The Dispute between Mary and the Cross


1 Disputation between Mary and the Cross according to Apocrypha

2 And [He] is overcome by a swooning state of unconsciousness [preceding death]; / His breast is impaled by death's swarming attacks (see note)

3 A tablet on a board is struck with a nail (or: Spread out broadly on a board, smitten with a nail); / Red letters written by line, / [With] Blue and black, tacked among men

4 Three interpretations are possible: (1) Our bread of pardon from top to toe; (2) Our tablet of pardon from top to toe; (3) Our pardon spread out from top to toe

5 God fashioned me as a shield, to protect against shame

6 [Joining] With the Father who will fulfill all [that is promised], / His Son [come] to heaven is a help; / I was a pillar and stood very still (i.e., providing a vertical pathway from hell to heaven) / The dead souls now cry out for more gifts (i.e., deliverance)

7 [And yet as] His mother [I] had a compassionate heart

8 Next in a font C there sin is shorn (i.e., washed away)

9 For the sake solely of what you bore (i.e., I did this solely to uphold the outcome of what was your labor)

10 Although this tale has been flourished with fair rhetorical flowers, / On this point (i.e., the Cross speaking) I admit that it is apocryphal

11 Here ends the disputation between Mary and Cross following Apocrypha


V Vernon MS (Bodl. MS Eng. poet. a.1). [Base text]
S Simeon MS (BL Addit. MS 22283).
R MS Royal 18 A.x.
M Morris edition (1881). [Diplomatic texts of V and R.]
F Furnivall edition (1901). [Diplomatic text of V.]

The texts of V and S are closely related, and variants between the two tend to be inconsequential. The notes list the variants that affect meaning or meter and omit those that are purely orthographical. The relationship of R to VS is more difficult to determine. R appears to be not simply an abridgement of the longer poem found in VS. Its twenty-eight stanzas represent some mixing up of the stanzas it borrows, and several of its unique passages resemble the poet's style. The following chart outlines the arrangement of stanzas in the two versions:
1 x 11 10 21 34 31  
2 1 12 12 22 35 32  
3 2/3 13 13 23 36 33  
4 3/x 14 14 24 37 34  
5 4 15 25 38 35  
6 5 16 23 26 39 36  
7 6 17 18 27 x 37  
8 7 18 20 28 40 38  
9 8 19 21 29   39  
10 9 20 33 30   40  

R contains 22 new stanzas and omits 142 stanzas found in VS (part of 2, all of 11, 16- 17, 19, 22, and 24-32). While the shared stanzas clearly do correspond, most lines in R contain some degree of variation from VS. The notes cite all variants except the merely orthographical, with recourse where necessary to citation of full lines or passages.

Incipit S: Here bygynneth a lamentacion that ure lady made to the Cros of hir soone. R opens with a unique 13-line stanza:
O litel whyle lesteneth to me
Ententyfly so have ye blys
Gode ensaumple here schul ye
Of noble mater wrought it is
How Mary spak to the Rode-tre
Whan her sone was in anguys
The Cros answeryd that lady fre
Ful myldely seiye clerkys wys
That this tale have made couthe
Thei have expouned it by sight
A good ensaumple and a bryght
But Apocrifum thei holde it right
For tre spak never with mouthe.
1 on. R: to the.

1-8 The innovative meter of this octave reappears in the last stanza (lines 508-15). Internal rhymes create a pattern similar to tail-rhyme verse (aabaabaabaab), but with metrically short a-lines (two stressed syllables instead of the typical three). M and F printed this stanza as sixteen lines; the scribes write all stanzas as nine lines. George Saintsbury calls it "a very odd creation" (A History of English Prosody, vol. 1 [London: Macmillan, 1906], p. 137). On the imagery of fruit and blood, see Fein, p. 106.

2 Made. R: Sche made.

3 Heo. R: and.

seide. F mistakenly printed seid.

the2. R: is.

Fruit. Christ as the fruit of Mary is a figure found often in devotional literature; in Dispute it is played out meaningfully and evoked often. This first reference has a parallel in Philippe de Grève's Crux de te volo conqueri (stanza 1; see Holthausen, p. 23).

4 Is. R: Full.

5 seo. R: gan see.

7 Serwe. R: Of sorewe.

the. R: hys.

fleo. For the verb, see MED fl'n v.(2) "strip skin from (sth.); peel back." The usage is, however, unusual (because veines is subject not object), and it may be influenced by flen v.(1), sense 5, "flinch, turn away, give way."
The graphic image, repeated in line 12, is of Christ's veins, flesh, and bones all coming apart. The visualization of Christ's suffering — and incessant bleeding — is crucial to the poetic conception of the Crucifixion as an anti-birth experience. First formed of Mary's flesh, Christ's human form now deconstructs before Mary's eyes, while it is borne (as in pregnancy) by the Cross. Compare similarly vivid images of Christ bleeding in Meditation on the Passion; and of Three Arrows on Doomsday, a work influenced by Rolle's writings: "At this smytyng in to the erthe all his vaynes brast, that of all his lyms the blod out stremede" (ed. Horstmann, p. 113); and in Rolle's Meditation B, ed. Ogilvie-Thomson, p. 76, lines 281-91, and p. 78, lines 377-85.

9 Tre. R; VS: Cros. Reading in R adopted for alliteration; compare note to line 66. Lawton also notes the better alliteration of R (p. 154).

trouthe. R: treuthe.

10 pillori. The word here and at line 19 is the only recorded instance applied to the Cross; see MED pillori(e n., sense (c). Word and image undergo a transformation when the Cross reveals itself to be not merely a pillory for thieves, but a pillar for mankind (stanza 12).

13 routhe. R: reuthe.

15 fayre. R: gode. As Lawton notes, the reading in R provides alliteration with bigyled (p. 154).

16 afamed. R: famed. Dispute contains the only recorded instance of this word in ME. See MED afamen v.

19 a. Omitted in R.

ipiled. The MED lists this usage under pilen v.(2), sense (a), "To fasten (sb.) to (sth.) with nails," with this passage the only cited example. The word is probably a pun upon this meaning (fitting pillori in sense and sound) and "peeled of skin" (fitting the fruit metaphor); see pilen v.(1), sense 5(c).

20 Grete theves thus. VS: Grete Jewes thus; R: As grete thevys that. In VS the phrase grete Jewes is a synonmyn for "thieves" here and at lines 25 and 27. Here and at line 27 R reads theves (R does not contain line 25). Compare, too, the word theoves in stanza 4. A scribe has apparently misread or deliberately changed þeues to ieues. The conservative, often anti-Semitic orthodoxy expressed elsewhere in texts preserved in VS may inform the alteration. Elsewhere, the Dispute poet depicts Jews as pitiless, hard-hearted torturers of Christ and scorners of Mary (stanzas 8, 18, and 29), and as potential converts (stanzas 24-27); see notes to lines 98 and 302.

21 And dyede for. R: That deyeden thorough.

22-26 In R the five-line coda of stanza 3 (lines 35-39) appears here.

24 Line omitted in S.

25 grete theves. VS: grete Jewes. See note to line 20.

27 theves. VS: Jewes. In R the word is a genitive plural: The grete thevys galowes were greyd. The phrase grete theves has developed into a link phrase between stanzas 2 and 3.

galwes. S: galles.

were. F mistakenly printed wiere.

greid. R; VS: greithed. The reading in R is accepted for rhyme; both spellings are attested for the verb greithen (MED).

28 robbyng. R: robbe.

ronnen. SR; V: ronne. The reading of SR is accepted for improved meter.

29 on the. R: theron.

30 That never nuyyed. R: He noyyed never.

33 tobursten. R: breke.

breid. It is difficult to determine which meaning of this word is most appropriate: MED breid n.(1), sense 1, "jerk, wrench"; sense 2(d), "an affliction, torment"; or sense 3, "trick, strategem."

34 nou in a strong stryf. R: in stroke and stryfe.

35-39 In R these lines appear in the preceding stanza (see note to lines 22-26) and the stanza ends with five unique lines:
The faire fruyte of my flessche
My leve childe withoute lak
For Adam Goddis biddyng brak
The blood ran on my briddes bak
Droppynge as dewe on ryssche.
These lines are possibly from the original poem, but they are not obviously superior to the lines in VS, which are retained here. In particular, The Festivals of the Church at line 199, "The blood droppyd as dew on ryssche," echoes the last of these lines. Lawton speculates from the presence of these "plausibly original lines" that V and R "were copied from substantially different texts of the poem" and that R's copy "may represent an earlier version in which there were only two speeches on each side" (p. 158). The symmetrical, numerological patterning of VS argues, however, for an original poem of forty stanzas (see Pickering [1978], p. 291).

36 Fouled. R: All tofowled.

37 tripet. R: treget.

38 and ruit. R: unrighte (a word that breaks the rhyme). The R scribe apparently did not know this French word. The meaning "disturbance, disorder" is attested only here; see MED rut(te n., sense 2; and OED ruit.

40-42 The variant lines in R yield poor sense:
The jugement have thei joyned
To bere foole full of synne
Yit scholde my sone fro thee be soyned.
43 uppon. R: on.

44 teynet. R: twyned (a change in the rhyme). For the verb, rich in meaning, see MED teinten v.(1), senses (a), "accused," and (c) "tainted, contaminated," and teinten v.(2), "dye, impart color." The past participle spelling found in VS is attested only for the latter verb, but its meaning is blended into the former verb. In the context here, the "taint" is literally blood on the Cross and abstractly treason mixed with truth wrongly accused. Holthausen thought that this word and feynet in line 46 break the rhyme. These words, however, are exceptionally fitting in sense; moreover, they rhyme with each other and approximate the first a-rhyme: enjoynet/ensoynet/teynet/feynet.

45 theoves. S: the theoves; R: a theef.

fer in fenne. Literally means "far into filth." The usage in Dispute is not recorded in the MED, but see fen n.(2), "dung, excrement, filth" (from OF), and fen n.(1), sense 3, "something worthless, trash" (from OE), which may influence the first word.

46 limes. R: feet. The reading in R provides a word that alliterates, but it changes the visual image of four wounded extremities, which limes offers. Since the stanza concludes with the fifth wound in the heart, the reading of VS seems the better one. The line still contains two alliterating words, the poet's norm.

feynet. R: pyned. Feynet might mean "restrained," but it appears that the poet chose it to fit with the conceit of Truth tied with treason: the nails "falsify" (feign) His limbs by their foul association with holy flesh. See MED feinen v., senses 3 and 8.

49 That Brid. VS: That Fruit; R: The brid that (preferred by Holthausen). The word brid is adopted from R because it restores the line's alliteration; compare line 70. The contrast is between the wholeness of Christ's body, born from an equally whole virgin, and the present tearing of that flesh. Mary views the wound as a sacrilege of her and Christ's own immaculate natures. The rhymes on born, totorn, and born ("borne") reinforce the violence of the contrast.

50 a theoves. R: this.

totorn. R: fortorne.

51 thorwout. R: thorow.

born. VS: bon; R: was borne. Emendation adopted by M; F emended to is born.

52 R reads: Hys hert now hath a wounde.

53 the. Omitted in R.

