24. The Pilgrims
Play 24, THE PILGRIMS: FOOTNOTES
1 The pilgrims
2 Here Jesus comes in pilgrim’s clothing
3 Then they should prepare a table
4 Then they shall recline and Jesus shall sit between them; / then Jesus shall bless the bread and break it in three pieces, / and afterwards he shall vanish from their sight, and Luke shall say
5 Here end the pilgrims
Play 24, THE PILGRIMS: 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 story of the encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, near Jerusalem (see note to line 158 below), is found only in Luke 24:13–33, which gave rise to the tradition that the unnamed pilgrim who accompanies Cleophas was the evangelist Luke himself. Some modern theologians, however, identify the second pilgrim as the wife of Cleophas — Mary Cleophas, traditionally identified with Mary Jacobi (see note to 19.363), who according to John 19:25 witnessed the crucifixion alongside her sister (or possibly sister-in-law), Mary, the mother of Jesus. Neither character is named in the dialogue itself. The play likely started as a pageant written entirely in a 6-line stanza form, but now includes a variety of forms, including a single 13-line 'bob and wheel' stanza (lines 19–31, but atypical in its metrical pattern). Despite this and other evidence of multiple revisions, the play is relatively straightforward and regular in form, each character speaking in full stanzas (of whatever form) except for one shared 7-line stanza (lines 244–50) and a quatrain (lines 281–84) that refer, appropriately enough, to their sharing company. They ultimately share a meal through which the identity of the risen Jesus is revealed.
4–5 Whyls thou had lyfe on lyfe to be / Emangys thise men. That is, while you lived to be alive among these men, or simply, when you were alive.
7–8 That I it ken / I ken it well. The two first 7-line stanzas are linked by a type of verbal repetition known as concatenation, as are several other stanzas (see lines 14–15, 43–44, 97–98). Concatenation is used heavily throughout the York Emmaus pageant (play 40, produced by the Woolpackers and Woolbrokers).
17 His woundes all wete thay ware. See note to 23.364.
32 ever worth thaym wo. That is, forever worthy of woe. In regard to the anti-Semitic idea that Jews as a people are eternally cursed, see the note to 19.293–95.
50–53 Certys . . . . that trew. Certainly, it was a strange thing that they would not trust in that truthful one, neither on account of (miraculous) signs nor due to his teaching.
77–79 For sorow . . . . For hir son sake. That is, I saw her swoon (line 75) for sorrow, and fall down under the cross, for her son’s sake.
90 Asell and gall that was not good. That is, vinegar and gall, which was unfit to drink (being very bitter); see the note to 20.539–40.
103, s.d. apparatus peregrini. Jesus is dressed like Luke and Cleophas, whom he immediately addresses as “Pylgrymes.” Each likely bears a walking stick and satchel and wears a cloak as well as a distinctive wide-brimmed hat — the distinctive garb of a medieval pilgrim. Pilgrims’ hats were often adorned with a badge of some sort — most famously a scallop shell from the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella or, from Jerusalem, a palm leaf or (appropriately for this play) a cross.
106 Have ye youre gates ungrathly gone. That is, are you lost?
110–11 To here theym eft full sore I lang, / Here of yow two. That is, I deeply long to hear the two of you repeat your words.
116 a man by thee alane. That is, you are a solitary man; see line 124. In the Vulgate Latin translation of Luke 24:18, Cleophas refers to Jesus with apparent annoyance (see line 117) as “solus peregrinus” (“the only pilgrim”) in Jerusalem who seems not to know what has happened there.
158 a crosse noght hens a myle. According to Luke 24:13, Emmaus was sixty furlongs (roughly 7.5 miles or 12 kilometers) from Jerusalem. While the pilgrims arrive at “this cyté” at line 273 (see note below), referred to as “Emaus castell” in the Towneley play of Thomas of India (see 25.463 and the note to 25.459–68), their destination is not actually named in this play.
161 His awne lyfe agane shuld by. Terminology normally reserved to refer to the redemption of humankind is here applied to Jesus saving his own life through resurrection.
