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The Castle of Perseverance


1 The four daughters will be clad in mantles, Mercy in white, Righteousness

2 First Standard-bearer Glorious God, in all degrees lord of most might

3 And all the nobles of this realm, and advise them the right (way)

4 And ask generous friendship of you

5 Destroyed is mankind cruelly when he to sin agrees

6 Slandering and accusing against all men to stir up trouble

7 When Mankind has taken possession of the Castle of Perseverance

8 And causes him to believe he will suffer need through poverty

9 To put his goods in the control [of others] troubles his mind

10 We intend to play these parts with stage properties

11 Pincenarii (Thrace), Paris, and the land of the Pygmies

12 Truly, from Carlisle into Kent they receive my rebuke (i.e., all of England — see note)

13 Kings, emperors, soldiers, and many a brave knight

14 Give me neither wealth nor poverty, Lord (see Proverbs 30:8)

15 Man, remember your ending, and you will never sin (see Ecclesiasticus 7:40)

16 Then he descends together [with Folly] into the platea

17 There is no rich man in the world who says, "Enough"

18 Wisdom is with the Lord (see Ecclesiasticus 1:1)

19 The trumpet sounds. Then Pleasure and Folly, the Bad Angel and Mankind go to the World, and he [Pleasure] says

20 That which is acquired over a long time slips away quickly (Distichs of Cato 2:17)

21 Unless he sings "If I shall give (I will expect recompense)." See "Addresses of the Commons" line 23, in Dean, Medieval English Political Writings, p. 138.

22 All shall be destroyed, for merry games in the land

23 To ensnare [it] according to my nature

24 Then those rascals for their pleasure I will destroy completely

25 Then Pride, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Lechery, and Sloth go to Covetousness, and Pride says

26 This seems to mean "Let each of us take up our own weapons"

27 See 1 Corinthians 13:13

28 Since those who live in the flesh cannot be pleasing to God (see Romans 8:8)

29 See Matthew 6:19.

30 Lines 1696a–b: You will be holy with the holy ones, etcetera (see Psalm 17:26). / Then he goes in

31 Lines 1705a–b: He who perseveres to the end will be saved (see Matthew 10:22). / Then they will sing "Eternal King most high," and [Meekness] says

32 Then Flesh will shout to Gluttony, Sloth, and Lechery

33 Then he (Mundus) will blow a horn towards [the scaffold of] Covetousness

34 Then the World, Covetousness, and Folly shall go to the castle with a banner and the Devil will say [from his scaffold]

35 Devil, prepare yourself nobly to make those maidens look silly

36 Consider it all joy, when you fall into many temptations (see James 1:2)

37 Take pleasure in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (see Psalm 36:4)

38 He has put down the mighty from their seats, etc. (see Luke 1:52)

39 Whoever exalts himself will be abased, etc. (see Luke 14:11 and 18:14)

40 For the wrath of man does not produce the justice of God (see James 1:20)

41 Woe to the man through whom offense comes (see Matthew 18:7)

42 When he had fasted forty days, etc. (see Matthew 4:2)

43 Now read, now pray, now learn, and now work

44 The world passes away, and the desire thereof (see 1 John 2:17)

45 And thus they [the foolish] leave their wealth to others (see Psalm 48:11)

46 His glory (wealth) shall not descend with him (see Psalm 48:18)

47 The miser will never be satisfied with money (see Ecclesiastes 5:9–10)

48 Man heaps up treasure and does not know to whom it will accumulate (see Psalm 38:7)

49 Not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of Heaven (see Matthew 7:21)

50 Then they go to the Father all together and Truth says

51 Lines 3271–73: in dying, / Repenting far too late, / I condemn such a death

52 Lines 3284–86: Because truth endures for all time, / Man goes to Hell / By no means he comes to Heaven

53 Oh Father of Mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us all in our tribulation (see 2 Corinthians 1:3–4). [Since an English version of this line does not appear in the text, it is not clear whether it should be considered part of the playtext or not.]

54 Lines 3339a–b: If through sin old Adam had not fallen, / Your mother would never have become heavy with child

55 Since you have said, "I will keep my mercy" (see Psalm 88:29)

56 I shall sing of the mercies of the Lord forever (see Psalm 88:1)

57 The righteous man will rejoice when he sees vengeance (see Psalm 57:11)

58 And his mercy is over all his works (see Psalm 144:9)

59 And his mercy is from generation to generation, etc. (see Luke 1:50)

60 Mercy and Truth have met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other (see Psalm 84:11–12)

61 Here is peace, here is goodness, here is glory, here eternally is virtue

62 And we earnestly entreat your pity, O Lord, so that you may deign to grant him a shining and peaceful dwelling

63 I think thoughts of peace, not of affliction (see Jeremias 29:11)

64 The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord (see Psalm 32:5). [This line might well be part of the playtext.]

65 Then they all ascend to the Bad Angel together and say

66 Like a spark in the midst of the sea (see note below). [This line might be part of the playtext.]

67 I will kill and make alive, I will wound and heal; and there is no one who can deliver out of my hand (see Deuteronomy 32:39)

68 Lo, I will inquire of my flock at the hand of the shepherd (see Ezechiel 34:10)

69 And those who do good, they will go to eternal life; those who do evil, assuredly to eternal fire (see note)



Abbreviations: B: Bevington, Medieval Drama; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; E: Eccles, The Macro Plays; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; Tilley: Tilley, A Dictionary of the Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Pro­verbial Phrases.


The OED connects "stytelerys" with the verb "stightle" (to arrange, set in order), perhaps related (as Eccles points out) to "stickler" (umpire, moderator), recorded first in 1538. This would suggest that the "stytelerys" were crowd-control officers; it is not clear whether the direction that there should not be too many of them indicates a common failing with large plays or an assumption that they will not be needed in this particular case.

The "copbord" of Greed at the foot of the bed from which Mankind is born and in which he dies is not necessarily a stationary piece of furniture. Tydeman questions the stage plan's placement of it within the castle, and suggests that this is an error for a position near Greed's scaffold (English Medieval Theatre 1400–1500, pp. 97–98). But that is unnecessary. Mankind likely stores his riches in the "copbord," especially the thousand marks which Greed gives him to entice him out of the castle (line 2726). The "copbord" might also be carried away by Garcio at line 2960, "Go hens, for this is myne." This hint of portability might well imply a chest or similar container. Although no reference is made to it in the play, the prominent description of its location on the stage plan suggests that it was intended to be used in such a manner. Although it stands by Mankind's bed, it is Greed's cupboard and thus likely holds those things which Greed gives to Mankind. Natalie Crohn Schmitt suggests a useful analogue, citing Hieronymus Bosch's "Death of the Miser," in which the Miser's goods are kept in just such a chest at the foot of the bed ("Was There a Medieval Theatre in the Round?" p. 130, n. 4, and p. 142. A reproduction of the painting can also be found at <>).

Gunpowder (gunnepowdyr) was known in England at least from the mid-thirteenth century, when Roger Bacon described it in his treatise De nullitate magiæ. By the middle of the fourteenth century, gunpowder was being made in the royal armories of the Tower of London. The provision of gunpowder/fireworks for Belial would strongly suggest that the actor wore an elaborate protective costume, gloved to protect his hands, and with a substantial mask to protect his ears (see Butterworth, Theatre of Fire, pp. 25–26).

The Four Daughters of God wear costumes in traditionally symbolic colors: white is a standard symbol for Mercy, Peace's black is the color of mourning, Justice wears the red of a judge, and Truth's green symbolizes eternity.


The list of the players actually appears at the end of the play on fol. 191. The scribe has miscounted by one; including the "vexillatores" (standard-bearers) who announce the play a week before the performance, there are only thirty-five characters, not thirty-six.

18 Although the idea of a pair of forces, one malign, one benign, fighting for control of each human being is found in a wide range of popular theology and sermon literature, only here and in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus are they given a place on stage. There is no evidence that Marlowe knew Castle, though it is not outside the bounds of possibility.

29 The traditional Three Enemies of Mankind, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, appear in several other plays as well, notably in the Digby play of Mary Magdalene. Though the idea — a sort of evil parallel to the Trinity — was widespread, it may derive ultimately from the Meditations attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Chapter 12, De tribus inimicis hominis, carne, mundo et diabolo ("On the Three Enemies of Man, the Flesh, the World, and the Devil"). See also Wenzel, "Three Enemies of Man."

44 When banns do survive for a play, discrepancies between the banns and the playtext are not uncommon, suggesting perhaps that the play has been revised without the revision having been transferred to the summary of the banns. Here, according to the summary, the Good Angel enlists the help of Conscience, Confession, and Penitence to take Mankind out of the clutches of Greed, the Three Enemies, and the Seven Deadly Sins. In the play, however, Conscience does not appear.

91 The relationship between old age and covetousness is proverbial. See, for example, Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde (IV.1369), where Criseyde notes, "elde is ful of coveytise." See also Whiting C490.

99 lake. The "lake" is probably an alliterative reference to the pit of Hell.

124 Further evidence that the play may have been revised without reference to the banns can be seen in the absence of any description of the colloquy of the Four Daughters of God which ends the playtext as we have it. This line may suggest that an earlier version of the play concluded with the intercession of Mary, similar, perhaps, to her support for the King in The Pride of Life.

138 This line is ambiguous in two ways. The term "underne" could mean midmorning, midday, or midafternoon, and it is not certain whether "we shul be onward" means "our play must be underway" or "we must be finished and moving on to our next destination."

154 Eccles proposed reading the infinitive "lende" for the manuscript reading "lendys," though that is problematic since the rhyme of the passage is "-ys" (E, p. 7, n. 154).

161–63 The World is speaking to the audience, and their division into "bolde bachelerys" who will need to be prepared to fight and "syrys" who "syttyth on syde" seems to echo Mercy's division of his audience in Mankind into "ye soverens that sitt, and ye brothern that stonde right uppe" (line 29).

170–78 The World boasts of the extent of his reputation, and the place-names are selected largely for their alliteration. The Dry Tree is located at the site of the Garden of Eden; it dried up and withered at the moment of Adam's fall. It appears on the well-known Hereford Cathedral map of the world (ca. 1300) next to the Gates of Paradise; see Westrem, Hereford Map, pp. 38–39, #76.

182 Greed does not merely give the lands to the World, but places him in legal possession (seisin) of them.

201 Carlisle, just south of the Scottish border in the far northwest, to Kent, in the southeast, defines the whole of England.

202 Belial's claim that he bursts into flame "Bothe the bak and the buttoke" would seem to echo the provision for gunpowder in his costume on the stage plan.

226 grym. "Strife." Eccles glosses: "cruelty" (E, p. 246), presumably to get at the force of Belial's boast. MED grim n1.c suggests "agitation," which goes well with the fiends' usual practice of working the field as agitators, trying to create disturbances that will give them clues to people's weak spots. Lucifer is an agitator when he first approaches Eve; Titivillus agitates Mankind until he breaks faith with Mercy in Mankind. When Belial comes upon "Fele folke on a flokke to flappyn and to flene" (line 225), his alliterative boasting implies more of an effort to create a "flap" than to actually beat and flay people — not even Belial could get away with that until he actually has someone in hell. His intention at the moment is to impress the "folke" with his capacity for frightful violence, in which case his boasting is more an effort to stir his "boyis on this grene" (line 227) into action when he blasts his bugle than an act of cruelty.

235, 239 Flesh's scaffold would have been decorated with towers.

271 The reference here (and elsewhere, lines 906, 1897, 1926) to a "hyll" has caused some difficulties for scholars who would take it literally and equate it with a pile of earth created by digging a ditch. It is far more likely that it refers simply to the appropriate scaffold, and that the word is used for its alliterative value or its rhyme (as here). See Schmitt, "Was There a Medieval Theatre in the Round?" p. 138.

294 It is not clear whether Mankind's reference is to "chrisom," a piece of linen cloth placed over a child's head at christening, or to "chrism," the consecrated oil used in several sacraments, including christening. The difference is not important; Mankind explains that his only possession is that which he received at his first sacrament.

324 See previous note; the phrase "a crysyme" would suggest the first meaning.

345 stylle as ston. Mankind does not move as he tries to decide between the two angels.

361a On this and subsequent extra-metrical Latin lines in the text, see Introduction, "Extra-metrical Latin Lines," pp. 6–7. The Good Angel has been arguing that Mankind should avoid the World altogether, so although the Latin line seems like an expansion of the previous statement, it does not really "bere wytnesse" to the Good Angel's argument advocating, as it does, a middle way between riches and poverty. On this and other situations where the Latin quotation does not exactly fit the playtext, see Parry, "Margin of Error," p. 43.

407–10a The point which the Good Angel makes here foreshadows the end of the play, where the actor playing God steps out of character and concludes that pondering one's ending is the proper way to avoid sin and lead a good life.

455, s.d. "Pipe" in this context could indicate any wind instrument or combination of wind instruments. The playwright tends to be specific about trumpets ("trumpe up," lines 156, 574 s.d., etc., or "bemys," lines 617, 2376), so the reference here would more likely be to a ceremonial shawm band as illustrated in many fifteenth-century pictures of feasts and celebratory occasions.

479 The hawthorn berry is proverbial as an indication of something trivial, small, and worthless. See Whiting H190.

516 If Folly is referring here to a specific book, it would likely be either Thomas à Kempis' Imitatio Christi, which circulated in several different versions dating between 1418 and 1441, or Nicholas of Cusa's De docta ignorantia, which first appeared in 1441. Folly could not be thinking of Erasmus' Praise of Folly (Morae Encomium), which was written in 1509, well after the date of the Castle manuscript. See Kaiser, Praisers of Folly, pp. 8–10.

516a This is a particularly good example of an extra-metrical Latin line that cannot be part of the playtext, since it would be highly inappropriate for either Folly or Pleasure to say "Wisdom is with the Lord." The line does, however, make excellent sense as an extra-dramatic gloss on the passage. See Parry, "Margin of Error," p. 44.

519 I have hyphenated Lust-and-Lykynge since it is clear in the text that the phrase refers to one person who is called "Voluptas" (Pleasure) in the speech headings.

656 Backbiter addresses the audience directly.

659 Backbiter has several names. He also calls himself Detraction (line 777), and the World calls him Flibbertigibet (lines 775, 1724, 1733). He represents the self-absorption that leads men to flatter those who can do them good and to speak ill of their neighbors. One of the two lowlifes who accuse Mary of adultery in the N-Town "Trial of Mary and Joseph" is named Bakbytere (N-Town Plays, ed. Spector, 1:140, line 41, or Sugano, p. 124, line 41). On Edgar's references (as Poor Tom) to Flibbertigibbet in King Lear, see also Cauthen, "Foule Flibbertigibbet."

672 Backbiter is carrying a letter box or dispatch box containing the lies he spreads about other people.

691 Several scholars have proposed emending "pley" to "prey" on the grounds that Backbiter's hunting in the woods would be more likely to be for prey than for play. However, if the object of his hunting is the "game" he is playing with Mankind, the reading "pley" would also make sense. See Withington, "Castle of Perseverance, line 695," and Umphrey, "Castle of Perseverance, line 695."

716 Although the World is probably costumed as a prince, in purple or red, this line suggests that his costume is edged with white fur (or its costume equivalent).

730 feffe. As with "sesyd" (line 182), the World does not merely give wealth to Mankind, but formally puts him in legal possession (enfeoffs him).

750 Mankind has already cast ethical action to the winds; in the service of the World he will happily imprison anyone who speaks against the World, whether guilty or innocent of any real crime.

763 opyn sesun. As in line 182, "seisin" indicates the legal possession of land.

775 See note to line 659.

802 whanne the fox prechyth. Proverbial; compare Cain's assessment of Abel's prayer in the Towneley Mactacio Abel: "How! let furth youre geyse; the fox will preche" (Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley, 1:14, line 86). G. R. Owst illustrates the proverb with a wood-carving of a fox preaching (Preaching in Medieval England, p. 86).

805 The cope which the Good Angel wears indicates that he is costumed as a priest in liturgical vestments.

841 Simony, the buying or selling of church offices for profit, was a substantial problem in the Middle Ages, when many churchmen held temporal administrative positions in addition to their spiritual positions within the church. Dante's Inferno condemned the simoniacs to the eighth circle of Hell. A fourteenth-century poem, "The Simonie," linking simony and covetousness or greed, is found in Dean, Medieval English Political Writings, pp. 193–212.

866 The Disticha of Dionysius Cato (who is otherwise unknown) are moral statements in Latin hexameter couplets, written in the third or fourth century. They were virtually ubiquitous in the Middle Ages as a school text for the learning of Latin. Their usefulness persisted well into the early modern period; Benjamin Franklin printed an English version of them in 1735. See Chase, Distichs of Cato.

879 Si dedero. A satirical Latin song which begins with these words seems to have been very popular, though it is not certain that the reference here is to that poem. The phrase out of context seems to have been a byword for bribery, with which meaning it appears frequently, including in the Macro play of Mankind, line 456. In most of its appearances, the phrase "If I give [you something]" implies the continuation "I'll expect something better in return." John Lydgate's version of the Aesopian fable of the Wolf and the Lamb concludes with the statement:
Si dedero ys now so mery a song,
Hath founde a practyk by lawe to make a preef     
To hang a trew man & save an errant theef.

method; prove a case
(Minor Poems of John Lydgate, ed. MacCracken, 2:577, lines 327–29). A similar usage appears in the poem "The Simonie" in the Auchinleck manuscript (National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Advocates Manuscript 19.2.1) which describes a clerk presenting a case at the court of Rome: "Or he shal singe si dedero or al geineþ him noht" ("Either he will offer a bribe or he'll get nothing at all," line 24). Both Mankind and Greed speak of "singing" the phrase, and it does appear to have existed as well as a popular tune. A setting of it in three parts by Alexander Agricola (ca. 1445–1506) was printed by Ottaviano Petrucci in Harmonice Musices Odhecaton A (1501), and Jacob Obrecht (ca. 1457–1505) used the tune as the cantus firmus of a setting of the Mass.

906 The "hyll" to which Pride refers is presumably the scaffold of Greed (see note to line 271).

941 Belsabubbe. The Devil's many guises are indicated by the several names he is called: Belial, Beelsabub, Satanas.

1031 The syntax is a bit messy here. "Thei" refers to the three sins, Gluttony, Sloth, and Lechery, in line 1030, but the playwright (or scribe) seems to have forgotten that the reference there is to the adjectival forms (gluttonous, slothful, lecherous) following on from "He is . . ." in line 1029, rather than to the sins themselves. The sense of the line is "They are sometimes there as well."

1035 A "pynyngys stole," like the stocks and the pillory, was a method of punishment, especially for selling food and drink at false measures. Greed's intent of making Mankind "to ben a foole" would be fulfilled by putting him to a punishment intended for alewives, butchers, and bakers.

1059 The "crakows" which Pride recommends to Mankind as the latest fashion are useful in dating the original composition of the play. These shoes with excessively long pointed toes (often so long as to require attaching to the knees) are referred to only in texts dating from about 1382 to about 1425. E (pp. 190–91) gives a full list of these references. The style seems to have come from Eastern Europe, and the name likely derives from Krakow, Poland. In the Historia Vitae et Regni Ricardi II it is claimed that the style was introduced by Anne of Bohemia, who married Richard in 1382 (see E, p. 191).

1060 The technique of "jagging" clothes involved the cutting of long (predominately vertical) slashes to allow a lining of contrasting color and texture to be seen through the cut.

1073 The image of the wheel of Fortune is ubiquitous in medieval literature. It is described in detail in Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy (Book II); see Patch, Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Literature.

1085a I have followed B's practice of adding appropriate stage directions for the vices' joining of Covetousness, here and at 1145a, 1175a, 1205a, and 1237a.

1109 This line could be seen as a foreshadowing of Mankind's eventual death (line 2807).

1122 Unlike Mankind (lines 1102 and 1106), Envy is wary of taking the Lord's name in vain.

1139 Cum up to me above. Humanum Genus, basking proudly on Sir Covetyse's scaffold, invites Envy to join him "on lofte" (line 1145).

1152–55 The laity was required to fast (usually defined as the removal of meat from the diet) during the seasons of Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas) and Lent (the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter).

1215 take a swet. E (p. 269), B (p. 833), and MED gloss swet in this line as "sweat," the idea being, perhaps, that rather than go to Mass the lover should wrap his head in a cloth (i.e., a sweat band, line 1214) and relax in a steam bath.

1237a [Sloth ascends to Covetousness' scaffold] is Bevington's stage direction (B, p. 834). It is especially necessary here to clarify the distinction between Humanum Genus' two contiguous speeches.

1350 al to sone. It is necessary for Mankind to go to confession before taking communion on Easter Sunday. Mankind tells Schrift that, according to Sloth, Palm Sunday (a week before Easter) is much too early for confession, and that he should return on Good Friday, five days later.

1369 We have etyn garlek everychone. Mankind, thinking back to his pleasures of food on Glutton's scaffold, resists the Confessor's invitation to temper his diet. The Castle-playwright is drawing on a well-established tradition of the evil of rich foods mentioned by the hungry Israelites in the desert who, dissatisfied with the blandness of manna, yearn for the tasty delicacies of Egypt (Numbers 11:5). That passage gets picked up in various commentaries and also by Gower in Vox clamantis (3.85–90; Macaulay, ed., Works, 4:109), where the protagonist warns against the corruptive effects of such foods on worldly prelates; and in Chaucer's Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, where the Summoner, physically disfigured as a sign of his debauched love of women or men and rich food, is said to be fond of garlic, onions, and leeks (CT I[A]634). See Kaske, "Summoner's Garleek, Oynons, and Eek Lekes," on these foods as symbolic of moral corruption; and Biggins, who discusses such foods as stimulants of sexual desire, in "Chaucer's Summoner: ‘Wel Loved He Garleek, Onyons, and eek Lekes,' C.T. I, 634." See also Wood, "Sources of Chaucer's Summoner's ‘Garleek, Oyunons, and eek Lekes.'"

1379 As with line 1109, perhaps a foreshadowing of Mankind's death in line 2807.

1381–89 Contrition (sorrow of heart) is one of the canonical requirements for true confession; the others are verbal confession and penance. See also lines 1419 and 1431.

1468–80 This stanza and the next constitute Mankind's oral confession, while lines 1494–1531 represent Confession's absolution (explicit in lines 1507 and 1520).

1496–97 Confession refers to Matthew 16:18–19, "And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and, whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." Confession's point is that God has granted the power of absolution to His church and His priesthood.

1601 A leaf is missing from the manuscript following this line. The action of the missing text seems reasonably clear: Mankind enters the Castle of Perseverance accompanied by the seven cardinal virtues. Meekness and Patience, the only two virtues whose introductory speeches are missing, clearly spoke as well, since Mankind answers them in lines 1671–75. Before the virtues introduce themselves, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil and their accompanying sins retreat from Covetousness' scaffold to their own scaffolds.

1621–23 The idea that Adam's sin in eating the apple was gluttony appears in a number of medieval sources. The preachers' manual Qui bene presunt of Richard of Wetheringsett (ca. 1220) includes a chapter on gluttony in its fifth Distinction, De viciis, in which he notes that it was Adam "qui propter pomum amisit Paradisum" ("who was driven from Paradise because of an apple"). Richard's treatise was very popular in England over the following three centuries. The full text is found in many manuscripts; the quotation here is from London, British Library Ms. Royal 9.A.xiv. I am grateful to Joseph Goering for this reference.

1660 Criticism of estate executors is common through the fourteenth century, since the law gave them considerable control over the distribution of the estate. In Langland's Piers Plowman, for example, executors are said to "maken hym murie with oother mennes goodes" (B-text, Passus 20, line 289). E provides several other examples (p. 193).

1668 The lily is commonly a symbol of virginity.

1705b The hymn Aeterne Rex altissime is sung at the service of matins (the first of the day's canonical services) between Ascension (the fortieth day after Easter) and Pentecost (the fiftieth day after Easter).

1711 "Dos" is generally used of an amount of medicine; perhaps a reference to the vinegar and gall given to Christ to slake his thirst.