54 deye. R; VS: dye. Both M and F adopted this emendation. The full line in R yields a poorer sense than the line in VS: That a theefe and a traytour on the schal deye. Compare lines 256 and 264, and note to line 156.

55 But. Omitted in R.

56 And Vertu falleth in. R: Vertue is falle by.

57 in. R: and.

58 Treo. S: a tre.

hem. R: do.

teye. The verb is rarely used to describe the Crucifixion; see MED teien v.

59 Vertu is. R: Now is vertue.

60 Crist. R; VS: my Sone. The reading in R restores alliteration; compare Mary's similar reference to her Son at line 406.

61 Vertu. R: Vertue is.

62 bereth. R: he bereth.

63 His. R: The.

65 dyeth. R: thus deieth.

66 Cros. R; VS: Tre. The reading in R is accepted for alliteration; compare the similar substitution at line 9.

ked. VS: kud; R: kyd. The rhyme indicates the original spelling. All three spellings are attested for the past participle of the verb kithen (MED).

67 Sone. R: sonys.

68 Brid. R; VS: Fruit. The reading in R is adopted for alliteration. The metaphor of Christ as "fruit" is being supplanted by a conception of Christ as a helpless infant, mothered by Mary, and as a delicate flower. The Nativity is recalled in other planctus Mariae (Motif 3 in Taylor, p. 10), linking Christ's death with His birth.

beestes. R: beeste.

69 be. S: he; R: by.

Flour. R: fruyt.

70 With. R: And with.

71 The reference is to the drink offered Christ on the Cross (Matthew 27.34).

73 fostred. S: fostered; R: floryssched.

fodderes. R: fodders; VS: a fodderes. Emendation adopted for meter.

76 I leid. R: and leyde.

77-78 R reads: And thou Cros haldes hym hiye alofte / Bounde in blody bandes. Holthausen preferred the variant in R for line 78.

79 ilolled. S: ilulled; R: I lulled (preferred by Holthausen). The idiom in R, lulled uppe, is unattested elsewhere in ME (MED). The V reading, on the other hand, follows the poet's tendency to play upon words of like sound: Mary's "lulling" in line 76 shifts to Christ's being "ilolled" on the Cross. She lay down her infant gently, an action that has undergone violent alteration in the Cross's holding Christ roughly aloft, leaving him to dangle. Among surviving ME lyrics are many lullabies of Mary that contrast her maternal protection with the foretold Passion; see, for example, the collection printed in Richard Leighton Greene, The Early English Carols, second ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1977), pp. 85-104.

thy leyr. VS: the eyr; R: hys leir (preferred by Holthausen). Leyr, the more difficult and interesting variant, also provides better alliteration and rhyme (eyr occurs in line 83). The stanza being about where animals rest their heads, Christ is portrayed as uncomfortably accommodated in the Cross's "lair."

80 gan. S: con. The poet establishes a contrast between Mary maternally wrapping her infant in "cradel bond" and the torturous bonds used on the Cross.

81 nou on. R: uppon.

82 ayeyn. R: in.

83 nestes. R: nest.

in eyr. VSR: in the eyr. The phrase, derived from the biblical saying, modifies foules rather than nestes.

83-86 Compare Jesus's saying in Matthew 8.20: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (also Luke 9.58). Richard Rolle includes this passage in both the long and short Prose Meditations on the Passion; see Glasscoe, p. 101; Rolle's Meditation B, ed. Ogilvie-Thomson, p. 79, line 431.

84 Foxes. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: Wolves. Reading in R adopted because it alliterates and agrees with the biblical source.

85 in hevene Heir. S: in hevene that heyr; R: and hevenys eir.

86 nou. Omitted in R.

holdeth. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: leoneth. The more difficult reading in R is taken for alliteration.

88 Godes. R: My sonys.

reste. S: restyng.

89 His. R: the.

90 His flesch. R: the panne is. F emended to flesche to gain a syllable for the meter.

91 His. R: Thys.

wyte. F mistakenly printed wytte.

hit. S: monnus; omitted in R.

92 hit. R: hym.

sleiht. R: sleithe.

93 blody Brid. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: fayre Fruit. Both versions alliterate, but as Holthausen points out, the quadruple alliteration in R is effective, while VS repeats the fruit figure of line 95 (see also Lawton, p. 154). R is adopted, too, because the bird imagery continues the last stanza's references to fowls and foxes. Compare, also, line 103.

94 so. Omitted in R.

heiht. VSR: heihth. Emended for rhyme.

95 Mi Fruites. R: Hys.

96 pulte. R: putte.

streiht. R: strecche (a change in rhyme).

97 His. S: hit. The line in R is short: Hys feet to kys.

98 keiht. R: kecche. Mary's wish to kiss Christ is common in the planctus (Motif 19 in Taylor, p. 11). Allusions to the Jews as hard-hearted villains, torturers of Christ, and pitiless scorners of Mary are also common (Motif 17 in Taylor, p. 11); compare lines 101, 225-26, 230, 234. But note too the three Jews who are softened by compassion (lines 302-42).

99 R reads: And on me make her mowe amys.

100 games. R: game.

101 me ful. R: on me.

103 Thou berest my Brid. R: My brid thou berist (preferred by Holthausen).

105 yaf. R: than yaf.

107 palmes. R: palme. Two meanings seem to be intertwined: MED palm(e n., "palm leaves as an emblem of victory," and palmes n. (from Latin), "a branch, spray, or shoot of a vine." The second meaning would augment the vegetative metaphor of Mary and Cross sharing the same "fruit" or "offshoot." This usage prepares for the metaphor of stanza 11, in which Christ the Fruit is a grape of the vine, pressed by the Cross into wine. The word appears in Philippe de Grève's poem: "Virgo, tibi respondeo, / Tibi, cui totem debeo / Meorum decus palmitum" (lines 37-39; see Holthausen, p. 24).

108 thorw. R: of.

109 R reads: Thy trye fruyt I totere.

111 lere. VS: lure. This emendation, adopted by F, is accepted for the rhyme. Both spellings are attested; see MED lire n.(1), sense 3(a). The line in R reads: The worlde to wynne as thou mayst here.

112 Blosme. SR: blossom. The line in R reads: This blossom blomed in thi bour.

113 Ac not. R: Not all.

114 werd. R; VS: world. Reading of R accepted for rhyme.

115 swelte. R: waltereth.

swerd. S: sword.

116 feet. R: foote.

gerd. S: gord.

118 huge. R: grete.

119 bouh. S: bouht.

119-26 These lines in R contain a great deal of small variation, compared to the VS version:
He bote a fruyt under a bowe
Therfore thi fruit spred hys armes
On tre that is tiyed with tyndes towe
Hys body is smyte ny the tharmes
He swelt with a swemely swow
Hys breest is bored with deethis armes
And with hys deeth fro deeth us drowe
And all hys goode freendys.
Lines 119-20 emphasize the comparison between the forbidden fruit of Paradise and the redemptive Fruit (i.e., Christ on Cross). For this comparison elsewhere in the poem (but not in the R version), see stanza 32. The insertion of us in line 125 is also of interest.

120 hath. S: has.

121 a Treo. S: treo.

122 dethes tharmes. "? Death's worms." This unusual phrase is not cited in the MED (tharm n.). The basic sense of tharm is "entrails, viscera," but see sense 4, "worms," and sense 5, "offspring."

124 dethes swarmes. "? Death's swarms." The MED glosses swarmes in this line as "? A throng of missiles" and also proposes that the word is an error for "armes." Normally the word means "colony of bees" or "throng of people." The inventive quality of the usages of tharmes and swarmes in this stanza derives from a compressed and somewhat cryptic metaphorical argument in the stanza: Adam bit a fruit, causing Death to attack, culminating in the wounded, exposed Fruit on the Cross being besieged by "worms" and "swarms" (as of bees) but finally emerging victorious against Death. The metaphor posits that Adam's bite presages (or even creates) the wound, by which Life is released to battle Death.
Although the corresponding stanza 6 in Philippe de Grève's poem mentions Adam's harm being righted and evokes the biblical phrasing of death conquering death, the fructuous metaphor of Dispute does not exist there (see Holthausen, pp. 24-25). A closer analogy exists in Love's Mirror:
And this day [Monday] the first man Adam by the frute of the tre forboden, deformede in him that ymage of god, and lost that joyful place, and was dampnet to deth without endyng.
Bot this day the seconde Adam crist god and man reformed this ymage in his Incarnation, and after by vertue of the blessed fruyt of his body, hangyng on the tre of the crosse restorede man to blisse and life everlastyng. (ed. Sargent, p. 27, lines 26-32)
127-30 Isaiah 25.8; see also Hosea 13.14. Use of this prophecy recurs in Alle e Mowyn, stanza 5, and The Festivals of the Church, stanza 8.

128 And. R: He.

129 on. R: in.

130 Yaf lyf. R: And leveth.

131 stipre. "Post or prop." This usage of the word is the only one attested in ME outside of place-names (MED stipre n.). F mistakenly read scipre and emended to stipre.

131-43 Stanza 11 omitted in R.

133 me. F mistakenly read a thorn at the end of this word.

135-41 On the figure of the Cross as a wine press, compare Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, vol. 1, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 295. Jacobus attributes the figure to Dionysius, On the Celestial Hierarchy, chapter 7. It also appears in Philippe de Grève's Crux de te volo conqueri (stanza 8; see Holthausen, p. 25; Pickering [1978], p. 290). The figure may ultimately derive from Augustine's analogy of Christ and the grape in the press of Isaiah 63.3 (Rubin, pp. 313-14).

136 in rape. According to the MED (which cites this line), the phrase is idiomatic for "in haste." A perhaps better meaning, from OF, is cited in the OED: "stalks of grape clusters, or refuse of grapes from which wine has been expressed." The violence of rape n.(2), "forceful seizure," might also be felt in the word as the Cross presses the Grape "with strok and stryf."

142-43 For the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, see John 4.7-15. The poet uses the same example to discuss Christ as the water of life in the last stanza of Whon Grein of Whete Is Cast to Grounde.

143 drynke. F mistakenly printed drinke.

144 doth. S: do.

to. Omitted in R.

allege. The term is one of many legalisms in the debate.

145 Thi Fruit is. R: Fruite.

146 On. R: I.

147 of Godes. R: best of.

147-50 These four lines are omitted in S.

148 Al is al. R: All is.

rib and rugge. Idiomatically means "completely," while literally meaning "rib and back." The simile is of Christ's bleeding body as a rich red fruit (e.g., a plum) carved upon a board, oozing juice. It is part of a pattern of food metaphors to connote Christ's eucharistic body (Fruit, Wine, and Lamb). On medieval eucharistic piety, see Bynum, pp. 31-69; Rhodes, pp. 388-419; and Rubin, pp. 288-361.

149 His bodi. R: The bak.

150 was. R: am a. The Cross is pillory transformed to pillar, connecting heaven and hell, providing mankind with a pathway — a bridge, with God the Way — heavenward. Bar is easily understood to be the preterite of beren v.(1), but a second reading is possible: "I was pillar and my crossbar (was) a bridge." This alternate reading brings the Cross's full shape into the symbolism. The figure also appears in the Vernon Testament of Christ, line 75: "And to a piler I was ipiht" (ed. Furnivall, p. 643). On the Cross as cosmic, vertical bridge in Anglo-Saxon tradition, see Kaske, pp. 49-50.

