The York Plays: The Creation to the Fall of Man

Ego sum alpha et novissimus1
I am gracious and great, God without beginning,2
I am maker unmade, all might is in me;
I am life and way unto wealth-winning,
I am foremost and first, as I bid shall it be.
Unto my dignity therefore shall be dight
A place full of plenty as pleases my play
And first, in faithfulness my thought to fullfill,8
Obedient to my blessing I bid that there be
A beauteous bliss all about me;
And in that bliss let there be in my sight
Nine orders of angels full bright,
My glory aye praising devoutly.

[Angels appear

Here below me now a new place I fashion,14
That land shall be earth. ‘Tis done at my telling:
The fair earth, foul hell, and here, highest heaven;
And power presiding shall dwell in this dwelling.
This grant I to you, ministers mine,
So you remain steadfast in thought -
But know that any that set me at nought20
Shall be put to my prison in pain.

[To Lucifer

Of all the might I have made, the next after me
I make thee the master, and mirror of my might;
Meekly and humbly in bliss for to be,
I name thee as Lucifer, the bearer of light.
All things that are here I grant unto thee;26
In this bliss shall you abide,
And have all power at your side
So you be obedient to me.
Good Angel 1
Ah, merciful maker, most great is thy might,30
That all this work at a word worthily has wrought.
Aye praised be that precious Lord in his light,
That us mighty has made, that ere was right nought,
In bliss to abide in his blessing.
In love everlasting we laud him,
And worship thus willingly about him,36
Our mirth nevermore shall be missing.
All the mirth that is made is markèd in me!   38
The beams of my brightness are burning so bright,
And I so seemly a sight myself now do see,
For like a lord am I let to live in this light.
More fairer by far than my fellows,
In me is no point that may compare;
I am well-favoured and fair,44
My power surpasses my peers.
Good Angel 2
Lord, with a lasting love we love thee alone,46
Thou most mighty maker that marked us and made us,
And wrought us thus worthily for heavenly home,
Where never foulness nor filth may besmirch us or fade us.
All bliss is here beaming about us;
Indeed we are steadfast in thought
In the worship of him that us wrought,52
That we are obedient never doubt us.
Bad Angel 1
O, what! I am comely and fair and fashioned full fit!
The form of all fairness upon me is fast,
All-puissant my power, I wot by my wit;
The beams of my brightness are blazing with the best.
My shape is all shimmering and shining,
So boldly to bliss am I brought;
I need bestir me right nought,60
I shall never fear pain or repining.
Good Angel 1
With all the wit that we wield we worship thy will,
Thou glorious God that is ground of all grace;
Aye steadfastly serving let us stand still,
Lord, to be fed with the food of thy fair face.
In life that is truly aye-lasting,
Thy table aye sumptuously spread.
For whoso thy food may be tasting68
And sees thy fair face, will not fast.
Ow, certes, what - I am worthily wrought with honour, iwis!
For in a glorious glow I glitter and gleam;
I am so mightily made, my joy may not fail -
Aye shall I bide in this bliss by the brightness of my beams.
I need not seek troubles to fret me:
I am Lord of all power; all bow at my name
Above all you others boldly I set me,76
On height in the highest of heaven.
There shall I seat myself full seemly to be seen,
To reserve my reverence through right of renown;
I shall be like unto him that is highest on high.
Ow, what I am worthy and wise -

[He sits on God’s throne; he and the bad angels are immediately transformed into devils