1731 Not "mothers," but the East Anglian dialect word "moder," "servant or wench" as cited by the OED (s.v. "mawther") from the Promptorium Parvulorum. The term is intended to be an insult.

1742 St. James the Greater, one of Jesus' apostles, who is reputed to be buried at Compostella in the province of Galicia, Spain.

1744 Backbiter's slanderous activities "both in England and in Wales" are less likely to be a comment on the Welsh than a convenient rhyme for "Galys."

1778–90 One of Backbiter's jobs is informing on his fellows, acting as a "snitch." Thus it is he who advises the three Enemies of the failure of the seven sins to keep Mankind in their clutches. His reveling in their punishment is part of the normal process of backbiting.

1828 wyth rowtynge rele. "in riotous tumult" (MED rele n.2). The "rele" figure also bears connotations of domesticity apt to the infighting amongst the seven deadly kinsmen that so amuses Backbiter in that "rele" is primarily the reel (MED rele n.1) that thread is spun onto from the distaff, which is another domestic tool that often gets mixed up in domestic brawls. The figure ties amusingly back into the metaphors of thread and weaving that the fiends use in hope of ensnaring their victims. Backbiter thrives on pranks against his fiendish buddies as well as anyone else. See lines 1832–35.

1848 "Lake" was a fine grade of linen; Chaucer's Sir Thopas is dressed in "cloth of lake fyn and cleere" (CT VII[B2]858).

1870 Greed accepts no blame for Mankind's change of heart; the loss is the World's, not his.

1884 bleryn. MED v.1 "blear over; stream at the eyes"; v.2 "wail." B glosses: "be blinded" (p. 851); E: "stream at the eyes" (p. 233).

1929 Pride swears by Goliath, the Philistine giant killed by David in 1 Kings 50.

1941 Gogmagog was a mythical British giant defeated by Corineus in 1.16 of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain.

2022 This line is a puzzle, and it is not at all clear what it might mean. "Parlasent" could be the French phrase "par asent," "voluntarily," which also appears in line 1013, but the rest of the line remains obscure. Happé suggests that the line is addressed to the virtues as primroses, "first flowers," and that the verb, "pleyeth," should be read as OED v, "to bestir or busily occupy oneself." Thus the line would mean, "O first flowers, stir yourselves willingly." This reading is not entirely convincing, and it does not explain the ending of the verb, "pleyeth," which should appear as "pleye" (Happé, Four Morality Plays, p. 626).

2053 oure flourys. This is the first reference to the flowers with which the Virtues defend the castle; later (line 2145) it becomes clear that their weapons are red roses, symbols of the Passion.

2115 wyld fere. "Wild fire" was a general term for gunpowder-based stage effects often, as likely here, thrown or "cast." See Butterworth, Theatre of Fire, pp. 21–24.

2120 "Motyhole" is clearly an insult, though its meaning is not clear. Furnivall and Pollard, Macro Plays (p. 200), took it to mean "moth hole," and E (p. 195) related it to "motty," "containing motes or dust," but neither of these is very convincing. Happé suggests that the first element is more likely derived from "mot" ("loose woman, harlot," Four Morality Plays, p. 626), see OED s.v. 3/1. But "filthy cunt" perhaps says it best, with moty implying "musty" or "dirty," and "hole" being what it is.

2145 rosys swete and softe. The anonymous treatise Vitis Mystica (attributed both to St. Bernard and St. Bonaventure) describes the roses with which the Virtues defend Mankind as symbols both of Charity and of Christ's Passion (Patrologia Latina, vol. 184, cols. 708–15) [Chapters XXXIII–XLI].

2198 blowe your brode baggys. Belial's call for bagpipes may simply be a mustering call to war, though, given the obscenity of his and his associates' attitudes toward women, more than military warfare may be implied. Bagpipes were commonly used to signify lechery and the dance of the flesh, which would be in keeping with the fiends and the seven sins' perpetual reducing of the Virtues to whores, sluts, and obscene parts of the anatomy (see note to line 2120). N.b., Eustache Deschamps' reference to the pipes as "instruments des hommes bestiaulx" (Oeuvres Complètes v:127). That the drunken Miller leads Chaucer's pilgrims out of town with his bagpipe (CT I[A]565) has been often discussed as a type of concupiscence, lechery, and gluttony. Edward A. Block comments on the bagpipe as a sign of carnal lust, gluttony, avarice, and dissipation in Chaucer, but, especially, in the paintings of Bosch and Pieter Brueghel the Elder ("Chaucer's Millers and Their Bagpipes"). So too Kathleen L. Scott, who explores typology linking bagpipes to gluttony and lechery as the piper plays upon pig stomachs and genitalia to make his squeal ("Sow-and-Bagpipe Imagery in the Miller's Portrait"). Scott cites British Library MS Sloane 748, fol. 82v, for an image of a pig playing bagpipes next to a jester holding his genitals (p. 289, n. 1). See also D. W. Robertson, Jr., on bagpipes as signs of the old sexual dance, in Preface to Chaucer, p. 243, and in figures 15, 33, 35, 37, and 42.

2198a Taking into account the elaborate references to weapons, shields, and banners as the sins prepare for battle, as well as the stage plan's description of the Devil's battle costume, the provision here for an extended battle would form a spectacular climax to the fight for Mankind.

2212 malaundyr. Mallender is a form of chronic dermatitis in horses, characterized by sores on the legs.

2239 wynnyth a scho. The phrase "to win one's shoes" with the meaning "to prove oneself in battle" appears in several fifteenth-century texts. So in the romance Sir Perceval of Galles King Arthur tells Perceval that he will "wynn thi schone" in battle with the sultan (ed. Braswell, line 1595).

2269 I mene the sacrament. The sacrament to which Abstinence refers is the Eucharist, in which the "bread" of lines 2267 and 2270 is the body of Christ.

2303a Anderson notes that Chastity's invocation of the Virgin Mary and her threat to "quenche" Lechery's "fowle hete" may indicate that she throws a bowl of water over her, especially since Lechery later complains that she has been "drenchyd" (see Drama and Imagery in English Medieval Churches, pp. 81–82). Conversely, Chastity might engineer Lechery's falling into the ditch, which is filled (for the moment) with the water of grace.

2329 this dyche I fowe. Although there is no stage direction to confirm it, it seems likely that the "dyche" from which Sloth empties the "watyr of grace" is the same ditch described in detail on the stage plan. The most significant argument against this conclusion is the stage plan's option of barring the place "strongely . . . al abowt" instead of digging a ditch, since it would not be clear in that case what Sloth would empty. Where the sins have been unsuccessful in their direct assault on the castle, Sloth gains entry by appealing to Mankind's innate laziness, just as Greed will draw him out of the castle by offering him creature comforts.

2335 Thre mens songys. A three-men's song would have been in three parts — usually treble, mean, and bass — like the song proposed by the Three Mights in Wisdom (lines 613–20); or, perhaps, a catch like those sung by Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Feste in Twelfth Night. The three-men's song had a long history of association with drama; the two songs which survive with the Coventry Christmas pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors are both three-men's songs, as are many of the theater-related songs published by Thomas Ravenscroft. For the Coventry songs, see The Coventry Corpus Christi Plays, ed. King and Davidson, pp. 166–73; for Ravenscroft's songs, see Pammelia (1609), Deuteromelia (1609), and Melismata (1611).

2379 myrth. The manuscript reads "myth" (might, power). Either word makes sense in the passage, but the rhyme word ("dyrt") suggests that E's emendation to "myrth" is correct.

2385 cowche qwayl. This may well have been a game. The character Franticness in John Skelton's anti-Wolsey satire "Speke, Parrot" (a close relation to Castle's Folly) causes men "to play cowche quale" (Skelton, Complete English Poems, p. 243, line 426).

2390 qwene. There is a pun involved in this line, since Lechery's "qwene" has a double meaning of "queen," as Chastity has already used it in her previous fight with Lechery (line 2315), and "whore, slut," which is clearly the sense in which Lechery is using the word here.

2403–04 my ballokys bathe / And leykyn. Perhaps the licking metaphor comes from the behavior of dogs cleansing themselves at rest, though it's hard to imagine Accidia having such dexterity.

2421 As Smart noted ("Castle of Perseverance"), the Canwick gallows with which the World threatens his minions stood on Canwick Hill near Lincoln. The site was notorious since in 1255 eighteen Jews were hanged there for the murder of the eight-year-old Hugh of Lincoln. The executions were clearly political in nature, since a young Jewish boy had already confessed to the murder and had been executed.

2435 St. Giles is the patron saint of beggars, cripples, and the insane. Covetousness' offer to Mankind is perhaps not as good as it sounds.

2445 Greed (Avaricia) is here associated with Cupiditas (also meaning Greed) which, as 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us, is the root of all evil.

2482 I gynne to waxyn hory and olde. One of the more troubling tropes of old age is the increase of miserliness (see note to line 91), as if to secure oneself against the crippling fear of loss and disablement that inevitably are on the horizon. Compare the anxieties of Elde in The Parliament of the Three Ages. The fearful compulsion is so great that Mankind leaves the castle abruptly with Coveytyse, giving the virtuous ladies no opportunity to try to dissuade him (n.b., stage direction after line 2556).

2488 arayed in a sloppe. A "slop" would be loose and practical, though unfashionable, unlike the fine clothes of Mankind's youth (n.b., lines 623–26).

2494 A mark was an amount of money (never minted as a coin) equal to two-thirds of a pound, or 13 s. 4 d.

2513 E (p. 197) suggests that the "Bok of Kendys" refers to De naturis rerum of Alexander Neckam (1157–1215), an encyclopedic collection of scientific knowledge.

2537 This sounds like a proverb, but it does not appear in any of the standard sources.

2589 That is, in Heaven.

2644 Generosity apologizes directly to the audience for having lost Mankind to the clutches of Greed.

2649–51 The Bad Angel's misogynist rant is well known as a proverb; see Tilley, W 686–87.

2665–73 Mankind speaks of money as a personification, "Penny-man."

2703 my castel cage. The "cage" to which Covetousness takes Mankind may well be the "cupboard" mentioned on the stage plan (see p. 105), situated at the end of Mankind's bed under the castle. The "cupboard" would likely have been portable, perhaps a chest, since Garcio appears to carry it off (around line 2981).

2726 See note to line 2494.

2740 The noble was a gold coin first struck during the reign of Edward III in 1344–46, with a value of 1/3 of a pound, or 6 s. 8 d.

2742 In a world in which banking and investing were only available to the very rich, money was generally stored in a locked chest. Such storage was, of course, vulnerable to theft, and one of the few methods of longer-term secure storage available to all was secret burial.

2745–47 That is, "I would not spend any of it even to save my neighbor from the gallows."

2816 Thanne was I wel knowe. Clearly a reference to the Black Death. Although the first wave of this epidemic reached England in 1348–50, outbreaks of plague occurred with some frequency over the next three hundred years. Death's "grete pestelens" likely refers to the first wave, in which as much as 30–40 percent of England's population died, but the later outbreaks would have meant that no one in the audience would have been ignorant of Death's power.

2820 grete fyschys ete the smale. Proverbial; see Whiting F232. But here Death's point is that the covetous use their predatory preoccupation mainly as a diversion away from facing the facts of life: in death, they are the ones who will be devoured, regardless of how great they are.

2823 Hem schal helpyn nothyr mel or mete. Death's taking the proud and covetous while they are feasting is a favorite trope in medieval drama. See the Death of Herod Play in N-Town, where Death watches the privileged who are unaware of his presence until he slays them all to exit in a dance of death, with admonitions to the audience. Or consider the presentation of Belshazzar's feast in The Play of Daniel.

2876 The "outrage" which Mankind has committed against the World is his residency in the Castle of Perseverance and his adherence to the seven Virtues.

2900 The breaking of Mankind's gall bladder would presumably increase the amount of yellow bile (gall) in his body. Since an excess of yellow bile leads to a choleric temperament, Mankind would be provoked to anger at the thought that his goods might go to someone not of his family ("kende").

2979 That is, "things will not go according to my plans, that my estate should go to my wife and children."

2985a It is not clear whether this line should be spoken or not, since the sense of it is given in English in the following lines.

2990 The sin of despair involves the denial of God's mercy, the blasphemous thought that one's own sins are too great for God to forgive. Mankind's prayer against despair is thus important, for were he to give in to this sin his wickedness would be far greater.

3007 At the last moment Mankind opens the door for his possible salvation by rejecting both his sinful life and his thoughts of despair and placing himself in the mercy of God.

3008 According to the stage plan, the Soul (perhaps played by a boy) has been under Mankind's bed for the whole of the play so far, waiting for his entrance. Although it would be a long wait, it would hardly be impossible, and the sudden appearance of the Soul at the moment of Mankind's death would provide a simple but extraordinary theatrical effect.

3012 The Soul addresses the dead body of Mankind, probably positioned on the bed from under which the Soul has just emerged.

3029 A leaf is missing in the manuscript after this line. Given the context, it seems likely that the Good Angel answers the Soul's question of line 3021 with advice concerning its salvation, prompting the Bad Angel's rejoinder in lines 3030–33, appealing to the audience on why such salvation should not be permitted. It is probable that the argument between the Good and Bad Angels, which would have begun in the missing passage, was intended to foreshadow the colloquy of the Four Daughters of God which follows at line 3129. This final discussion puts the question on an entirely new level; while the Good Angel here cannot think of a logical reason ("ryth resun," line 3043) why Mankind should not be damned, the arguments of Peace and Mercy which follow transcend mere logic.

3031 That is, out of the Castle of Perseverance.

3063 But Mercy pase alle thynge. Bevington notes an allusion here to Psalm 145:9 (Vulgate Psalm 144:9): "God's compassion is over all that he has made" (B, p. 883).

3096–97 The passage is derived from the line "Quia in inferno nulla est redemptio," from the Office of the Dead.

3101–03 The Bad Angel threatens to slice off the Soul's sinful bits once they get to Hell.

3114–18 Have this . . . have thou that. The Bad Angel makes a charade of Mankind's former poor decisions, reenacting them with blows. E.g., compare line 2719.

3115 The Bad Angel's accusation repeats the point made in one of the extra-metrical Latin tags (line 503a), that the man who is given to Greed will never say "enough."

3122 The Bad Angel attaches an accounting ("synful tydynge") of Mankind's sins to the Soul's back.

3124 Psalm 114:9, "Placebo Dominum in regione vivorum" ("I will please the Lord in the land of the living") was sung as the first antiphon in the Office of the Dead.

3135 The colloquy of the Four Daughters of God which ends the play is based on the doctrine that, although the conflicting ideals of Justice and Truth (on the one hand) and Peace and Mercy (on the other) lead to differing conclusions concerning man's salvation, these were reconciled by the Crucifixion. The personification of these four abstract qualities derives, at least in part, from Psalm 84:11–12. The function of the four daughters in establishing the theological foundation in late thirteenth-, fourteenth-, and fifteenth-century literature is noteworthy. In the drama, besides Castle of Perseverance, see N-Town Play 11: The Parliament of Heaven, where the four daughters of God settle the Justice/Mercy question in favor of humankind prior to the Annunciation and Salutation. The idea likewise appears in Mankind as Mercy (here depicted as male) frames the aberrant behavior of Mankind when the protagonist calls for mercy at the end and Mercy, who had earlier been mocked off the stage, returns to help him, citing Jesus' sacrifice to convince Justice of Mankind's worthiness despite all his retrogressive ways. Likewise the idea is alluded to in Everyman when, as Everyman and his Good Deeds step into the grave, he, like Humanum Genus, calls for mercy. In other literature, the colloquy provides the hopeful solution to Robert Grosseteste's theologically rich Chateau d'Amour, and in Langland's Piers Plowman (B-text Passus 18 lines 110 ff.), after Christ on the Cross forgives the one thief, darkness descends and Mercy appears out of the west and Truth from the east to debate with Rihtwisness from the north and Peace from the south the meaning of Christ's sacrifice. See also Gesta Romanorum 34 about Agios, a Wise Emperoure; The Allegory of Mercy, Truth, Justice, and Peace; and also The Charter Abbey of the Holy Ghost.

3147 See also lines 3368–69. Doctor Faustus expresses the same regret in Marlowe's play just before he is dragged off to Hell: "See see where Christs blood streames in the firmament, / One drop would save my soule, halfe a drop, ah my Christ!" (A text, scene 13, lines 74–75).

3207 us three. Not the four daughters, but those on the one side of the argument, Peace, Mercy, and Christ, whose sacrifice tipped the balance in their favor.

3215 Unlike the final lines of the other stanzas, this line is not placed to the right of the brackets and thus has not been indented.

3252a Quoniam veritatem dilexisti. I have been unable to identify the source. Eccles identifies it as Psalm 1:8 (E, p. 201), but Psalm 1 has only six verses. Bevington cites Psalm 51:6 (B, p. 888), which accords somewhat with the King James Version ("Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom"), but not with the Vulgate ("Thou has loved all the words of ruin, O deceitful tongue"). The Wycliffe Bible reads "Thou lovedist alle wordis of casting doun; with a gileful tunge."

3313a As with line 2985a, it is not clear whether this line is to be spoken or not.

3342 Mercy speaks simultaneously to God the Father and God the Son.

3368–69 See note to line 3147.

3425 The idea of Death as a dance appears frequently in the literature and iconography of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. See Clark, Dance of Death.

3437 us thre. See note to line 3207. The adherents to the other side of the argument (as Justice sees it): Justice, Truth, and God.

3547a This prayer is said liturgically for the benefit of souls in Purgatory.

3591 This is a common alliterative tag, though it may well derive from the intrusive quality of the sound of a bell.

3597b This common medieval sentiment is found in a variety of texts, most influentially in the anonymous Speculum Christiani (p. 73). The full text reads "Sicut scintilla ignis in medio maris, sic omnis impietas viri ad misericordiam Dei" ("Like a spark of fire in the middle of the sea is all the wickedness of man compared to the mercy of God").

3620 A direct reference to the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30), in which the coins (talents) are a metaphor for the good things God gives to man, which he must use to increase the good things in the world.

3628 The seven acts of mercy are feeding the hungry, relieving the thirsty, clothing the naked, offering comfort to the imprisoned, offering hospitality to pilgrims (or sheltering the homeless), caring for the sick, and burying the dead. The first six are drawn from Matthew 25:34–40.

3636a This line from the Athanasian Creed assumes critical importance in Langland's poem Piers Plowman, since it constitutes the text of the pardon given to Piers in Passus 7, line 110 (B-text).

3637 The goods of this world are morally neutral, and can come to man through sin (line 3297) or by God's gift.

3649 The manuscripts of surviving plays, especially those with a liturgical connection, frequently conclude with an indication that those present should sing the hymn Te Deum laudamus. It is not clear from the Castle text whether the hymn was to be sung, or the character of God (who has in the previous four lines stepped out of his role and addressed the audience directly as an actor) would simply speak the text.


Abbreviations: E: Eccles, Macro Plays; H: Happé, Four Morality Plays; MS: Folger Manuscript V.a.354 (the Macro Manuscript)
1 Primus Vexillator. MS: Primus Vexil[. . .].

4 mankynde. MS: man is smudged.

5 our lofly. MS: our lo is smudged.

14 Secundus Vexillator. MS: Secundus Vexil[. . .].

17 hys last. MS: hys l smudged.

18 God. MS: god good.
aungelys. So E. MS: aungel. H: aungel[ys].

21 behende. So E. MS: be hende. H: be-hende.

27 Primus Vexillator. MS: Primus Vexilla[. . .].

28 thre. So E. MS, H: iii.

32 meynten. So E. MS: meyten. H: mey[n]ten.

42 lofty. MS, E, H: lofly.

43 Aungellys. So E. MS: Aungell. H: Aungell[ys].

58 Flesch, iwys. So E. MS: flesch þan i wys. H: Flesch i-wys.

64 stryvyth. MS, E, H: strywyth.

80 gan. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

92 MS: From this point on to the end of the banns the speech headings (Primus/Secundus Vexillator) are backwards in the manuscript, and have here been reversed.

99 ful. So E. MS, H: foul.

114 whanne he may. So E. MS: whanne may. H: whanne [he] may.

124 Ladi. MS: written above the rest of the line but marked for insertion.

132 parcellys. So E. MS: parcell. H: parcell[ys].

after 134 MS: a line is written in the bottom margin of the folio but the page is cropped in such a way that it is illegible. It does not appear to be a part of the play.

144 oure leve. MS: another word starting with l is cancelled before leve. H: oure lyvys.

159 prinse. MS: added above the rest of the line over what appears to be pride.

184 The emendation is Eccles' (E, p. 8). MS: Ther is wythe.

192 Werld. MS, E, H: werd.

215 kene knyth. MS: kene kyth knyth.

258 Bothe. So E. MS: bote. H: Bot[h]e.

262 dryve to. MS: dryweto. E, H: drywe to.

270 MS: If that w[e may], added in right margin above line 269.

301 To. So E. MS, H: ii.

308 To. So E. MS: do. H: [To].
devylys. MS, E, H: dewylys.

312 evyl. MS, E, H: ewyl.

346 Werld. MS, E, H: werd.

355 Heveneryche. MS: heue ryche. E: heueryche. H: heve-ryche.

356 syttyth. So E, H. MS: syttyht.

367 bale schal. MS: schal bale schal.

378 And fayn. MS: written in left margin.

379 MS: line 380 is written above this line in the margin but cancelled.

488 have. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

523 Foly ruste. MS: foly truste ruste.

545 lyve. MS, E, H: lywe.

553 of lofte. MS: of last lofte.

568 Of God. This emendation was proposed by Furnivall and Pollard. MS, E, H: omit.

580 be. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

625 robys ryve. MS: robys ryve wyth rych.

631–38 MS: written in two lines but marked for breaks into eight.

639–46 MS: written in two lines but marked for breaks into eight.

668 a. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

713 al hys. So E, H. MS: al hys al hys.

748 MS: a letter is scratched out at the beginning of this line.

785–86 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

787–88 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

804 off. MS, E, H: of.

934 steryste or staryste. MS: stertystys or starystys. The suggested emendation is E's. H: steryst[e] or staryst[e].

945 chyldryn. So E. MS: chyrdryn. H: chy[l]dryn.

984 soure syth. MS: sour snow t syth.

985 iwys. MS, E, H: wys.

1016 Slawth. MS: sslawth.

1020 systyr. So E. MS: sytyr. H: sy[s]tyr.

1045 growe glad. MS: a letter is erased between these words.

1068 no man. MS: no ma man.

1084–85 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1086–87 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1094 be ful. MS: be feld and flod ful.

1109 MS: line 1110 is written but erased before this one.

1114–15 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1116–17 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1124 knyve. MS: the n is written over a y.

1144–45 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1146–47 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1160 MS: this line is not written in the right margin as other tail rhyme lines.

1166 I ne rekke. So E. MS: I rekke. H: I [ne] rekke.

1172 lyfe. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

1174–75 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1176–77 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1183 thou. So E. MS: thu. H: th[o]u.

1185 If thou gyf. MS: If 3yf. H: If [thou] gyf. E: If þou 3yf.

1201 wyl forsake thee day. MS: wyl for sake day. H: wyl for-sake [the] day. E: wyl forsake þe day.

1204–05 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1206–07 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1208 bedde bothe. MS: bedde browth bothe.

1234–35 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1236–37 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1238 The manuscript's repetition of the speech heading is likely just a scribal error.

1248 gray. MS, E, H: gay.

1250 sevene. So E. MS, H: vii.

1253 But of othyr. So E. MS, H: of othyr.

1257 sevene. So E. MS, H: vii.

1286–97 MS: written in six lines but marked for breaks into twelve.

1298 CONFESCIO. MS: Confessio.

1304 For all. MS: For olde, all is written in the left margin.

1314 in. MS: written above the rest of the line but marked for insertion.

1324 counfort stronge. MS: counfort good stronge.

1337 CONFESCIO. MS: Confessi[. . .].

1373 evyl. MS, E, H: ewyl.

1374 evyl. MS, E, H: ewyl.

1377 hym prene. MS: hym preue prene.

1404 syhe. So E. MS: shye. H: [syhe].

1422 my. So E. H: [my]. MS: I.