151 R reads: God is the weye, witnesse one worde.

152 John 14.6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."

154 mihte no mon. R: no man cowde.

156 deye. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: dye. Reading of R is adopted for rhyme; compare line 54.

157 R reads: And Moyses fourmed hys figour.

157-60 On the sacred lamb, ordained food for the first Passover, see Exodus 12.1-14.

159 Schulde be sacred. R: He sacred so.

161 R reads: And chosen cheef in honour. The sense of R in lines 157-61 is confused.

161-69 Several commentators have cited this memorable figure of the Cross as a charger bearing the Lamb, roasted in the sun. See Gray (1972), p. 69; Bennett, p. 57; and Pearsall, p. 142. Pickering notes the presence of similar imagery in the poet's other works, The Festivals of the Church, stanza 10, and Alle e Mowyn, stanzas 18-19 ([1978], p. 292; [1997], p. 87).

162 for. R: to.

163 Creatour. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: Saveour. The reading in R, which is slightly harder in sense, is accepted because it both alliterates and eliminates the repetition of a rhyme-word. Holthausen offers a few analogues for this reading (p. 27).

164 His flesch fedeth. R; VS: He fedeth bothe. The reading in R is accepted because it restores alliteration.

165 Lomb of Love. On Christ figured as the Paschal Lamb, see Weber, pp. 95-96, 246 n. 9.

166 Rosted ayeyn the sonne. This phrase recurs in the poet's All e Mowyn Be Blyth and Glade, line 231. See Pickering (1978), p. 292.

167 With blood I was bironne. This image recurs in the poet's All e Mowyn Be Blyth and Glade, line 233.

168 Til feet and hondes. R: Whan flessche and veynes. The image in R repeats one found in the first stanza (line 12). It lacks, however, the vivid similitude of Christ as a Lamb with cloven hooves.

169 al toclove. M punctuated this phrase al-to clove, with the meaning unchanged (MED al-to adv.). Compare tocloven in line 325.

170 in rule this reson. VS: in rule hath; R: this resoun. The line in both versions is short; the emendation combines the evidence to lengthen the line.

170-82 This stanza contains much variation between the two versions, which seems to have arisen out of scribal difficulty with the intricate wordplays and a confusion in pronouns. I have emended the mix of we and ye in VS to a consistent second-person plural form of address — a logical form for Moses's command that does appear in R. For the command, see Exodus 12.8.

171 Ete your lomb. R; VS: We schulde ete ur lomb.

in. R: with.

172 vergeous mai make the soule. VS: vergeous mai make ur soules; R: sous make the sowle. For Moses's bitter herbs, the poet has substituted "bitter juice" (see OED verjuice, sb.: "the acid juice of green or unripe grapes, crabapples, or other unripe fruit"), in order to develop further the imagery of Christ as fruit (stanzas 10-12).

173 Sore serwe for sinne is your sous. The two versions read:
VS: To serwe sore for sunnes ours;
R: Sorowe for synnes oures.
This line is problematic in both versions because the rhyme-word ours is certainly corrupt. The missing word is indicated by sense and soundplay — sous, "sauce" — and is supplied in R, line 172. For sous, "a medicinal sauce," see MED sauce n., sense (b), and sous(e n.(1). I have posited also the scribal alteration of sinne is (to plural sinnes) and Sore serwe (a word-skip in R, a misinterpretation of the noun as a verb in VS).

174 Sour. R: That.

maketh. R; VS: schal make.

devel. R: fende.

175 Fer. VS: For; R: And fer. Fer is adopted from R for sense.

he fleccheth. R: fleth.

176 ye. Omitted in VS. The line in VS is awkwardly short; the ampersand in R indicates the loss of a word at this position. Postulating that it was the second-person pronoun agrees with other changes made to the stanza in VS; see notes to lines 171 and 173.

176-77 R reads:
And bere a staaf and stonde sadde
Whan flessche the fedith in Goddis hows.
The two versions are significantly variant: a devout person is enjoined either to stand by a staff (VS) or to hold a staff (R). In each instance, the Cross serves as a sign that repels the Devil and protects the eucharistic participant. A similar figure appears in a thirteenth-century lyric: "Thou tak the rode to thi staf / And thenk on him that thereonne yaf / His lif that wes so lef" (ed. Silverstein, English Lyrics before 1500, p. 31).

178 That. R: This.

179 Stondeth stifli. R: Stonde thou styf. Lines 177 and 179 in R mix the stanza's second-person plural ye with the singular thou.

180 R reads: Whan ye fonge yowre fleissche in take.

181 schal no feond. R: may the devyll no.

182 for. Omitted in R.

183 schrine. S; V: shrine; R: scryne. The letter h in V is misformed. The line in R reads: Whan pardoun is schewed with a scryne.

183-95 The dominant image of this stanza is of a pardon inscribed upon a tablet of either wood or stone (MED brede n.[2]) and posted on a pillar. The "writing" is the bloody wounds and bruises on Christ's flesh. A continuing idea of God's flesh as eucharistic "bread" coexists punningly with the main metaphor of a pardon, and the idea of Christ's body as a shrine or reliquary brings in a third, related image that calls upon a different meaning of brede, "spread broadly open." The pardon is open to view, as if in an open reliquary, which Jesus's shining body becomes in line 189. The metaphors are thus compressed, merged, and often in flux. By the end of the stanza the idea of Christ as Book supercedes Christ as Pardon. The puns upon brede are absent in R (see note to lines 188-92).
The conceit of corpus Christi as a parchment to be read, the wounds as inscriptions, the blood as ink, was well known through the Testament of Christ, a version of which appears near Dispute in the Vernon MS (ed. Furnivall, pp. 637-57, with two other versions; see especially lines 75-96). For more versions, see Spalding, who traces the figure ultimately to Paul's letter to the Colossians, 2.13-14 (p. xliv). An intermediary source may be Richard Rolle's prose meditation on the Passion; see Rolle's Meditation B, ed. Ogilvie-Thomson, p. 75, lines 236-45, and Glasscoe, p. 96. On the significance of the Testament of Christ in late medieval piety, see Rubin, pp. 306-08, and Beckwith, pp. 55-63. On the posting of pardons and legal documents, see Aston, pp. 106-09.

184 Brede on bord with nayl is smite. VS: With nayl and brede on bord is smite; R: With boke on bord with nayles smyte. The line in VS makes poor sense until the phrases with nayl and and brede are inverted, a change based on the line in R. I have omitted and (with in R). The word brede may be read as either a noun "tablet" (hence boke in R) or an adverb "(spread) broadly"; see note to lines 183-95.

185 Rede. R: With rede.

186 men. R: me. I have translated pite ("pight") as "tacked," to follow the figure of a pardon attached to a board, but the carnal sense, "stabbed," is also present.

187 Ur. R: My. The first-person plural pronouns in this stanza are consistent in VS, but not in R. Compare line 195.

this. R: that.

188-92 R reads, with striking alliteration in the first and third lines:
The body was bored and on borde bete
In bright blode oure boke gan schyne
How woo he was no wight may wyte,
Ne rede in hys rode;
Youre pardoun boke fro top to too.
While the pardon is generally conceived in VS as a piece of writing open to view, it is specifically a book in R. The play upon "bored" (i.e., stabbed) and "board" (for the Cross) appears only in R, line 188. Since rede in R, line 191, means "read," its punning nature in VS seems confirmed: "No man may know how woeful Christ was, (bleeding) red upon the Cross," or "No man may know or read (as in a written pardon) how woeful Christ was upon the Cross."

189 briht. S: riht. F emended to brihte to gain a syllable for the meter.

190 no wight may. R; VS: may no man. R is accepted for its better alliteration (see Lawton, p. 154).

192 too to. SR: to too. The meaning of brede seems still to be either the noun "tablet" or the adverb "broadly," but the phrase Ur pardoun brede also invites a third meaning, "bread of pardon," i.e., the eucharistic loaf (see note to lines 183-95). Compare the words of a fifteenth-century carol by James Ryman:
It semeth white, yet it is rede,
And it is quik and semeth dede,
For it is God in fourme of brede;
Ete ye it so ye be not ded.
(ed. Greene, The Early English Carols, p. 194)
193 with. R: full.

194 With. Omitted in R.

195 Ure. R: Youre. See note to line 187.

196-221 Stanzas 16-17 are omitted in R.

200 brede. A fourth meaning for this word emerges: "wooden book-cover" (MED bred n.[2], sense [b]). The word is now applied to the Cross instead of Christ's body. On the other usages, see note to stanza 15, lines 183-95. On the figure of Christ as a book, see Woolf (p. 253), who traces it to Revelations 5.1 and Bonaventure.

201 cleynt. The first letters cl are obscure in V, but confirmed by S. On the verb, see MED clenchen, sense 1.(a). F suggested weynt as an alternative reading.

209-21 The Cross appears to be summarizing its metaphorical arguments up to this point, recalling the images of wine, a bridge to heaven, the gesture of spread arms, the pardon, and the book. The horizontal axis receives some attention as bridge, directional instruction point, and choir-seat for angels.

210 wyn. S: with.

214 sacrynge. The word denotes Christ's sacrifice, a usage recorded nowhere else in ME. The usual sense is "the consecration of the bread and wine in service of the Mass" (MED sacring(e ger.).

215-16 These two lines are omitted in S.

218 uppon. S: up.

220 skinne. VS: kinne. The emendation, needed for sense, is homonymic.

223 the. Omitted in R.

225 R reads: To the fikell Iewes withoute othe.

225-29 The quotation ascribed to Paul appears to be the poet's invention. Compare 1 Romans 2.28-29, on the outward Jew versus the inward Jew. The passage may allude to Isaiah 53, especially verses 5-9.

226 in. R: with. The repeated description of the Jews as "stone hard" (here and in line 230) refers, in the diction of a planctus Mariae, to their lack of compassion, a damning vice. The planctus is a genre specifically designed to soften the heart of the Christian believer with intense empathetic feeling, through the medium of the Virgin's maternal loss. In contrast to these Jews' hard-heartedness appears the upcoming tale of the three Jews whose hearts were softened by witnessing Christ's pain and Mary's distress (stanzas 24-27; note to lines 302-42). In the Vernon Lamentation of Mary to Saint Bernard, Bernard prays that Mary herself tell the story of her sufferings so that his heart may be softened (lines 105-20; ed. Horstmann, p. 302). Richard Rolle makes a similar appeal in a meditation upon the Passion: "A, modyr of mercy and of compassioun, . . . visite my soule, and set in my hert thy sone with his woundes. Send me a sparcle of compassioun to suple [soften] hit with" (Meditation B, ed. Ogilvie-Thomson, p. 78, lines 365-70; see also p. 81, lines 500-05).

227 Beoten. R: Thei bete.

229 Meode, or milk medled. R: Milk or mede melled.

230 harde. R: the hard. On the "hardness" of the Jews, see note to line 226.

231 eny. R: mylk.

