2. The Killing of Abel

Play 2, THE KILLING OF ABEL: FOOTNOTES


1 The killing of Abel, the second pageant

2 Lines 55–56: What, now do nothing but shout quickly [to the animals] / Until we have plowed this field

3 Lines 61–62: Come kiss my ass! I do not want to curse, / so you are welcome elsewhere

4 Lines 104–05: First we should take the tenth of what we have, / which is then to be burned for the love of God

5 Lines 186–87: God forbid that you show me gratitude or courtesy

6 You will find out whether you tithed correctly

7 It is imperative that you neither argue nor chide

8 We have a crow to pluck [that is, a dispute to settle]

9 Lines 390–91: I would curse your head, / even if you were my actual father

10 How will you do this (may it be long before you prosper)?

11 Yes, ill-spun weft always comes out foul (see note)

12 Long before you are old enough to wear hose, and [already] you behave thus!

13 Here ends the killing of Abel; Noah follows


Play 2, THE KILLING OF ABEL: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

The primary source for the story of Cain and his brother Abel is Genesis 4. The unbiblical and anachronistic presence of the boy, Pikeharness, provides an interesting but problematic connection to the now-incomplete York pageant, into which an episode involving a similar character, the servant Brewbarret, has been interpolated; it is impossible now to know whether, or which, one of these characters was created in conscious imitation of the other, particularly given the absence of two leaves from the York manuscript at this point. The Towneley play’s highly colloquial, often obscene and sometimes obscure language poses difficulties, but has also rendered it one of the most popular in the collection, for students and critics alike. Other issues that have attracted significant critical attention include Cain’s plow-team (see the note to line 25, below) and Cain’s request to be buried in “in Gudeboure at the quarell hede” (line 370), which provides the sole clear reference in any of the Towneley plays to Wakefield as a place. A. C. Cawley included this play in his edition of what he called The Wakefield Pageants in the Towneley Cycle, although only the final stanzas resemble the particular 13-line 'bob and wheel' form identified with the so-called 'Wakefield Master.' Indeed, as Stevens and Cawley point out, the text of this play “contains virtually every form of versification that can be found” in the manuscript as a whole (SC p. 441).


Before 1 Mactacio Abel, secunda pagina. This is only numbered play in the manuscript and, while the text arguably focuses more attention on Cain as a character and on themes such as master-servant relations and tithing, the title directs attention toward the typologically significant death of Abel, which traditionally prefigures that of Christ.

3 Be peasse youre dyn. That is, be quiet.

7 my blak hoill bore. That is, his anus. Cain will repeatedly tell Abel to kiss the Devil’s ass (see lines 65, 268, and 289), as well as his (line 61).

21 Bot let youre lippis cover youre ten. Let your lips cover your teeth (which precludes speech, snarling, and laughter).

25 Io furth, Greynhorne, and war oute, Gryme. “Yo” is an interjection used (especially in conjunction with “forth”) to drive animals forward; see also lines 42 and 57, and 18.1. Cain’s plow-team has been the subject of scholarly debate, but appears to consist of eight possibly imaginary animals. “Down” (line 29) is explicitly a horse (see line 441’s “Don;” “Donnyng” of line 32 is likely the same beast, referred to as a “mare” at line 35), and “Morell” (lines 42 and 57) usually means a dark-colored horse, while “Greynhorne” here and “Whitehorn” at line 42 are, for obvious reasons, more likely oxen. “Stott” (line 41) most often refers to a young ox or steer (see 9.748), but can also mean a horse, or a heifer (as glossed by SC p. 714), while a mare (lines 28, 35) can be a horse of either sex. The last two are “Mall” (line 41) and “Lemyng” (line 42).

26 God gif you ill to tyme. That is, may you fare badly (MED timen (v.)).

39 What, boy, shal I both hold and drife. That is, shall I both hold the plow and drive the team, rather than having you help me, boy?

43 Now will ye not se how thay hy. Cain was having trouble driving his supposed team forward, but the Boy apparently entices them forward with food — hence Cain’s response that their refusal to obey him due to “Want of mete” (line 45). The Boy then claims to have been leaving food behind them, and stones in the hay-racks (lines 46–49).

50–51 That shall bi . . . agane as right. Cain evidently slaps the boy in the face, and the boy strikes back.

55 . This common interjection, indicating surprise, grief, anger, or emphasis, is used especially frequently in this play, often with the force of a rude expletive.

57 Harrer . . . hyte. Both “harrer” and “hyte” (MED harri (interj.) and hait (interj.)) are conventional cries to drive an animal forward, as is “io furth” (see line 25 and note; also see 18.1).