170–71 Wheder he be rysen and gane / Yit we ne knaw. Luke will later claim to the contrary that “some of us” have seen the empty tomb; see lines 201–05, which is significantly part of a 7-line rather 6-line stanza such as this, and likely of a different origin.
174–76 Ye have it hart . . . . Thyng that ye here. That is, it is a pity that you cannot stand by what you have heard — specifically, prophecy of the resurrection. According to Luke 24:27, Jesus explained all the scriptural prophecies concerning himself to the two pilgrims, beginning with Moses (who is explicitly mentioned in the York Emmaus pageant, 40.134–36, as here in line 224).
192–94 a light . . . . in thare sight. No such incident is mentioned in the gospel accounts, although Luke 24:4 mentions two angels in shining garments at the empty tomb.
222 And so to his Paske bow. And so submit to his Passover — that is, to his role as the sacrificial lamb of God.
224 Take tent to Moyses and othere mo. That is, take note of Moses and others as well. See note to lines 174–76 above.
239 Fro he weynde hens away. That is, from the moment that he leaves this world, to go to heaven.
271–72 Bot if that thou can more of arte / Or yet of lare. That is, in case you know still more that you can teach us.
273 Unto this cyté. Luke refers in line 285 to “this towne.” In the York Nativity play, Joseph refers to the little town of Bethlehem as “this cité” (York 14.9), while at the Entry into Jerusalem the citizens welcome Jesus to “owre cité” (York 25.544, 185), referring in each case both to the pageant wagon stage and to the city of York itself, which effectively stands in for these holy sites. It is unclear what city or what type of stage might be intended to stand in for Emmaus (here unnamed — see note to line 158 above).
284 bi Sant Gyl. Giles or Aegidius, the patron saint of cripples, was an eighth-century hermit.
296, s.d. Tunc recumbent . . . et dicet Lucas. They recline on either side of Jesus at a low table (covered with a cloth, line 291) on which they have placed bread (likely pre-cut to create three pieces); at line 345, Luke refers to their “Syttyng on grownd.” The rest of the stage direction, like the dialogue that follows, suggests a sudden and startling disappearance, such as by a mechanical device.
314–15 For spech and bewté that he has / Man myght hym knaw this day. That is, because of his words and his beauty, he should have been easily recognizable.
350 I knew hym then and sone it kyst. Luke 24:35 states that they knew him in the breaking of the bread; Cleophas takes this a step further and suggests here that he venerated the bread he was given with a kiss.
353–54 all sone he hym withdrogh / Fro he saw that we hym knogh. That is, Jesus suddenly vanished the moment he saw that they had recognized him.
357 Away that he shuld glyde. The word “glide” here implies smooth and swift as well as stealthy movement (see MED gliden (v.)), again suggesting use of a mechanical device (see note above to line 296, s.d.).
360–61 whi held thou noght / When he on borde brake us this breede. Cleophas upbraids Luke for not understanding that this was Jesus when he broke bread at the table (“on borde”).
Play 24, THE PILGRIMS: 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 sixteenth-century hand has written fysher pagent below the title in black ink, while another hand has written the name Iohn (John) above the decorated initial A — possibly the same hand that has written Ind and Inde in the top margin of the following page, above line 15 and 16.
1–2 Almyghty God Jesu . . . a madyn fre. MS: the first two lines are written in a formal variant of the main Anglicana hand.
18 Alas. MS: w crossed out before this word.
58 lam. MS: bet is cancelled before this word.
74 Luke (speech heading). MS: Lucas is wrongly cued to the next line with a red line separating this line (the first on the page) from line 75.
82 The. So EP, SC. MS: Th.
122 youre skyll. So SC. EP: youre wyll. MS: rhyme word missing after youre.
220 what. MS: th crossed out before this word.
248 rest. So EP, SC. All but the r is missing, a strip having been deliberately cut off the margin of the page.
258 it. So EP, SC. MS: is.
297, s.d. evanebit. MS: the t is not crossed.