232 R reads: Or dew that lithe on lily-flour.

234 brisseden. R (preferred by Holthausen); V: wolden ha broken; S: wolden a broken. The reading in R is adopted as the harder, alliterating reading. See brisen v., sense 1(a). The line length in VS appears to be corrupt.

235-47 Stanza 19 omitted in R. The prophets' cry for deliverance is generalized and does not derive from any one specific biblical passage.

237 wildernesses. S: wildernesse. On how medieval theologians viewed the exile in the wilderness as a type for the Passion, see Pezzini, p. 32. This generalized reference to the Hebrews in the wilderness recalls the biblical span of exile, forty years (Deuteronomy 2.7, 8.2, 8.4), and the poet uses the number forty in composing the poem — forty stanzas. The number also has important associations with Christ's Incarnation and Mary's maternity. According to the Vernon Testament of Christ, Christ gestated in the womb forty weeks and forty days (line 19; ed. Furnivall, p. 639). Forty days later Mary underwent the ritual for purification (see Introduction to The Four Leaves of the Truelove). Furthermore, the author of the Vernon Testament emphasizes that the feast of Christ's "newe lawes," that is, Easter with Lent, lasts forty days (lines 197-204). So the epochs of both old and new law (mankind's first and second births) may be represented by the number forty (see note to line 243-47). One may also compare the Dispute poet's Whon Grein of Whete Is Cast to Grounde, in which Christ's lifespan on earth is put — figuratively, like sprouted wheat — at "ffourti dawes" (line 45).

238 cromb. VSR: cromp. Emendation is adopted for rhyme; see MED cromb(e n. The word is rare, and it generally means either "a crooked staff, hook" or "a piece of land in the bend of a river."

240 Maydens. S: maydenes.

242 Thi. VSR. Holthausen points out that because Mary is speaking to the Cross, the pronoun should be his (p. 27). The sense of speaker is not, however, strictly dramatic; if it were, Mary's account of the Incarnation in third-person must also be viewed as strange. More probably, the prophetic words of address to God (lines 236-38) have affected the discourse of this line.

flomb. See MED flaumen v., sense 2(b).

243 barreres. MED barrer n., sense 1.(a): "A barrier at the approach to the gates of a walled city, castle, or temple"; and sense 3: "A boundary" with the only citation from the Wycliffe Bible.

243 debate. "Obstruction"; see MED debat n., sense 4(a). Holthausen suggested changing debate and yate (line 247) to plurals, but no emendation is warranted.

243-47 These lines describe the transition from old to new law, the advent of a "second birth" for Christians. The details of a bloodied passage and a broken gate portray this second birth through a gendered imagery of both childbirth and sexual intercourse. See also stanzas 21 and 35, and Fein, pp. 108-13.

245 ha. S: a.

249 with Lomb. R: as a lamb so. F emended lomb to lombe to gain a syllable for the meter.

251 For to defoule. R: To fowle so.

252 Cros. R: And Cros.

253 To rende my Fruit. R: My fruite to foule.

feor in fylde. The apparent meaning of this phrase, "far into filth," is difficult; see MED filth n., senses 3 and 4, and the examples from the Vernon Lamentation of Mary to Saint Bernard. Compare, too, the similar phrase elsewhere, fer in fenne, which refers to the thieves (line 45). For better sense, I have taken feor to be the comparative "further"; the Virgin compares the Cross to the human torturers who first "defouled" her Son.

254 Ladi. R: The Cros seyde.

255 a. Omitted in R.

255-60 These lines mark the center of the poem (VS only) by recalling how the symbol of the Cross is efficacious as a defense against the devil. An alert, meditative reader might here begin to apprehend that the poem itself is to be taken as a cross-shaped verbal guard against diabolical temptation (compare lines 506-07). Lines 256-57 describe the Christian moment of human redemption not simply as Christ's death, but as an inverted birth experience: on the Cross (Christ's "stepmother"), Christ "yielded the ghost," that is, passed out of the incarnate body that he had received when birthed from Mary.

256 Til. R: Sithe.

The rhyme-pair dyede and abyde is an anomaly in the poem, as Holthausen notes (pp. 27-28). Elsewhere deyed rhymes with words having the diphthong ey (stanzas 5, 12, 21, and 31). Compare note to line 357.

257 the. R: hys.

258 I was chose. R: Men chose me.

261 fende. R: defende.

262 sawes. R: sawe he.

263 yates weore keithed. VS: yates weore closed; R: gate was keithed. The more difficult alliterating word is adopted from R.

263-65 On the opening of heaven's gates, see Matthew 16.19 and Revelations 21.25, and Rev. 22.14.

264 deyede. R: now he deyede; VS: dyede. Compare emendation to line 54, and see Holthausen (p. 27).

265 This. R: It.

266 Aftur. R: For.

267 the. Omitted in R.

268 monkynde. R: many folk.

269 At. R: In the.

hiye. VS: his; R: hiyest (preferred by Holthausen). The expression heigh non means precisely three o'clock, the time of Jesus's death (Matthew 27.45; MED non n.). In VS a scribe has misread yogh as s. The phrase can also refer to twelve o'clock noon, but the context indicates the canonical hour nones.

271 Nou. R: All. John 19.30: "He said: 'It is consummated.' And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost." The phrasing in Dispute is close to the gloss given in Love's Mirror:
"Fadere the obedience, that thou hast yiven me I have perfitely and fully done in dede, and yit I am redy to do what so thou bidde me. Bot alle that is writen of me is now fulfillede." (ed. Sargent, p. 180, lines 8-11)
Compare, too, the Vernon Testament of Christ, ed. Furnivall, p. 652, line 187; and Rolle's Meditation B, ed. Ogilvie-Thomson, p. 82, line 537.

wel is. R: well was.

272 A. Omitted in R (preferred by Holthausen). Both versions refer to mankind's collective salvation.

274-86 Stanza 22 omitted in R.

279 pulte. S: put.

kelp. See MED kilp(e n.: "handle of bucket, kettle, or the like." The meaning here, "claw-like hand," is unique to this text.

280 hille. The word refers to Calvary, site of the Crucifixion.

287 is. R: I (preferred by Holthausen).

287-99 Stanza 23 has been moved in R to follow stanza 15. In R the shepherd similitude comes before the well-developed lamb similitude; in VS it comes afterwards. The logic in VS is better, because the Lamb as victor over the lion is further revealed (in mystical paradox) as Shepherd of the sheepfold. Moreover, an allusion to the shepherds of the Nativity is in development; see note to lines 302-42. On the arrangement of stanzas, see the chart at the beginning of these notes.

288 That goode. R: How riche.

289 He is. R: a good. On Christ as Shepherd, see John 10.11-16, Hebrews 13.20, and 1 Peter 2.25.

290 uche an. R: every.

293 And with the. R: With that.

296 That. R: How.

the. Omitted in R.

297 breken out of heore. R: borsten oute of.

300-416 Stanzas 24-32 omitted in R.

302-42 Mary's tale of the three Jewish witnesses whose hard hearts are softened by Christ's and Mary's suffering is another novel invention of the poet. In formality and increasing tension, the three speeches, each one stanza long, may be compared to those of the Three Living and the Three Dead in De tribus regibus mortuis, a poem in a similar stanza (ed. Whiting, pp. 217-23). These converted Jews are moved by three levels of suffering: (1) Christ's being nailed on the Cross (initial pain and torture); (2) Christ's hanging on the Cross (continued pain and torture); and (3) Mary's maternal grieving (affective pain and torture). The question is made philosophical: which ordeal was the most moving? The affective is given a place of priority, perhaps because Mary is fully human, her pain is mortal, and it becomes a more universal way that others may access this event.
One may note some of the narrative curiosities of this passage. Mary is made to report upon her own suffering through the voice of the third Jew, and this person is made to comment upon the unseemly behavior of other Jews toward Mary. Furthermore, Mary's "tale" of the Jews follows a scriptural "tale" told by the Cross, about Jesus as Shepherd (stanza 23). Allusions to the Nativity as the figure for these post-second-birth events are very strong: at Christ's birth there were shepherds and the Three Magi; now mankind may rejoice in God as Shepherd and three men of wise heart are converted. I am indebted to Terry Shears, who astutely noted the allusion to the Three Magi in a graduate paper.

305 drouknyng. Compare The Debate of the Body and the Soul (c. 1300): "Als I lay in a winteris nyt / In a droukening bifor the day," lines 1-2 (ed. Wright, p. 334). This version of the body/soul debate appears in all three MSS of Dispute (see Lawton, p. 158). F printed dronknyng.

307 lumpyng. This occurrence is the only one recorded in ME. See MED lumping ppl. The cold hearts of the compassionate Jews appear to be undergoing a change from those of their compatriots, the Jews "ston-hard in sinnes merk" (line 226). These converts feel sensation in their hearts, a first step toward a softened empathy. The three speeches record a progression in compassionate potential.

316 His. S; V: him.

318 threte. VS: crepe. Emendation is adopted for rhyme and alliteration.

320 teres. F mistakenly printed teeres.

324 Druiye. S: Druyyed.

325 Christ's extreme dry thirst (John 19.28) is frequently treated in meditations upon the Passion. In Dispute Christ is demonstrably wrung dry, his body — called "softur then water, or eny licour" (line 231) — having copiously lost blood, the Cross "pressing" him as a wine press (stanza 11), the sun roasting him (stanza 13). The lesson drawn in the Passion literature is that Christ's thirst was "anely after the luf of man, that he so dere bogth" (Meditation on the Passion; and of Three Arrows on Doomsday, ed. Horstmann, p. 113); compare Rolle's Meditation B, ed. Ogilivie-Thomson, pp. 80-81, lines 463-75; Love's Mirror, ed. Sargent, p. 179, lines 34-41.

332-36 The sword of sorrow that pierces Mary's heart — a sign of her participation in Christ's wounds — derives from Luke 2.35 (Simeon's prophecy) and is a frequent feature of planctus Mariae (Motif 10 in Taylor, p. 10). It appears too in the version of The Testament of Christ found in MS Reg. 17.C.xvii, ed. Furnivall, p. 650, line 370; in Rolle's Meditation B, ed. Ogilvie-Thomson, p. 80, line 452; and in Love's Mirror, ed. Sargent, p. 47, lines 26-28, and p. 183, lines 15-20.

333 knyf. S: kniht.

343 modres. S: moderes.

345 al on. M hyphenated the words, al-on, but the primary meaning is "all one" rather than "alone."

350 flowed. S: folwed.

351 walt. The word appears to be used figuratively to mean "was downcast"; see OED walt v., sense 2, "To be thrown down, fall over, be upset or overturned."

352 sorwes two. That is, the combined sorrow of a father and a mother.

357 deyde. VS: dide. Elsewhere the word is spelled dyed or deyed. It normally rhymes with words having the diphthong ey, but compare line 256 (and note).

359 teyde. Emendation suggested by Holthausen; VS: soyled. The MS reading is imperfect in both rhyme and alliteration. A scribe's eye may have skipped down to the next stanza (line 370). Compare teye in similar context at line 58, and teyde at line 268; at both points the word rhymes with a form of deye, "die."