58 let the plogh stand. It is unclear what should happen to the team of animals at this point, if indeed they exist; nor is it clear what becomes of the boy. While Abel greets both Cain “and thi man” (line 60) upon his entrance, the boy does not again speak until after Abel’s death, when Cain calls him (at line 386). However, the plough itself apparently remains in place until near the end of the play (see line 455 and note, below).

62 As welcom standys ther oute. That is, your absence would be more welcome than is your presence — go away!

66–67 Go grese thi shepe . . . the moste lefe. Go grease your sheep’s ass, since that is what is most pleasing to you. These lines, with their innuendo of bestiality, ultimately refer to Genesis 4:4–5, where God is said to prefer Abel’s offering “of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat” (translating the Vulgate’s de primogenitis gregis sui, et de adipibus eorum) to Cain’s offerings.

74–75 Oure fader us bad, our fader us kend / That oure tend shuld be brend. That is, our father Adam taught us that God, our heavenly father, commanded us to burn our tithes. Leviticus 27:30–33, for example specifies that one tenth of all crops and animals belongs to God, while other biblical passages (such as Deuteronomy 12:6) associate tithes with burnt offerings, but these were not actually the same thing.

79 Corne or catall wheder it be. The term catall can refer to any property or chattel, but here refers to livestock — more particularly sheep rather than cattle in the modern, bovine sense. As in Genesis 4:2–4, Cain is a farmer whose tithe is to be made in sheaves of grain, whereas Abel is a shepherd, and traditionally offers up a lamb as his burnt offering, which also associates him with Jesus as the Lamb of God.

90 strokid the hay. That is, where she wiped her ass.

97 What gifys God thee to rose hym so. That is, what does God give you to make you praise him so much?

102 here my hand. Cain is raising his hand in oath, and/or perhaps in a rude gesture. The manuscript here has the plural “hend” (see Textual Note), bracketed as rhyming with line 105 (“brend”), although it should evidently rhyme with lines 106 (“hand”) and 108 (“walkand”); the gesture demands a single hand.

150 Wemay. An exclamation of impatience or surprise, related to “we” (see note to line 55 above); several variations appear in the Towneley plays (but rarely elsewhere), including wemo at line 200 in this play.

184 Ryse, let me now. Abel is apparently kneeling before the burning altar; Cain impatiently demands his turn, although his sacrifice is not yet ready, and his eventual sacrifice will not burn properly (see lines 276–88). Nor is it clear that Cain kneels meekly like his brother: his reference to his use of “thise two shankys” in line 188 suggests that he remains standing to give his “unthankys” (line 189).

224 teynd right of all bedeyn. Abel tells Cain to give a tenth of all he has, rather than just one (“of the warst” as he says in line 226) of the ten sheaves that he has just counted, or deliberately miscounted, given the repetition of numbers in the preceding lines.

227–29 Wé com nar . . . . I wynk. Cain tells Abel to cover his (Cain’s) eyes in order to prevent him from choosing only the worst sheaves of corn, but ultimately opts to close his eyes himself, or pretends to do so; “in the wenyand” (line 228) is a mild curse, the waning moon being considered unlucky.

277 haro. “Harrow” is a common cry of anger or distress in Middle English, a means of sounding an alarm, and “to cry harrow” is to denounce something or someone (see MED harou (interj. & n.)). The interjection is used in several of the Towneley plays as in the York plays.

299–300 hob over the wall . . . so small. Hob is a familiar form of the name Robert (see MED Hobbe (n.)) or Robin, often used to refer to a rustic clown or to a hob-goblin or sprite (specifically Robin Goodfellow, or Puck). The reference to a wall could possibly indicate that God was expected to appear in production above the stage, proper, or that his voice was to be heard from behind or beyond the stage, unseen. This could account for the belittling reference to his “small” voice, although this could also be obvious sarcasm; on the other hand, God is said to speak to Elijah in “a still small voice” according to the King James translation of 1 Kings 19:12 (3 Kings 19:12 in the Vulgate, translated in the Douay-Rheims version as “a whistling of gentle air”).

313 we have a craw to pull. Proverbial. See Whiting C572.

326 cheke bon. Tradition has Cain use the jawbone of a donkey as his murder weapon, as does Sampson in Judges 15:15.

358 dele aboute thee, for I will none. That is, give your curse (malison, line 358) to yourself, since I do not want it.

360–63 Syn I have . . . . fro thi face. Cain’s expression of despair, with its inherent refusal of the possibility of God’s grace and forgiveness, traditionally what keeps him condemned in hell, along with those who committed suicide, when others are set free at the Harrowing (see 22.334–36 and 23.311–24 and notes).

