rave,
And nails, and other japes,
If we ourselves will save.

To wait too long I an but loth;
Unless Wymond comes, I take an oath
We'll all be blamed, all three.
Hey!  How!  Sir Wymond Full-of-Sloth!

Hey!  How!  Sir Wymond, how!

I'm here!  What say you both?
Why do you shout for me?
I have been to see them make
This cross, as you may see,
From that place over the lake-
They call it the King's Tree.

Now, certainly, I thought the same,
That piece of wood, none will us blame
To cut it for the "king."

This fellow's called himself "king" at home,
And since this tree has such a name
It is a fitting thing
That his back on it may rest,
For scorn and for mocking.

I thought that it seemed best
For our business, this to bring.

It is well-knotted, I say to you.
In length and breadth if it be true,
Then this time was well-planned.

To worry on that there is no need;
I took the measure myself, indeed,
For the foot and the hand.

And look how it is bored:
Evenly, at every end.
This work will well accord;
There's no need to amend.

Nay, I have arranged even more;
Yea, these thieves are sent before
That beside him shall hang.
And ladders also are ordered there,
With good stout rungs, as a craftsman's care
Demands-some short, some long.

For hammers and nails
Let's see who'll go along.

Here are spikes that shall not fail;
Of iron and steel strong.

Then all is as it needs to be.
But which of you shall carry this tree,
Since I have brought it hither?

By my faith, bear it shall he
That thereupon soon hanged shall be,
And we shall teach him whither.

Upon his back it shall be laid,
For soon must we come thither.

Look that our gear be well-arrayed,
And let us all go together.

Alas, for my master who most is of might!
Whom yesterday evening, with lanterns alight,
Before the bishop was brought.
Both Peter and I, we saw that sight,
And then we went on our ways, took flight,
When the Jews their horrors wrought.
In the morning the trial sped;
Falsehoods and lies they sought,
And doomed him to be dead,
That them offended not.

Alas, for sorrow, what shall I say?
My worldly wealth is gone away,
In woe forever shall I wend.
My master, who broke the law in no way,
Is doomed to be dead today,
Even in his enemy's hands.
Alas, that my master mild,
Who all men's misdeeds may amend,
Should so falsely be defiled,
With no friends him to defend.

Alas for his mother, and others more;
My mother, and her sisters also,
Sit together with sighings sore.
They know nothing of all this woe;
Therefore to warn them will I go,
Since I can do no more.
Since he so soon shall die,
And they unknowing were,
Then worthy of blame were I.
I will go fast, therefore.

But in my heart great dread have I
That his mother for sorrow shall die,
When once that sight she spies..
But still, I must not fail, surely,
To warn that careworn company
Before indeed he dies.

God save you, every sister here!
Dear lady, if your will it were,
I must tell news of pain.

Welcome, John, my cousin dear!
How fares my son since you were here?
That would I know, and plain.

Ah, dear lady, by your leave,
From truth I'll not refrain;
Against God's will no man should grieve.

Why John-is my son slain?

No, my lady, I said not so.
But remember that he told us two,
And them that with us were,
How he with pain one day must go,
And afterwards shall come us to
To amend our sighing sore.
There is no use instead
To worry yourself therefore-

Alas this day!  For dread,
Good John, name this no more!

Speak to me privately, I you pray,
For I fear that if we too much say
She will but run and rave.

The truth I must indeed now say:
He is doomed to die today;
No sorrow can him save.

Good John, tell unto us two
What you from her will crave,
And we will gladly go
And ensure that it you have.

Sisters, your mourning may not amend.
But if you wish, before his end,
To speak with my master free,
Then you must arise and with me wend
And greet him when his path does bend
Outside this same city.
If you wish to come that near,
Come fast and follow me!

Ah, help me, sisters dear,
That I my son may see.

Lady, lean upon me thus,
And we shall go, our leave to take.
Since your son must go from us,
I shall never you forsake.
Alas, the time and tide;
I know well the day is come
That once was specified
By the prophet Simeon in prophecy:
The sword of sorrow now should run
Throughout your heart, utterly.

Alas, this is a sorrowful sight:
He that ever was lovely and light
And lord of high and low,
Oh, doleful now is this his plight.
In the world is not so woeful a sight,
So sorrowful to know.
They that he loved the most
In word and also deed 
Now have they this great haste
To death him thus to lead.

Daughters of Jerusalem city,
See, and mourn no more for me.
But think about this thing:
For yourselves now mourn must ye,
And for the sons that born shall be
To you, both old and young.
For such a fate must fall,
That you shall give blessing
To barren bodies all,
That no babes forth can bring.

For surely, you shall see such a day
That with sore sighing shall you say
Unto the hills' great height,
"Fall on us, mountains, if you may!
And cover us from that fierce affray
That on us soon shall alight!"
Turn home, the town untill,
Since you have seen this sight.
It is my father's will;
All that is done is right.

Alas, this is a cursÚd case.
He that all healing in his hand has
Shall, blameless, here be slain.
Ah, Lord, please let me clean your face-
Behold how he has shown his grace;
He shows his might and main!
This sign shall bear witness
Unto all the people plain,
How God's son, here guiltless,
Is put to peerless pain.

Hey, why do you stand hereabout?
These birds with their whimpering and their shout
Refuse to keep it down!

Go home, you bitch, and take your clout,
Or by this lord you love, this lout,
You'll pay for it full dear.

This sign shall vengeance call
On you, all that are here!

Go, get you home withal,
Or you'll pay for it here.

Lady, your weeping grieves me sore.

John, help me now and evermore.

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