360 told and darted. A lexicographer of the MED proposes that darted be read as parallel with soyled in the preceding line, but the syntax would be highly uncharacteristic of the poem; see darten v., sense 1.(a.). There appears to be a pun upon Christ's body being "drawn" and abstract Truth being "told." The second verb darted, "pierced (as with a dart), punctured," pulls the meaning back toward the first association. The word told begins the sound/sense-play upon telle (line 363) and toyled (line 368). On told as meaning "drawn, pulled," see OED toll v.1, sense 3.

368 trie. Another fairly rare word drawn from OF.

370 surded. See MED surden v., a word derived from AN. This line is the only instance of its usage in ME cited in the MED.

370-75 Simeon prophesied the child Jesus's future suffering and Mary's "sword" of sorrow (Luke 2.34-35).

371 Myn. S: My.

372 bemoyled. VS: ben oyled. Emendation adopted by M and F. See MED ?bemoiled ppl. (from OF moillier), "bespattered, covered," with no actual usages cited (only this emended line). The earliest instance of oilen as a verb is dated in the MED about 1425. The MS reading would mean "be anointed"; the emended reading gives better sense in the context.

378-86 The rupture in nature that occurred during the Passion is recorded in Matthew 27.51-54. The emphasis upon these miracles underscores the event as a metaphysical birth. These signs are also mentioned in the Vernon Lamentation of Mary to Saint Bernard (ed. Horstmann, p. 303, lines 125-28), and they occur in other planctus Mariae (Motif 32 in Taylor, p. 11).

379 nihtes. S: niht.

donne. This usage of don as a noun does not appear in the MED, but compare don adj., sense 2, "dusky, murky, dim."

386 A wordplay upon kinde begins here and continues in lines 401-02. Repeated five times (spelled kende or kuynde), the word changes each time in meaning; see MED kinde n., especially senses 6, 7, 12, and 15.

393-403 Seint Denys. Dionysius the Aeropagite, who was converted in Athens by Paul (Acts 17.34), and, hence, was a hethene clerk during the Passion. In medieval hagiography he was confused with two other holy figures: (1) St. Denis, third-century martyr, bishop of Paris, and patron saint of France; and (2) Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, a mystical theologian, probably a sixth-century Syrian monk, who wrote under the name of Dionysius the Aeropagite (his influence is known in The Cloud of Unknowing and related works). For the latter, see Gallacher's edition; and Glasscoe, pp. 165-214, especially pp. 173-76, 180-85. Thus the figure of Dionysius was connected to the early apostles, the conversion of France, and the mystic wisdom ascribed to Pseudo-Dionysius. By tradition he was trained in astrology and was knowledgeable of Christ through an unnatural eclipse witnessed in Athens. For an account of this event, see Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, vol. 2, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 236-41, especially pp. 237-38.

395 plais. VS: here pris. For the spelling and astronomical usage, see MED place n., sense 2(f). The VS reading is poor in sense and too long.

399 clerk. F mistakenly printed clerke.

401 Holthausen's proposed emendation of this line, Al ur kuyndes have lost heore kende, is unnecessary; see note to line 386.

413-16 Note the parallel to stanzas 10-11.

416 another. S: othur.

417-18 R reads:
And I was Cros and kepte that yifte
That yeve was of Fadres graunt.
422 lyk a. R: as.

422-24 Note the parallel to lines 278-81. The Cross is explaining how the "dunts" Christ received on the Cross (line 358) enabled the Cross itself to deliver "dunts" to the devil.

423 he clihte to helle clifte. R: he keighte to hell clifte; VS: into helle he clihte. VS lacks the rhyme word, which appears in R.

424 daunt. This line represents the only cited usage of this word as a noun, from daunten v. (OF da(u)nter), "to subdue, defeat" (MED). R reads: Till the dyntes of the Cros gan hym adaunte.

425 dedes are bounden. R: dede is founde.

426 werkes. R: werke.

427 Weore founden. R: It was.

Faderes. SR: Fadres.

428 Therfore. R: Louely.

lakketh. SR: lak.

429 me. R: I.

looked. R: loked. It is unclear whether the verb is from loken, "to lock" or (in this context) "to be obligated" (compare line 53), or from loken, "to look." I have based my choice of the latter upon a similar impersonal usage cited in the MED: loken v.(2), sense 8c(c) me is no bettre loked, "I am no better favored, my fortune is no better." The only cited example of the idiom is, however, dated c. 1450.

430 Thorw. R: In.

cristenyng. R; VS: cristendam.

430-42 This stanza varies between versions in a significant way. In R the Cross claims that it was individually baptized with Christ's blood; the pronouns are first-person singular. In VS the Cross speaks pastorally about the sacrament, explaining how baptism redeems us; first-person plural pronouns create a distance from the Cross's personal experience. The pronoun we in V at line 437 is rendered he in S, attesting to some confusion over the resultant discussion of a universal baptism in blood. The more powerful image is certainly that of R, and it is more in keeping with the metaphysical nature of the conceits elsewhere in the poem. Therefore, much of R has been accepted to emend the weaker VS version, which appears to have been altered to conform to orthodox teaching.

432 the. R; omitted in VS.

welle. R; VS: wille.

worthi. R; VS: sothfast. Reading in R adopted for the alliteration.

433 to soule hele. R; VS: skil (which Holthausen suggested emending to be skil or with skil). Both sense and rhyme are improved in the R reading. The Vernon MS bears the title "Salus Anime or Sowlehele"; see Doyle, p. 3.

434 all the world hath. R; VS: us alle.

435 Digne. R: A digne.

He. R; omitted in VS.

me. R; VS: us.

436 At cristenyng Crist. R: Crist in cristenyng.

me. R; VS: us.

437 His blessede. R: Hy fressche.

437 I. R; V: we; S: he.

439 Cristes blode yaf me. R; VS: Thi Fruit hath yiven us.

440 Bystreke I was with rede streme. R; VS: Cristened we weore in red rem. F emended VS red to redde to gain a syllable for the meter. The past participle bystreke is apparently rare in ME, the only example of it cited in the MED being this line.

441 His bodi bledde on. R: Jhesu bled upon.

443 As. Omitted in R.

443-48 The doctrine of double birth is central to the poet's conception of Mary and the Cross's paired maternity. The biblical passage referenced here is John 3.1-16; see also Romans 6.

446-48 R reads:
He schulde lye as man lorn
First bore of wombe where rewthe remys
Sith with font synne is schorn.
448 synne. VS: synne awey. Emendation adapted from reading in R.

449 I. R: And I.

450 biforn. R: aforn.

451 alone. F observed the spacing in V and printed al one.

452 yif. Omitted in R.

iboren. R: born.

454 ileft. S: ilef. The line in R reads: And in a lore logge lefte.

455 grunte. R: grucche.

456 art icrouned. R: were crowned.

457 Thorw the burthe. R: For the birthen. There appears to be a pun upon "burden" and "birth." Mary's immediate burden is her present suffering of loss at the foot of the Cross.

458 al of graces. S: al of greses; R: of gracious. M glossed "all of green graces."

459 Helle. R: Of hell. "Of (both) hell and heaven's empyreum (you are) Empress." On Mary as the empress of hell, see numerous examples cited in MED emperesse n., sense 2(b), including Pearl, lines 441-42: "That emperise al hevenz hatz, / And urthe and helle, in her bayly" (ed. Gordon, p. 16).

and. R; VS: in. Reading of R adopted for sense.

460 a. R: the.

461 that. Omitted in R.

462 parlement pleyn wol I. VS: parlement wol I; R: pleyn parlement I schal. The alliterating word pleyn is adopted from R.

463 R reads: At Domesday prestly to pere.

464 Jhesu. R: God.

465 uppon. R: on.

466 for love of the. R; VS: for the. The reading in R lengthens a short line.

467-68 The question evokes the traditional Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, derived from Matthew 25.31-45, about which Christ as Judge will inquire on Doomsday. Compare The Four Leaves of the Truelove, stanza 34 (in this volume).

469 I. R; omitted in VS. The VS version has no subject for the verbs puiten up and preien (line 473). The pronoun I is restored from R. The substance of the complaint given in lines 470-72 indicates that the speaking Cross intends to deliver its own grievance (against mankind?) on Judgment Day. The bizarre quality of this imagined action accounts, perhaps, for the deletion of a stated agent in VS; compare the treatment of the Cross's baptism in stanza 34.

469 puiten. S: putten; R: put. F read putten but the i is dotted. On the legal sense of putten up, "present (a bill) in court," see MED putten v., sense 26.

up. Omitted in R.

470 Fruit. R: sone.

471 sharp. R: hard.

472 hat the heved. R: hede the helme.

gan. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: shal. The past tense makes better sense; shal occurs by attraction to the rest of the passage.

473 I. R; omitted in VS.

crie to that. VS: preie to that; R: crye. The word adapted from R is colorful in alliteration and direct speech.

474 R reads: Ilk man have as the serve.

475 R reads: The right schul ryse to ryche reynynge. R's reading is interesting because the rhyme matches pleynyng of line 469.

476 tripet. R: treget.

terve. R (preferred by Holthausen); VS: sterve. Reading of R adopted for alliteration and sense.

477 Mayden. R: Mayde.

478-81 The crucial reference to Mary as a tree has been misunderstood by a redactor of the R version. It appears that "trene" was read as "treue" and that the succeeding lines were then altered for rhyme:
God took in the hy[s] flessch trewe
I bare thi fruyt lele and newe
It is right the rode to Eve helpe schewe
Man, woman, and chylde.
Line 480 is a desperate attempt: introducing Eve as counterpoint to Mary, it lacks coherence. On the figure of Mary as a tree, compare the analogues to Dispute cited by Yeager, especially Altercation piteous entre l'arbre verd et l'arbre sec from Guillaume de Deguilleville's PÙlerinage de l'>me (Yeager, pp. 55, 59-60, 66), Thomas Hoccleve's Lament of the Virgin on the Loss of Her Green Apple, and a fifteenth-century lyric declaration that: "Owre Lorde is the frwte, Oure Lady is the tree, / Blessid be the blossome that sprange, Lady, of the" (ed. Silverstein, English Lyrics before 1500, p. 110).

482 The. S: e, with a space left for the initial thorn; the line appears at the bottom a column, a position that caused the illuminator to overlook the space.

acordet. R: thus acorded.

483 And. Omitted in R.

485 Love love. R: love longe love.

486-89 These four lines are omitted in R.

487 reche. For the meaning, see MED rechen v.(1), sense 8(c).

491 furst. S: fruit. This line defines the maternal role of both parties.