369 Bery me in Gudeboure at the quarell hede. Goody Bower, near the parish church (now cathedral) in Wakefield, was the site of a quarry (as well as of the original Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, founded by Royal Charter in 1591, and built of stone quarried there). For more on Wakefield, see Introduction, pp. 4–8.

395 I did it bot to use my hand. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath similarly justifies her lechery as simple and appropriate use of her God-given anatomy: “In wyfhod I wol use myn instrument / As freely as my Makere hath it sent” (CT III[D] 149–50).

399 bayn. “Bayn” could mean “murderer” (as suggested by the line’s inclusion in the OED and MED alike under bane (n.), sense 1), namely, Cain himself, but here more likely means “bones” or “corpse” (MED bon (n.1), sense 7) — that is, Cain is asking the boy to dispose of Abel’s body.

402 Godys payn. The phrase is richly ambiguous, suggesting both punishment by God (unless the boy stops speaking) and, anachronistically, the pain and suffering of Jesus, as well as the penalty (MED peine (n.), sense 1c) that he paid on behalf of humanity, not to mention God’s bread (MED pain (n.)), the sacramental wafer that, in the Mass, becomes his body.

410–11 What, wilt thou cry my peasse / Thrughout this land. To “cry” here means to make a public proclamation (MED crien (v.), sense 7c, citing these lines), while “my peasse” signifies (royal) protection (see MED pes (n.), sense 6d).

417 Full slape of thrift then shal he be. He will be very slippery of fortune – that is, very fortunate, as glossed by SC (p. 709), but with the implication of cunning deception.

436 This same is he that slo his brother. Here the boy finishes Cain’s sentence all too appropriately, so Cain starts again, several times, but never finishes the sentence himself.

438 ill spon weft ay comes foule out. That is, badly-spun wool will result in poorly woven cloth, or what is flawed from the start will remain flawed. The same proverb is used in the second Shepherds play, at 9.848–49. See Whiting W571.

439 Long or thou get thi hoyse. All children were similarly dressed until around age seven when boys were “breeched”; this “boy” (in the sense of “servant”) is likely much older than that, but is being mocked.

442 com downe in twenty dwill way. The same phrase, an intensive variant of the common phrase “in the devil’s way” (see lines 91 and 453), effectively a synonym for “away” expressing impatience or annoyance, is used both in the Offering of the Magi (10.465) and in the Conspiracy play (17.224). The boy has apparently climbed somewhere out of Cain’s reach.

454 take yond plogh. The plough has evidently remained onstage since before Abel’s entrance (see line 58 and note); the boy is now instructed to take it offstage. Before making his own exit, Cain threatens to hang the boy “apon this plo / With this rope” (lines 463–64) should he trouble him further, swearing anachronistically “By hym that me dere boght” (line 465). In his final separation from Cain, leaving with the plow, the boy is arguably aligned figuratively the medieval tradition of the plowman as good and humble Christian, as exemplified by Langland’s Piers Plowman and Chaucer’s plowman.


Play 2, THE KILLING OF ABEL: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).


Before 1 MS: a later hand has written Glover in the upper corner of the page, next to the title and first speech heading, and yet another hand has added pag, the rest of that word having been trimmed away in binding.

13 dwill. MS: another hand has superscribed e between the d and w.

43 will ye not se. MS: ye is preceded by what appears to be a partial, uncancelled letter such as w or d; t has been superscribed between the o and s.

102 hand. So SC. MS: hend, anticipating the final word of line 104.

116 For bi hym that me dere boght. MS: a red rule under this line has been partially erased.

122 my. MS: beyn has been crossed out before this word.

124 When all mens corn was fayre in feld. So MS. SC inadvertently duplicate line 126 here.

125 a neld. So EP, SC. MS: an eld.

215 will. MS: written in another hand in faded ink in the bottom margin directly below the same word in this line.

225 twelve, fyfteyn, sexteyn. So EP. MS: xij xv xvj.

254 two. So EP. MS: ij.

261 Cain (speech heading). MS: the letter C has been copied three times in the margin by a later hand, in faded ink.

274 Bere thee even and speke bot skill. MS: At the bottom of the page (fol. 5r) following this line, the scribe has written a catchphrase, the beginning of the next line, which is to be found not on the verso of this leaf but on the page following (fol. 6r); a catchphrase is also written on each of the next two pages. Two pages in a row begin with the same words (Bot now syn), which has apparently led to their inadvertent reversal. Overleaf, in the top left-hand corner, the scribe has written, in red (with the beginnings of some words cropped): “Md that this syde of the leyfe shuld folow the other next syde accordyng to the tokyns here maide and then after al stondys in ordre.” The “tokens” referred to are symbols (also in red) placed beside each of the catchphrases, and the letters a and b placed beside the lines themselves at the top of those two successive pages, to help guide the reader.