1440 evyl. MS, E, H: ewyl.

1452 to. MS: a letter is cancelled before this word.

1460 But kepe. MS: but h kepe.

1473 syttyth. So E. MS: syttyh. H: sytty[t]h.

1511 thee the. MS, E, H: þe.

1513 fyve. So E. MS, H: v.

1537 sevene. So E. MS, H: vii.

1551 werldly. MS, E, H: werldyly.

1552 Goo to yone. So E. MS: goo 3one. H: Goo [to] yone.

1553 For it is. So E. MS: for is. H: For [it] is.

1581 the. MS: written above the line.

after 1601 MS: Detraccio ad caro is written in a different hand in the bottom margin of this folio. Malus angelus is smudged out above it. A leaf is missing after this one.

1606 alwey Envye. MS: alwey eny envye.

1629 maydyn Marye. MS: maydyn to Marye.

1631a placere. So E, H. MS: plcere.

1635 grace. MS: written in the left margin.

1644 thowtys wyckke. MS: þowtys þy wyckke.

1648 but thwyte. MS: but tw thwyte.

1658 MS: this line is written in the right margin but marked for insertion.

1669 your. MS: written above my

1691 sevene. So E. MS, H: vii.

1705b et dicet. So E. MS: &[. . .]. H: et [dicet].

1707 fro foly. MS: fro h foly.

1746–49 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

1750–53 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

1767–68 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1791–94 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

1795–98 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

1812–13 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1821 Why ne had. So E. MS: why had. H: Why[ne] had.

1822a verberabit. So E, H. MS: verberauit.

1836–39 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

1844 goode. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

1853–54 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

1855 Lewde. MS: lowde.

1862 Therfore a. MS: therfor thou a.

1863a verberabit. So E. MS: verberauit. H: verbera[b]it.

1889 MS: line 1892 is written after this line but is cancelled.

1921 woful. MS: wowful.

1940 Whanne. So E, H. MS: Wahanne.

1958 cache. MS, E, H: chache.

1969 herawd. So E. MS, H: heyward.

1970 damyselys. So E. MS: damysely. H: damysely[s].

1981 kachyn. MS: two letters are cancelled before this word.

2000 To men thei. So E. MS, H: to men ben.

2056 sevene. So E. MS, H: vii.

before 2112 MS: Ira is written in a different hand in the top margin of this folio.

2149 wreke. MS: written in right margin after breke.

2163a Vae. MS, E, H: ve.
venit. So E. MS: ven[. . .]. H: ven[it].

2164 not hys. MS: not tame hys.

2177 synne had he. MS: synne [ink blot] he had he.

2189 moderys, all three. MS: moderys all at onys þre.

2203 MS: line 2221 is written but cancelled before this line.

2228 Yerne. MS: be yerne.

2240 wynne. So E. MS, H: wyth.

2255 vow. H: vowe. MS, E: wou.

2284 Abstynens. MS: aabstynens.

2291 MS: this line is also written erroneously to the right with a bracket and then cancelled.

2303a concupiscentias. So E, H. MS: concupiscen[. . .].

2320 hym wyth synful. So E. MS: hym synful. H: hym[wyth] synful.

2332 Thyrti. So E. MS, H: xxxti.

2335 Thre. So E. MS, H: iii.

2365 Belyalys. So E. MS: Blyalys. H: B[e]lyalys.

2388 hathe me dayschyd. So E, H. MS: hathe dayschyd.

2420 The medys. MS: the md medys.

before 2431 MS: covetyse is written in a different hand in the top margin of this folio.

2448 gynnyst wende. MS: gynnyst g wende.

2456 Coveytyse. So E, H. MS: Coveyse.

after 2482 MS: luxurya is written in a different hand in the bottom margin of this folio.

2529 thou be pore. MS: thou po r be.

2543 betyde. MS: two letters are erased before this word.

2562 not. MS: written above the rest of the line but marked for insertion.

before 2587 MS: the bottom of an illegible phrase written in a different hand is apparent in the top margin of the folio. The top of the phrase has been cropped, hence the illegibility.

2598 thre. So E. MS, H: iii.

2610 sekatour. MS: the at is blotted and hard to read.

2612a relinquent. So E. MS: relinquam. H: relinqu[ent].

before 2648 MS: an illegible word appears in the left margin next to this line.

2667 Where that evere. MS: that squeezed in between the other two words.

2693 pounde I. MS: pounde of golde I.

2745 neybore. MS, E, H: neygbore.

2757 be. MS: written above the line but marked for insertion.

2768 too. MS, E, H: to.

2805 blastys. So E. MS: bastys. H: b[l]astys.

2855 hath. MS, E, H: hat.

2878 Werldys. MS, E, H: Werldlys.

2891 lott. MS: tt is blotted and hard to read.

2892 whow. MS: whou.

2920 wounde. MS: wou[. . .].

before 2930 MS: This ought to be p. 184 is written in a different hand in the top margin of the folio.

2932 what. So E. MS: wha. H: wha[t].

2965 thee. MS: added above the rest of the line.

after 2977 MS: othyr is written in a different hand in the bottom margin of this folio.

2979 as I thout. MS, E: as þout. H: as thout.

after 3029 MS: a leaf is missing at this point in the text.

3040 hathe he servyd. MS, E, H: hathe servyd.

3059 MS: he aperith þe sowle is written in a different hand under this line in the right margin.

3060 too. MS, E, H: to.

after 3076 MS: holtys is written in a different hand in the bottom margin of this folio.

3084 Thou were. MS: thou be were.

3110 schalt. MS: there is a cancelled s or f before this word.

3127–28 MS: written in one line but marked for break into two.

3187 goode. So E. MS, H: goodys.

3215 MS: this line should be written in the right margin like all of the rest of the tail rhymed lines, but it is not.

3228a Patrem. MS: prem.

3229–32 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3233–36 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3237–40 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3241–44 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3245–48 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3285 ad infernum. MS: ad supernum infernum.

3344 thyrti. So E. MS, H: xxxti.

3345 to-schent. MS: schent is written above rent.

3383 fro. So E. MS: ffre. H: fre.

3385 to be. MS: to þe be.

3389 And to. MS: and do to.

3404 Qui. MS, E, H: quia.
Domini. So E. MS: deum. H: [Domini].

3408 space. MS: written above grace.

3411 Flesch. MS: flsch.

3421 comberaunce. MS: written to the right of governaunce.

3422 putte ful. MS: putte a wey ful.

3430 MS: a letter is erased at the beginning of this line.

3440 dwellys. So E. MS: dwell. H: dwell[ys].

3467 endynge. So E. MS, H: begynnynge.

3495 cacche. So E, H. MS: chache.

3497 Ten. So E. MS, H: x.

3541 MS: this line is written in the right margin after a cancelled line 3537.

3542 all be. MS, E, H: be all.

3547a quietas. So E. MS, H: quie[. . .].
mansiones. So E. MS, H: mansione[. . .].

3574–81 MS: written in four lines but marked for break into eight.

3582–85 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3586–89 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3590–93 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3594–97 MS: written in two lines but marked for break into four.

3597b scintilla. MS: sintill. E: sintilla. H: sintill[a].

3628 sevene. So E. MS, H: vii.

3638 schal be heynyd. So E. MS: schal heynyd. H: shal [be] heynyd

Caro (Flesh)
This is the watyr abowte the place, if any dyche may be mad ther it schal be pleyed, or ellys that it be strongely barryd al abowt, and lete nowth ovyrmany stytelerys (marshalls) be wythinne the plase.
  This is the castel of perseveraunse that stondyth
in the myddys of the place, but lete no men sytte ther,
for lettynge (blocking) of syt (sight), for ther schal be the best of all.
Deus (God)
  Coveytyse (Greed’s) copbord be the beddys feet /
schal be at the ende of the castel.
Mundus (World)
  Mankynde is bed schal be undyr the castel
and ther schal the sowle lye undyr the bed tyl
he schal ryse and pleye.
Northe est
Coveytyse (Greed)
Belyal (Devil)
And he that schal pley Belyal loke
that he have gunnepowdyr brennynge
in pypys in hys handys and in hys erys
and in hys ars whanne he gothe to batayl.
The iiij dowterys schul be clad in mentelys, Mercy in wyth, Rythwysnesse1
in red altogedyr, Trewthe in sad (somber) grene, and Pes al in blake, and thei schul
pleye in the place altogedyr tyl they brynge up the sowle.

The Castle of Perseverance

    Hec sunt nomina ludentium.
In primis ij vexillatores.
Mundus et cum eo Voluptas, Stulticia, et Garcio.
Belyal et cum eo Superbia, Ira, et Invidia.
Caro et cum eo Gula, Luxuria, et Accidia.
Humanum Genus et cum eo Bonus Angelus et Malus Angelus.
Auaricia, Detraccio.
Confessio, Penitencia.
Humilitas, Paciencia, Caritas, Abstinencia, Castitas, Solicitudo, et Largitas.
Misericordia, Veritas, Justicia, et Pax.
Pater sedens in trono.
      Summa xxxvj ludentium.

      [These are the names of the players.
First, two standard-bearers.
World and with him Pleasure, Folly, and the Boy.
Devil and with him Pride, Anger, and Envy.
Flesh and with him Gluttony, Lechery, and Sloth.
Mankind and with him Good Angel and Bad Angel.
Greed, Backbiter.
Confession, Penance.
Meekness, Patience, Charity, Abstinence, Chastity, Industry, and Generosity.
The Soul.
Mercy, Truth, Justice, and Peace.
The Father sitting in his throne.
   In total 36 players.]




















































































































PRIMUS VEXILLATOR Glorious God, in all degres lord most of myth,2
That Hevene and erthe made of nowth, bothe se and lond,
The aungelys in Hevene hym to serve bryth
And mankynde in mydylerd he made wyth hys hond,
And our lofly Lady, that lanterne is of lyth,
Save oure lege lord the kynge, the leder of this londe,
And all the ryall of this rewme and rede hem the ryth,3
And all the goode comowns of this towne that beforn us stonde
      In this place.
We mustyr you wyth menschepe,
And freyne you of frely frenchepe.4
Cryst safe you all fro schenchepe
      That knowyn wyl our case.

SECUNDUS VEXILLATOR The case of oure comynge you to declare,
Every man in hymself for sothe he it may fynde:
Whou Mankynde into this werld born is ful bare
And bare schal beryed be at hys last ende.
God hym gevyth to aungelys ful yep and ful yare,
The Goode Aungel and the Badde to hym for to lende.
The Goode techyth hym goodnesse, the Badde synne and sare.
Whanne the ton hath the victory, the tothyr goth behende
      Be skyll.
The Goode Aungel coveytyth evermore Mans salvacion
And the Badde bysytyth hym evere to hys dampnacion.
And God hathe govyn Man fre arbritracion
      Whethyr he wyl hymself save or hys soule spyll.

PRIMUS VEXILLATOR Spylt is Man spetously whanne he to synne asent.5
The Bad Aungel thanne bryngyth hym thre enmys so stout:
The Werlde, the Fende, the fowl Flesche so joly and jent;
Thei ledyn hym ful lustyly wyth synnys al abowt.
Pyth wyth Pride and Coveytyse, to the Werld is he went,
To meynten hys manhod all men to hym lout.
Aftyr Ire and Envye the Fend hath to hym lent,
Bakbytynge and endytynge wyth all men for to route,6
      Ful evyn.
But the fowle Flesch, homlyest of all,
Slawth, Lust and Leccherye gun to hym call,
Glotony and othyr synnys bothe grete and small.
      Thus Mans soule is soylyd wyth synnys moo thanne sevyn.

SECUNDUS VEXILLATOR Whanne Mans sowle is soylyd wyth synne and wyth sore,
Thanne the Goode Aungyl makyth mykyl mornynge
That the lofty lyknesse of God schulde be lore
Thorwe the Badde Aungellys fals entysynge.
He sendyth to hym Concyens, pryckyd ful pore,
And clere Confescyon wyth Penauns-doynge.
Thei mevyn Man to mendement that he mysdyd before.
Thus thei callyn hym to clennesse and to good levynge,
      Wythoutyn dystaunce.
Mekenesse, Pacyense, and Charyté,
Sobyrnesse, Besynesse, and Chastyté,
And Largyté, vertuys of good degré,
      Man callyth to the Castel of Good Perseveraunce.

PRIMUS VEXILLATOR The Castel of Perseverauns wanne Mankynde hath tan,7
Wel armyd wyth vertus and ovyrcome all vycys,
There the Good Aungyl makyth ful mery thanne
That Mankynde hath ovyrcome hys gostly enmiis.
The Badde Aungyl mornyth that he hath myssyd Man.
He callyth the Werld, the Fende, and the foule Flesch, iwys,
And all the sevene synnys to do that they canne
To brynge Mankynd ageyn to bale out of blys,
      With wronge.
Pride asayleth Meknesse wyth all hys myth,
Ire ageyns Paciensse ful fast ganne he fyth,
Envye ageyn Charyté stryvyth ful ryth,
      But Covytyse ageyns Largyté fytyth ovyrlonge.

SECUNDUS VEXILLATOR Coveytyse Mankynd evere coveytyth for to qwell.
He gaderyth to hym Glotony ageyns Sobyrnesse,
Leccherye wyth Chastyté fyteth ful fell
And Slawthe in Goddys servyse ageyns Besynesse.
Thus vycys ageyns vertues fytyn ful snelle.
Every buskyth to brynge Man to dystresse.
But Penaunce and Confescion wyth Mankynd wyl melle,
The vycys arn ful lyckely the vertues to opresse,
      Saun dowte.
Thus in the Castel of Good Perseverance
Mankynd is maskeryd wyth mekyl varyaunce.
The Good Aungyl and the Badde be evere at dystaunce;
      The Goode holdyth hym inne, the Badde wold brynge hym owte.

PRIMUS VEXILLATOR Owt of Good Perseveraunce whanne Mankynde wyl not come,
Yyt the Badde Aungyl wyth Coveytyse hym gan asayle,
Fyndende hym in poverté and penaunce so benome,
And bryngyth hym in beleve in defaute for to fayle.8
Thanne he profyrth hym good and gold so gret a sowme,
That if he wyl come ageyn and wyth the Werld dayle,
The Badde Aungyl to the Werld tollyth hym downe
The Castel of Perseveraunce to fle fro the vayle
      And blysse.
Thanne the Werld begynnyth hym to restore.
Have he nevere so mykyl, yyt he wold have more;
Thus the Badde Aungyl leryth hym hys lore.
      The more a man agyth, the harder he is.

SECUNDUS VEXILLATOR Hard a man is in age and covetouse be kynde.
Whanne all othyr synnys Man hath forsake,
Evere the more that he hath the more is in hys mynde
To gadyr and to gete good wyth woo and wyth wrake.
Thus the Goode Aungyl caste is behynde
And the Badde Aungyl Man to hym takyth,
That wryngyth hym wrenchys to hys laste ende
Tyl Deth comyth ful dolfully and loggyth hym in a lake
      Ful lowe.
Thanne is Man on molde maskeryd in mynde.
He sendyth afftyr hys sekkatours, ful fekyl to fynde,
And hys eyr aftyrward comyth evere behynde,
I-Wot-Not-Who is hys name, for he hym nowt knowe.

PRIMUS VEXILLATOR Man knowe not who schal be hys eyr and governe hys good.
He caryth more for hys catel thanne for hys cursyd synne.
To putte hys good in governaunce he mengyth hys mod,9
He wolde that it were scyfftyd amongys hys ny kynne.
But ther schal com a lythyr ladde wyth a torne hod,
I-Wot-Nevere-Who schal be hys name, hys clothis be ful thynne,
Schal eryth the erytage that nevere was of hys blod,
Whanne al hys lyfe is lytyd upon a lytyl pynne
      At the laste.
On lyve whanne he may no lenger lende,
Mercy he callyth at hys laste ende:
“Mercy, God! Be now myn frende!”
      Wyth that Mans spyryt is paste.

SECUNDUS VEXILLATOR Whanne Manys spyryt is past, the Badde Aungyl ful fell
Cleymyth that for covetyse Mans sowle schuld ben hys
And for to bere it ful boystowsly wyth hym into Hell.
The Good Aungyl seyth nay, the spyryt schal to blys
For at hys laste ende of mercy he gan spell
And therfore of mercy schal he nowth mysse,
And oure lofly Ladi if sche wyl for hym mell,
Be mercy and be menys in Purgatory he is,
      In ful byttyr place.
Thus mowthys confession
And hys hertys contricion
Schal save Man fro dampnacion
      Be Goddys mercy and grace.

PRIMUS VEXILLATOR Grace if God wyl graunte us of hys mykyl myth
These parcellys in propyrtés we purpose us to playe10
This day sevenenyt before you in syth
At ______ on the grene in ryal aray.
Ye, haste you thanne thedyrward, syrys, hendly in hyth,
All goode neyborys ful specyaly we you pray,
And loke that ye be there betyme, luffely and lyth,
For we schul be onward be underne of the day,
      Dere frendys.
We thanke you of all good dalyaunce
And of all youre specyal sportaunce
And preye you of good contynuaunce
To oure lyvys endys.

SECUNDUS VEXILLATOR Os oure lyvys we love you, thus takande oure leve.
Ye manly men of _______, ther Crist save you all!
He maynten youre myrthys and kepe you fro greve
That born was of Mary myld in an ox stall.
Now mery be all _______, and wel mote ye cheve,
All oure feythful frendys, ther fayre mote ye fall!
Ya, and welcum be ye, whanne ye com prys for to preve
And worthi to be worchepyd in bowre and in hall
      And in every place.
Farewel, fayre frendys,
That lofly wyl lystyn and lendys.
Cryste kepe you fro fendys!
Trumpe up and lete us pace.

[Scene i]
MUNDUS Worthy wytys in al this werld wyde,
Be wylde wode wonys and every weye-went,
Precyous prinse, prekyd in pride,
Thorwe this propyr pleyn place in pes be ye bent!
Buske you, bolde bachelerys, undyr my baner to abyde
Where bryth basnetys be bateryd and backys ar schent.
Ye, syrys semly, all same syttyth on syde,
For bothe be see and be londe my sondys I have sent,
      Al the world myn name is ment.
Al abowtyn my bane is blowe,
In every cost I am knowe,
I do men rawyn on ryche rowe
      Tyl thei be dyth to dethys dent.

Assarye, Acaye, and Almayne,
Cavadoyse, Capadoyse, and Cananee,
Babyloyne, Brabon, Burgoyne, and Bretayne,
Grece, Galys, and to the Gryckysch See,
I meve also Masadoyne in my mykyl mayne,
Frauns, Flaundrys, and Freslonde, and also Normandé,
Pyncecras, Parys, and longe Pygmayne,11
And every toun in Trage, evyn to the Dreye Tre,
      Rodys and ryche Rome.
All these londys at myn avyse
Arn castyn to my werldly wyse.
My tresorer, Syr Covetyse,
      Hath sesyd hem holy to me.

Therfor my game and my gle growe ful glad.
Ther is no wythe in this werld that my wytte wyl me warne.
Every ryche rengne rapyth hym ful rad
In lustys and in lykyngys my lawys to lerne.
Wyth fayre folke in the felde freschly I am fadde.
I dawnse doun as a doo be dalys ful derne.
What boy bedyth batayl or debatyth wyth blad,
Hym were betyr to ben hangyn hye in Hell herne
      Or brent on lyth levene.
Whoso spekyth ageyn the Werld
In a presun he schal be sperd.
Myn hest is holdyn and herd
      Into hyye Hevene.

[Scene ii]
BELYAL Now I sytte, Satanas, in my sad synne,
As devyl dowty, in draf as a drake.
I champe and I chafe, I chocke on my chynne,
I am boystous and bold, as Belyal the blake.
What folk that I grope thei gapyn and grenne,
Iwys, fro Carlylle into Kent my carpynge thei take,12
Bothe the bak and the buttoke brestyth al on brenne,
Wyth werkys of wreche I werke hem mykyl wrake.
      In woo is al my wenne.
In care I am cloyed
And fowle I am anoyed
But Mankynde be stroyed
      Be dykys and be denne.

Pryde is my prince in perlys ipyth;
Wretthe, this wrecche, wyth me schal wawe;
Envye into werre wyth me schal walkyn wyth;
Wyth these faytourys I am fedde, in feyth I am fawe.
As a dyngne devyl in my dene I am dyth.
Pryde, Wretthe, and Envye, I sey in my sawe,
Kyngys, kayserys, and kempys, and many a kene knyth,13
These lovely lordys han lernyd hem my lawe.
      To my dene thei wyl drawe.
Al holy Mankynne
To Helle but I wynne,
In bale is my bynne
      And schent undyr schawe.

On Mankynde is my trost, in contré iknowe,
Wyth my tyre and wyth my tayl tytly to tene.
Thorwe Flaundris and Freslonde faste I gan flowe,
Fele folke on a flokke to flappyn and to flene.
Where I graspe on the grounde, grym ther schal growe.
Gadyr you togedyr, ye boyis, on this grene!
In this brode bugyl a blast wanne I blowe,
Al this werld schal be wood, iwys, as I wene
      And to my byddynge bende.
Wythly on syde
On benche wyl I byde
To tene, this tyde,
      Al holy Mankende.

[Scene iii]
CARO I byde as a brod brustun-gutte abovyn on these tourys.
Every body is the betyr that to myn byddynge is bent.
I am Mankyndys fayre Flesch, florchyd in flowrys.
My lyfe is wyth lustys and lykynge ilent.
Wyth tapytys of tafata I tymbyr my towrys.
In myrthe and in melodye my mende is iment.
Thou I be clay and clad, clappyd undir clowrys,
Yyt wolde I that my wyll in the werld went,
      Ful trew I you behyth.
I love wel myn ese,
In lustys me to plese;
Thou synne my sowle sese
      I geve not a myth.

In Glotony gracyous now am I growe;
Therfore he syttyth semly here be my syde.
In Lechery and Lykynge lent am I lowe
And Slawth, my swete sone, is bent to abyde.
These three are nobyl, trewly I trowe,
Mankynde to tenyn and trecchyn a tyde.
Wyth many berdys in bowre my blastys are blowe,
Be weys and be wodys, thorwe this werld wyde,
      The sothe for to seyne.
But if mans Flesch fare wel
Bothe at mete and at mele,
Dyth I am in gret del
      And browt into peyne.

And aftyr good fare in feyth thou I fell,
Thou I dryve to dust, in drosse for to drepe,
Thow my sely sowle were haryed to Hell,
Woso wyl do these werkys, iwys he schal wepe
      Evyr wythowtyn ende.
Behold the Werld, the Devyl, and me!
Wyth all oure mythis we kyngys three
Nyth and day besy we be
      For to distroy Mankende
         If that we may.
Therfor on hylle
Syttyth all stylle
And seth wyth good wylle
      Oure ryche aray.

[Scene iv]
HUMANUS GENUS Aftyr oure forme-faderys kende
This nyth I was of my modyr born.
Fro my modyr I walke, I wende,
Ful feynt and febyl I fare you beforn.
I am nakyd of lym and lende
As Mankynde is schapyn and schorn.
I not wedyr to gon ne to lende
To helpe myself mydday nyn morn.
      For schame I stonde and schende.
I was born this nyth in blody ble
And nakyd I am, as ye may se.
A, Lord God in Trinité,
      Whow Mankende is unthende!

Whereto I was to this werld browth
I ne wot, but to woo and wepynge
I am born and have ryth nowth
To helpe myself in no doynge.
I stonde and stodye al ful of thowth.
Bare and pore is my clothynge.
A sely crysme myn hed hath cawth
That I tok at myn crystenynge.
      Certys I have no more.
Of erthe I cam, I wot ryth wele,
And as erthe I stande this sele.
Of Mankende it is gret dele.
      Lord God, I crye thyne ore!

To aungels bene asynyd to me:
The ton techyth me to goode;
On my ryth syde ye may hym se;
He cam fro Criste that deyed on Rode.
Anothyr is ordeynyd here to be
That is my foo, be fen and flode;
He is about in every degré
To drawe me to tho devylys wode
      That in Helle be thycke.
Swyche to hath every man on lyve
To rewlyn hym and hys wyttys fyve.
Whanne man doth evyl, the ton wolde schryve,
      The tothyr drawyth to wycke.