494 God. Omitted in R.

495 The clerk that. R: A clerk.

495-507 The claim appears to be (in both versions) that the clerk who fourmed this figour witnessed the Crucifixion, as M glossed these lines. The poet's meaning is unclear: Does he claim as source an apocryphal early Christian text, or does he claim to have witnessed the Crucifixion through meditation or mystical contemplation? The poet's need to explain the fantasy of a talking Cross has been labelled naïve by many commentators; see, for example, Yeager, p. 65; Brewer, p. 60; Pearsall, p. 142; Lawton, pp. 155-56; Woolf, pp. 253-54. The poet wants to make an identification between eye-witness truth and imaginative piety; we speak this way, he says, because it is effective to drive the devel abak. The Cross may be said to speak because the crafted poem is a Cross made up of words, a verbal talisman against diabolical forces (compare lines 255-60), inspired by sacred and true events. A speaking Cross was the model used to illustrate the trope of personification in Geoffrey of Vinsauf's handbook of rhetoric (Poetria nova, trans. Margaret F. Nims [Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1967], pp. 32-34).
The poet seems, too, to be making a claim for aesthetic truth (see Pickering [1978], p. 298). In "flourishing" his "tale" (line 501), he participates in the organic imagery of Christ as flower and fruit from Mary's tree. If the Flower of Mary's flesh (line 69) blooms more brilliantly upon the Cross (line 108), then the poet's rhetorical "flowers" have merely illustrated this sacred fact. By means of the creative act, the poet imitates the parenting of Mary and the Cross.

496 wo, to wite. R: sorwe to seiye.

497-98 R reads:
As he had see in scharp schour
How Cristes armes were rent and rune.
498 aroum. F mistakenly read aroun.

499 cold creatour. The Cross is a cold creatour in two ways: (1) "lifeless creature, i.e., insensient thing created by God," and (2) "dispassionate creator, i.e., of mankind's way to redemption." The second sense follows from the Cross's parental role as defined in line 491.

500 hath ben. R: was.

501 Theih this tale beo. R: This tale.

with. R: with a.

502 This point I preve. R; VS: I preve hit on. The reading in R is both clearer in sense and more alliterative.

503 For. Omitted in R.

foundet. R: founden.

504 nevere. R: evere.

505 R reads: Ne oure Lady leyde hym no lak.

506 to. R: forto.

drive. R; VS: pulte. The reading in R is adopted for alliteration.

507 R reads: Men speke of Cristes wounden. After this line R has a unique stanza:
A clerk fourmed this fantasye
On Cristes stervyng stok to stere
That bare the body all blody
Whan dethes dent gan hym dere
This Apocrifum is no foly
In swich a lay dar the naght dere
That dothe man to seke mercy
Wikked werkes awey to were
In tixte ful well is write
A lombe hath larged all this glose
Plente speche therin to prose
The counseill of the Cros to unclose
Of Maryes woo to wite.
This stanza adds another defense to the one offered by the poet in stanza 39. The reasoning is that such fantasye will lead men to seek mercy and avoid wickedness. The lombe of the tenth line appears to refer to either the clerk-poet or a clerk-reviser, but, either way, the usage is curious. M queried its meaning: "?clerk." Pickering believes this stanza to be authentic (1978), pp. 291, 298.

508-15 On the meter of this octave, see note to lines 1-8. On this heroic vision of Christ as a knight who rides the Cross to triumph, see Woolf, pp. 52-57.

510 bore. SR: born.

511 wol. R: to.

512 a. Omitted in R.

we. R: men.

517 R reads: To holy hevene and hell the wode.

518 Cristes Cros. R: Now Cristes Crosse.

519 Marie preiers mylde and. VS: Marie preiers that ben ful; R: Maries praier mylde and. The alliterating word mylde has been adopted from R.

Colophon secundum Apocrafum. S: et est Apocrafum.
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The Dispute between Mary and the Cross