Ow! The Devil! All goes down!82
My might and my majesty are all marred!
Help, fellows! In faith, I am fallen.
Bad Angel 2
From heaven are we hurled in a torrent,85
To woe are we wending, I warrant.
Out! Out! Harrow! Helpless, so hot it is here;87
This is a dungeon of dole to which I am dight.
Where are my kin, that were comely and clear?
Now am I most loathsome, that ere was light.
My brightness is blackness and blue now,
My sin is aye searing and burning
Where each one goes howling and hurling.93
Out! Ay welaway! I dwell ever in woe now.
Bad Angel/Devil 2
Out! Out! I go mad for woe, my wits are all marred now,
All we find for our food is but filth, at our feet meanly tossed.
We that were bathed in bliss, in pain are we burned now -
Out on thee Lucifer, lurdan, our light has thou lost.
Thy deeds to this dole now has brought us,
It was thou who sped us to slaughter,
For thou was our light and our leader,101
That thou wast the highest of heaven you taught us.
Welaway! Woe is me! Woe far worse than it was.103
You have no cause to chide me - I spoke but a thought.
Bad Angel/Devil 1
Wey, lurdan, thou lost us.105
You lie! Out, alas!106
I wist not this woe would be wrought.
Out on you, lurdans, you smother me in smoke.
Bad Angel/Devil 2
This woe has thou done us.109
You lie, you lie!110
Bad Angel/Devil 1
You lie, and for that you shall pay:111
Wey, lurdan, have at you, take that!

[They disappear into hell, fighting

Good Angel 1
Ah, Lord, loved be thy name that us this light lent,
Since Lucifer our leader is fallen so low,
For his disobedience in hell to be burnt -
Thy righteousness to reward with rue
Each work after is wrought-
Through grace of thy merciful might
The cause I see it in sight,119
Wherefore to bale he is brought.
Those fools for their beauty in fantasies fell,121
And had mock of my might that marked them and made them.
Thus for their wicked works, in woe shall they dwell.
For some are fallen into filth that shall ever befoul them,
Never shall they have grace for to gird them.
So puissant in power they thought them,
They would not me worship that wrought them;127
Henceforth shall my wrath ever go with them.
And all that me worship shall dwell here, iwis;
To bring forth more of my work, work now I will.

[Music/tableau of rest of creation

In heaven and earth duly by dint131
Of five days work, even onto end,
All is complete by courses clean;
Methinks the space of them well spent.
In heaven are angels fair and bright,
Stars and planets their courses to go,
The moon does service unto the night137
The sun to light the day also.
In earth is trees and grass to spring,
Beasts and fowls, both great and small,
Fishes in flood, all other thing
Thrive and have my blessing all.
This work is wrought now at my will,143
But yet can I here no beast see
That accords by kind and skill,
And for my work might worship me.
A skilful beast then will I make
After my shape and my likeness,
The which shall worship to me take.149
Of the simplest part of earth that is here
I shall make man.
Rise up, thou earth, in blood and bone,152
In shape of man, I command thee.
A female shall thou have as friend,
Her shall I make of thy left rib,
Take now here the breath of life
And receive both your souls of me;
This female take thou to thy wife,158
Adam and Eve your names shall be.
Ah, lord, full mickle is thy might160
And that is seen in on every side
For now his here a joyful sight
To see this world so large and wide.
Many diverse things now here is,
Of beasts and fowls, both wild and tame;
Yet is none made to thy likeness166
But we alone - Ah, loved be thy name.
To such a lord in all degree168
Be evermore lasting praise,
That to us such a dignity
Has given before all other thing;
And suchlike things may we see here
Of this very world so large and broad,
With beasts and fowls so many and more;174
Blessed be he that has us made.
Ah, blessed Lord, now by thy skill176
Since we were wrought, vouchsafe to tell
And also say to us thy will:
What we shall do and where to dwell?
For this skill made I you this day,180
My name to worship ay-where;
Love me, from hence, and love me ay
For my making, I ask no more.
Both wise and witty shall thou be,
As man that I have made of nought;
Lordship in earth then grant I thee,186
All things to serve thee that I have wrought.
In paradise shall you together go,
Of earthly thing get you no need,
Ill and good both shall you know,
I shall you learn your life to lead.
Ah, lord, since we shall do no thing192
But love thee for thy great goodness,
We shall aye bow to thy bidding
And fulfil it, both more and less.
His sign since he has on us set196
Before all other thing certain,
Him for to love we shall not let
And worship him with might and main.
At heaven and earth first I began200
And six days wrought ere I would rest;
My work is ended now with man,
All likes me well, but this is best.
My blessing have they ever and aye.
The seventh day shall my resting be,
Thus will I cease, soothly to say,206
Of my doing in this degree.
To bliss I shall you bring,
Come forth, you two, with me;
You shall live in liking
My blessing with you be. Amen.