324 am I to wite. MS: originally I am not to wite, with I and not crossed out (in red over black) and I superscribed after am in the hand of the main scribe.

373–76 Nay Caym it . . . . be punyshid sevenfold. MS: in the right margin opposite these lines, another hand has written “and that shall do thy boddy der” — a line that could conceivably belong below (rhyming with here/fere in lines 384–85) where there is apparent textual corruption, lines 386–87 being unmetrical and unrhymed.

375 sloys thee, yong. So SC, following Genesis 4:15. MS: sloys yong.

424 fawt. So EP, SC. MS: sawt.

453 in the. MS has a t and a partly erased h with a red stroke through it.

After 477 Mactacio. MS: this word is copied in a later hand and partly erased just below the same word in the explicit.

 
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2. The Killing of Abel

from: The Towneley Plays  2017






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Mactacio Abel, secunda pagina.1

All hayll, all hayll, both blithe and glad,
For here com I, a mery lad!
Be peasse youre dyn, my master bad,
Or els the dwill you spede.
Wote ye not I com before?
Bot who that janglis any more,
He must blaw my blak hoill bore
Both behynd and before
Till his tethe blede.
Felows, here I you forbede
To make nother nose ne cry;
Whoso is so hardy to do that dede,
The dwill hang hym up to dry.

Gedlyngys, I am a fulle grete wat.
A good yoman my master hat;
Full well ye all hym ken.
Begyn he with you for to stryfe,
Certys, then mon ye never thryfe.
Bot I trow bi God on life
Som of you ar his men.
Bot let youre lippis cover youre ten,
Harlottys everichon;
For if my master com, welcom hym then.
Farewell, for I am gone.

Io furth, Greynhorne, and war oute, Gryme!
Drawes on, God gif you ill to tyme.
Ye stand as ye were fallen in swyme!
What, will ye no forther, mare?
War, let me se how Down will draw.
Yit, shrew, yit pull on a thraw.
What, it semys for me ye stand none aw.
I say, Donnyng, go fare!
Aha! God gif thee soro and care.
Lo, now hard she what I saide?
Now, yit art thou the warst mare
In plogh that ever I haide.

How, Pikeharnes, how! com heder, belife.
I fend, Godys forbot, that ever thou thrife.
What, boy, shal I both hold and drife?
Heris thou not how I cry?
Say, Mall and Stott, will ye not go?
Lemyng, Morell, Whitehorne, io!
Now will ye not se how thay hy?
Gog gif thee sorow, boy.
Want of mete it gars.
Thare provand, syr, forthi
I lay behynd thare ars,

And tyes them fast bi the nekys
With many stanys in thare hekys.
That shall bi thi fals chekys!
And have agane as right!
I am thi master; wilt thou fight?
Yai, with the same mesure and weght
That I boro will I qwite.
Wé, now nothyng bot call on tyte
That we had ployde this land. 2
Harrer, Morell! io furth, hyte!
And let the plogh stand.

God, as he both may and can,
Spede thee, brother, and thi man.
Com kis myne ars! Me list not ban,
As welcom standys ther oute. 3
Thou shuld have bide til thou were cald.
Com nar, and other drife or hald,
And kys the dwillis toute.
Go grese thi shepe under the toute
For that is thee moste lefe.
Broder, ther is none here aboute
That wold thee any grefe.

Bot, leif brother, here my sawe:
It is the custom of oure law
All that wyrk as the wise
Shall worship God with sacrifice.
Oure fader us bad, oure fader us kend,
That oure tend shuld be brend.
Com furth, brothere, and let us gang
To worship God; we dwell full lang.
Gif we hym parte of oure fee,
Corne or catall wheder it be.

And therfor, brother, let us weynd
And first clens us from the feynd
Or we make sacrifice;
Then blis withoutten end
Get we for oure servyce

Of hym that is oure saulis leche.
How! let furth youre geyse, the fox will preche.
How long wilt thou me appech
With thi sermonyng?
Hold thi tong, yit I say,
Even ther the good wife strokid the hay,
Or sit downe in the dwill way
With thi vayn carpyng.

Shuld I leife my plogh and all thyng
And go with thee to make offeryng?
Nay, thou fyndys me not so mad.
Go to the dwill and say I bad.
What gifys God thee to rose hym so?
Me gifys he noght bot soro and wo.