But syn these aungelys be to me falle,
Lord Jhesu, to you I bydde a bone
That I may folwe, be strete and stalle,
The aungyl that cam fro Hevene trone.
Now, Lord Jhesu in Hevene halle,
Here whane I make my mone.
Coryows Criste, to you I calle.
As a grysly gost I grucche and grone,
      I wene, ryth ful of thowth.
A, Lord Jhesu, wedyr may I goo?
A crysyme I have and no moo.
Alas, men may be wondyr woo
      Whanne thei be fyrst forth browth.

BONUS ANGELUS Ya forsothe, and that is wel sene,
Of woful wo man may synge!
For iche creature helpyth hymself bedene
Save only man at hys comynge.
Nevyrthelesse turne thee fro tene
And serve Jhesu, Hevene kynge,
And thou shalt, be grevys grene,
Fare wel in all thynge.
      That Lord thi lyfe hath lante.
Have hym alwey in thi mynde
That deyed on Rode for mankynde
And serve hym to thi lyfes ende
      And sertys thou schalt not wante.

MALUS ANGELUS Pes, aungel, thi wordys are not wyse.
Thou counselyst hym not aryth!
He schal hym drawyn to the Werldys servyse
To dwelle wyth caysere, kynge, and knyth,
      That in londe be hym non lyche.
Cum on wyth me, stylle as ston.
Thou and I to the Werld schul goon
And thanne thou schalt sen anon
      Whow sone thou schalt be ryche.

BONUS ANGELUS A, pes, aungel, thou spekyst folye.
Why schuld he coveyt werldys goode,
Syn Criste in erthe and hys meynye
All in povert here thei stode?
Werldys wele, be strete and stye,
Faylyth and fadyth as fysch in flode,
But Heveneryche is good and trye,
Ther Criste syttyth bryth as blode,
      Wythoutyn any dystresse.
To the World wolde he not flyt
But forsok it every whytt.
Example I fynde in holy wryt,
      He wyl bere me wytnesse.

Divicias et paupertates ne dederis michi, Domine.14

MALUS ANGELUS Ya, ya, man, leve hym nowth,
But cum wyth me, be stye and strete.
Have thou a gobet of the werld cawth,
Thou schalt fynde it good and swete.
A fayre lady thee schal be tawth
That in bowre thi bale schal bete.
Wyth ryche rentys thou schalt be frawth,
Wyth sylke sendel to syttyn in sete.
      I rede, late bedys be.
If thou wylt have wel thyn hele
And faryn wel at mete and mele,
Wyth Goddys servyse may thou not dele
      But cum and folwe me.

HUMANUM GENUS Whom to folwe wetyn I ne may.
I stonde and stodye and gynne to rave.
I wolde be ryche in gret aray
And fayn I wolde my sowle save.
      As wynde in watyr I wave.
Thou woldyst to the Werld I me toke,
And he wolde that I it forsoke.
Now so God me helpe and the holy boke
      I not wyche I may have.

MALUS ANGELUS Cum on, man, whereof hast thou care?
Go we to the Werld, I rede thee, blyve,
For ther thou schalt mow ryth wel fare,
In case if thou thynke for to thryve,
      No lord schal be thee lyche.
Take the Werld to thine entent
And late thi love be theron lent.
Wyth gold and sylvyr and ryche rent
      Anone thou schalt be ryche.

HUMANUM GENUS Now syn thou hast behetyn me so,
I wyl go wyth thee and asay.
I ne lette, for frende ner fo,
But wyth the Werld I wyl go play,
      Certys a lytyl throwe.
In this World is al my trust
To lyvyn in lykyng and in lust.
Have he and I onys cust,
      We schal not part, I trowe.

BONUS ANGELUS A, nay, man, for Cristys blod,
Cum agayn be strete and style.
The Werld is wyckyd and ful wod
And thou shalt levyn but a whyle.
      What coveytyst thou to wynne?
Man, thynke on thyn endynge day
Whanne thou schalt be closyd undyr clay,
And if thou thenke of that aray,
      Certys thou schalt not synne.

Homo, memento finis et in eternum non peccabis.15

MALUS ANGELUS Ya, on thi sowle thou schalt thynke al betyme.
Cum forth, man, and take non hede,
Cum on, and thou schalt holdyn hym inne.
Thi flesch thou schalt foster and fede
      Wyth lofly lyvys fode.
Wyth the Werld thou mayst be bold
Tyl thou be sexty wyntyr hold.
Wanne thi nose waxit cold,
      Thanne mayst thou drawe to goode.

HUMANUM GENUS I vow to God, and so I may
Make mery a ful gret throwe.
I may levyn many a day;
I am but yonge, as I trowe,
      For to do that I schulde.
Myth I ryde be sompe and syke
And be ryche and lordlyke,
Certys thanne schulde I be fryke
      And a mery man on molde.

MALUS ANGELUS Yys, be my feyth, thou schalt be a lord,
And ellys hange me be the hals!
But thou must be at myn acord.
Othyrwhyle thou muste be fals
      Amonge kythe and kynne.
Now go we forth swythe anon,
To the Werld us must gon,
And bere thee manly evere among
      Whanne thou comyst out or inne.

HUMANUM GENUS Yys, and ellys have thou my necke,
But I be manly be downe and dyche;
And thou I be fals, I ne recke,
Wyth so that I be lordlyche.
      I folwe thee as I can.
Thou schalt be my bote of bale,
For were I ryche of holt and hale
Thanne wolde I geve nevere tale
      Of God ne of good man.

BONUS ANGELUS I weyle and wrynge and make mone.
This man wyth woo schal be pylt.
I sye sore and grysly grone
For hys folye schal make hym spylt.
      I not wedyr to gone.
Mankynde hath forsakyn me.
Alas, man, for love of thee!
Ya, for this gamyn and this gle
      Thou schalt grocchyn and grone.

Pipe up musyk

[Scene v]
MUNDUS Now I sytte in my semly sale;
I trotte and tremle in my trew trone;
As a hawke I hoppe in my hende hale;
Kyng, knyth, and kayser to me makyn mone.
Of God ne of good man gyf I nevere tale.
As a lykynge lord I leyke here alone.
Woso brawle any boste, be downe or be dale,
Tho gadlyngys schal be gastyd and gryslych grone
Lust, Foly, and Veynglory,
All these arn in myn memory.
Thus begynnyth the nobyl story
      Of this werldys blys.

Lust-Lykyng and Foly,
Comly knytys of renoun,
Belyve thorwe this londe do crye
Al abowtyn in toure and toun.
If any man be fer or nye
That to my servyse wyl buske hym boun,
If he wyl be trost and trye
He schal be kyng and were the croun
      Wyth rycchest robys in res.
Woso to the Werld wyl drawe
Of God ne of good man gevyt he not a hawe,
Syche a man, be londys lawe,
      Schal syttyn on my dees.

VOLUPTAS Lo, me here redy, lord, to faryn and to fle,
To sekyn thee a servaunt dynge and dere.
Whoso wyl wyth foly rewlyd be
He is worthy to be a servaunt here
      That drawyth to synnys sevene.
Whoso wyl be fals and covetouse
Wyth this werld he schal have lond and house.
This werldys wysdom gevyth not a louse
      Of God nyn of hye Hevene.

Tunc descendit in placeam pariter.16

Pes, pepyl, of pes we you pray.
Syth and sethe wel to my sawe.
Whoso wyl be ryche and in gret aray
Toward the Werld he schal drawe.
Whoso wyl be fals al that he may,
Of God hymself he hath non awe,
And lyvyn in lustys nyth and day
The Werld of hym wyl be ryth fawe
      Do dwelle in his howse.
Whoso wyl wyth the Werld have hys dwellynge
And ben a lord of hys clothynge
He muste nedys, ovyr al thynge,
      Everemore be covetowse.

Non est in mundo dives qui dicit, “habundo.”17

STULTICIA Ya, covetouse he must be
And me, Foly, muste have in mende,
For whoso wyl alwey foly fle
In this werld schal ben unthende.
Thorwe werldys wysdom of gret degré
Schal nevere man in werld moun wende
But he have help of me
That am Foly, fer and hende.
      He muste hangyn on my hoke.
Werldly wyt was nevere nout
But wyth foly it were frawt.
Thus the wysman hath tawt
      Abotyn in his boke.

Sapiencia penes Domini.18

VOLUPTAS Now all the men that in this werld wold thryve,
For to rydyn on hors ful hye,
Cum speke wyth Lust-and-Lykynge belyve
And hys felaw, yonge Foly.
      Late se whoso wyl us knowe.
Whoso wyl drawe to Lykynge-and-Luste
And as a fole in Foly ruste,
On us to he may truste
      And levyn lovely, I trowe.

MALUS ANGELUS How, Lust-Lykyng, and Folye,
Take to me good entent!
I have browth, be downys drye,
To the Werld a gret present.
I have gylyd hym ful qweyntly,
For syn he was born I have hym blent.
He schal be servaunt good and try,
Amonge you his wyl is lent,
      To the Werld he wyl hym take.
For syn he cowde wyt, I undirstonde,
I have hym tysyd in every londe.
Hys Good Aungel, be strete and stronde,
      I have don hym forsake.

Therfor, Lust, my trewe fere,
Thou art redy alwey iwys
Of worldly lawys thou hym lere
That he were browth in werldly blys.
      Loke he be ryche, the sothe to tell.
Help hym, fast he gunne to thryve,
And whanne he wenyth best to lyve
Thanne schal he deye and not be schryve
      And goo wyth us to Hell.

VOLUPTAS Be Satan, thou art a nobyl knave
To techyn men fyrst fro goode.
Lust-and-Lykynge he schal have,
Lechery schal ben hys fode,
      Metys and drynkys he schal have trye.
Wyth a lykynge lady of lofte
He schal syttyn in sendel softe
To cachen hym to Helle crofte
      That day that he schal deye.

STULTICIA Wyth ryche rentys I schal hym blynde
Wyth the Werld tyl he be pytte,
And thanne schal I, longe or hys ende,
Make that caytyfe to be knytte
      On the Werld whanne he is set sore.
Cum on, man, thou schalt not rewe
For thou wylt be to us trewe.
Thou schalt be clad in clothys newe
      And be ryche everemore.

HUMANUM GENUS Mary, felaw, gramercy!
I wolde be ryche and of gret renoun.
Of God I geve no tale trewly
So that I be lord of toure and toun,
      Be buskys and bankys broun.
Syn that thou wylt make me
Bothe ryche of gold and fee,
Goo forthe, for I wyl folow thee
      Be dale and every towne.

nought; sea
on earth; (t-note)
Lady full of love; light; (t-note)
liege; leader

common people

summon; honor

save; harm

Second Standard-bearer; (t-note)
as a truth
How; naked
buried; (t-note)
two; alert; quick; (see note); (t-note)
with him; dwell
one; other goes behind; (t-note)
According to [one’s] desire (choice)
yearns for
besets (harasses)
given; free will

enemies; strong; (t-note)
Devil; comely; elegant; (see note)
Furnished; gone
maintain his reputation; bow; (t-note)
Anger; Devil

most familiar
Sloth; begin


lost; (t-note)
dressed very poorly; (see note)

move; reform that which


Abstinence, Industry

spiritual enemies
mourns; lost
Devil; truly; (t-note)


Wrath; fight
against; strives fiercely; (t-note)

desires to destroy
fights cruelly
Sloth; Industry
fight; vigorously
Each one strives
Unless; intervene

confused; much contention
in opposition

attack; (t-note)
Finding; numbed

offers him goods; sum
flee; benefit

teaches; lesson
ages; more miserly; (see note)

by nature; (t-note)

gather; harm

deceives him with tricks
lodges; (see note); (t-note)

on earth confused
executors, untrustworthy
I-Don’t-Know-Who; not at all


divided; near kin
rascal; hood
inherit; heritage; in his family
reduced to

Alive; remain; (t-note)


very cruel
Claims; greed

Because; he spoke
Lady full of love; intercede; (see note); (t-note)
Through; mediation

great power
a week from tonight; sight
royal; (t-note)
Yes; very graciously

early, willingly and ready
ready by midmorning (ca. 9 a.m.); (see note)

pleasant company
continuing [of your favor]

As; taking; (t-note)

[May] he; pleasures; from grief

may you thrive
may good luck befall you
to test our worth
honored; chamber; hall

graciously; give ear; (see note)

Blow the trumpet; pass

THE WORLD; persons
forest dwellings; pathway
adorned with; (t-note)
fine open; silence; submissive
Prepare yourselves; young men; (see note)
bright helmets; broken
all [who] sit together
sea; messengers
[Through] all; spoken
summons is announced
land; known
I make men act madly in a rich procession
put to death’s blow

Assyria, Achaia (Greece); Germany; (see note)
Calvados, Cappadocia; Canaan
Brabant, Burgundy; Brittany
Galicia (Spain); Aegean Sea
control; Macedonia; great power

Thrace(?); Dry Tree
placed in; manner
given; entirely; (see note)

sport; pleasure
creature; wisdom; refuse; (t-note)
powerful kingdom hastens quickly
desires; pleasures
gaily; fed
doe; valleys very dark
offers; contends; sword
a corner of Hell
burned with bright lightning
prison; confined
command is obeyed and heard
As far as

brave; filth; dragon
gnash my teeth; thrust out
violent; black
grasp; gape; gnash teeth
(see note)
burst; burning; (see note)
vengeance; do them much harm
sorrow; burdened
foully; offended
Unless; destroyed
ditches; valleys (i.e., everywhere)

Wrath; go
war; walk nimbly
deceivers; fed; happy
worthy; den; placed
have taught them
den; come
unless; entice
torment; bin (confinement)
confounded; forest (grove, thicket)

expectation; known
attire; quickly to harm
Friesland quickly; move
Many; beat; flay
Wherever I touch; strife; (see note)

mad; think

harm; time

FLESH; dwell; bursting gut; (see note)
adorned with
pleasure set
tapestries; decorate; (see note)
thought is disposed
clod, thrust under ground

Although; possess

Pleasure; placed
Sloth; inclined
harm; trick at times
maidens in bowers; blown

Unless; succeed
food; (t-note)
Put; sorrow

meal; though I die
Although; turn; dirt; drop; (t-note)
Although; miserable; harrowed
Whoso; truly


(see note)

MANKIND; forefather’s nature
feeble; go before you
shaped and fashioned
I do not know where; stay
am confounded
night; condition

How; feeble

Why; brought
don’t know, except
nothing at all
anything I do
am confused; anxiety

little chrisom; caught; (see note)

know right well
at this time
beg your grace

Two; assigned; (t-note)
The one urges me toward

by fen and stream (everywhere)
those fierce devils; (t-note)

Such two; alive
one will absolve him; (t-note)
other entices; wickedness

since; are alloted to me
ask a boon
street; dwelling (i.e., everywhere)
Heaven’s throne

Hear [me] when; complaint
frightful spirit; complain
think; anxiety
chrisom; (see note)
very woeful

GOOD ANGEL; truly; appropriate

fends for himself immediately
Except; birth


died; Cross


take himself
emperor; knight
So that there will be no one like him in the world
(see note)
go; (t-note)
How soon


poverty; lived
wealth; path (i.e., everywhere)
kingdom of Heaven; worthy; (t-note)
bright; (t-note)


(see note)

believe; not
path (i.e., everywhere)
[Once] you have a taste; caught

chamber your sorrow will be remedied; (t-note)
income; furnished
clothing; seat
advise, let prayer beads alone
fare; meal
be concerned

I do not know
am confused; begin
fine clothes
gladly; (t-note)
waver; (t-note)

do not know

advise; quickly
be able to fare very well

purpose (desire)
let; fixed

since; promised
try it
will not stop; nor

Certainly; while

indulgence; pleasure
once kissed

stile (i.e., every way)

(see note)

condition (plight)

Nonsense; soon enough
restrain him (the disruptive Good Angel)

delicious food of life

When; becomes


I can; by swamps and streams (i.e., everywhere)

Certainly; eager (hearty)

Or; neck
in agreement with me

very quickly


Unless; hill and ditch (i.e., everywhere)
I do not care
As long as

remedy for sorrow
woods; hall
pay no heed

wail; moan
sigh; groan
do not know where to go

sport; pleasure
complain; groan

(see note)

WORLD; fine hall
move about; thrill with pleasure; throne
splendid hall
knight; emperor; petition
I pay no attention
pleasure-loving; play
[would] brag; hill; valley (i.e., everywhere)
Those rascals; frightened; pitiably

Quickly; make a proclamation
tower and town (everywhere)
distant or near
make himself ready
steadfast; true
very soon

hawthorn berry (trifle); (see note)
the law of the land

Pleasure; go; run
worthy and dear

Who betakes himself to

greedy; (t-note)

nor; high

Peace (Silence)
Sit; pay attention; speech
fine clothes
take himself

lives in pleasure night
very happy
To have [him]


covetous (greedy)

flee from

be able to succeed
fair; handsome
never amounted to anything
Unless; combined
About; (see note)

(see note)

ride; high
quickly; (see note)

Let see

fool; waste away; (t-note)
live splendidly, I believe

Pleasure; Folly
Pay devoted attention to me
brought; barren hills

tricked; craftily
since; blinded
betake himself
since he could comprehend
shore (i.e., everywhere)
made him

Pleasure; companion
teach him
So that; brought
See to it; truth
quickly he’ll begin
thinks; (t-note)
die; absolved

guide; away from
pleasure-loving; high degree; (t-note)
trap; Hell’s prison

fixed (entrapped)
rascal; bound
To; sorely beset

many thanks

pay no attention; (t-note)
As long as; tower
bushes (i.e., everywhere)


valley (i.e., everywhere)
  Trumpe up. Tunc ibunt Voluptas et Stulticia, Malus Angelus et Humanum Genus ad Mundum, et dicet:19























































































VOLUPTAS How, lord, loke owt! for we have browth
A servant of nobyl fame.
Of worldly good is al hys thouth,
Of lust and folye he hath no schame.
      He wolde be gret of name.
He wolde be at gret honour
For to rewle town and toure.
He wolde have to hys paramoure
      Sum lovely dynge dame.

MUNDUS Welcum, syr, semly in syth!
Thou art welcum to worthy wede.
For thou wylt be my servaunt day and nyth,
Wyth my servyse I schal thee foster and fede.
Thi bak schal be betyn wyth besawntys bryth,
Thou shalt have byggyngys be bankys brede,
To thi cors schal knele kayser and knyth
Where that thou walke, be sty or be strete,
      And ladys lovely on lere.
But Goddys servyse thou must forsake
And holy to the Werld thee take
And thanne a man I schal thee make
      That non schal be thi pere.

HUMANUM GENUS Yys, Werld, and therto here myn honde
To forsake God and hys servyse.
To medys thou geve me howse and londe
That I regne rychely at myn enprise.
So that I fare wel be strete and stronde
Whyl I dwelle here in werldly wyse,
I recke nevere of Hevene wonde
Nor of Jhesu, that jentyl justyse.
      Of my sowle I have non rewthe.
What schulde I recknen of Domysday
So that I be ryche and of gret aray?
I schal make mery whyl I may,
      And therto here my trewthe.

MUNDUS Now sertys, syr, thou seyst wel.
I holde thee trewe fro top to the too.
But thou were ryche it were gret del
And all men that wyl fare soo.
Cum up, my servaunt trew as stel.

Tunc ascendet Humanum Genus ad Mundum.

Thou schalt be ryche, whereso thou goo.
Men schul servyn thee at mel
Wyth mynstralsye and bemys blo,
      Wyth metys and drynkys trye.
Lust-and-Lykynge schal be thin ese.
Lovely ladys thee schal plese.
Whoso do thee any disesse
      He schal ben hangyn hye.

Lykynge, belyve
Late clothe hym swythe
In robys ryve
      Wyth ryche aray.
Folye, thou fonde,
Be strete and stronde,
Serve hym at honde
      Bothe nyth and day.

VOLUPTAS Trostyly,
Lord, redy,
Je vous pry,
Syr, I say.
In lyckynge and lust
He schal rust
Tyl dethys dust
Do hym to day.

Schal hyen hym hye
Tyl sum enmye
Hym ovyrgoo.
In worldys wyt
That in Foly syt
I thynke yyt
Hys sowle to sloo.

[Scene vi] Trumpe up.
DETRACCIO All thyngys I crye agayn the pes
To knyt and knave, this is my kende.
Ya, dyngne dukys on her des
In byttyr balys I hem bynde.
Cryinge and care, chydynge and ches
And sad sorwe to hem I sende,
Ya, lowde lesyngys lacchyd in les,
Of talys untrewe is al my mende.
      Mannys bane abowtyn I bere.
I wyl that ye wetyn, all tho that ben here,
For I am knowyn fer and nere:
I am the Werldys messengere,
      My name is Bacbytere.

Wyth every wyth I walke and wende
And every man now lovyth me wele.
Wyth lowde lesyngys undyr lende
To dethys dynt I dresse and dele.
To speke fayre beforn and fowle behynde
Amongys men at mete and mele
Trewly, lordys, this is my kynde,
Thus I renne upon a whele,
      I am feller thanne a fox.
Fleterynge and flaterynge is my lessun,
Wyth lesyngys I tene bothe tour and town,
Wyth letterys of defamacyoun
      I bere here in my box.

I am lyth of lopys thorwe every londe,
Myn holy happys may not ben hyd.
To may not togedyr stonde
But I, Bakbyter, be the thyrde.
I schape yone boyis to schame and schonde,
All that wyl bowyn whanne I hem bydde.
To lawe of londe in feyth I fonde.
Whanne talys untrewe arn betydde
      Bakbytere is wyde spronge.
Thorwe the werld, be downe and dalys,
All abowtyn I brewe balys.
Every man tellyth talys
      Aftyr my fals tunge.

Therfore I am mad massenger
To lepyn ovyr londys leye
Thorwe all the world, fer and ner,
Unsayd sawys for to seye.
In this holte I hunte here
For to spye a prevy pley,
For whanne Mankynde is clothyd clere,
Thanne schal I techyn hym the wey
      To the dedly synnys sevene.
Here I schal abydyn wyth my pese
The wronge to do hym for to chese,
For I thynke that he schal lese
      The lyth of hey Hevene.

[Scene vii]
VOLUPTAS Worthy World, in welthys wonde,
Here is Mankynde ful fayr in folde.
In bryth besauntys he is bownde
And bon to bowe to you so bolde.
He levyth in lustys every stounde;
Holy to you he hathe hym yolde.
For to makyn hym gay on grounde,
Worthy World, thou art beholde.
      This werld is wel at ese!
For to God I make a vow
Mankynde had lever now
Greve God wyth synys row
      Thanne the World to dysplese.

STULTICIA Dysplese thee he wyl for no man.
On me, Foly, is al hys thowth.
Trewly Mankynde nowth nen can
Thynke on God that hathe hym bowth.
Worthy World, wyth as swan,
In thi love lely is he lawth.
Sythyn he cowde and fyrste began
Thee forsakyn wolde he nowth,
      But geve hym to Folye.
And sythyn he hathe to thee be trewe,
I rede thee forsakyn hym for no newe.
Lete us plesyn hym tyl that he rewe
      In Hell to hangyn hye.

MUNDUS Now, Foly, fayre thee befall,
And Luste, blyssyd be thou ay!
Ye han browth Mankynde to myn hall
Sertys in a nobyl aray.
Wyth werldys welthys wythinne these wall
I schal hym feffe if that I may.
Welcum, Mankynde! To thee I call,
Clenner clothyd thanne any clay,
      Be downe, dale, and dyche.
Mankynde, I rede that thou reste
Wyth me, the Werld, as it is beste.
Loke thou holde myn hende heste
      And evere thou schalt be ryche.

HUMANUM GENUS Whou schul I but I thi hestys helde?
Thou werkyst wyth me holy my wyll.
Thou feffyst me wyth fen and felde
And hye hall, be holtys and hyll.
In werldly wele my wytte I welde,
In joye I jette wyth juelys jentyll,
On blysful banke my bowre is bylde,
In veynglorye I stonde styll.
      I am kene as a knyt.
Whoso ageyn the Werld wyl speke
Mankynde schal on hym be wreke,
In stronge presun I schal hym steke,
      Be it wronge or ryth.