[God leads Adam and Eve to Paradise

Adam and Eve, this is the place212
That I have granted you of my grace
To have your dwelling in.
Herbs, spice, fruit on tree,
Beasts, fowls, all that ye see
Shall bow to you, great and small.
This place hight paradise,218
Here shall your joys begin;
And if that ye be wise,
From this place shall ye never part.
O lord, loved be thy name,222
For now is this a joyful home
That thou has brought us to,
Full of mirth and solace sweet,
Herbs and trees, fruit and meat,
With spices many and more.
Lo, Eve, now are we brought228
Both unto rest and rue,
We need to take no thought,
But look aye well to do.
Loving be aye to such a lord,232
To us has given so great reward
To govern both great and small,
And made us after his own read,
We love thee, most of might,
Great God, that we on call.
Love my name with good intent238
And harken to my commandment,
And do my bidding buxomly:
Of all the fruit in paradise,
Take ye thereof of your best wise
And make you right merry.
The tree of good and ill,244
What time you eat of this
Thou speeds thyself to spill,
And be brought out of bliss.
In earth I make thee lord of all,
And beast unto thee shall be thrall,
Thy kind shall multiply.250
Therefore this tree alone,
Adam, this out-take I;
The fruit of it touch none,
For an ye do, then shall ye die.
Alas lord, that we should do so ill,255
Thy blessed bidding we shall fulfil
Both in thought and deed;
We shall not touch this tree, nor the bough,
Nor yet the fruit that thereon grows
Therewith our flesh to feed.
We shall do thy bidding,261
We have no other need;
This fruit full still shall hang,
Lord, that thou has forbid.
Look that ye do as ye have said.265
Henceforth this tree that I out-take,
Now keep it safely for my sake,
That nothing comes it near;
All other at your willl shall be,
I out-take nothing but this tree,
To fill you hearts with fear.271
Here shall ye lead your life
With dainties that are dear;
Adam, and Eve thy wife,
My blessing have ye here.

[God retires out of sight

For woe my wit is in a war276
That muffs me mickel in my mind;
The Godhead that I saw so clear,
Who promised that he should take kind
Of a degree
That he had wrought, and I disdained
That angel kind should it not be;282
And we were fair and bright,
Therefore me thought that he
Our kind to him take might.
And it offended me
The kind of man he thought to take,
And therat had I great envy.288
But he has made to him a make,
And hard to her I will me hie
That ready way,
That purpose prove to put it by,
And make to pluck from him that prey.
My travail were well set294
Might I him so betray,
His liking for to let,
And soon I shall assay.
In a worm’s likeness will I wend,
And falsely feign a wicked lie.

