Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Scourging

On Good Friday, I decided to read the scourging play from the Wakefield cycle of medieval mystery plays. The heart of the play is written in the verse style of the so-called Wakefield Master. This section can also stand by itself. Was it perhaps performed on its own, and then at other times with the additional dialogue at the beginning and end (which are written in a different verse style)? Who knows? But it inspired me to write a modernization of the Wakefield Master's verse. I didn't finish it in time to post on Good Friday, but at least I can post it for Easter.

First Torturer:
I have run that I sweat             from sir Herod our king
With this man that will not let             our laws to down bring;
He has done so much yet            of care may he sing;
Through realm of sir Pilate he gets      an ill ending
And sore;
The great works he has wrought
Shall serve him for naught,
And but they be dear bought,
Heed me no more.
But make room and make peace,                 I bid you belief,
And of your noise that you cease,               both man and wife;
To sir Pilate at feast                 this man will we drive,
His deed for to beat,                 and rob him his life
This day;
Do draw him forward!
Why stand ye so backward?
Come on, sir, hitherward,
As fast as you may!

Second Torturer:
Do pull him apace,               whiles we be going;
I shall spit in his face                        though it be far shining;
Of us three get you no grace,               your deeds are so harming,
But more sorrow you waste               our mirth is increasing,
No lack.
Fellows, all cast,
With this band that will last
Let us bind fast
Both his hands on his back.

Third Torturer:
I shall lead you a dance               unto sir Pilate's hall;
You betide an ill chance            to come among us all.
Sir Pilate, with your chieftains,            to you we cry and call
That ye make some ordinance                     with this wretch thrall,
By skill;
This man that we led
On a cross you'll make dead.

What! With no more said?
That is not my will;
But you, wisest of law,               help me understand:
This man without awe                 which you led in a band,
Neither in deed nor in saw                    can I find wrong to stand
Wherefore you should him draw    or bear falsely on hand
With ill.
You say he turns our people,
You call him false and fickle;
World's shame is on you full
His blood if you spill.
Of all these causes known              which you put on him,
Herod, truly as stone,               could find nothing again
Nothing hereupon                     that stuck to any sin;
Why should I then so soon                to death here deem him?
This is my counsel:
I will not wish him ill;
Let him go where he will
For now and evermore.

First Counselor:
Sir, I tell you one thing                     without any miss,
He calls himself king                when he none is;
Thus he would down bring                  our laws, our bliss,
With his false teaching            and cunning wits
This tide.

Hark, fellow, come near!
You know I have power
To excuse or to damn here,
In bale to abide.

Such power have you naught             to work your will thus with me,
But from my Father that is brought                        one-fold God in persons three.

Certain, it is fallen well in my thought            at this time, as well know ye,
A thief that any felony has wrought                       to let him 'scape or go free
Therefore ye let him pass.

First Torturer:
Nay, nay, but Barabas!
And Jesus in this case
To death ye damn this day.

Sirs, look ye take good heed:                his clothes I from him throw.
You make his body bleed                   and beat him black with blows.

Second Torturer:
This man, as might I speed,              that has wrought us this woe,
How judicious comes in creed             shall we teach, or we go,
All soon.
Bind him to this pillar.

Third Torturer:
Why stand you so far?

First Torturer:
To beat his body bare
I haste, to make room.

Second Torturer:
Now fall I the first                  to flap on his hide.

Third Torturer:
My heart would all burst,                        but I might strike his side.

First Torturer:
A stroke fain, if I durst,                      would I teach him this tide.

Second Torturer:
Let me give him the worst               that the blood may down glide
And swift.

Third Torturer:
Have at!

First Torturer:
Take thou that!

Second torturer:
I shall teach thee a flap.
My strength for a gift.

Third Torturer:
How serves your prophecy             you tell us in this case,
And all your works of great mastery                        you showed in diverse place?
Your apostles full readily                   are run from the race;
You are here heavily             without any grace
Of 'scape.

Second Torturer:
Do rug him.

Third Torturer:
Do, ding him.