Caym, leife this vayn carpyng,
For God giffys thee all thi lifyng.
Yit boroed I never a farthyng
Of hym; here my hand.
Brother, as elders have us kend
First shuld we tend with oure hend
And to his lofyng sithen be brend. 4
My farthyng is in the preest hand
Syn last tyme I offyrd.
Leif brother, let us be walkand;
I wold oure tend were profyrd.

Wé! wherof shuld I tend, leif brothere?
For I am ich yere wars then othere.
Here my trouth, it is none othere:
My wynnyngys ar bot meyn;
No wonder if that I be leyn.
Full long till hym I may me meyn,
For bi hym that me dere boght
I traw that he will leyn me noght.

Yis, all the good thou has in wone
Of Godys grace is bot a lone.
Lenys he me? As come thrift apon thee so,
For he has ever yit beyn my fo.
For had he my freynd beyn
Othergatys it had beyn seyn.
When all mens corn was fayre in feld
Then was myne not worth a neld.
When I shuld saw and wantyd seyde
And of corn had full grete neyde,
Then gaf he me none of his;
No more will I gif hym of this.
Hardely hold me to blame
Bot if I serve hym of the same.
Leif brother, say not so,
Bot let us furth togeder go.
Good brother, let us weynd sone;
No longer here I rede we hone.
Yei, yei, thou jangyls waste.
The dwill me spede if I have hast
As long as I may lif
To dele my good or gif,
Ather to God or yit to man,
Of any good that ever I wan.
For had I giffen away my goode,
Then myght I go with a ryffen hood,
And it is better hold that I have
Then go from doore to doore and crave.
Brother, com furth in Godys name.
I am full ferd that we get blame;
Hy we fast that we were thore.
Wé, ryn on in the dwills nayme before.
Wemay, man, I hold thee mad.
Wenys thou now that I list gad
To gif away my warldys aght?
The dwill hym spede that me so taght.
What nede had I my travell to lose,
To were my shoyn and ryfe my hose?
Dere brother, hit were grete wonder
That I and thou shuld go in sonder.
Then wold oure fader have grete ferly.
Ar we not brether thou and I?
No, bot cry on, cry whyls thee thynk good.
Here my trowth: I hold thee woode.
Wheder that he be blithe or wroth
To dele my good is me full lothe.
I have gone oft on softer wise
Ther I trowed som prow wold rise
Bot well I se go must I nede;
Now weynd before, ill myght thou spede,
Syn that we shall algatys go.
Leif brother, whi sais thou so?
Bot go we furth both togeder.
Blissid be God we have fare weder.
Lay downe thi trussell apon this hill.
Forsoth, broder, so I will.
Gog of heven take it to good.
Thou shall tend first, if thou were wood.
God that shope both erth and heven,
I pray to thee thou here my steven
And take in thank, if thi will be,
The tend that I offre here to thee,
For I gif it in good entent
To thee my lord, that all has sent.
I bren it now with stedfast thoght
In worship of hym that all has wroght.
Ryse, let me now, syn thou has done.
Lord of heven, thou here my boyne,
And over Godys forbot be to thee
Thank or thew to kun me. 5
For as browke I thise two shankys,
It is full sore, myne unthankys,
The teynd that I here gif to thee
Of corn or thyng that newys me.
Bot now begyn will I then,
Syn I must nede my tend to bren.
Oone shefe, oone, and this makys two,
Bot nawder of thise may I forgo.
Two, two, now this is thre;
Yei, this also shall leif with me,
For I will chose and best have —
This hold I thrift — of all this thrafe.
Wemo, wemo! foure, lo, here.
Better greved me no this yere.
At yere tyme, I sew fayre corn,
Yit was it sich when it was shorne.
Thystyls and brerys, yei, grete plenté,
And all kyn wedys that myght be.
Foure shefys, foure; lo, this makys fyfe.
Deyll! I fast thus long or I thrife.
Fyfe and sex, now this is sevyn,
this gettys never God of heven.
Nor none of thise foure at my myght
Shall never com in Godys sight.
Sevyn, sevyn, now this is aght.
Cam, brother, thou art not God betaght.
Wé, therfor is it that I say
For I will not deyle my good away.
Bot had I gyffen hym this to teynd
Then wold thou say he were my freynd,
Bot I thynk not, bi my hode,
To departe so lightly fro my goode.
Wé! aght, aght, and neyn, and ten is this.
Wé, this may we best mys.
Gif hym that that ligys thore;
It goyse agans myn hart full sore.