MUNDUS A, Mankynde, wel thee betyde
That thi love on me is sette!
In my bowrys thou schalt abyde
And yyt fare mekyl the bette.
I feffe thee in all my wonys wyde
In dale of dros tyl thou be deth.
I make thee lord of mekyl pryde,
Syr, at thyn owyn mowthis mette.
      I fynde in thee no tresun.
In all this worlde, be se and sonde,
Parkys, placys, lawnde and londe,
Here I gyfe thee wyth myn honde,
      Syr, an opyn sesun.

Go to my tresorer, Syr Covetouse.
Loke thou tell hym as I seye.
Bydde hym make thee maystyr in hys house
Wyth penys and powndys for to pleye.
Loke thou geve not a lous
Of the day that thou schalt deye.
Messenger, do now thyne use;
Bakbytere, teche hym the weye!
      Thou art swetter thanne mede.
Mankynde, take wyth thee Bakbytynge.
Lefe hym for no maner thynge.
Flepergebet wyth hys flaterynge
      Standyth Mankynde in stede.

DETRACCIO Bakbytynge and Detracion
Schal goo wyth thee fro toun to toun.
Have don, Mankynde, and cum doun.
      I am thyne owyn page.
I schal bere thee wyttnesse wyth my myth
Whanne my lord the Werlde it behyth.
Lo, where Syr Coveytyse sytt
      And bydith us in his stage.

HUMANUM GENUS Syr Worlde, I wende,
In Covetyse to chasyn my kende.

MUNDUS Have hym in mende,
And iwys thanne schalt thou be ryth thende.

BONUS ANGELUS Alas, Jhesu, jentyl justyce,
Whedyr may mans Good Aungyl wende?
Now schal careful Coveytyse
Mankende trewly al schende.
Hys sely goste may sore agryse;
Bakbytynge bryngyth hym in byttyr bonde.
Worldly wyttys, ye are not wyse,
Your lovely lyfe amys ye spende
      And that schal ye sore smert.
Parkys, ponndys, and many pens
Thei semyn to you swetter thanne sens,
But Goddys servyse nyn hys commaundementys
      Stondyth you not at hert.

MALUS ANGELUS Ya, whanne the fox prechyth, kepe wel yore gees!
He spekyth as it were a holy pope.
Goo, felaw, and pyke off tho lys
That crepe ther upon thi cope!
Thi part is pleyed al at the dys
That thou schalt have here, as I hope.
Tyl Mankynde fallyth to podys prys,
Coveytyse schal hym grype and grope
      Tyl sum schame hym schende.
Tyl man be dyth in dethys dow
He seyth nevere he hath inow.
Therfore, goode boy, cum blow
      At my nether ende!

[Scene viii]
DETRACCIO Syr Covetyse, God thee save,
Thi pens and thi poundys all!
I, Bakbyter, thyn owyn knave,
Have browt Mankynde unto thine hall.
The Werlde bad thou schuldyst hym have
And feffen hym, whatso befall.
In grene gres tyl he be grave
Putte hym in thi precyous pall,
      Coveytyse, it were ell rewthe.
Whyl he walkyth in worldly wolde
I, Bakbyter, am wyth hym holde.
Lust and Folye, tho barouns bolde,
      To hem he hath plyth hys trewthe.

AVARICIA Ow, Mankynde, blyssyd mote thou be!
I have lovyd thee derworthly many a day,
And so I wot wel that thou dost me.
Cum up and se my ryche aray.
It were a gret poynte of pyté
But Coveytyse were to thi pay.
Sit up ryth here in this se.
I schal thee lere of werldys lay
      That fadyth as a flode.
Wyth good inow I schal thee store,
And yyt oure game is but lore
But thou coveyth mekyl more
      Thanne evere schal do thee goode.

Thou muste gyfe thee to symonye,
Extorsion, and false asyse.
Helpe no man but thou have why.
Pay not thi servauntys here servyse.
Thi neyborys loke thou dystroye.
Tythe not on non wyse.
Here no begger thou he crye;
And thanne schalt thou ful sone ryse.
      And whanne thou usyste marchaundyse
Loke that thou be sotel of sleytys,
And also swere al be deseytys,
Bye and sell be fals weytys,
      For that is kynde coveytyse.

Be not agaste of the grete curse.
This lofly lyf may longe leste.
Be the peny on thi purs,
Lete hem cursyn and don here beste.
What, devyl of Hell, art thou the wers
Thow thow brekyste Goddys heste?
Do aftyr me, I am thi nors.
Alwey gadyr and have non reste.
      In wynnynge be al thi werke.
To pore men take none entent,
For that thou haste longe tyme hent
In lytyl tyme it may be spent;
      Thus seyth Caton, the gret clerke.

Labitur exiguo quod partum tempore longo.20

HUMANUM GENUS A, Avaryce, wel thou spede!
Of werldly wytte thou canst iwys.
Thou woldyst not I hadde nede
And schuldyst be wrothe if I ferd amys.
I schal nevere begger bede
Mete nyn drynke, be Hevene blys;
Rather, or I schulde hym clothe or fede
He schulde sterve and stynke, iwys.
      Coveytyse, as thou wylt I wyl do.
Whereso that I fare, be fenne or flod,
I make a vow be Goddys blod
Of Mankynde getyth no man no good
      But if he synge “Si dedero.”21

AVARICIA Mankynd, that was wel songe.
Sertys now thou canst sum skyll.
Blyssyd be thi trewe tonge!
In this bowre thou schalt byde and byll.
Moo synnys I wolde thou undyrfonge:
Wyth coveytyse thee feffe I wyll;
And thanne sum pryde I wolde spronge,
Hyye in thi hert to holdyn and hyll
      And abydyn in thi body.
Here I feffe thee in myn hevene endow;
Wyth gold and sylvyr lyth as levene.
The dedly synnys, all sevene,
      I schal do comyn in hy.

Pryde, Wrathe, and Envye,
Com forthe, the Develys chyldryn thre!
Lecchery, Slawth, and Glotonye,
To mans Flesch ye are fendys fre.
Dryvyth downne ovyr dalys drye,
Beth now blythe as any be,
Ovyr hyll and holtys ye you hyye
To com to Mankynde and to me
      Fro youre dowty dennys.
As dukys dowty ye you dresse.
Whanne ye sex be comne, I gesse,
Thanne be we sevene and no lesse
      Of the dedly synnys.

[Scene ix]
SUPERBIA Wondyr hyye howtys on hyll herd I houte;
Koveytyse kryeth, hys karpynge I kenne.
Summe lord or summe lordeyn lely schal loute
To be pyth wyth perlys of my proude penne.
Bon I am to braggyn and buskyn abowt,
Rapely and redyly on rowte for to renne.
Be doun, dalys, nor dennys no duke I dowt,
Also fast for to fogge, be flodys and be fenne.
      I rore whanne I ryse.
Syr Belyal, bryth of ble,
To you I recomaunde me.
Have good day, my fadyr fre,
      For I goo to Coveytyse.

IRA Whanne Coveytyse cried and carpyd of care,
Thanne must I, wod wreche, walkyn and wend
Hyye ovyr holtys, as hound aftyr hare.
If I lette and were the last, he schuld me sore schend.
I buske my bold baston, be bankys ful bare.
Sum boy schal be betyn and browth undyr bonde.
Wrath schal hym wrekyn and weyin hys ware.
Forlorn schal al be for lusti laykys in londe22
      As a lythyr page.
Syr Belyal, blak and blo,
Have good day, now I goo
For to fell thi foo
      Wyth wyckyd wage.

INVIDIA Whanne Wrath gynnyth walke in ony wyde wonys,
Envye flet as a fox and folwyth on faste.
Whanne thou steryste or staryste or stumble upon stonys,
I lepe as a lyon; me is loth to be laste.
Ya, I breyde byttyr balys in body and in bonys,
I frete myn herte and in kare I me kast.
Goo we to Coveytyse, all thre at onys,
Wyth oure grysly gere a grome for to gast.
      This day schal he deye.
Belsabubbe, now have good day,
For we wyl wendyn in good aray,
Al thre in fere, as I thee say,
      Pride, Wrath, and Envye.

BELIAL Farewel now, chyldryn fayre to fynde!
Do now wel youre olde owse.
Whanne ye com to Mankynde
Make hym wroth and envyous.
Levyth not lytly undyr lynde;
To his sowle brewyth a byttyr jous.
Whanne he is ded I schal hym bynde
In Hell, as catte dothe the mows.
      Now buske you forthe on brede.
I may be blythe as any be,
For Mankynde in every cuntré
Is rewlyd be my chyldyr thre,
      Envye, Wrathe, and Pryde.

[Scene x]
GULA A grom gan gredyn gayly on grounde.
Of me, gay Glotoun, gan al hys gale.
I stampe and I styrte and stynt upon stounde,
To a staunche deth I stakyr and stale.
What boyes wyth her belys in my bondys ben bownd,
Bothe her bak and her blod I brewe al to bale.
I fese folke to fyth tyl her flesch fond.
Whanne summe han dronkyn a drawth thei drepyn in a dale;
      In me is her mynde.
Mans florchynge Flesch,
Fayre, frele, and fresch,
I rape to rewle in a rese
      To kloye in my kynde.23

LUXURIA In mans kyth I cast me a castel to kepe.
I, Lechery, wyth lykynge, am lovyd in iche a lond.
Wyth my sokelys of swettnesse I sytte and I slepe.
Many berdys I brynge to my byttyr bonde.
In wo and in wrake wyckyd wytys schal wepe
That in my wonys wylde wyl not out wende.
Whanne Mankynde is castyn undyr clourys to crepe,
Thanne tho ledrouns for her lykynge I schal al to-schende,24
      Trewly to tell.
Syr Flesch, now I wende,
Wyth lust in my lende,
To cachyn Mankynde
      To the Devyl of Hell.

ACCIDIA Ya, what seyst thou of Syr Slawth, wyth my soure syth?
Mankynde lovyth me wel, iwys, as I wene.
Men of relygyon I rewle in my ryth;
I lette Goddys servyse, the sothe may be sene.
In bedde I brede brothel wyth my berdys bryth;
Lordys, ladys, and lederounnys to my lore leene.
Mekyl of Mankynd in my clokys schal be knyth
Tyl deth dryvyth hem down in dalys bedene.
      We may non lenger abyde.
Syr Flesch, comly kynge,
In thee is al oure bredynge.
Geve us now thi blyssynge,
      For Coveytyse hath cryde.

CARO Glotony and Slawth, farewel in fere,
Lovely in londe is now your lesse;
And Lecherye, my dowtyr so dere,
Dapyrly ye dresse you so dyngne on desse.
All thre my blessynge ye schal have here.
Goth now forth and gyve ye no fors.
It is no nede you for to lere
To cachyn Mankynd to a careful clos
      Fro the bryth blysse of Hevene.
The Werld, the Flesch, and the Devyl are knowe
Grete lordys, as we wel owe,
And thorwe Mankynd we settyn and sowe
      The dedly synnys sevene.


in; (t-note)
noble lady

handsome in sight
adorned; bright bezants (coins)
buildings along the bank’s breadth
body; emperor; knight
path (i.e., everywhere)


So that; peer


In return
So that; will

I care not; Heaven’s punishment

care at Judgment Day
So long as; fine clothes


Unless; pity
will do so

Then Mankind ascends the World’s platform

blowing of trumpets
Pleasure; ease


Pleasure, quickly
Have him clothed speedily
ample; (t-note)

close by

Faithfully; (t-note)

I beg you [come this way]

waste away (deteriorate)

Causes him to die

lift; high
That [one] who sits
intend yet

BACKBITER; shout against peace
knight; nature
worthy; dais
torment; bind them
conflict and strife
falsehoods bound in a leash
Man’s ruin; carry
know; those; (see note)

(see note)

person; go

lies stored up
death’s blow; prepare and give
in front
banquet; feast
(Fortune’s) wheel
craftier; (t-note)
Flitting about
lies; harm

meals blowing of trumpet (see note)

light; leaps
great successes
yonder youths; disgrace
bow; order them
offer temptation (sedition)
stories; widespread
hills; valleys
stir up trouble
With the aid of

leap over untilled land
Unspoken speeches; speak
hidden trick; (see note)

with my peace (quietly)
make him choose
light of high

wrapped in wealth
handsome on earth
bright bezants (coins); adorned
lives; pleasures; moment
Entirely; given himself
on the earth

would prefer
To grieve; rough (grievous)

thought; (t-note)
is unable to
white; (see note)
truly; caught
Since; had understanding
gave himself
since; been
advise; new [follower]
regret [it]

may good luck come to you
Pleasure; always
endow; (see note)

More splendidly
(i.e., everywhere)
advise; stay

obey my pleasant orders

How; unless, obey your orders
endow; fen and field
high; woods
joy; wield
strut; elegant jewelry
delightful; dwelling is built
pride; continually
brave; knight

avenged; (t-note)
prison; put
right; (see note)

may good luck come to you

much the better
endow; widespread dwellings
valley of death; placed
in accord with your own desire expressed by mouth

sea; shore

clear possession; (see note)


louse (trifle)

sweeter; mead

Leave; on no account
Flibbertigibbet (Backbiter); (see note)
in [good] stead

Finish up
promises it
waits for us on his scaffold

intend; (t-note)
Greed; follow my own nature

mind; (t-note)
truly; very successful

Where; go
dangerous Greed
foolish spirit; be very afraid

sorely pain
ponds; pennies
seem; sweeter; incense

preaches; guard; (see note)
as if he were
those lice; (t-note)
(see note)
a frog’s worth
Greed; grasp; pull
put in death’s pit
will say; enough


endow; whatever
grass; buried
a pity otherwise
bound to him
Pleasure; those

Greed; Ah; may
fine clothes
very unfortunate
Unless; liking
right; seat
teach; law
passes; river
enough goods
Unless; covet much more
Than you actually need

selling church offices; (see note)
unless; cause
their wages

Pay no tithes in any manner
Hear; although
soon become wealthy
subtle; tricks
by deceits
Buy; weights
the nature of greed

afraid of excommunication
If there be a penny in
them; their
the worse off
Although; commandment
nurse (teacher)
gather [wealth]
pay no attention
that [which]; got

Cato; (see note)

Greed; prosper
wisdom; are truly knowledgeable

angry; fared amiss

die (starve) and rot, truly
Greed; wish
Wherever; go

(see note)

Certainly; know

bower; abide and dwell
More; wish you to undertake
greed; endow
set up
High; hold and cherish

bright; lightning

cause to come in haste

noble fiends
woods; hasten yourself

worthy dwellings
noble; prepare yourselves
six have come

PRIDE; loud cries; shouted; (see note)
Greed; speech I recognize
rascal truly; agree
adorned; plume
Ready; brag; bustle
Quickly; in a crowd to run
hills; fear
rise up
bright of countenance
commend myself

WRATH; spoke
mad creature; go
High; woods
delay; scold
prepare; club
brought into bondage
avenge; measure; goods

useless servant

payment [of blows]

ENVY; any far-ranging places
runs like
move; stare; (t-note)
I am loath
breed; torments
gnaw at; throw myself

weapons; lad; terrify
(see note)
go; order

know; (t-note)
custom (use)

Stay; carelessly; lime tree
For; brew; juice

hasten; abroad


GLUTTONY; lad; shouted; earth
was all his song
leap; stop suddenly
certain; stagger; stand
Whatever; their bellies
their; torment
incite; fight; fails
draught; droop
On; their
hasten; in haste

Lechery; loins; prepare
pleasure; each
torment; creatures
dwellings; go
thrown; sod

pleasure; loins

Sloth; appearance (sight); (t-note)
truly; think; (t-note)
control; right
hinder; truth; seen
breed lechers; fair ladies
rascals; wisdom incline
Much; held fast
valleys together


called [us]

Flesh; together
comfort (prosperity)

Splendidly; place yourself; nobly; dais

to teach you
drive; terrible prison
From; bright
ought [to be]
throughout; plant

  Tunc ibunt Superbia, Ira, Individia, Gula, Luxuria, et Accidia ad Avariciam et dicet Superbia:25



















































































































































































[Scene xi]
SUPERBIA What is thi wyll, Syr Coveytyse?
Why hast thou afftyr us sent?
Whanne thou creydyst we ganne agryse
And come to thee now par asent.
      Oure love is on thee lent.
I, Pryde, Wrath, and Envye,
Gloton, Slawth, and Lecherye,
We arn cum all sex for thi crye
      To be at thi commaundement.

AVARICIA Welcum be ye, bretheryn all,
And my systyr, swete Lecherye!
Wytte ye why I gan to call?
For ye must me helpe and that in hy.
Mankynde is now com to myn hall
Wyth me to dwell, be downys dry.
Therfore ye must, whatso befall,
Feffyn hym wyth youre foly,
      And ell ye don hym wronge.
For whanne Mankynd is kendly koveytous
He is proud, wrathful, and envyous;
Glotons, slaw, and lecherous
      Thei arn othyrwhyle amonge.

Thus every synne tyllyth in othyr
And makyth Mankynde to ben a foole.
We sevene fallyn on a fodyr
Mankynd to chase to pynyngys stole.
Therfore, Pryde, good brothyr,
And brethyryn all, take ye your tol.
Late iche of us take at othyr26
And set Mankynd on a stomlynge stol
      Whyl he is here on lyve.
Lete us lullyn hym in oure lust
Tyl he be drevyn to dampnynge dust.
Colde care schal ben hys crust
      To deth whanne he schal dryve.

SUPERBIA In gle and game I growe glad.
Mankynd, take good hed
And do as Coveytyse thee bad,
Take me in thyn hert, precyous Pride.
Loke thou be not ovyrlad,
Late no bacheler thee mysbede,
Do thee to be dowtyd and drad,
Bete boyes tyl they blede,
      Kast hem in careful kettys.
Frende, fadyr and modyr dere,
Bowe hem not in non manere,
And hold no maner man thi pere,
      And use these new jettys.

Loke thou blowe mekyl bost
Wyth longe crakows on thi schos.
Jagge thi clothis in every cost,
And ell men schul lete thee but a goos.
It is thus, man, wel thou wost,
Therfore do as no man dos
And every man sette at a thost
And of thiself make gret ros.
      Now se thiself on every syde.
Every man thou schalt schende and schelfe
And holde no man betyr thanne thiselfe.
Tyl dethys dynt thi body delfe
      Put holy thyn hert in Pride.

HUMANUM GENUS Pryde, be Jhesu, thou seyst wel.
Whoso suffyr is ovyrled al day.
Whyl I reste on my rennynge whel
I schal not suffre, if that I may.
Myche myrthe at mete and mel
I love ryth wel, and ryche aray.
Trewly I thynke, in every sel,
On grounde to be graythyd gay
      And of myselfe to take good gard.
Mykyl myrthe thou wylt me make,
Lordlyche to leve, be londe and lake.
Myn hert holy to thee I take
      Into thyne owyn award.

SUPERBIA In thi bowre to abyde
I com to dwelle be thi syde.

[Pride ascends to Covetousness’ scaffold]

HUMANUM GENUS Mankynde and Pride
Schal dwell togedyr every tyde.

IRA Be also wroth as thou were wode.
Make thee be dred, be dalys derne.
Whoso thee wrethe, be fen or flode,
Loke thou be avengyd yerne.
Be redy to spylle mans blod.
Loke thou hem fere, be feldys ferne.
Alway, man, be ful of mod.
My lothly lawys loke thou lerne,
      I rede, for any thynge.
Anon take venjaunce, man, I rede,
And thanne schal no man thee ovyrlede,
But of thee they schul have drede
      And bowe to thi byddynge.

HUMANUM GENUS Wrethe, for thi councel hende,
Have thou Goddys blyssynge and myn.
What caytyf of al my kende
Wyl not bowe, he schal abyn.
Wyth myn venjaunce I schal hym schende
And wrekyn me, be Goddys yne.
Rathyr or I schulde bowe or bende
I schuld be stekyd as a swyne
      Wyth a lothly launce.
Be it erly or late,
Whoso make wyth me debate
I schal hym hyttyn on the pate
      And takyn anon venjaunce.

IRA Wyth my rewly rothyr
I com to thee, Mankynde, my brothyr.

[Wrath ascends to Covetousness’ scaffold]

HUMANUM GENUS Wrethe, thi fayr fothyr
Makyth iche man to be vengyd on othyr.

INVIDIA Envye wyth Wrathe muste dryve
To haunte Mankynde also.
Whanne any of thy neyborys wyl thryve
Loke thou have Envye therto.
On the hey name I charge thee belyve
Bakbyte hym, whowso thou do.
Kyll hym anon wythowtyn knyve
And speke hym sum schame were thou go,
      Be dale or downys drye.
Speke thi neybour mekyl schame,
Pot on hem sum fals fame,
Loke thou undo hys nobyl name
      Wyth me, that am Envye.

HUMANUM GENUS Envye, thou art bothe good and hende
And schalt be of my counsel chefe.
Thi counsel is knowyn thorwe mankynde,
For ilke man callyth othyr “hore” and “thefe.”
Envye, thou art rote and rynde,
Thorwe this werld, of mykyl myschefe.
In byttyr balys I schal hem bynde
That to thee puttyth any reprefe.
      Cum up to me above.
For more envye thanne is now reynynge
Was nevere syth Cryst was kynge.
Cum up, Envye, my dere derlynge.
      Thou hast Mankyndys love.

INVIDIA I clymbe fro this crofte
Wyth Mankynde to syttyn on lofte.

[Envy ascends to Covetousness’ scaffold]

HUMANUM GENUS Cum, syt here softe,
For in abbeys thou dwellyst ful ofte.

GULA In gay Glotony a game thou begynne,
Ordeyn thee mete and drynkys goode.
Loke that no tresour thou part atwynne
But thee feffe and fede wyth al kynnys fode.
Wyth fastynge schal man nevere Hevene wynne,
These grete fasterys I holde hem wode.
Thou thou ete and drynke, it is no synne.
Fast no day, I rede, be the Rode,
      Thou chyde these fastyng cherlys.
Loke thou have spycys of goode odoure
To feffe and fede thy fleschly floure
And thanne mayst thou bultyn in thi boure
      And serdyn gay gerlys.

HUMANUM GENUS A, Glotony, wel I thee grete!
Soth and sad it is, thy sawe.
I am no day wel, be sty nor strete,
Tyl I have wel fyllyd my mawe.
Fastynge is fellyd undyr fete,
Thou I nevere faste, I ne rekke an hawe,
He servyth of nowth, be the Rode, I lete,
But to do a mans guttys to gnawe.
      To faste I wyl not fonde.
I schal not spare, so have I reste,
To have a mossel of the beste.
The lenger schal my lyfe mow leste
      Wyth gret lykynge in londe.

GULA Be bankys on brede,
Othyrwhyle to spew thee spede!

[Gluttony ascends to Covetousness’ scaffold]

HUMANUM GENUS Whyl I lyf lede
Wyth fayre fode my flesche schal I fede.

LUXURIA Ya, whanne thi flesche is fayre fed,
Thanne schal I, lovely Lecherye,
Be bobbyd wyth thee in bed;
Hereof serve mete and drynkys trye.
In love thi lyf schal be led;
Be a lechour tyl thou dye.
Thi nedys schal be the better sped
If thou gyf thee to fleschly folye
      Tyl deth thee down drepe.
Lechery syn the werld began
Hath avauncyd many a man.
Therfore, Mankynd, my leve lemman,
      In my cunte thou schalt crepe.

HUMANUM GENUS A, Lechery, wel thee be.
Mans sed in thee is sowe.
Fewe men wyl forsake thee
In any cuntré that I knowe.
Spousebreche is a frend ryth fre,
Men use that mo thanne inowe.
Lechery, cum syt be me.
Thi banys be ful wyd iknowe,
      Lykynge is in thi lende.
On nor othyr, I se no wythte
That wyl forsake thee day ner nyth.
Therfore cum up, my berd bryth,
      And reste thee wyth Mankynde.