First Torturer:
Nay, I myself should kill him
But for sir Pilate.
Sirs, at the feast held at Cana,                           this prophet he was;
There turned he water into wine                 that day he had such grace;
His apostles to him can incline                   and another time there was;
The sea he passed, but few years since;                  it let him walk thereon apace
At will.
The elements had been,
And winds that were so keen,
The firmament, as I ween,
By him became still.

Second Torturer:
A leper came full fast                        to this man that here stands,
And prayed him, in all haste,               of bale to loose his bands;
His travail was not waste                     though he came from far lands;
This prophet by him passed             and healed him with his hands.
Full whole.
The son of a centurion,
For whom his father made great moan,
Of the palsy he healed anon;
They loved his very soul.

Third Torturer:
Sirs, as he came from Jericho             a blind man sat by the way;
To him he walked with many mo'                     and cried to him, to say,
"Thou son of David, before thou go                        of blindness heal thou me this day,"
There was he healed of all his woe;                       such wonders can he work all way
At will.
He raises men from death to life;
And casts out devils like a knife,
Sick men came to him full rife;
He heals them of all ill.

First Torturer:
For all these deeds of great loving              three things I have found certainly,
For which he is worthy to hang:               One is our king that he would be;
Our Sabbath day in his working                       he cannot heal the sick truly;
He says our temple he shall down bring                  and in three days build it highly
All whole again;
Sir Pilate, as you sit,
Look wisely in your wit;
Damn Jesu or you're fit
On cross to suffer his pain.

You man that suffers all this ill,                    why will you us no mercy cry?
Slake your heart and your great will                      whiles on you we have mastery;
Of your great works show us some skill;                   men call you king, now tell us why;
Wherefore they seek your blood to spill               the cause I would know wittingly,
Tell me;
Say what is your name,
You blush not for shame;
They put on you great blame,
Else might you 'scape from me.

Sir Pilate, prince peerless,                        this is my dread,
That he 'scape not harmless                but damn him to dead:
He calls him a king in every place,               thus has he many led
Our people in his trace                       and our laws down tread
By skill;
Sir, your knights of good choice,
And the people, with one voice,
To hang him high on a cross
They cry and call you still.

Now, certain, this is a wondrous thing;               that you would bring to naught
Him that is your liege lording,                        in faith this was far sought;
But say, why make you no obeying                       to him that all has wrought?

Sir, he is our chief lording                sir Cesar so worthily wrought
On mold.
Pilate, do after us,
And damn to death Jesus,
Or to sir Cesar we'll trust,
And count your friendship cold.

Now, that I am blameless                     of this blood shall you see;
Both my hands in express                    washed shall be;
This blood was dear bought, I guess,              that you spill so freely.

We pray it fall endless                        on us and on our many,
His blood we take.

Now your desire fulfill I shall;
Take him among you all;
On cross you put that thrall,
His ending there to make.

Come on! Trip on your toes                without any feigning;
You have made many woes                  with your false talking.

We have won a great rose                     that thus have brought a king
From sir Pilate and other foes                          thus into our ring,
Where he is doomed.
Sirs, a king he him calls,
Therefore a crown him befalls.

I swear by all mine elder laws,
I shall it ordain soon.

Lo, here's a crown of thorn             to perch his brain within,
Put on his head with scorn               and go through the skin.

Hail king! Where were you born,             such worship for to win?
We kneel all you before                   and you to grieve will we not sin,
That be you bold;
Now by Mahowne's blood
There will no meat do me good
Til he be hanged on a rood,
And his bones be cold.

Sirs, we may be fain             for I have found a tree,
I tell you for certain              it is of great beauty,
On the which he shall suffer pain,                 bound fast with nails three
There shall nothing him gain                 there until he dead be,
I insure it:
Do bring him hence.

Take up our gear and defense.

I would spend all my pence
To see him endure it.

This cross up you take                                   and make you ready now;
Without grudging you rake                               and bear it through the town;
Mary, your mother, I know, will make                great mourning and moan,
But for your false deeds' sake                 shortly you shall be slain,
No nay;
The people of Bedlem,
And gentles of Jerusalem,
All the commoners of this realm,
Shall wonder on you this day.