Cam, teynd right of all bedeyn.
Wé, lo! twelve, fyfteyn, sexteyn.
Caym, thou tendys wrang and of the warst.
Wé, com nar and hide myne een.
In the wenyand, wist ye now at last!
Or els will thou that I wynk?
Then shall I doy no wrong, me thynk.

Let me se now how it is.
Lo, yit I hold me paide.
I teyndyd wonder well, bi ges,
And so even I laide.

Came, of God me thynke thou has no drede.
Now and he get more, the dwill me spede,
As mych as oone reepe!
For that cam hym full light chepe,
Not as mekill grete ne small
As he myght wipe his ars withall.
For that and this that lyys here
Have cost me full dere.
Or it was shorne and broght in stak
Had I many a wery bak.
Therfor aske me no more of this,
For I have giffen that my will is.
Cam, I rede thou tend right
For drede of hym that sittys on hight.
How that I tend, rek thee never a deill,
Bot tend thi skabbid shepe wele.
For if thou to my teynd tent take
It bese the wars for thi sake.
Thou wold I gaf hym this shefe or this sheyfe?
Na, nawder of thise two wil I leife.
Bot take this, now has he two.
And for my saull now mot it go.
Bot it gos sore agans my will
And shal he like full ill.
Cam, I reyde thou so teynd
That God of heven be thi freynd.
My freynd? Na, not bot if he will.
I did hym never yit bot skill.
If he be never so my fo,
I am avisid gif hym no mo.
Bot chaunge thi conscience as I do myn.
Yit teynd thou not thi mesel swyne.
If thou teynd right, thou mon it fynde. 6
Yei, kys the dwills ars behynde!
The dwill hang thee bi the nek!
How that I teynd never thou rek.
Will thou not yit hold thi peasse?
Of this janglyng I reyde thou seasse
And, teynd I well or tend I ill,
Bere thee even and speke bot skill.
Bot now, syn thou has teyndid thyne,
Now will I set fyr on myne.
Wé! out, haro! help to blaw!
It will not bren for me, I traw,
Puf! this smoke dos me mych shame.
Now bren, in the dwillys name!
A, what dwill of hell is it?
Almost had myne breth beyn dit.
Had I blawen oone blast more,
I had beyn choked right thore!
It stank like the dwill in hell,
That longer ther myght I not dwell.
Cam, this is not worth oone leke;
Thy tend shuld bren withoutten smeke.
Com kys the dwill right in the ars!
For thee it brens bot the wars.
I wold that it were in thi throte —
Fyr and shefe and ich a sprote.
Cam, whi art thou so rebell
Agans thi brother Abell?
Thar thou nowther flyte ne chyde. 7
If thou tend right, thou gettys thi mede,
And be thou sekir, if thou teynd fals,
Thou bese alowed therafter als.

Whi, who is that hob over the wall?
Wé, who was that that piped so small?
Com, go we hens for perels all;
God is out of hys wit!
Com furth, Abell, and let us weynd;
Me thynk that God is not my freynd.
On land then will I flyt.

A, Caym, brother that is ill done.
No, bot go we hens sone
And, if I may, I shall be
Ther as God shall not me see.
Dere brother, I will fayre
On feld ther oure bestys ar,
To looke if thay be holgh or full.
Na, na, abide; we have a craw to pull. 8
Hark, speke with me or thou go;
What, wenys thou to skape so?
Wé, na! I aght thee a fowll dispyte
And now is tyme that I hit qwite.
Brother, whi art thou so to me in ire?
Wé, theyf, whi brend thi tend so shyre?
Ther myne did bot smoked
Right as it wold us both have choked.
Godys will, I trow it were,
That myn brened so clere;
If thyne smoked, am I to wite?
Wé, yei, that shal thou sore abite!
With cheke bon, or that I blyn,
Shal I thee and thi life twyn.
So lig down ther and take thi rest;
Thus shall shrewes be chastysed best.

Veniance! veniance, Lord, I cry!
For I am slayn and not gilty.
Yei, ly ther, old shrew! ly ther, ly!
And if any of you thynk I did amys,
I shal it amend wars then it is,
That all men may it se.
Well wars then it is
Right so shall it be.