LUXURIA I may soth synge
“Mankynde is kawt in my slynge.”

[Lechery ascends to Covetousness’ scaffold]

HUMANUM GENUS For ony erthyly thynge,
To bedde thou muste me brynge.

ACCIDIA Ya, whanne ye be in bedde bothe,
Wappyd wel in worthy wede,
Thanne I, Slawthe, wyl be wrothe
But two brothelys I may brede.
Whanne the messe-belle goth
Lye stylle, man, and take non hede.
Lappe thyne hed thanne in a cloth
And take a swet, I thee rede,
      Chyrche-goynge thou forsake.
Losengerys in londe I lyfte
And dyth men to mekyl unthryfte.
Penaunce enjoynyd men in schryfte
      Is undone, and that I make.

HUMANUM GENUS Owe, Slawthe, thou seyst me skylle.
Men use thee mekyl, God it wot.
Men lofe wel now to lye stylle
In bedde to take a morowe swot.
To chyrcheward is not her wylle;
Her beddys thei thynkyn goode and hot.
Herry, Jofferey, Jone, and Gylle
Arn leyd and logyd in a lot
      Wyth thyne unthende charmys.
Al mankynde, be the holy Rode,
Are now slawe in werkys goode.
Com nere therfore, myn fayre foode,
      And lulle me in thyne armys.

ACCIDIA I make men, I trowe,
In Goddys servyse to be ryth slowe.

HUMANUM GENUS Com up this throwe.
Swyche men thou schalt fynden inowe.

[Sloth ascends to Covetousness’ scaffold]

HUMANUM GENUS “Mankynde” I am callyd be kynde,
Wyth curssydnesse in costys knet.
In sowre swettenesse my syth I sende,
Wyth sevene synnys sadde beset.
Mekyl myrthe I move in mynde,
Wyth melody at my mowthis met.
My prowd power schal I not pende
Tyl I be putte in peynys pyt,
      To Helle hent fro hens.
In dale of dole tyl we are downe
We schul be clad in a gray gowne.
I se no man but they use somme
      Of these sevene dedly synnys.

For comounly it is seldom seyne,
Whoso now be lecherows,
But of othyr men he schal have dysdeyne
And ben prowde or covetous.
      In synne iche man is founde.
Ther is pore nor ryche, be londe ne lake,
That alle these sevene wyl forsake,
But wyth on or othyr he schal be take
      And in her byttyr bondys bownde.

BONUS ANGELUS So mekyl the werse, weleawoo,
That evere good aungyl was ordeynyd thee.
Thou art rewlyd aftyr the fende that is thi foo
And nothynge certys aftyr me.
Weleaway, wedyr may I goo?
Man doth me bleykyn blody ble.
Hys swete sowle he wyl now slo.
He schal wepe al hys game and gle
      At on dayes tyme.
Ye se wel all sothly in syth
I am abowte bothe day and nyth
To brynge hys sowle into blis bryth,
      And hymself wyl it brynge to pyne.

MALUS ANGELUS No, Good Aungyl, thou art not in sesun,
Fewe men in thee feyth they fynde.
For thou hast schewyd a ballyd resun,
Goode syre, cum blowe myn hol behynde.
Trewly man hath non chesun
On thi God to grede and grynde,
For, that schuld cunne Cristis lessoun,
In penaunce hys body he muste bynde
      And forsake the Worldys mende.
Men arn loth on thee to crye
Or don penaunce for her folye.
Therfore have I now maystrye
      Welny ovyr al mankynde.

BONUS ANGELUS Alas, Mankynde
Is bobbyd and blent as the blynde.
In feyth, I fynde,
To Crist he can nowt be kynde.
Alas, Mankynne
Is soylyd and saggyd in synne.
He wyl not blynne
Tyl body and sowle parte atwynne.
Alas, he is blendyd,
Amys mans lyf is ispendyd,
Wyth fendys fendyd.
Mercy, God, that man were amendyd!

CONFESCIO What, mans Aungel, good and trewe,
Why syest thou and sobbyst sore?
Sertys, sore it schal me rewe
If I se thee make mornynge more.
May any bote thi bale brewe
Or any thynge thi stat astore?
For all felechepys olde and newe
Why makyst thou grochynge undyr gore
      Wyth pynynge poyntys pale?
Why was al this gretynge gunne
Wyth sore syinge undyr sunne?
Tell me and I schal, if I cunne,
      Brewe thee bote of bale.

BONUS ANGELUS Of byttyr balys thou mayste me bete,
Swete Schryfte, if that thou wylt.
For Mankynde it is that I grete;
He is in poynt to be spylt.
He is set in sevene synnys sete
And wyl, certys, tyl he be kylt.
Wyth me he thynkyth nevere more to mete,
He hath me forsake, and I have no gylt.
      No man wyl hym amende.
Therfore, Schryfte, so God me spede,
But if thou helpe at this nede
Mankynde getyth nevere othyr mede
      But peyne wythowtyn ende.

CONFESCIO What, Aungel, be of counfort stronge,
For thi lordys love that deyed on Tre.
On me, Schryfte, it schal not be longe
And that thou schalt the sothe se.
If he wyl be aknowe hys wronge
And nothynge hele, but telle it me,
And don penaunce sone amonge,
I schal hym stere to gamyn and gle
      In joye that evere schal last.
Whoso schryve hym of hys synnys alle
I behete hym Hevene halle.
Therfor go we hens, whatso befalle,
      To Mankynde fast.

Tunc ibunt ad Humanum Genus et dicet:

CONFESCIO What, Mankynde, whou goth this?
What dost thou wyth these develys sevene?
Alas, alas, man, al amys!
Blysse in the name of God in Hevene,
      I rede, so have I rest.
These lotly lordeynys awey thou lyfte
And cum doun and speke wyth Schryfte
And drawe thee yerne to sum thryfte.
      Trewly it is the best.

HUMANUM GENUS A, Schryfte, thou art wel be note
Here to Slawthe that syttyth here-inne.
He seyth thou mytyst a com to mannys cote
On Palme Sunday al betyme;
      Thou art com al to sone.
Therfore, Schryfte, be thi fay,
Goo forthe tyl on Good Fryday.
Tente to thee thanne wel I may;
      I have now ellys to done.

CONFESCIO Ow, that harlot is now bold!
In bale he byndyth Mankynd belyve.
Sey Slawthe I preyd hym that he wold
Fynd a charter of thi lyve.
Man, thou mayst ben undyr mold
Longe or that tyme, kyllyd wyth a knyve,
Wyth podys and froskys manyfold.
Therfore schape thee now to schryve
      If thou wylt com to blys.
Thou synnyste, or sorwe thee ensense.
Behold thynne hert, thi prevé spense,
And thynne owyn consyense,
      Or sertys thou dost amys.

HUMANUM GENUS Ya, Petyr, so do mo!
We have etyn garlek everychone.
Thou I schulde to Helle go,
I wot wel I schal not gon alone,
      Trewly I tell thee.
I dyd nevere so evyl trewly
That othyr han don as evyl as I.
Therfore, syre, lete be thy cry
      And go hens fro me.

PENITENCIA Wyth poynt of penaunce I schal hym prene
Mans pride for to felle.
Wyth this launce I schal hym lene,
Iwys, a drope of mercy welle.
Sorwe of hert is that I mene;
Trewly ther may no tunge telle
What waschyth sowlys more clene
Fro the foul fend of Helle
      Thanne swete sorwe of hert.
God, that syttyth in Hevene on hye,
Askyth no more or that thou dye
But sorwe of hert wyth wepynge eye
      For all thi synnys smert.

Thei that syh in synnynge,
In sadde sorwe for her synne,
Whanne thei schal make her endynge,
Al here joye is to begynne.
Thanne medelyth no mornynge
But joye is joynyd wyth jentyl gynne.
Therfore, Mankynde, in this tokenynge,
Wyth spete of spere to thee I spynne,
      Goddys lawys to thee I lerne.
Wyth my spud of sorwe swote
I reche to thyne hert rote.
Al thi bale schal torne thee to bote.
      Mankynde, go schryve thee yerne.

HUMANUS GENUS A sete of sorwe in me is set;
Sertys for synne I syhe sore.
Mone of mercy in me is met;
For werldys myrthe I morne more.
In wepynge wo my wele is wet.
Mercy, thou muste myn stat astore.
Fro oure Lordys lyth thou hast me let,
Sory synne, thou grysly gore,
      Owte on thee, dedly synne!
Synne, thou haste Mankynde schent.
In dedly synne my lyfe is spent.
Mercy, God omnipotent!
      In youre grace I begynne.

For, thou Mankynde have don amys,
And he wyl falle in repentaunce,
Crist schal hym bryngyn to bowre of blys
If sorwe of hert lache hym wyth launce.
Lordyngys, ye se wel alle thys,
Mankynde hathe ben in gret bobaunce.
I now forsake my synne iwys
And take me holy to Penaunce.
      On Crist I crye and calle.
A, mercy, Schryfte! I wyl no more.
For dedly synne myn herte is sore.
Stuffe Mankynde wyth thyne store
      And have hym to thyne halle.

CONFESCIO Schryffte may no man forsake.
Whanne Mankynde cryeth I am redy.
Whanne sorwe of hert thee hathe take
Schryfte profytyth veryly.
Whoso for synne wyl sorwe make
Crist hym heryth whanne he wyl criye.
Now, man, lete sorwe thyn synne slake
And torne not ageyn to thi folye,
      For that makyth dystaunce.
And if it happe thee turne ageyn to synne,
For Goddys love lye not longe therinne.
He that dothe alwey evyl and wyl not blynne,
      That askyth gret venjaunce.

HUMANUM GENUS Nay, sertys, that schal I not do,
Schryfte, thou schalte the sothe se;
For thow Mankynde be wonte therto
I wyl now al amende me.

Tunc descendit ad Confessionem.

I com to thee, Schryfte, alholy, lo!
I forsake you, synnys, and fro you fle.
Ye schapyn to man a sory scho;
Whanne he is begylyd in this degré
      Ye bleykyn al hys ble.
Synne, thou art a sory store.
Thou makyst Mankynd to synke sore.
Therfore of you wyl I no more.
      I aske schryfte, for charyté.

CONFESCIO If thou wylt be aknowe here
Only al thi trespas,
I schal thee schelde fro Helle fere
And putte thee fro peyne unto precyouse place.
If thou wylt not make thynne sowle clere
But kepe hem in thyne hert cas,
Anothyr day they schul be rawe and rere
And synke thi sowle to Satanas
      In gastful glowynge glede.
Therfore, man, in mody monys,
If thou wylt wende to worthi wonys,
Schryve thee now, al at onys,
      Holy of thi mysdede.

HUMANUM GENUS A, yys, Schryfte, trewly I trowe,
I schal not spare, for odde nor even,
That I schal rekne, al on a rowe,
To lache me up to lyvys levene.
To my Lord God I am aknowe
That syttyth aboven in hey Hevene
That I have synnyd many a throwe
In the dedly synnys sevene,
      Bothe in home and halle.
Pride, Wrathe, and Envye,
Coveytyse and Lecherye,
Slawth and also Glotonye,
      I have hem usyd alle.

The ten comaundementys brokyn I have
And my fyve wyttys spent hem amys.
I was thanne wood and gan to rave.
Mercy, God, forgeve me thys!
Whanne any pore man gan to me crave
I gafe hym nowt, and that forthynkyth me, iwys.
Now, Seynt Saveour, ye me save
And brynge me to your boure of blys!
      I can not alle say,
But to the erthe I knele adown,
Bothe wyth bede and orison,
And aske myn absolucion,
      Syr Schryfte, I you pray.

CONFESCIO Now Jhesu Cryste, God holy,
And all the seyntys of Hevene hende,
Petyr and Powle, apostoly,
To whom God gafe powere to lese and bynde,
He forgeve thee thi foly
That thou hast synnyd wyth hert and mynde.
And I, up my powere, thee asoly
That thou hast ben to God unkynde
      Quantum peccasti.
In Pride, Ire, and Envye,
Slawthe, Glotony, and Lecherye,
And Coveytyse continuandelye
      Vitam male continuasti.

I thee asoyle wyth goode entent
Of alle the synnys that thou hast wrowth
In brekynge of Goddys commaundement
In worde, werke, wyl, and thowth.
I restore to thee the sacrament
Of penauns weche thou nevere rowt;
Thi fyve wyttys mysdyspent
In synne the weche thou schuldyst nowt,
      Quicquid gesisti,
Wyth eyne sen, herys herynge,
Nose smellyd, mowthe spekynge,
And al thi bodys bad werkynge,
      Vicium quodcumque fecisti.

I thee asoyle wyth mylde mod
Of al that thou hast ben ful madde
In forsakynge of thyn aungyl good,
And thi fowle Flesche that thou hast fadde,
The Werld, the Devyl that is so woode,
And folwyd thyne aungyl that is so badde.
To Jhesu Crist that deyed on Rode
I restore thee ageyn ful sadde.
      Noli peccare!
And all the goode dedys that thou haste don
And all thi tribulacyon
Stonde thee in remyssion.
      Posius noli viciare.

HUMANUM GENUS Now, Syr Schryfte, where may I dwelle
To kepe me fro synne and woo?
A comly counseyl ye me spelle
To fende me now fro my foo.
If these sevene synnys here telle
That I am thus fro hem goo,
The Werld, the Flesche, and the Devyl of Hell
Schul sekyn my soule for to sloo
      Into balys bowre.
Therfore I pray you putte me
Into sum place of sureté
That thei may not harmyn me
      Wyth no synnys sowre.

CONFESCIO To swyche a place I schal thee kenne
Ther thou mayst dwelle wythoutyn dystaunsce
And alwey kepe thee fro synne,
Into the Castel of Perseveraunce.
If thou wylt to Hevene wynne
And kepe thee fro werldly dystaunce,
Goo to yone castel and kepe thee therinne,
For it is strenger thanne any in Fraunce.
      To yone castel I thee seende.
That castel is a precyous place,
Ful of vertu and of grace;
Whoso levyth there hys lyvys space
      No synne schal hym schende.

HUMANUM GENUS A, Schryfte, blyssyd mote thou be!
This castel is here but at honde.
Thedyr rapely wyl I tee,
Sekyr ovyr this sad sonde.
Good perseveraunce God sende me
Whyle I leve here in this londe.
Fro fowle fylthe now I fle,
Forthe to faryn now I fonde
To yone precyous port.
Lord, what man is in mery lyve
Whanne he is of hys synnys schreve!
Al my dol adoun is dreve.
      Criste is myn counfort.

MALUS ANGELUS Ey, what devyl, man, wedyr schat?
Woldyst drawe now to holynesse?
Goo, felaw, thi goode gate,
Thou art forty wyntyr olde, as I gesse.
Goo ageyn, the develys mat,
And pleye thee a whyle wyth Sare and Sysse.
Sche wolde not ellys, yone olde trat,
But putte thee to penaunce and to stresse,
      Yone foule feterel fyle.
Late men that arn on the pyttys brynke
Forberyn bothe mete and drynke
And do penaunce as hem good thynke,
      And cum and pley thee a whyle.

BONUS ANGELUS Ya, Mankynde, wende forthe thi way
And do nothynge aftyr hys red.
He wolde thee lede ovyr londys lay
In dale of dros tyl thou were ded.
Of cursydnesse he kepyth the key
To bakyn thee a byttyr bred.
In dale of dol tyl thou schuldyst dey
He wolde drawe thee to cursydhed,
      In synne to have myschaunce.
Therfor spede now thy pace
Pertly to yone precyouse place
That is al growyn ful of grace,
      The Castel of Perseveraunce.

HUMANUM GENUS Goode Aungyl, I wyl do as thou wylt,
In londe whyl my lyfe may leste,
For I fynde wel in holy wryt
Thou counseylyste evere for the beste.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

[Scene xii]
CARITAS To Charyté, man, have an eye
In al thynge, man, I rede.
Al thi doynge as dros is drye
But in Charyté thou dyth thi dede.
I dystroye alwey Envye;
So dyd thi God whanne he gan blede;
For synne he was hangyn hye
And yyt synnyd he nevere in dede,
      That mylde mercy welle.
Poule in hys pystyl puttyth the prefe,
“But charyté be wyth thee chefe.”27
Therfore, Mankynde, be now lefe
      In Charyté for to dwelle.

ABSTINENCIA In abstinens lede thi lyf,
Take but skylful refeccyon;
For Gloton kyllyth wythoutyn knyf
And dystroyeth thi complexion.
Whoso ete or drynke ovyrblyve
It gaderyth to corrupcion.
This synne browt us alle in stryve
Whanne Adam fel in synne down
      Fro precyous Paradys.
Mankynd, lere now of oure lore.
Whoso ete or drynke more
Thanne skylfully hys state astore,
      I holde hym nothynge wys.

CASTITAS Mankynd, take kepe of Chastyté
And move thee to maydyn Marye.
Fleschly foly loke thou fle,
At the reverense of Oure Ladye.

Quia qui in carne vivunt Domino placere non possunt.28

That curteys qwene, what dyd sche?
Kepte hyre clene and stedfastly,
And in her was trussyd the Trinité;
Thorwe gostly grace sche was worthy,
      And al for sche was chaste.
Whoso kepyt hym chast and wyl not synne,
Whanne he is beryed in bankys brymme
Al hys joye is to begynne.
      Therfore to me take taste.

SOLICITUDO In Besynesse, man loke thou be,
Wyth worthi werkys goode and thykke.
To Slawthe if thou cast thee
It schal thee drawe to thowtys wyckke.

Otiositas parit omne malum.

It puttyth a man to poverté
And pullyth hym to peynyns prycke.
Do sumwhat alwey for love of me,
Thou thou schuldyst but thwyte a stycke.
      Wyth bedys sumtyme thee blys
Sumtyme rede and sumtyme wryte
And sumtyme pleye at thi delyte.
The devyl thee waytyth wyth dyspyte
      Whanne thou art in idylnesse.

LARGITAS In Largyté, man, ley thi love.
Spende thi good, as God it sent.
In worchep of hym that syt above
Loke thi goodys be dyspent.
In dale of dros whanne thou schalt drove
Lytyl love is on thee lent;
The sekatourys schul seyn it is her behove
To make us mery, “For he is went
      That al this good gan owle.”
Ley thi tresour and thy trust
In place where no ruggynge rust
May it dystroy to dros ne dust29
      But al to helpe of sowle.

HUMANUM GENUS Ladys in londe, lovely and lyt,
Lykynge lelys, ye be my leche.
I wyl bowe to your byddynge bryth;
Trewe tokenynge ye me teche.
Dame Meknes, in your myth
I wyl me wryen fro wyckyd wreche.
Al my purpos I have pyt,
Paciens to don, as ye me preche;
      Fro Wrathe ye schal me kepe.
Charyté, ye wyl to me entende.
Fro fowle Envye ye me defende.
Manns mende ye may amende,
      Whethyr he wake or slepe.

Abstynens, to you I tryst;
Fro Glotony ye schal me drawe.
In Chastyté to levyn me lyst,
That is Oure Ladys lawe.
Besynes, we schul be cyste;
Slawthe, I forsake thi sleper sawe.
Largyté, to you I tryst,
Coveytyse to don of dawe.
      This is a curteys cumpany.
What schuld I more monys make?
The sevene synnys I forsake
And to these sevene vertuis I me take.
      Maydyn Meknes, now mercy!

HUMILITAS Mercy may mende al thi mone.
Cum in here at thynne owyn wylle.
We schul thee fende fro thi fon
If thou kepe thee in this castel stylle.

Cum sancto sanctus eris, et cetera.
Tunc intrabit.30

Stonde hereinne as stylle as ston;
Thanne schal no dedly synne thee spylle.
Whethyr that synnys cumme or gon,
Thou schalt wyth us thi bowrys bylle,
      Wyth vertuse we schul thee vaunce.
This castel is of so qweynt a gynne
That whoso evere holde hym therinne
He schal nevere fallyn in dedly synne;
      It is the Castel of Perseveranse.

Qui perseveraverit usque in finem, hic salvus erit.
Tunc cantabunt “Eterne Rex altissime,” et dicet:31

HUMILITAS Now blyssyd be Oure Lady, of Hevene Emperes!
Now is Mankynde fro foly falle
And is in the Castel of Goodnesse.
He hauntyth now Hevene halle
      That schal bryngyn hym to Hevene.
Crist that dyed wyth dyen dos
Kepe Mankynd in this castel clos
And put alwey in hys purpos
      To fle the synnys sevene!

MALUS ANGELUS Nay, be Belyals bryth bonys,
Ther schal he no whyle dwelle.
He schal be wonne fro these wonys
Wyth the Werld, the Flesch, and the Devyl of Hell!
      Thei schul my wyl awreke.
The synnys sevene, tho kyngys thre,
To Mankynd have enmyté.
Scharpely thei schul helpyn me
      This castel for to breke.
Howe, Flypyrgebet, Bakbytere!
Yerne oure message loke thou make.
Blythe about loke thou bere.
Sey Mankynde hys synnys hath forsake.
Wyth yene wenchys he wyl hym were,
Al to holynesse he hath hym take.
In myn hert it doth me dere,
The bost that tho moderys crake;
      My galle gynnyth to grynde.
Flepyrgebet, ronne upon a rasche.
Byd the Werld, the Fend, and the Flesche
That they com to fytyn fresche
      To wynne ageyn Mankynde.

DETRACCIO I go, I go, on grounde glad,
Swyftyr thanne schyp wyth rodyr.
I make men masyd and mad
And every man to kyllyn odyr
      Wyth a sory chere.
I am glad, be Seynt Jamys of Galys,
Of schrewdnes to tellyn talys
Bothyn in Ingelond and in Walys,
      And feyth I have many a fere.

Tunc ibit ad Belial.

[Scene xiii]
Heyl, set in thyn selle!
Heyl, dynge Devyl in thi delle!
Heyl, lowe in Helle!
I cum to thee talys to telle

BELYAL Bakbyter, boy,
Alwey be holtys and hothe,
Sey now, I sey,
What tydyngys? Telle me the sothe!

DETRACCIO Teneful talys I may thee sey,
To thee no good, as I gesse:
Mankynd is gon now awey
Into the Castel of Goodnesse.
Ther he wyl bothe lyvyn and deye
In dale of dros tyl deth hym dresse;
Hathe thee forsakyn, forsothe I sey,
And all thi werkys more and lesse;
      To yone castel he gan to crepe.
Yone modyr Meknes, sothe to sayn,
And all yene maydnys on yone playn
For to fytyn thei be ful fayn
      Mankynd for to kepe.

Tunc vocabit Superbiam, Indiviam, et Iram.

SUPERBIA Syr kynge, what wytte?
We be redy throtys to kytte.

BELYAL Sey, gadelyngys — have ye harde grace
And evyl deth mote ye deye! —
Why lete ye Mankynd fro you pase
Into yene castel fro us aweye?
      Wyth tene I schal you tey.
Harlotys, at onys
Fro this wonys!
Be Belyals bonys,
      Ye schul abeye.

Et verberabit eos super terram.

DETRACCIO Ya, for God, this was wel goo,
Thus to werke wyth bakbytynge.
I werke bothe wrake and woo
And make iche man othyr to dynge.
I schal goo abowte and makyn moo
Rappys for to route and rynge.
Ye bakbyterys, loke that ye do so.
Make debate abowtyn to sprynge
      Betwene systyr and brothyr.
If any bakbyter here be lafte,
He may lere of me hys crafte.
Of Goddys grace he schal be rafte
      And every man to kyllyn othyr.

Ad Carnem.

[Scene xiv]
Heyl, kynge, I calle!
Heyl, prinse, proude prekyd in palle!
Heyl, hende in halle!
Heyl, syr kynge, fayre thee befalle!

CARO Boy Bakbytynge,
Ful redy in robys to rynge,
Ful glad tydynge,
Be Belyalys bonys, I trow thow brynge.