[Tranforms into a serpent and appraoches Eve

Eve, Eve.300
What is there?301
I, a friend.302
And for thy good is to thee come
I hither sought.
Of all the fruit that ye see hang
In paradise, why eat you not?
We may of them each one307
Take all that we good thought,
Save one tree out is taken,
It would do harm to eat it ought.
And why that tree, that would I wot,311
Any more than all other by?
For our lord God forbids us it,313
The fruit thereof, Adam nor I
To come it near;
And if we did we both should die,
He said, and cease our solace here.
Aha, Eve, to me take tent;318
Take heed and thou shalt hear
What that the matter meant
He moved on that manner.
To eat thereof he you defends
(I know it well, this was his skill)
Because he would none other kenned324
These great virtues that are his still.
For will thou see,
Who eats the fruit of good and ill
Shall have knowing as well as he.
Why, what kind of thing art thou329
That tells this tale to me?
A worm, that woteth well how331
That thou may worshipped be.
What worship should we win thereby?333
To eat thereof us needeth it nought,
We have Lordship to have mastery
Of all thing that in earth is wrought.
Woman, do way!337
To greater state ye may be brought
If ye will do as I shall say.
To do is us full loathe340
That should our God mis-pay.
Nay, certes it is no lie,342
Eat it safely ye may.
For peril right therein none lies,
But worship and a great winning,
For right as God ye shall be wise
And peer to him in everything.
Ay, Gods shall ye be,348
Of ill and good to have knowing,
For to be as wise as he.
Is this sooth that thou says?351
Ye, why trowest thou not me?352
I tell naught but truth to thee.
Than will I to thy teaching trust354
And fetch this fruit unto our food.
Bite on boldly, be not abashed,356
And bid Adam to amende his mood
And eke his bliss.

[She eats and takes the apple to Adam

Adam, have here of fruit full good.359
Alas woman, why took thou this?360
Our Lord commanded us both
To tend that tree of his.
Thy work will make him wrath -
Alas, thou hast done amiss.
Nay Adam, grieve thee nought thus so,365
And I shall say the reason why.
A worm has done me for to know
We shall be as Gods, thou and I,
If that we eat
Here of this tree; Adam, therefore
Fear not that worship for to get.371
For we shall be as wise
As God that is so great,
And as mickle of price;
Therefore, eat of this meat.
To eat it would I not eschew376
Might I me trust in thy saying.
Bite on boldly, for it is true,378
We shall be Gods and know all-thing.
To win that name380
I shall it taste at thy teaching.

[He eats the apple

Alas, what have I done, for shame!
Ill counsel, woe worth thee!
Ah, Eve, thou art to blame,
To this enticed thou me -
I am shamed at my body,386
For I am naked as methink.
Alas Adam, right so am I.388
And for sorrow sere why may not we sink,389
For we have grieved God almighty
That made me man -
Broken his bidding bitterly.
Alas that ever we it began.
This work, Eve, hast thou wrought,
And made this bad bargain.395
Nay Adam, blame me not.396
Do way, dear Eve, who then?397
The worm to blame well worthy were,398
With tales untrue he me betrayed.
Alas, that I listened to thy lore400
Or trowed the trifles that thou me said.
Our bodies do me shame most sore,
Wherewith they shall be hid.
Let us take these fig-leaves,404
Since it is thus betide.
Right as thou says so shall it be,406
For we are naked and all bare;
Full wonder fain I would hide me
From my Lord’s sight,
Adam, Adam.410
Where art thou, there?412
I hear thee Lord, and see thee not.413
Say, Adam tell me now,414
This work why hast thou wrought?
Lord, Eve led me do wrong416
And to that brag me brought.
Say, Eve, why hast thou made thy make418
Eat fruit I bad thee should hang still,
And commanded none of it to take?
A worm, Lord, enticed me thereto;421
So welaway,
That ever I did that deed so ill.
Ah, wicked worm, woe worth thee aye424
For thou on this manner
Hast made them such affray;
My malediction have thou here
With all the might I may.
And on thy womb then shall thou glide,
And be aye full of enmity430
To all mankind on every side,
And earth it shall thy sustenance be
To eat and drink.
Adam and Eve also, yea
In earth then shall ye sweat and swink,
And travail for your food.436
Alas, that we should sink,437
We that had all the world’s good
Most wretched now us think.
Now Cherubin, my angel bright,440
To middle-earth straight go drive these two.
All ready lord, as it is right,442
Since thy will is that it be so,
And thy liking.
Adam and Eve, do you to go,
For here may you make no dwelling;
Go ye forth fast to fare,
Of sorrow may ye sing.448
Alas, for sorrow and care449
Our hands may we wring.

2017 Nov 27  17:20:26