Bot now, syn he is broght on slepe,
Into som hole fayn wold I crepe.
For ferd I qwake and can no rede,
For be I taken I be bot dede.
Here will I lig thise fourty dayes.
And I shrew hym that me fyrst rayse.
Caym! Caym!
Who is that that callis me?
I am yonder may thou not se?
Caym, where is thi brother Abell?
What, askys thou me? I trow at hell.
At hell I trow he be —
Whoso were ther then myght he se —
Or somwhere fallen on slepyng.
When was he in my kepyng?
Caym, Caym! thou was wode.
The voyce of thi brotherys blode
That thou has slayn on fals wise
From erth to heven venyance cryse,
And for thou has broght thi brother downe,
Here I gif thee my malison.
Yei, dele aboute thee, for I will none,
Or take it thee when I am gone.
Syn I have done so mekill syn
That I may not thi mercy wyn,
And thou thus dos me from thi grace,
I shall hyde me fro thi face.
And where so any man may fynd me
Let hym slo me hardely,
And where so any man may me meyte,
Ayther bi sty or yit bi strete.
And hardely, when I am dede,
Bery me in Gudeboure at the quarell hede,
For may I pas this place in quarte.
Bi all men set I not a fart!
Nay, Caym, it bese not so;
I will that no man other slo.
For he that sloys thee, yong or old,
It shall be punyshid sevenfold.
No force, I wote wheder I shall.
In hell, I wote, mon be my stall.
It is no boyte mercy to crave
For, if I do, I mon none have.

Bot this cors I wold were hid,
For som man myght com at ungayn.
“Fle fals shrew” wold he bid,
And weyn I had my brother slayn.

Bot were Pikeharnes my knafe here,
We shuld bery hym both in fere.
How, Pykeharnes, scapethryft! how Pikeharnes, how!
Master, master.

Harstow, boy, ther is a podyng in the pot.
Take thee that, boy, tak thee that!
I shrew thi ball under thi hode
If thou were my syre of flesh and blode. 9
All the day to ryn and trott,
And ever amang thou strykeand,
Thus am I comen bofettys to fott.
Peas, man, I did it bot to use my hand.

Bot harke, boy, I have a counsell to thee to say:
I slogh my brother this same day;
I pray thee, good boy, and thou may,
To ryn away with the bayn.
Wé, out apon thee, thefe!
Has thou thi brother slayn?
Peasse, man, for Godys payn.

I saide it for a skaunce.
Yey, bot for ferde of grevance
Here I thee forsake.
We mon have a mekill myschaunce
And the bayles us take.

A, syr, I cry you mercy! Seasse,
And I shall make you a releasse.
What, wilt thou cry my peasse
Thrughout this land?

Yey, that I gif God a vow, belife.
How will thou do, long or thou thrife? 10
Stand up, my good boy, belife.
And thaym peasse, both man and wife.
And whoso will do after me
Full slape of thrift then shal he be.
Bot thou must be my good boy,
And cry oyes, oyes, oy!
Browes, browes to thi boy.

I commaund you in the kyngys nayme —
And in my masteres, fals Cayme.
That no man at thame fynd fawt ne blame —
Yey, cold rost is at my masteres hame.
Nowther with hym nor with his knafe —
What, I hope my master rafe.
For thay ar trew full manyfold —
My master suppys no coyle bot cold.
The kyng wrytys you untill.
Yit ete I never half my fill.

The kyng will that thay be safe —
Yey, a draght of drynke fayne wold I hayfe.
At thare awne will let tham wafe.
My stomak is redy to receyfe.
Loke no man say to theym on nor other —
This same is he that slo his brother.
Byd every man thaym luf and lowt —
Yey, ill spon weft ay comes foule out. 11
Long or thou get thi hoyse, and thou go thus aboute! 12

Byd every man theym pleasse to pay —
Yey, gif Don, thyne hors, a wisp of hay.
Wé, com downe in twenty dwill way!
The dwill I thee betake.
For bot it were Abell my brothere
Yit knew I never thi make.

Now, old and yong, or that ye weynd,
The same blissyng withoutten end
All sam then shall ye have
That God of heven my master has giffen.
Browke it well whils that ye liffen;
He vowche it full well safe.

Com downe yit in the dwillys way,
And angre me no more.
And take yond plogh, I say,
And weynd thee furth fast before,
And I shall if I may
Tech thee another lore.
I warn thee lad, for ay,
Fro now furth evermore
That thou greve me noght.
For bi Codys sydys, if thou do
I shall hang thee apon this plo
With this rope, lo, lad! lo,
By hym that me dere boght.

Now, fayre well, felows all,
For I must nedys weynd,
And to the dwill be thrall,
Warld withoutten end.
Ordand ther is my stall
With Sathanas the feynd,
Ever ill myght hym befall,
That theder me commend
This tyde.
Fare well les, and fare well more,
For now and evermore!
I will go me to hyde.