Disputacio inter Mariam et Crucem secundum Apocrafum. 1
Oure Ladi freo · on Rode-treo
     Made hire mone.
Heo seide, "On the · the Fruit of me
     Is wo-bigon!
Mi Fruit I seo · in blodi bleo
     Among His fon!
Serwe I seo · the veines fleo
     From blodi bon!
     Tre, thou dost no trouthe
   On a pillori my Fruit to pinne!
   He hath no spot of Adam sinne.
   Flesch and veines nou fleo atwinne!
     Wherfore I rede of routhe.
"Cros, thi bondes schul ben blamed —
Mi fayre Fruit thou hast bigyled.
The Fruites Mooder was nevere afamed —
Mi wombe is feir, founden unfuyled.
Chyld, whi artou not aschamed
On a pillori to ben ipiled?
Grete theves thus weore gramed,
And dyede for heore werkes wyled.
     In mournyng I may melte!
   My Fruit, that is so holi halwed,
   In a feeld is fouled and falwed;
   With grete theves He is galwed,
     And dyeth for monnes gelte.
"For grete theves galwes were greid,
That ever to robbyng ronnen ryf;
Whi schal my Sone on the beo leid,
That never nuyyed mon nor wyf?
A drinke of deth, sothliche seid,
Cros, thou yevest the Lord of Lyf;
His veynes tobursten with thi breid.
Mi Fruit stont nou in a strong stryf!
     Blod from hed is hayled,
   Fouled is my fayre Fruit,
   That never dude tripet ne truit;
   With theves that loveden ryot and ruit,
     Whi schal my Sone be nayled?
"Thorwh jugement thou art enjoynet
To bere fooles ful of sinne;
Mi Sone from the schulde beon ensoynet,
And nevere His blod uppon the rinne.
But nou is Truthe with tresun teynet,
With theoves to honge fer in fenne,
With feole nayles His limes ben feynet.
A careful Moder men mai me kenne!
     In bales I am bounde.
   That Brid was of a Mayden born,
   On a theoves tre is al totorn;
   A broche thorwout His brest born
     His holi herte hath wounde.
"Tre, thou art loked bi the lawe
Theoves, traitours on the to deye;
But now is Trouthe with tresun drawe,
And Vertu falleth in vices weye;
But Love and Treuthe, in sothfast sawe,
On a Treo traytours hem teye;
Vertu is with vices slawe;
Of alle vertues Crist is keye.
     Vertu, swettore then spices,
   In fot and hond bereth blodi prikke;
   His hed is ful of thornes thikke;
   The Goode hongeth among the wikke;
     Vertu dyeth with vices!
"Cros, unkynde thou schalt be ked,
Mi Sone Stepmoder I the calle:
Mi Brid was born with beestes on bed,
And be my flesch my Flour gan falle;
With my brestes my Brid I fed;
Cros, thou yevest Him eysel and galle!
My White Rose red is spred,
That fostred was in fodderes stalle.
     Feet and fayre hondes,
   That nou ben croised, I custe hem ofte,
   I lulled hem, I leid hem softe.
   Cros, thou holdest hem hihe on lofte,
     Bounden in bledyng bondes!
"Mi Love ilolled up in thy leyr!
With cradel bond I gan Him bynde.
Cros, He stiketh nou on thi steir,
Naked ayeyn the wylde wynde.
Foules fourmen heor nestes in eyr,
Foxes in den reste thei fynde,
Bot Godes Sone, in hevene Heir,
His hed nou holdeth on thornes tynde.
     Of mournynge I may mynne!
   Godes hed hath reste non,
   But leoneth on His scholder bon,
   The thornes thorwh His flesch gon;
     His wo I wyte hit sinne.
"Cros, to slen hit is thi sleiht;
Mi blody Brid thou berest fro blis.
Cros, thou holdest Him so heih on heiht
Mi Fruites feet I mai not kis!
Mi mouth I pulte, my sweore I streiht
To cusse His feet, soth thing hit is:
The Jewes from the Cros me keiht;
On me thei made heore mouwes amis.
     Heore games and heore gaudes,
   The Jewes wrouhten me ful wo.
   Cros, I fynde thou art my fo;
   Thou berest my Brid, beten blo,
     Among theose fooles fraudes!"
Cristes Cros yaf onswere:
"Ladi, to the I owe honour;
Thy brihte palmes nou I bere;
Mi schyning scheweth thorw thi Flour;
Thi feire Fruit on me ginneth tere;
Thi Fruit me florischeth in blod colour,
To winne the world that lay in lere;
That Blosme blomed up in thi bour.
     Ac not for the alone,
   But for to winne all this werd,
   That swelte undur the develes swerd,
   Thorw feet and hond God let Him gerd,
     To amende monnes mone.
"Adam dude ful huge harmes
Whon he bot a bite undur a bouh;
Wherfore thi Sone hath sprad His armes
On a Treo tyed with teone inouh;
His flesch is smite with dethes tharmes,
And swelteth heerin a swemly swouh;
His breste is bored with dethes swarmes, 2
And with His deth fro Deth He drouh
     Alle His leove freondes.
   As Ozie spac in prophecie
   And seide, 'Thi Sone, Seinte Marie —
   His deth slouh Deth on Calvarie —
     Yaf lyf withouten endes.'
"The stipre that is under the vyne set
May not bringe forth the grape;
Theih the Fruit on me beo knet,
His scharpe schour have I not schape.
Til grapes to the presse beo set,
Ther renneth no red wyn in rape;
Nevere presse pressed bet:
I presse wyn for kniht and knape.
     Upon a blodi brinke,
   I presse a Grape with strok and stryf;
   The rede wyn renneth ryf.
   In Samaritane God yaf a wyf
     That leof licour to drynke.
"Ladi, love doth the to alegge
Thi Fruit is prikked with speres ord;
On Cros, withouten knyves egge,
I kerve Fruit of Godes hord.
Al is al red, rib and rugge,
His bodi bledeth ayeyn the bord;
I was piler and bar a brugge;
God is Weie, witnesse of Word.
     God seith He is sothfast Weye:
   Mony folk slod to helle slider —
   To hevene mihte no mon thider
   Til God dyed and tauhte whider
     Men drawen whon thei deye.
"Moyses hath fourmed in his figour
A whit lomb — and non other beste —
Schulde be sacred ur Saveour,
And be mete of mihtes meste;
I was that cheef chargeour,
I bar flesch for folkes feste.
Jhesu Crist, ure Creatour,
His flesch fedeth lest and meste.
     Rosted ayeyn the sonne,
   On me lay the Lomb of Love —
   I was plater His bodi above,
   Til feet and hondes al toclove -
     With blood I was bironne.
"Yit Moyses in rule this reson rad:
Ete your lomb in sour vergeous;
Sour vergeous mai make the soule glad —
Sore serwe for sinne is your sous —
Sour vergeous maketh the devel adrad,
Fer he fleccheth fro Godes spous.
Beo a staf ye stondeth sad
Whon ye fongen flesch in Godes hous.
     That staf is Cristes Crouche:
   Stondeth stifli bi that stake
   Whon that ye fongen flesch in cake;
   Then schal no feond maystri make
     Youre soules for to touche.
"For pardoun scheweth be a schrine,
Brede on bord with nayl is smite;
Rede lettres write be lyne,
Bluwe, blake, among men pite. 3
Ur Lord I likne to this signe:
His bodi uppon a bord was bite,
In briht blod His bodi gan schyne;
Hou wo Him was no wight may wite,
     Red upon the Roode.
   Ur pardoun brede from top too to, 4
   Writen hit was, with wonder wo,
   With rede woundes and strokes blo,
     Ure Book was bounden in bloode.
"Adam stod up in stede,
In bitter galle his gost he dreint;
Ayeyn that galle God yaf us mede,
With swete merci bitter is queynt.
His bodi was Book, the Cros was brede,
Whon Crist for us theron was cleynt.
No mon gat pardoun with no bede
Weor he nevere so sely a seynt
     Til Book on bord was sprad.
   With sharpe nayles dunted and drive,
   Til feet and hondes al torive,
   His herte blod ure Book hath yive,
     To make ur gostes glad."
Cristes Cros yit spac this speche:
"Furst was I presse, wyn to wringe;
I bere a brugge, wei to teche,
Ther semely aungeles sitte and synge:
'Lord of Love and Lyves Leche,
For The was set sely sacrynge
To winne the world that was in wreche.'
The Cros was brede, pardoun to bringe.
     Pardoun in Book is billed.
   What is pardoun uppon to minne?
   Hit is foryivenes of dedly sinne —
   Whon blod was writen on Cristes skinne,
     Pardoun was fulfilled."
Oure Ladi seide, "Cros, of thi werk,
Wonder the not theih I be wrothe;
Thus seide Poule, Cristes clerk,
'The feolle Jewes, with false othe,
Jewes ston-hard in sinnes merk,
Beoten a Lomb withouten lothe,
Softur then watur undur serk,
Meode, or milk medled bothe.'
     The Jewes weoren harde stones;
   Softur then watur, or eny licour,
   Or dewz that lith on the lilie flour,
   Was Cristes bodi, in blod colour;
     The Jewes brisseden His bones.
"And mony a prophete gan make mon,
And seide, 'Lord, send us Thi Lomb
Out of the wildernesses ston
To fende us from the lyon cromb.'
Of mylde, Mount of Syon
Becom Mon, in a Maydens womb,
Made a bodi, with blessed bon:
In a Maidens blod Thi bodi flomb.
     At barreres weore debate:
   Thorwh stones in the wildernes,
   Men mihte better ha crepet, iwis,
   Then bored into hevene blis,
     Til blod brac up the yate.
"Sin monnes sone was so nedi
To beo lad with Lomb mylde,
Whi weore gylours so gredi
For to defoule my faire Childe?
Cros, whi weore thou so redi
To rende my Fruit feor in fylde?"
"Ladi, to make the devel dredi,
God schop me a scheld, schame to schilde, 5
     Til Lomb of Love dyede,
   And on me yeld the gost with vois.
   I was chose a relik chois,
   The signe of Jhesu Cristes Crois;
     Ther dar no devel abyde.
"Moni folk I fende from heore fos,"
Cristes Cros this sawes seide.
"Hevene yates weore keithed clos
Til the Lomb of Love deyede;
This is write in Tixt and glos.
Aftur Cristes deth prophetes preide.
Til the Lomb of Love dyed and ros,
In helle pyne monkynde was teyde.
     At houre of hiye none,
   The Lomb of Love seyde His thouht:
   'Nou is folfuld that wel is wrouht.'
   A mon is out of bondes brouht,
     And hevene dores undone!
"With the Fader that al schal folfille,
His Sone to hevene is an help;
I was piler and stod ful stille.
After othur yiftes now gostes yelp. 6
The fend, that all this world wolde kille,
His swerd he pulte up in his kelp;
To helle he horlede from that hille,
Beerynge as a beore whelp.
     A beore is bounden and beted;
   Cristes Cros hath craked his croun;
   The Lomb hath leid the lyoun adoun;
   The Lomb is Lord in everi toun;
     So Cristes blod hath pleted.
"In Holy Writ this tale is herde,
That goode yiftes God us yaf;
God seith Himself He is Schepherde,
And uche an heerde bihoveth a staf:
The Cros I calle the Heerdes yerde.
Therwith the devel a dunt He yaf,
And with the yerde, the wolf He werde;
With duntes drof him al todraf."
     The Cros this tale tolde,
   That he was staf in the Heerdes hond;
   Whon schep breken out of heore bond,
   The wolf he wered out of lond,
     That devoured Cristes folde.
Yit seide the meke Marie:
"Roode, thou reendest my Rose al red!
Threo Jewes coomen from Calvari
That day that Jhesu tholed ded;
Alle thei seiden thei weore sori,
Fordolled in a drouknyng dred;
Thei tolden hem alle wherfore and whi
Heore hertes were colde as lumpyng led.
     The furste heore tale tolde:
   'Whon Crist was knit with corde on a stok,
   His bodi bledde ayein that blok;
   Thorw feet and hondes, nayles gan knok.
     Then gan myn herte to colde.'
"The secounde seide, 'Nay, not that
That dude serwe into myn herte schete,
But whon the Roode ros and doun was squat,
The nayles renten His hondes and feete;
Thorwout His helm, the harde hat,
The thornes into His flesch gan threte;
His joyntes unjoynet I tok good gat.
Tho weop I water and teres leete —
     To care I was enclyned.
   In cloddres of blod His her was clunge;
   The flesch was from the bones swonge;
   Druiye drinkeles was His tonge;
     His lippes tocloven and chyned.'
"The thridde seide, 'This thouhte me lest
Of theose peynes and other mo;
This peyne thouhte me peyne mest:
Al His flesch He let of-flo!
His mylde Moder stod Him nest,
Loked upward, and hire was wo;
A swerd swapped hire thorw the brest;
Out of the Cros the knyf com tho!
     This siht sauh I myselve —
   The swerd of love thorw hire gan launce —
   Heo swapte on swownyng thorw that chaunce;
   To scornen hire thei gan daunce,
     Jewes by ten and twelve.'
"Sin Jewes made so muchel mon
To seon my Brid bounden in brere,
In sad serwyng moste I gon
To seon blodi my Chyldes chere!
Fadres and modres that walken in won
Schul love heore children beo skiles clere;
Theose two loves weore in me al on:
For fader and moder I was here.
     Theose two loves in me weore dalt —
   I was fader of His flesch,
   His moder hedde an herte nesch; 7
   Mi serwe flowed as water fresch;
     Weopyng and wo I walt.
"In me weore tacched sorwes two:
In the Fader mihte non abyde,
For He was evere in reste and ro,
Joyned in His joyes wyde.
I serwed sore, for to sei so;
I say whon that my Derlyng deyde;
With duntes He was to deth ido;
Upon a Tre His bodi was teyde.
     Whon Trouthe is told and darted,
   Of alle joyes God is welle;
   Ther mihte no serwe in Him dwelle —
   I serwed sore, as clerkes telle;
     Mi pyne was not departed.
"The hattore love, the caldore care,
Whon frendes fynde heore Fruit defoyled!
The dispitous Jewes nolde not spare
Til trie Fruit weore tore and toyled;
Never mayden mournede mare!
I sauh my Child ben surded and soyled —
Myn herte toclef with swerd of care —
I sauh my Brid with blod bemoyled,
     As Symeon seide beoforn.
   The swerd of serwe scharp igrounde
   Schulde yive myn herte a wounde —
   In more wo then I was bounde
     Nevere buirde hath born.
"The dede worthily gan wake,
The dai turned to nihtes donne,
The merke mone gan mournyng make,
The lyht outleop of the sonne,
The temple walles gan chivere and schake,
Veiles in the temple atwo thei sponne.
Cros, whi noldestou not crake
Whon rihtful blod on the was ronne?
     And kuyndes losten heore kende,
   Whon my Fruit on the was fast.
   Cros, whi weore thou not agast?
   Thow stod stif as eny mast,
     Whon Lyf left up His ende.
"Whon that Prince of Paradys
Bledde bothe brest and bak,
An hethene clerk was Seint Denys:
He seide: 'This world wente al to wrak!'
He sauh the planetes passen out of plais,
The briht sonne gan waxen blak;
The clerk, that was so wonderly wys,
Wonder wordes ther he spak.
     Denys, this grete clerk, seide,
   'The Day of Doom draweth to an ende,
   Al ur kuyndes hath lost ur kende,
   Til God, that dyed for uch a kuynde,
     For monneskuynde deyde.'
"Foules fellen out of heore fliht;
Beestes gan belwe in everi binne;
Cros, whon Crist on the was cliht,
Whi noldestou not of mournyng minne?"
The Cros seide, "Ladi briht,
I bar ones thi Fruit for monnes sinne
More to amende monnes riht
Then for eny weolthe that I gan winne.
     With blod God bouhte His brother:
   Whon Adam Godes biddyng brak,
   He bot a bite that made us blak,
   Til Fruit weore tied on Treo with tak —
     O Fruit for another!
"Sin Cristes Cros that kepeth yifte
Graunted of the Fadres graunt,
I was loked: I schulde uplifte
Godes Sone and Maydenes Faunt;
No mon hedde scheld of schrifte.
The devel stod lyk a lyon raumpaunt;
Mony folk he clihte to helle clifte,
Til the Crosses dunt yaf him a daunt!
     Mi dedes are bounden and booked:
   Alle the werkes that I have wrouht
   Weore founden in the Faderes forethouht;
   Therfore, Ladi, lakketh me nouht,
     I dude as me was looked.
"Thorw blod and watur, cristenyng was wrouht —
Holy Writ witnesseth hit wel —
And in the welle of worthi thouht,
A mon mai be cristened to soule hele.
That blod that all the world hath bouht
Digne cristenyng He gan me del;
At cristenyng Crist foryat me nouht,
His blessede blod whon I gan fel.
     Maiden, Moder, and Wyve,
   Cristes blode yaf me baptem;
   Bystreke I was with rede streme
   Whon His bodi bledde on the beem
     Of cipresse and olyve.
"As Jhesu seide to Nichodemus:
'But a barn be twyyes born
Whon Domusday schal blowen his bemus,
He may elles liggen loddere forlorn
Furst of a wombe — ther reuthe remus —
Siththe in a font — ther synne is schorn. 8
I was Cros to monnes quemus —
I bar the Fruit thow bar biforn
     For thi beryng alone. 9
   But yif I hedde iboren Him eft,
   From riche reste mon hedde beoreft,
   In a loren logge ileft
     Ay to grunte and grone.
"Thou art icrouned Hevene Quene
Thorw the burthe that thou beere;
Thi garlond is al of graces grene,
Helle Emperesse and hevene empere.
I am a relyk that shineth shene;
Men wolde wite wher that I were:
At the parlement pleyn wol I bene,
On Domesday, prestly apere.
     Whon Jhesu schal seye riht there,
   'Trewely, uppon the Roode-Tre,
   Mon, I dyede for love of the;
   Mon, what hastou don for Me
     To beon My frendly feere?'
"At the parlement I shul puiten up pleynyng
Hou Maydenes Fruit on me gan sterve —
Spere and spounge, and sharp nayling
Thorw the harde hat the heved gan kerve —
I shul crie to that rihtful Kyng,
Uche mon schal have as thei aserve.
Rihtful schul ryse to riche restyng;
Truyt and tripet to helle shal terve.
     Mayden, meoke and mylde,
   God hath taken in the His fleschly trene;
   I bar thi Fruit, leothi and lene;
   Hit is riht the Roode helpe to arene
     Wrecches that wraththe thi Chylde."
The Queen acordet with the Cros,
And ayeyn him spak no more speche;
The Queen yaf the Cros a cos,
The Ladi of Love love gan seche,
Theih hire Fruit on him were diht to dros,
Whon rendyng ropus gan Him reche.
Cristes Cros hath kept us from los,
Maries preyers, and God ur Leche!
     The Qween and the Cros acorde;
   The Qween bar furst, the Cros afturward,
   To fecche folk from helleward,
   On holy stayers to steyen upward,
     And regne with God ur Lorde.
The clerk that fourmed this figour
Of Maries wo, to wite som,
He saih himself that harde stour
Whon Godes armus weore rent aroum.
The Cros is a cold creatour,
And evere yit hath ben def and dom —
Theih this tale beo florisshed with faire flour,
This point I preve Apocrafum: 10
     For witnesse was never foundet
   That nevere Cristes Cros spak;
   Oure Ladi leide on him no lak;
   Bot to drive the devel abak,
     We speke hou Crist was woundet.
In flesshly wede · God gan Him hede
     Of mylde May;
Was bore to blede, · as Cristes Crede
     Sothly wol say.
On a stokky stede · He rod, we rede,
     In red array;
From develes drede, · that Duyk us lede
     At Domesday!
     Whon peple schal parte and pace,
   To hevene halle or to helle woode,
   Cristes Cros, and Cristes blode,
   And Marie preiers mylde and goode,
     Grant us the lyf of grace. Amen.
noble; Rood-tree (Cross); (see note)
complaint; (see note)
She; you (Cross); (see note)
(see note)
see; bloody state; (see note)
Sorrow; separate; (see note)
Cross, you perform no faithful act; (see note)
By pinning my fruit to pillory; (see note)
now come apart
Therefore I am mournful; (see note)
bonds (i.e., nails); must be
beguiled; (see note)
Mother; defamed; (see note)
fair; undefiled
are you
stripped (lit., peeled); (see note)
punished; (see note)
their wicked deeds; (see note)
be overwhelmed; (see note)
holy and hallowed
withered; (see note)
thieves; gallowed; (see note)
dies; guilt
gallows; prepared; (see note)
Who were always bent on robbery; (see note)
should; you; laid; (see note)
harmed; (see note)
truly said
burst asunder; torment; (see note)
stands; violent strife; (see note)
is flowing; (see note)
(see note)
malicious trick nor wrong; (see note)
riot and disorder; (see note)
are legally enjoined; (see note)
To bear [only] foolish sinners
should have been excused
never [should]; run; (see note)
Truth (= Christ); contaminated; (see note)
filthily; (see note)
cruel; falsified; (see note)
Mother full of care; call
Child; Virgin; (see note)
completely torn; (see note)
spear borne through his breast; (see note)
has wounded; (see note)
bound by; (see note)
on you to die; (see note)
drawn [on the Cross]; (see note)
Virtue (= Christ); vice's path; (see note)
to tell the truth; (see note)
traitors tie them; (see note)
slain; (see note)
(see note)
sweeter than; (see note)
foot and hand; prickings; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
unnatural; known; (see note)
call you; (see note)
Child; beasts; (see note)
from; flower; did fall; (see note)
(see note)
give; vinegar; (see note)
is covered with red (spattered)
stall of fodder (i.e., manger); (see note)
crossed; kissed
laid them down softly; (see note)
high aloft; (see note)
left to dangle; lair; (see note)
cradle cloth I used to wrap him; (see note)
sticks now upon thy staircase; (see note)
against; wind; (see note)
Birds form; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
tined (i.e., sharp); (see note)
Of mourning I must speak!
has no rest; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
I think it a sin; (see note)
it is your trick to slay; (see note)
bear away from joy; (see note)
high in height; (see note)
(see note)
thrust forth; neck; stretched; (see note)
kiss; (see note)
pulled; (see note)
wrongfully made menacing faces; (see note)
[With] Their; trifles; (see note)
caused me much anguish; (see note)
black and blue; (see note)
foolish frauds
gave answer; (see note)
triumphs; (see note)
brilliance shows; (see note)
does tear; (see note)
I make your Fruit flourish
is doomed to destruction; (see note)
bower (i.e., womb); (see note)
But; (see note)
world; (see note)
perishes; devil's sword; (see note)
God let Himself be stabbed; (see note)
caused enormous injury; (see note)
bit a bite; bough; (see note)
As a result; spread; (see note)
injury enough; (see note)
worms (lit., entrails); (see note)
(see note)
He draws from Death
dear friends
Isaiah spoke; (see note)
(see note)
slew; (see note)
Gave; (see note)
post; (see note)
Although; is attached; (see note)
agony; inflicted
(see note)
from grape stalks; (see note)
Never did a press press better
knight and servant
stroke and strife
runs rife
Samaria; woman; (see note)
causes you to allege; (see note)
point; (see note)
a knife's edge; (see note)
carved; from God's hoard; (see note)
back; (see note)
upon the board; (see note)
pillar; bore a bridge; (see note)
as Scripture witnesses; (see note)
(see note)
slid; slippery
go thither; (see note)
should go; (see note)
rhetorical figure; (see note)
[likened to] our sacred Saviour; (see note)
food of most esteem
chief platter [of] that [food]; (see note)
meat; the people's feast; (see note)
(see note)
[those] least and most [in rank]; (see note)
(see note)
[for] his body
[became] wholly cloven; (see note)
drenched; (see note)
commandment; decreed; (see note)
bitter juice; (see note)
(see note)
Deep sorrow for sin; sauce; (see note)
afraid; (see note)
far; flees; i.e., the soul; (see note)
By; reverently; (see note)
partake of meat
Cross; (see note)
steadily; (see note)
eucharistic bread; (see note)
gain control; (see note)
(see note)
appears by means of; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
liken; (see note)
stabbed/consumed (pun); (see note)
shine (as a reliquary); (see note)
How He suffered may no man know; (see note)
Red/read (pun)
(see note)
with wondrous woe; (see note)
bruising strokes; (see note)
(see note)
[his] place; (see note)
spirit; drowned
mead/reward (pun)
bitterness is quenched
wooden book-cover; (see note)
thereon was fastened; (see note)
humble a saint
pounded and driven in
completely split
has given
continued to speak; (see note)
(see note)
bridge to show the way
where lovely
Doctor of Life
[this] blessed sacrifice; (see note)
wretchedness; (see note)
How is pardon defined?; (see note)
skin; (see note)
Be not amazed that I am upset; (see note)
treacherous; oath; (see note)
stone-hard in dark sins; (see note)
without a qualm; (see note)
[Who was] Softer; shirt
[Or] Mead; intermingled; (see note)
(see note)
any liquid; (see note)
dew; lies; (see note)
shattered; (see note)
did complain; (see note)
(see note)
defend; lion's claw; (see note)
From a gentlewoman (Mary); Zion
(see note)
Was made [into]
shone like fire; (see note)
barriers there was obstruction; (see note)
People; have crept, truly; (see note)
forced a way (bored)
broke open the gate
Since man's son (i.e., people); needy
led by; (see note)
beguilers so overeager
(see note)
(see note)
tear; further in filth; (see note)
in order to; fearful; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
yielded His spirit with His final words; (see note)
chosen [to be]; precious; (see note)
dares; remain near
defend; foes; (see note)
saying; (see note)
gates; proclaimed shut; (see note)
(see note)
gloss (i.e., commentary); (see note)
prayed; (see note)
Until; arose; (see note)
pain; tied; (see note)
nones (three o'clock); (see note)
fulfilled; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
thrust; clawed hand; (see note)
hurled [himself]; (see note)
Bellowing; bear cub
settled the case legally
recorded (lit., heard); (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
each shepherd must have; (see note)
Shepherd's staff
blow; gave
restrained; (see note)
blows drove him entirely away
(see note)
their flock (lit., bond); (see note)
(see note)
Three; came; (see note)
suffered death
They all said
Mentally enfeebled by a debilitating fear; (see note)
them (i.e., each other)
lumpish lead; (see note)
tied; stock (= Cross)
were driven
did; grow cold
did sorrow; shoot
was set down violently
tore; (see note)
head; skull
did afflict [Him]; (see note)
[Of] His; I took heed
Then wept; tears let fall; (see note)
clots; hair; clumped
Dry and without drink; (see note)
split and cracked; (see note)
I thought least
seemed to me the most painful
allowed to be flayed off
next to Him
she was woeful
struck; (see note)
(see note)
did pierce
She fell swooning; event
Since; such great lament
a crown of thorns (lit., briar)
together; (see note)
their; in fitting ways
existed as one in me; (see note)
(see note)
[With] Weeping; was downcast; (see note)
implanted; (see note)
none (i.e. no sorrows)
Unified; all-encompassing
grieved sorely
saw; (see note)
blows; brought to death
fastened; (see note)
drawn and pierced; (see note)
the source
hotter; colder
cruel; would not desist
excellent; torn; made weary; (see note)
vilified; dishonored; (see note)
cleft to pieces; (see note)
anointed; (see note)
sharply ground
Never a woman has borne
dead with strength did awaken; (see note)
duskiness of night; (see note)
darkened moon
light leapt out
did shiver and shake
ripped apart
would thou not crack
righteous; you was shed
creatures; their natural wits; (see note)
i.e., when Christ died
[from] breast and back
heathen; Dionysius; (see note)
has gone entirely to ruin
saw; move out of position; (see note)
(see note)
our kindred; heritage; (see note)
each person
did bellow; stable
make sounds of mourning
restore mankind's right
did win
(see note)
black [with sin]
One; [exchanged] for; (see note)
upholds that gift; (see note)
I was obligated: I had to lift up
[yet] had the shield of confession
rampant; (see note)
hell's chasm, snatched; (see note)
blow; subdued him; (see note)
bound and recorded; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
do not find fault in me; (see note)
I was destined; (see note)
baptism; (see note)
(see note)
soul's health; (see note)
[With] That blood; (see note)
Sacred; He did deal to me; (see note)
forgot me not; (see note)
When I did feel His blessed blood; (see note)
(see note)
Streaked; (see note)
beam; (see note)
(see note)
Unless a person; twice
trumpet blasts
lie despisedly forlorn; (see note)
First [born]; there pity begins
(see note)
for mankind's benefit; (see note)
bore; (see note)
(see note)
Unless; a second time; (see note)
men would have been bereft
Left in a forlorn lodging; (see note)
Forever; (see note)
crowned; (see note)
birthed one; bore; (see note)
graces/grasses (pun); (see note)
Empress of hell; empyreum; (see note)
beautifully; (see note)
wish to know; will be; (see note)
open to view; (see note)
readily appear; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
present a bill of complaint; (see note)
[About] How; did die; (see note)
(see note)
skull; (see note)
(see note)
Each; he deserves; (see note)
The righteous; (see note)
Deceit and treason; fall; (see note)
(see note)
tree branch; (see note)
slender and lean
reconciled; (see note)
(see note)
did seek loving accord; (see note)
Although; destined to rot; (see note)
tearing ropes; did stretch; (see note)
[With]; Physician
bore (in pregnancy); (see note)
stairs to climb
(see note)
(see note)
teach some [folk]; (see note)
saw; torment; (see note)
asunder; (see note)
creature/creator (pun); (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
laid no blame on him; (see note)
In order to thrust back; (see note)
(see note)
clothes; did clothe Himself; (see note)
born/borne (pun); (see note)
(see note)
stocky (i.e., wooden); (see note)
pass on
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)

Explicit disputacio inter Mariam et Crucem secundum Apocrafum. 11