DETRACCIO Ya, for God, “owt” I crye
On thi too sonys and thi dowtyr yynge:
Glotoun, Slawthe, and Lechery
Hath put me in gret mornynge.
They let Mankynd gon up hye
Into yene castel at hys lykynge,
Therin for to leve and dye,
Wyth tho ladys to make endynge,
      Tho flourys fayre and fresche.
He is in the Castel of Perseverauns
And put hys body to penauns.
Of hard happe is now thi chauns,
      Syre kynge, Mankyndys Flesche.

Tunc Caro clamabit ad Gulam, Accidiam, et Luxuriam.32

LUXURIA Sey now thi wylle,
Syr Flesch, why cryest thou so schylle?

CARO A, Lechery, thou skallyd mare!
And thou Gloton, God geve thee wo!
And vyle Slawth, evyl mote thou fare!
Why lete ye Mankynd fro you go
      In yone castel so hye?
Evele grace com on thi snowte!
Now I am dressyd in gret dowte.
Why ne had ye lokyd betyr abowte?
Be Belyalys bonys, ye schul abye.

Tunc verberabit eos in placeam.

DETRACCIO Now, be God, this is good game!
I, Bakbyter, now bere me wel.
If I had lost my name,
I vow to God it were gret del.
I schape these schrewys to mekyl schame;
Iche rappyth on othyr wyth rowtynge rele.
I, Bakbyter, wyth fals fame
Do brekyn and brestyn hodys of stele.
      Thorwe this cuntré I am knowe.
Now wyl I gynne forth to goo
And make Coveytyse have a knoke or too,
And thanne iwys I have doo
      My dever, as I trowe.

Ad Mundum.

[Scene xv]
Heyl, styf in stounde!
Heyl, gayly gyrt upon grounde!
Heyl, fayre flowr ifounde!
Heyl, Syr Werld, worthi in wedys wonde!

MUNDUS Bakbyter in rowte,
Thou tellyst talys of dowte,
So styf and so stowte.
What tydyngys bryngyst thou abowte?

DETRACCIO Nothynge goode, that schalt thou wete.
Mankynd, Syr Werld, hath thee forsake.
Wyth Schryfte and Penauns he is smete
And to yene castel he hath hym take
      Amonge yene ladys whyt as lake.
Lo, Syr Werld, ye moun agryse
That ye be servyd on this wyse.
Go pley you wyth Syr Coveytyse
      Tyl hys crowne crake.

Tunc buccinabit cornu ad Avariciam.33

AVARICIA Syr bolnynge bowde,
Tell me why blowe ye so lowde?

MUNDUS Lewde losel, the Devel thee brenne!
I prey God geve thee a fowl hap!
Sey, why letyst thou Mankynd
Into yene castel for to skape?
      I trowe thou gynnyst to rave.
Now, for Mankynd is went,
Al oure game is schent.
Therfore a sore dryvynge dent,
      Harlot, thou schalt have.

Tunc verberabit eum.

AVARICIA Mercy, mercy! I wyl no more.
Thou hast me rappyd wyth rewly rowtys.
I snowre, I sobbe, I sye sore.
Myn hed is clateryd al to clowtys.
In al youre state I schal you store
If ye abate youre dyntys dowtys.
Mankynd, that ye have forlore,
I schal do com owt fro yone skowtys
      To youre hende hall.
If ye wyl no more betyn me,
I schal do Mankynd com out fre.
He schal forsake, as thou schalt se,
      The fayre vertus all.

MUNDUS Have do thanne, the Devyl thee tere!
Thou schalt ben hangyn in Hell herne.
Bylyve my baner up thou bere
And besege we the castel yerne
      Mankynd for to stele.
Whanne Mankynd growyth good,
I, the Werld, am wyld and wod.
Tho bycchys schul bleryn in her blood
      Wyth flappys felle and fele.

Yerne lete flapyr up my fane
And schape we schame and schonde.
I schal brynge wyth me tho bycchys bane;
Ther schal no vertus dwellyn in my londe.
Mekenes is that modyr that I mene,
To hyre I brewe a byttyr bonde.
Sche schal dey upon this grene
If that sche com al in myn honde,
      Yene rappokys wyth her rumpys.
I am the Werld! It is my wyll
The Castel of Vertu for to spyll.
Howtyth hye upon yene hyll,
      Ye traytours, in youre trumpys.

shouted; shudder
by agreement


Do you know; began

whatever happens
Or else

Gluttonous, slothful
also sometimes there (see note)

cultivates the other

in a group
to the seat of punishment; (see note)


stumbling stool
to our pleasure

breadcrust (food)

sport; play; (t-note)

young man use you badly
Make yourself feared and dreaded
Chop them into hunks of meat

Obey them
kind of; equal

shout great boasts
pointed toes; shoes; (see note)
Slash (serrate) with dags; manner; (see note)
Or else; think

turd’s value
look at; opportunity
insult; push
stroke; pierce

permits [it]; oppressed
wheel [of Fortune]; (see note)
permit [it]
banquet; meal
very; clothing
To live like a lord

bower; (t-note)

(see note)


angry; mad
feared; hidden valleys (i.e., everywhere)

frighten; distant fields
anger; (t-note)
advise, before



Wrath; gracious

Whatever rascal; [human] race
obey; suffer
avenge myself; eyes
stuck; pig
(see note); (t-note)

fights with me

fierce guidance; (t-note)

company; (t-note)

Envy; hurry

concerning that
In God’s name; quickly; (see note)
Slander; however

Put; him

root and rind (beginning and end)
Throughout; great
great torment
offer any reproof
(see note)


from; enclosure; (t-note)


you part with
Unless it provide; all kinds of
(see note)
fasters; think them mad
advise; by the Cross
Although complain; churls

provide; fleshly growth
fornicate; chamber
copulate with; girls; (t-note)

True; serious; speech
never; path (i.e., anywhere)
Although; care; hawthorn berry; (t-note)
It [fasting] is of no use, by the Cross, I think

be able to last; (t-note)
pleasure on earth

By broad banks; (t-note)
Sometimes; vomit; succeed



For this; rich


dear lover

seed; sown

Adultery; very gracious
more than enough

proclamations; widely known
Pleasure; loins
One; person
nor night; (t-note)
bright lady

truly; (t-note)
noose (trap, vagina)

any; (t-note)

Wrapped; bedclothes
Unless; lechers; breed
pay no attention
Wrap; then
sweat; advise; (see note)

Flatterers; raise up
drive; great decadence
given to; confession
I cause that

Oh; good advice
much; knows
morning sweat

laid; lodged in turn
by; Cross
slow to do

believe; (t-note)

at this time; (t-note)

(see note)

nature; (t-note)
Joined with wickedness in my habits
bitter; sight; use
Much; stir
at my mouth’s commandment
the pit of pain
valley of pain; put



one or another; taken

much the worse, alas
for you
ruled; fiend
clearly not at all by me
cause [my] rosy complexion to become pale
for all his sport and play
truly; sight


bare (pointless)
beg; gnash [his teeth]
he who would know


Almost over all

mocked; misled

surrounded (?)

CONFESSION; (t-note)
Certainly; grieve
remedy ease your sorrow
situation restore
fellowships; (t-note)
complaint; gown (in your heart)
By tormenting pricks [made]
weeping begun
Create a remedy for your torment

torment; cure
about to be destroyed; (t-note)
surely; killed



died; Cross
It will not take me, Shrift, long
If; truth see
sport and play

Whoever will absolve
whatever happens

Then they go to Mankind and he (Confession) says

how; (t-note)

advise, as I hope for salvation
loathsome rascals; drive

quickly; [spiritual] prosperity

Confession; known
might have come; dwelling
soon enough
too soon; (see note)

Pay attention
other things to do

Oh; villain
torment; quickly
Say to
pardon for
before; knife
many toads and frogs
prepare yourself; confess

before; consume

by St. Peter; many others
each one; (see note)

others; (t-note)

PENANCE; pierce; (t-note)
bring down
give; (see note)
the well (fountain) of mercy
that [which]; (see note)




their; about to begin
mixes no sorrow
tokening of this
point; move rapidly
dagger; sweet
strike; root
torment; comfort
confess; quickly

sigh; (t-note)
Moan; lamentation; come
Because of
joy is wet [with tears]
condition; restore
light; restricted
wretched filth



truly; (t-note)


Fill; store [of wisdom]


taken possession of



cease; (t-note)
asks for

truth see
although; accustomed

Then he descends to Confession

make for man an ill-fitting shoe
deceived to this extent
make pale; countenance


will acknowledge
torment; safe
them [the sins]; your heart’s box; (t-note)
will be unatoned and unconfessed

As a ghastly glowing coal
sorrowful laments
go; dwellings [Heaven]
Confess; at once

believe; (see note)
for anything
give an account, in order
raise; the light of life
high; (t-note)


mad; began

to beg of me
I truly regret

any more

beads; prayer

apostles; (see note)
[May] he forgive

through; pardon

However much you have sinned

Covetousness continually
You have led your life evilly


which; heeded
misspent; (t-note)
which; not
Whatsoever you have committed
Seen with eyes, heard [with] ears

Whatsoever sins you have committed



died; Cross
Do not sin

Sin no more

suitable; tell
defend from; foes
hear; (t-note)
from them gone

seek; slay
place of torment

So that

such; direct

from; strife; (t-note)
stronger; (t-note)

lives; his lifetime

close by
Thither quickly; go
Safely; solid land


go; undertake

a blissful life
sorrow is overthrown

where are you going
your way

Sarah and Cecily
deceitful wretch
brink of the grave; (t-note)
seems good to them

according to his advice
fallow land
valley of dust

valley of sorrow; die
ill fortune

(see note); (t-note)

Unless; perform; deeds
began to bleed

well of mercy
St. Paul; epistle gives the proof
Unless; foremost

moderate food

leads to
strife; (see note)

learn; wisdom

his estate can reasonably maintain
not at all wise

Chastity; heed
address; virgin Mary; (t-note)

Out of respect for


courteous queen
herself chaste
Through spiritual; (t-note)

buried; brim (edge)

take heed of me


wicked thoughts; (t-note)

Idleness begets all evil

the torment of pain
Although; whittle; (t-note)
beads; bless yourself

waits for; malice

Generosity; place

dust; be forced; (t-note)
executors; their duty; (see note)
wealth accumulated


Kindly lilies; physician; (see note)
beautiful advice; (t-note)
Meekness; power
turn away; wretchedness

pay attention

mind; change

I wish to live

Industry; kiss each other
slippery speech
Greed; put to death

virtues; (t-note)

Meekness; change; lamentation

defend; from, foes


make your home
virtues; lift up
such ingenious construction

(see note); (t-note)

fallen away from folly; (t-note)

occupies; halls of Heaven

with a deadly potion; (see note)

keep; mind

bright bones

won from; dwellings
carry out


Ho, Flibbertigibbet, Backbiter
Quickly; proclaim
Quickly; go

yon; take refuge

those bitches brag; (see note)
guts begin
fight vigorously

evil attitude
(see note)
To spread tales of malice
England; Wales; (see note)
truly; companion

Then he goes to Belial (the Devil)

on; seat; (t-note)
worthy; pit

woods; cleared land (everywhere)
Tell me now

Distressing; tell

dust; place

bitch Meekness, truth
fight; glad

Then he will call Pride, Envy, and Wrath

what is on your mind; (t-note)
throats to cut

rascals; bad luck
from; escape
yon; from
pain; bind
Rascals, [go] at once
pay [for it]

And he will beat them on the ground

by; done; (see note)

vengeance; injury
to strike others
Blows; roar and yell



[He goes] to [the scaffold of] Flesh

proudly dressed in rich robes
good luck

FLESH; (t-note)

By; bones; believe

two; young

yon; pleasure

bad luck; fortune

Say; (t-note)

scurvy mare

Bad luck; nose
kept closer watch; (t-note)
By; pay [for it]

Then he will beat them in the place; (t-note)

enjoy myself

direct; rascals; great
Each beats [the] other in riotous tumult; (see note)
break; burst helmets
Greed; blow or two
truly; done
duty; believe

[He goes] to [the scaffold of] the World

steadfast in a fight; (t-note)

splendid clothes

with [your] retinue
steadfast; strong

know; (t-note)

linen; (see note)
should be upset
dealt with in this manner
head crack

swollen dung beetle; (t-note)

Base rascal; burn; (t-note)
bad luck

yon; escape
think; begin to go mad
sport is ruined
strong blow; (t-note)

Then he will beat him; (t-note)

struck; severe blows
scowl; sigh
shattered; pieces
To; rank; restore
stop; terrible blows
whom; completely lost; (see note)
make come out; sluts
make; voluntarily

Do it then; tear [apart]
a corner of Hell
besiege; quickly

crazy; mad
bitches; wail (stream at the eyes) in their; (see note)
many cruel blows

Quickly; flutter; banner
let us create; disgrace
those bitches’ ruin
virtues; (t-note)
Meekness; bitch
For; bondage
into my power
Yon rascals; their rumps

Shout loudly; yon
with your trumpets

  Tunc Mundus, Cupiditas, et Stulticia ibunt ad castellum cum vexillo et dicet Demon:34



























































































































































































































































































[Scene xvi]
BELYAL I here trumpys trebelen al of tene.
The worthi Werld walkyth to werre
For to clyvyn yone castel clene,
Tho maydnys meyndys for to merre.
Sprede my penon upon a prene
And stryke we forthe now undyr sterre.
Schapyth now youre scheldys schene
Yene skallyd skoutys for to skerre
      Upon yone grene grese.
Buske you now, boyes, belyve.
For evere I stonde in mekyl stryve;
Whyl Mankynd is in clene lyve
      I am nevere wel at ese.

Make you redy, all three,
Bolde batayl for to bede.
To yone feld let us fle
And bere my baner forth on brede.
To yone castel wyl I te;
Tho mamerynge modrys schul have her mede.
But thei yeld up to me,
Wyth byttyr balys thei schul blede,
      Of her reste I schal hem reve.
In woful watyrs I schal hem wasche.
Have don, felaws, and take youre trasche
And wende we thedyr on a rasche
      That castel for to cleve.

SUPERBIA Now, now, now, go now!
On hye hyllus lete us howte
For in pride is al my prow
Thi bold baner to bere abowte.
To Golyas I make a vow
For to schetyn yone iche skowte.
On hyr ars, raggyd and row,
I schal bothe clatyr and clowte
      And geve Meknesse myschanse.
Belyal bryth, it is thyn hest
That I, Pride, goo thee nest
And bere thi baner beforn my brest
      Wyth a comly contenaunce.

[Scene xvii]
CARO I here an hydowse whwtynge on hyt.
Belyve, byd my baner forth for to blase.
Whanne I syt in my sadyl it is a selkowth syt;
I gape as a gogmagog whanne I gynne to gase.
This worthy wylde werld I wagge wyth a wyt;
Yone rappokys I ruble and al to-rase
Bothe wyth schot and wyth slynge I caste wyth a sleyt
Wyth care to yone castel to crachen and to crase
      In flode.
I am mans Flesch; where I go
I am mans most fo;
Iwys, I am evere wo
      Whane he drawyth to goode.

Therfore, ye bolde boyes, buske you abowte.
Scharply on scheldys your schaftys ye schevere.
And Lechery ledron, schete thou a skoute.
Help we Mankynd fro yone castel to kevere.
      Helpe we moun hym wynne.
Schete we all at a schote
Wyth gere that we cunne best note
To cache Mankynd fro yene cote
      Into dedly synne.

GULA Lo, Syr Flesch, whow I fare to the felde,
Wyth a faget on myn hond for to settyn on a fyre.
Wyth a wrethe of the wode wel I can me welde;
Wyth a longe launce tho loselys I schal lere.
      Go we wyth oure gere.
Tho bycchys schul bleykyn and blodyr;
I schal makyn swyche a powdyr,
Bothe wyth smoke and wyth smodyr,
      Thei schul schytyn for fere.

Tunc descendent in placeam.

[Scene xviii]
MALUS ANGELUS Dicet ad Belyal:
As armys! As an herawd hey now I howte!
Devyl, dyth thee as a duke to do tho damyselys dote.35
Belyal, as a bolde boy thi brodde I bere abowte;
Helpe to cache Mankynd fro caytyfys cote.
Pryd, put out thi penon of raggys and of rowte.
Do this modyr Mekenes meltyn to mote.
Wrethe, prefe Paciens, the skallyd skowte.
Envye, to Charyté schape thou a schote
      Ful yare.
Wyth Pryde, Wrethe, and Envye,
These develys, be downys drye,
As comly kynge I dyscrye
      Mankynd to kachyn to care.

Ad Carnem:

Flesche, frele and fresche, frely fed,
Wyth Gloton, Slawthe, and Lechery mans sowle thou slo.
As a duke dowty do thee to be dred.
Gere thee wyth gerys fro toppe to the too.
Kyth this day thou art a kynge frely fedde.
Gloton, sle thou Abstynensce wyth wyckyd woo.
Wyth Chastyté, thou Lechour, be not ovyrledde.
Slawthe, bete thou Besynes on buttokys bloo.
      Do now thi crafte, in coste to be knowe.

Ad Mundum:

Worthy, wytty, and wys, wondyn in wede,
Lete Coveytyse karpyn, cryen, and grede.
Here ben bolde bacheleris batyl to bede,
      Mankynd to tene, as I trowe.

HUMANUM GENUS That dynge duke that deyed on Rode
This day my sowle kepe and safe!
Whanne Mankynd drawyth to goode
Beholde what enmys he schal have!
The Werld, the Devyl, the Flesche arn wode;
To men thei casten a careful kave;
Byttyr balys thei brewyn on brode
Mankynd in wo to weltyr and wave,
      Lordyngys, sothe to sey.
Therfore iche man be war of this,
For whyl Mankynd clene is
Hys enmys schul temptyn hym to don amys
      If thei mown be any wey.

Omne gaudium existimate cum variis temptacionibus insideritis.36

Therfore, lordys, beth now glad
Wyth elmesdede and orysoun
For to don as Oure Lord bad,
Styfly wythstonde youre temptacyoun.
Wyth this foul fende I am ner mad.
To batayle thei buskyn hem bown.
Certys I schuld ben ovyrlad,
But that I am in this castel town,
      Wyth synnys sore and smerte.
Whoso wyl levyn oute of dystresse
And ledyn hys lyf in clennesse
In this Castel of Vertu and of Goodnesse
      Hym muste have holé hys hert.

Delectare in Domino et dabit tibi peticiones cordis tui.37

BONUS ANGELUS A, Mekenesse, Charyté, and Pacyens,
Prymrose pleyeth parlasent.
Chastyté, Besynes, and Abstynens,
Myn hope, ladys, in you is lent.
Socoure, paramourys, swetter thanne sens,
Rode as rose on rys irent.
This day ye dyth a good defens.
Whyl Mankynd is in good entent
      His thoutys arn unhende.
Mankynd is browt into this walle
In freelté to fadyn and falle.
Therfore, ladys, I pray you alle,
      Helpe this day Mankynde.

HUMILITAS God, that syttyth in Hevene on hy,
Save al Mankynd be se and sonde!
Lete hym dwellyn here and ben us by
And we schul puttyn to hym helpynge honde.
Yyt forsothe nevere I sy
That any fawte in us he fonde
But that we savyd hym fro synne sly
If he wolde be us styfly stonde
      In this castel of ston.
Therfore drede thee not, mans aungel dere.
If he wyl dwellyn wyth us here
Fro sevene synnys we schul hym were
      And his enmys ichon.

Now my sevene systerys swete,
This day fallyth on us the lot
Mankynd for to schylde and schete
Fro dedly synne and schamely schot.
Hys enmys strayen in the strete
To spylle man wyth spetows spot.
Therfor oure flourys lete now flete
And kepe we hym, as we have het,
      Among us in this halle.
Therfor, sevene systerys swote,
Lete oure vertus reyne on rote.
This day we wyl be mans bote
      Ageyns these develys alle.

BELYAL This day the vaward wyl I holde.
Avaunt my baner, precyous Pride,
Mankynd to cache to karys colde.
Bold batayl now wyl I byde.
      Buske you, boyes, on brede.
Alle men that be wyth me wytholde,
Bothe the yonge and the olde,
Envye, Wrathe, ye boyes bolde,
      To rounde rappys ye rape, I rede.

SUPERBIA As armys, Mekenes! I brynge thi bane,
Al wyth pride peyntyd and pyth.
What seyst thou, faytour? Be myn fayr fane,
Wyth robys rounde rayed ful ryth,
Grete gounse, I schal thee gane.
To marre thee, Mekenes, wyth my myth,
No werldly wyttys here ar wane.
Lo, thi castel is al beset!
      Moderys, whow schul ye do?
Mekenes, yelde thee to me, I rede.
Myn name in londe is precyous Prede.
Myn bolde baner to thee I bede.
      Modyr, what seyste therto?

HUMILITAS Ageyns thi baner of pride and bost
A baner of meknes and mercy
I putte ageyns pride, wel thou wost,
That schal schende thi careful cry.
This meke kynge is knowyn in every cost
That was croysyd on Calvary.
Whanne he cam doun fro Hevene ost
And lytyd wyth mekenes in Mary,
      This lord thus lytyd lowe.
Whanne he cam fro the Trynyté
Into a mayden lyted he,
And al was for to dystroye thee,
      Pride, this schalt thou knowe.

Deposuit potentes de sede, et cetera.38

For whanne Lucyfer to Helle fyl,
Pride, therof thou were chesun,
And thou, Devyl, wyth wyckyd wyl
In Paradys trappyd us wyth tresun.
So thou us bond in balys ille,
This may I preve be ryth resun,
Tyl this duke that dyed on hylle
In Hevene man myth nevere han sesun;
      The gospel thus declaryt.
For whoso lowe hym schal ben hy,
Therfore thou schalt not comen us ny,
And thou thou be nevere so sly,
      I schal felle al thi fare.

Qui se exaltat humiliabitur, et cetera.39

IRA Dame Pacyens, what seyst thou to Wrathe and Ire?
Putte Mankynd fro thi castel clere,
Or I schal tappyn at thi tyre
Wyth styffe stonys that I have here.
I schal slynge at thee many a vyre
And ben avengyd hastely here.
Thus Belsabub, oure gret syre,
Bad me brenne thee wyth wyld fere,
      Thou bycche, blak as kole.
Therfor fast, fowle skowte,
Putte Mankynd to us owte,
Or of me thou schalt have dowte,
      Thou modyr, thou motyhole!

PACIENCIA Fro thi dowte Crist me schelde
This iche day, and al mankynde!
Thou wrecchyd Wrethe, wood and wylde,
Pacyens schal thee schende.

Quia ira viri justiciam Dei non operatur.40

For Marys sone, meke and mylde,
Rent thee up, rote and rynde,
Whanne he stod meker thanne a chylde
And lete boyes hym betyn and bynde,
      Therfor, wrecche, be stylle.
For tho pelourys that gan hym pose,
He myth a drevyn hem to dros,
And yyt, to casten hym on the Cros,
      He sufferyd al her wylle.

Thowsentys of aungellys he myth han had
To a wrokyn hym ther ful yerne,
And yyt to deyen he was glad
Us pacyens to techyn and lerne.
Therfor, boy, wyth thi boystous blad,
Fare awey be feldys ferne.
For I wyl do as Jhesu bad,
Wrecchys fro my wonys werne
      Wyth a dyngne defens.
If thou fonde to comyn alofte
I schal thee cacche fro this crofte
Wyth these rosys swete and softe,
      Peyntyd wyth pacyens.

INVIDIA Out, myn herte gynnyth to breke,
For Charyté that stondyth so stowte.
Alas, myn herte gynnyth to wreke.
Yelde up this castel, thou hore clowte,
It is myn offyce fowle to speke,
Fals sklaundrys to bere abowte.
Charyté, the Devyl mote thee cheke
But I thee rappe wyth rewly rowte,
      Thi targe for to tere.
Let Mankynde cum to us doun
Or I schal schetyn to this castel town
A ful fowle defamacyoun.
      Therfore this bowe I bere.

CARITAS Thou thou speke wycke and fals fame,
The wers schal I nevere do my dede.
Whoso peyryth falsly anothyr mans name,
Crystys curs he schal have to mede.