Explicit mactacio Abell; sequitur Noe. 13






(see note); (t-note)

joyful

peaceful; noise; bade; (see note)
devil; help you
know
chatters
blow; bore-hole; (see note)

teeth
forbid
neither noise nor

devil; (t-note)

Scoundrels; person
yeoman; is called
know

Certainly; must; thrive
believe; alive

lips; teeth; (see note)
Scoundrels



go forth; look out; (see note)
pull; give; fare; (see note)
swoon
further; mare
Beware
villain; awhile
seems to me; do not stand in awe

give; sorrow
heard
worst
plough; had

here; at once
forbid; forbid
drive; (see note)
hear

go
hasten; (see note); (t-note)
God give
Lack of food causes it
Their provisions; therefore
their asses

tie; necks
stones; hay-racks
abide; cheeks; [fol. 3v]; (see note)
Right back at you!

weight
What I receive; repay
(see note)

Giddy-up; go; (see note)
(see note)


Assist

(see note)
stayed; called
near; either
kiss; devil’s ass
grease; (see note)
to you; agreeable

grief

dear; hear; speech

All who

bade; taught; (see note)
tithe; burnt
go
delay too long
wealth
Grain or livestock; whichever; (see note)

go
cleanse; devil
Before



soul’s physician
geese
delay
preaching
tongue
where; stroked; (see note)
devil’s way
vain chatter

leave

crazy
I told you to
gives; praise; (see note)
sorrow and woe

leave; [fol. 4r]
living
borrowed; a quarter penny
From; (see note); (t-note)
taught
hands

priest’s
Since
Dear; walking
tithe; offered

with what
each year worse off
belief
earnings; meager
lean
complain
(t-note)
believe; loan

in abundance
loan
prosperity
been; foe
(t-note)
It would have appeared otherwise
(t-note)
needle; (t-note)
sow; seed



Boldly
Unless


depart soon
advise; tarry
chatter uselessly
help me; haste

give

goods; gained

torn

beg

afraid
Hurry; there
Ah, run; [fol. 4v]
(see note)
Think; wish to wander
worldly possessions
assist
work; waste
wear out my shoes; tear

go apart
wonder
brothers
while
truth; crazy


in a gentler way
Where I believed; advantage

prosper
in any case
says

fair weather
bundle


tithe; even if; mad
created
voice

tithe


burn

(see note)
prayer
prohibition

as I enjoy the use of these two legs

tenth
grows for me

tithe; burn
sheaves
neither

remain

profit; bundle

grew
In season
harvested
briars
all sorts of weeds
sheaves
Devil; before I thrive
Five and six; seven



eight
come; committed to God

divide; goods; (t-note)
given; tithe

head


miss
lies; there
goes against; heart

tithe; together; (see note)
(t-note)
wrongly; worst
near; eyes; (see note)
waning [moon], know
close my eyes
do



by estimation



if he get more; devil
handful





Before; stacked
weary back


advise that you

tithe; care; not at all
scabbed sheep
tithe; pay attention
will be the worse
sheaf
neither; (t-note)

must




not unless he so wishes; (t-note)
what is reasonable
foe
more

diseased swine

kiss

care

cease

steadily; reason; (t-note)

fire
(see note)
burn; believe
much


been stopped

there


one leek
burn; smoke

worse

fire; sheaf; each sprout
rebellious


reward
assured; falsely
will be paid accordingly

(see note)
feebly
hence; perils



escape


soon

Where
fare
field; are
hungry
(see note)
before
escape
owed; foul injury
pay it back
anger
thief; burned; brightly


believe

blame; (t-note)
pay for
bone; before I cease; (see note)
part
lie
villains

Vengeance
guilty


worse





fain
fear; know no counsel
dead
lie
curse; annoys




believe




mad

in a false manner
vengeance cries

curse
(see note)

much sin; (see note)



wherever
slay; boldly
meet
Either by path; street
by all means
Bury; quarry head; (see note)
good health
care I not

(t-note)

(t-note)
No matter
must; place
no use


body; would
inconveniently

suppose


bury; together
spendthrift


You listen; pudding

curse

run
striking
blows to receive
but; (see note)


slew
if
(see note)


(see note)

joke
fear of injury

must; much misfortune
If; bailiffs

cease

(see note)


at once
before

silence them
whoever
Very fortunate; (see note)


Pottage


false
with them; fault nor blame
home; (t-note)
neither; boy
raves
utterly true
eats only cold cabbage soup
orders
eat


gladly; have
own; move
receive

slew; (see note)
praise and obey
(see note)
(see note)


horse
(see note)

Unless
equal

before you go



Enjoy; live
May he grant it


(t-note)
(see note)


Teach; lesson
ever
From

God’s loins


bought



slave
World
Ordained; place
Satan the fiend

there
time


hide

(t-note)

 


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