Vae homini illi per quem scandalum venit.41

Whoso wyl not hys tunge tame,
Take it sothe as mes-crede,
Wo, wo to hym and mekyl schame!
In holy wrytte this I rede.
      For evere thou art a schrewe.
Thou thou speke evyl, I ne geve a gres;
I schal do nevere the wers.
At the last the sothe vers
      Certys Hymself schal schewe.

Oure lovely Lord wythowtyn lak
Gaf example to charyté,
Whanne he was betyn blo and blak
For trespas that nevere dyd he.
In sory synne had he no tak
And yyt for synne he bled blody ble.
He toke hys Cros upon hys bak,
Synful man, and al for thee.
      Thus he mad defens.
Envye, wyth thi slaundrys thycke,
I am putte at my Lordys prycke;
I wyl do good ageyns the wycke
      And kepe in sylens

BELYAL What, for Belyalys bonys,
Whereabowtyn chyde ye?
Have don, ye boyes, al at onys.
Lasche don these moderys, all three.
Werke wrake to this wonys.
The vaunward is grauntyd me.
Do these moderys to makyn monys.
Youre dowty dedys now lete se.
      Dasche hem al to daggys.
Have do, boyes, blo and blake
Wirke these wenchys wo and wrake.
Claryouns, cryeth up at a krake,
      And blowe your brode baggys!

Tunc pugnabunt diu.

SUPERBIA Out, my proude bak is bent!
Mekenes hath me al forbete.
Pride wyth Mekenes is forschent.
I weyle and wepe wyth wondys wete;
      I am betyn in the hed.
My prowde pride adoun is drevyn;
So scharpely Mekenes hath me schrevyn
That I may no lengyr levyn,
      My lyf is me berevyd.

INVIDIA Al myn enmyté is not worth a fart;
I schyte and schake al in my schete.
Charyté, that sowre swart,
Wyth fayre rosys myn hed gan breke.
      I brede the malaundyr.
Wyth worthi wordys and flourys swete
Charyté makyth me so meke
I dare neythyr crye nore crepe,
      Not a schote of sklaundyr.

IRA I, Wrethe, may syngyn “Weleawo.”
Pacyens me gaf a sory dynt.
I am al betyn blak and blo
Wyth a rose that on Rode was rent.
      My speche is almost spent.
Hyr rosys fel on me so scharpe
That myn hed hangyth as an harpe.
I dar neythyr crye nor carpe,
      Sche is so pacyent.

MALUS ANGELUS Go hens, ye do not worthe a tord.
Foule falle you, alle foure!
Yerne, yerne, let fall on bord,
Syr Flesch, wyth thyn eyn soure.
      For care I cukke and koure.
Syr Flesch, wyth thyn company,
Yerne, yerne, make a cry.
Helpe! we have no velony
      That this day may be oure.

CARO War, war, late mans Flesche go to!
I com wyth a company.
Have do, my chyldryn, now have do,
Glotoun, Slawth, and Lechery.
Iche of you wynnyth a scho.
Lete not Mankynde wynne maystry.
Lete slynge hem in a fowl slo
And fonde to feffe hym wyth foly.
      Dothe now wel youre dede.
Yerne lete se whow ye schul gynne
Mankynde to temptyn to dedly synne.
If ye muste this castelle wynne
      Hell schal be your mede.

GULA War, Syr Gloton schal makyn a smeke
Ageyns this castel, I vowe.
Abstynens, thou thou bleyke,
I loke on thee wyth byttyr browe.
I have a faget in myn necke
To settyn Mankynd on a lowe.
My foul leye schalt thou not let,
I vow to God, as I trowe.
      Therfor putte hym out here.
In meselynge Glotonye,
Wyth goode metys and drynkys trye,
I norche my systyr Lecherye
      Tyl man rennyth on fere.

ABSTINENCIA Thi metys and drynkys arn unthende
Whanne thei are out of mesure take.
Thei makyn men mad and out of mende
And werkyn hem bothe wo and wrake.
That for thi fere thou thou here kyndyl,
Certys I schal thi wele aslake
Wyth bred that browth us out of Hell
And on the Croys sufferyd wrake:
      I mene the sacrament.
That iche blysful bred
That hounge on hyl tyl he was ded
Schal tempere so myn maydynhed
      That thi purpos schal be spent.

In abstynens this bred was browth,
Certys, Mankynde, and al for thee.
Of fourty dayes ete he nowth
And thanne was naylyd to a tre.

Cum jejunasset quadraginta diebus, et cetera.42

Example us was betawth,
In sobyrnesse he bad us be.
Therfor Mankynd schal not be cawth,
Glotony, wyth thy degré
      The sothe thou schalt se.
To norysch fayre thou thou be fawe,
Abstynens it schal wythdrawe
Tyl thou be schet undyr schawe
      And fayn for to fle.

LUXURIA Lo, Chastyté, thou fowle skowte!
This ilke day here thou schalt deye.
I make a fer in mans towte
That launcyth up as any leye.
These cursyd colys I bere abowte
Mankynde in tene for to teye.
Men and wommen hathe no dowte
Wyth pyssynge pokys for to pleye.
      I bynde hem in my bondys.
I have no reste, so I rowe,
Wyth men and wommen, as I trowe,
Tyl I, Lechery, be set on a lowe
      In al Mankyndys londys.

CASTITAS I, Chastyté, have power in this place
Thee, Lechery, to bynd and bete.
Maydyn Marye, well of grace,
Schal quenche that fowle hete.

Mater et Virgo, extingue carnales concupiscentias!

Oure Lord God mad thee no space
Whanne his blod strayed in the strete.
Fro this castel he dyd thee chase
Whanne he was crounyd wyth thornys grete
      And grene.
To drery deth whanne he was dyth
And boyes dyd hym gret dyspyth,
In lechery had he no delyth,
      And that was ryth wel sene.

At Oure Lady I lere my lessun
To have chaste lyf tyl I be ded.
Sche is qwene and beryth the croun,
And al was for hyr maydynhed.
Therfor go fro this castel toun,
Lechery, now I thee rede,
For Mankynd getyst thou nowth doun
To soloyen hym wyth synful sede.
      In care thou woldys hym cast.
And if thou com up to me,
Trewly thou schalt betyn be
Wyth the yerde of Chastyté
      Whyl my lyf may last.

ACCIDIA Ware, war, I delve wyth a spade.
Men calle me the lord Syr Slowe.
Gostly grace I spylle and schade;
Fro the watyr of grace this dyche I fowe.
Ye schulyn com ryth inowe
Be this dyche drye, be bankys brede.
Thyrti thousende that I wel knowe
In my lyf lovely I lede
      That hed levere syttyn at the ale
Thre mens songys to syngyn lowde
Thanne toward the chyrche for to crowde.
Thou, Besynesse, thou bolnyd bowde,
      I brewe to thee thyne bale.

SOLICITUDO A, good men, be war now all
Of Slugge and Slawthe, this fowl thefe!
To the sowle he is byttyrer thanne gall;
Rote he is of mekyl myschefe.
Goddys servyse, that ledyth us to Hevene hall,
This lordeyn for to lettyn us is lefe.
Whoso wyl schryvyn hym of hys synnys all,
He puttyth this brethel to mykyl myschefe,
      Mankynde he that myskaryed.
Men moun don no penauns for hym this,
Nere schryve hem whanne they don amys,
But evyr he wold in synne, iwys,
      That Mankynd were taryed.

Therfor he makyth this dyke drye
To puttyn Mankynde to dystresse.
He makyth dedly synne a redy weye
Into the Castel of Goodnesse.
But wyth tene I schal hym teye,
Thorwe the helpe of Hevene emperesse.
Wyth my bedys he schal abeye,
And othyr ocupacyons more and lesse
      I schal schape hym to schonde,
For whoso wyle Slawth putte doun
Wyth bedys and wyth orysoun
Or sum oneste ocupacyoun,
      As, boke to have in honde.

Nunc lege, nunc ora, nunc disce, nuncque labora.43

CARO Ey, for Belyalys bonys, the kynge,
Whereabowte stonde ye al-day?
Caytyvys, lete be your kakelynge
And rappe at rowtys of aray.
Glotony, thou fowle gadlynge,
Sle Abstynens, if thou may.
Lechery, wyth thi werkynge,
To Chastyté make a wyckyd aray
      A lytyl throwe.
And whyl we fyth
For owre ryth,
In bemys bryth
      Late blastys blowe.

Tunc pugnabunt diu.

GULA Out, Glotoun, adown I dryve.
Abstynens hathe lost my myrth.
Syr Flesch, I schal nevere thryve;
I do not worthe the develys dyrt;
      I may not levyn longe.
I am al betyn, toppe and tayl;
Wyth Abstynens wyl I no more dayl;
I wyl gon cowche qwayl
      At hom in your gonge.

LUXURIA Out on Chastyté, be the Rode!
Sche hathe me dayschyd and so drenchyd.
Yyt have sche the curs of God
For al my fere the qwene hath qwenchyd.
      For ferd I fall and feynt.
In harde ropys mote sche ryde!
Here dare I not longe abyde.
Sumwhere myn hed I wolde hyde
      As an irchoun that were schent.

ACCIDIA Out, I deye! Ley on watyr!
I swone, I swete, I feynt, I drulle!
Yene qwene wyth hyr pytyr-patyr
Hath al to-dayschyd my skallyd skulle.
      It is as softe as wulle.
Or I have here more skathe,
I schal lepe awey, be lurkynge lathe,
There I may my ballokys bathe
      And leykyn at the fulle.

MALUS ANGELUS Ya, the Devyl spede you, al the packe!
For sorwe I morne on the mowle,
I carpe, I crye, I coure, I kacke,
I frete, I fart, I fesyl fowle.
      I loke lyke an howle.

Ad Mundum:

Now, Syr World, whatso it cost,
Helpe now, or this we have lost;
Al oure fare is not worth a thost;
      That makyth me to mowle.

MUNDUS How, Coveytyse! Banyour avaunt!
Here comyth a batayl nobyl and newe;
For syth thou were a lytyl faunt,
Coveytyse, thou hast ben trewe.
Have do that damysel, do hyr dawnt.
Byttyr balys thou hyr brewe.
The medys, boy, I thee graunt,
The galows of Canwyke to hangyn on newe,
      That wolde thee wel befalle.
Have don, Syr Coveytyse.
Wyrke on the best wyse.
Do Mankynde com and aryse
      Fro yone vertuse all.

AVARICIA How, Mankynde! I am atenyde
For thou art there so in that holde.
Cum and speke wyth thi best frende,
Syr Coveytyse, thou knowyst me of olde.
What devyl schalt thou ther lenger lende
Wyth grete penaunce in that castel colde?
Into the werld if thou wylt wende,
Amonge men to bere thee bolde,
      I rede, be Seynt Gyle.
How, Mankynde! I thee sey.
Com to Coveytyse, I thee prey.
We to schul togedyr pley,
      If thou wylt, a whyle.

LARGITAS A, God helpe! I am dysmayed,
I curse thee, Coveytyse, as I can;
For certys, treytour, thou hast betrayed
Nerhand now iche erthely man.
So myche were men nevere afrayed
Wyth Coveytyse, syn the werld began.
God almythy is not payed.
Syn thou, fende, bare the Werldys bane,
      Ful wyde thou gynnyst wende.
Now arn men waxyn ner woode;
They wolde gon to Helle for werldys goode.
That Lord that restyd on the Rode
      Is maker of an ende.

Maledicti sunt avariciosi hujus temporis.

Ther is no dysese nor debate
Thorwe this wyde werld so rounde,
Tyde nor tyme, erly nor late,
But that Coveytyse is the grounde.
Thou norchyst pride, envye, and hate,
Thou Coveytyse, thou cursyd hounde.
Criste thee schelde fro oure gate
And kepe us fro thee saf and sounde
      That thou no good here wynne!
Swete Jhesu, jentyl justyce,
Kepe Mankynde fro Coveytyse,
For iwys he is, in al wyse,
      Rote of sorwe and synne.

AVARICIA What eylyth thee, Lady Largyté,
Damysel dyngne upon thi des?
And I spak ryth not to thee,
Therfore I prey thee holde thi pes.
How, Mankynde! cum speke wyth me,
Cum ley thi love here in my les.
Coveytyse is a frend ryth fre,
Thi sorwe, man, to slake and ses.
      Coveytyse hathe many a gyfte.
Mankynd, thyne hande hedyr thou reche.
Coveytyse schal be thi leche.
The ryth wey I schal thee teche
      To thedom and to thryfte.

HUMANUM GENUS Coveytyse, whedyr schuld I wende?
What wey woldyst that I sulde holde?
To what place woldyst thou me sende?
I gynne to waxyn hory and olde.
My bake gynnyth to bowe and bende,
I crulle and crepe and wax al colde.
Age makyth man ful unthende,
Body and bonys and al unwolde;
      My bonys are febyl and sore.
I am arayed in a sloppe,
As a yonge man I may not hoppe,
My nose is colde and gynnyth to droppe,
      Myn her waxit al hore.

AVARICIA Petyr! thou hast the more nede
To have sum good in thyn age;
Markys, poundys, londys and lede,
Howsys and homys, castell and cage.
Therfor do as I thee rede;
To Coveytyse cast thi parage.
Cum, and I schal thyne erdyn bede;
The worthi Werld schal geve thee wage,
      Certys not a lyth.
Com on, olde man, it is no reprefe
That Coveytyse be thee lefe.
If thou deye at any myschefe
      It is thiselfe to wyth.

HUMANUM GENUS Nay, nay, these ladys of goodnesse
Wyl not lete me fare amys,
And thou I be a whyle in dystresse,
Whanne I deye I schal to blysse.
It is but foly, as I gesse,
Al this werldys wele iwys.
These lovely ladys, more and lesse,
In wyse wordys thei telle me thys.
      Thus seyth the Bok of Kendys.
I wyl not do these ladys dyspyt
To forsakyn hem for so lyt.
To dwellyn here is my delyt;
      Here arn my best frendys.

AVARICIA Ya, up and don thou take the wey
Thorwe this werld to walkyn and wende
And thou schalt fynde, soth to sey,
Thi purs schal be thi best frende.
Thou thou syt al-day and prey,
No man schal com to thee nor sende,
But if thou have a peny to pey,
Men schul to thee thanne lystyn and lende
      And kelyn al thi care.
Therfore to me thou hange and helde
And be coveytous whylys thou may thee welde.
If thou be pore and nedy in elde
      Thou schalt oftyn evyl fare.

HUMANUM GENUS Coveytyse, thou seyst a good skyl.
So grete God me avaunce,
Al thi byddynge don I wyl.
I forsake the Castel of Perseveraunce.
In Coveytyse I wyl me hyle
For to gete sum sustynaunce.
Aforn mele men mete schul tyle;
It is good for al chaunce
      Sum good owhere to hyde.
Certys this ye wel knowe,
It is good, whouso the wynde blowe,
A man to have sumwhat of hys owe,
      What happe so-evere betyde.

BONUS ANGELUS A, ladyse, I prey you of grace,
Helpyth to kepe here Mankynne.
He wyl forsake this precyous place
And drawe ageyn to dedly synne.
Helpe, ladys, lovely in lace.
He goth fro this worthi wonnynge.
Covetyse awey ye chace
And schyttyth Mankynd sumwhere here-inne,
      In youre worthi wyse.
Ow, wrechyd man, thou schalt be wroth,
That synne schal be thee ful loth.
A, swete ladys, helpe, he goth
      Awey wyth Coveytyse.

Tunc descendit ad Avariciam.

HUMILITAS Good Aungyl, what may I do therto?
Hymselfe may hys sowle spylle.
Mankynd to don what he wyl do,
God hath govyn hym a fre wylle.
Thou he drenche and hys sowle slo,
Certys we may not do theretylle.
Syn he cam this castel to,
We dyd to hym that us befelle
      And now he hath us refusyd.
As longe as he was wythinne this castel walle,
We kepte hym fro synne, ye sawe wel alle;
And now he wyl ageyn to synne falle,
      I preye you holde us excusyd.

PACIENCIA Resun wyl excusyn us alle.
He helde the ex be the helve.
Thou he wyl to foly falle,
It is to wytyn but hymselve.
Whyl he held hym in this halle,
Fro dedly synne we dyd hym schelve.
He brewyth hymselfe a byttyr galle;
In dethys dynt whanne he schal delve
      This game he schal begrete.
He is endewyd wyth wyttys fyve
For to rewlyn hym in hys lyve.
We vertuse wyl not wyth hym stryve:
      Avyse hym and hys dede.

CARITAS Of hys dede have we nowt to done;
He wyl no lenger wyth us be lad.
Whanne he askyd out, we herd hys bone,
And of hys presens we were ryth glad.
But, as thou seste, he hath forsakyn us sone;
He wyl not don as Crist hym bad.
Mary, thi Sone abovyn the mone
As make Mankynd trewe and sad,
      In grace for to gon.
For if he wyl to foly flyt,
We may hym not wythsyt.
He is of age and can hys wyt,
      Ye knowe wel everychon.

ABSTINENCIA Ichon ye knowyn he is a fole,
In Coveytyse to dyth hys dede.
Werldys wele is lyke a thre-fotyd stole,
It faylyt a man at hys most nede.

Mundus transit et concupiscencia ejus.44

Whanne he is dyth in dedys dole,
The ryth regystre I schal hym rede;
He schal be tore wyth teneful tole;
Whanne he schal brenne on glemys glede
      He schal lere a new lawe.
Be he nevere so ryche of werldys wone,
Hys seketouris schul makyn her mone:
“Make us mery and lete hym gone!
      He was a good felawe.”

CASTITAS Whanne he is ded her sorwe is lest.
The ton sekatour seyth to the tothyr:
“Make we mery and a ryche fest
And lete hym lyn in dedys fodyr.”

Et sic relinquent alienis divicias suas.45

So hys part schal be the lest;
The systyr servyt thus the brothyr.
I lete a man no betyr thanne a best,
For no man can be war be othyr
      Tyl he hathe al ful spunne.
Thou schalt se that day, man, that a bede
Schal stonde thee more in stede
Thanne al the good that thou mytyst gete,
      Certys, undyr sunne.

SOLICITUDO Mankynde, of on thynge have I wondyr:
That thou takyst not into thyn mende,
Whanne body and sowle schul partyn on sundyr
No werldys good schal wyth thee wende.

Non descendet cum illo gloria ejus.46

Whanne thou art ded and in the erthe leyd undyr
Mysgotyn good thee schal schende;
It schal thee weyen as peys in pundyr
Thi sely sowle to bryngyn in bende
      And make it ful unthende.
And yyt Mankynd, as it is sene,
Wyth Coveytyse goth on this grene.
The treytor doth us al this tene
      Aftyr hys lyvys ende.

LARGITAS Out, I crye, and nothynge lowe,
On Coveytyse, as I wel may.
Mankynd seyth he hath nevere inowe
Tyl hys mowthe be ful of clay.

Avarus numquam replebitur pecunia.47

Whanne he is closyd in dethis dow
What helpyt ryches or gret aray?
It flyet awey as any snow
Anon aftyr thye endynge day,
      To wylde werldys wyse.
Now good men alle that here be,
Have my systerys excusyd and me,
Thou Mankynde fro this castel fle.
      Wyte it Coveytyse.

MALUS ANGELUS Ya, go forthe and lete the qwenys cakle!
Ther wymmen arn, are many wordys.
Lete hem gon hoppyn wyth her hakle!
Ther ges syttyn are many tordys.
Wyth Coveytyse thou renne on rakle
And hange thyne hert upon hys hordys.
Thou schalt be schakyn in myn schakle;
Unbynde thi baggys on hys bordys,
      On hys benchys above.
Pardé, thou gost owt of Mankynde
But Coveytyse be in thi mende.
If evere thou thynke to be thende,
      On hym thou ley thi love.

HUMANUM GENUS Nedys my love muste on hym lende,
Wyth Coveytyse to waltyr and wave.
I knowe non of al my kynde
That he ne coveytyth for to have.
Penyman is mekyl in mynde;
My love in hym I leye and lave.
Where that evere I walke or wende
In wele and woo he wyl me have;
      He is gret of grace.
Whereso I walke in londe or lede
Penyman best may spede;
He is a duke to don a dede
      Now in every place.

BONUS ANGELUS Alas, that evere Mankynde was born!
On Coveytyse is al hys lust.
Nyth and day, mydnyth and morn,
In Penyman is al hys trust.
Coveytyse schal makyn hym lorn
Whanne he is dolven al to dust;
To mekyl schame he schal be schorn,
Wyth foule fendys to roten and rust.
      Alas, what schal I do?
Alas, alas, so may I say.
Man goth wyth Coveytyse away.
Have me excusyd, for I ne may
      Trewly not do therto.

MUNDUS A, a, this game goth as I wolde.
Mankynde wyl nevere the Werld forsake.
Tyl he be ded and undyr molde
Holy to me he wyl hym take.
To Coveytyse he hath hym yolde;
Wyth my wele he wyl awake;
For a thousende pounde I nolde
But Coveytyse were Mans make,
      Certys on every wyse.
All these gamys he schal bewayle,
For I, the Werld, am of this entayle,
In hys moste nede I schal hym fayle,
      And al for Coveytyse.

[Scene xix]
AVARICIA Now, Mankynd, be war of this:
Thou art a-party wele in age.
I wolde not thou ferdyst amys;
Go we now knowe my castel cage.
In this bowre I schal thee blys;
Worldly wele schal be thi wage;
More mucke thanne is thyne, iwys,
Take thou in this trost terage
      And loke that thou do wronge.
Coveytyse, it is no sore,
He wyl thee feffen ful of store,
And alwey, alwey sey “More and more,”
      And that schal be thi songe.

HUMANUM GENUS A, Coveytyse, have thou good grace!
Certys thou beryst a trewe tonge.
“More and more,” in many a place,
Certys that songe is oftyn songe.
I wyste nevere man, be bankys bace,
So seyn, in cley tyl he were clonge:
“Inow, inow” hadde nevere space,
That ful songe was nevere songe,
      Nor I wyl not begynne.
Goode Coveytyse, I thee prey
That I myth wyth thee pley.
Geve me good inow, or that I dey,
      To wonne in werldys wynne.

AVARICIA Have here, Mankynd, a thousend marke.
I, Coveytyse, have thee this gote.
Thou mayst purchase therwyth bothe ponde and parke
And do therwyth mekyl note.
Lene no man hereof, for no karke,
Thou he schulde hange be the throte,
Monke nor frere, prest nor clerke,
Ne helpe therwyth chyrche nor cote,
      Tyl deth thi body delve.
Thou he schuld sterve in a cave,
Lete no pore man therof have.
In grene gres tyl thou be grave
      Kepe sumwhat fore thiselve.

HUMANUM GENUS I vow to God, it is gret husbondry.
Of thee I take these noblys rownde.
I schal me rapyn, and that in hye,
To hyde this gold undyr the grownde.
Ther schal it ly tyl that I dye,
It may be kepte ther save and sownde.
Thou my neybore schuld be hangyn hye,
Therof getyth he neythyr peny nor pownde.
      Yyt am I not wel at ese.
Now wolde I have castel wallys,
Stronge stedys and styf in stallys.
Wyth hey holtys and hey hallys,
      Coveytyse, thou muste me sese.

AVARICIA Al schalt thou have al redy, lo,
At thyn owyn dysposycyoun.
Al this good take thee to,
Clyffe and cost, toure and toun.
Thus hast thou gotyn in synful slo
Of thyne neyborys be extorcyoun.
“More and more” sey yyt, have do,
Tyl thou be ded and drepyn dounn;
      Werke on wyth werldys wrenchys.
“More and more” sey yyt, I rede,
To more thanne inow thou hast nede.
Al this werld, bothe lenthe and brede,
      Thi coveytyse may not qwenche.

HUMANUM GENUS Qwenche nevere no man may;
Me thynkyth nevere I have inow.
Ther ne is werldys wele, nyth nor day,
But that me thynkyth it is too slow.
“More and more” yit I say
And schal evere whyl I may blow;
On Coveytyse is al my lay
And schal tyl deth me ovyrthrow.
      “More and more,” this is my stevene.
If I myth alwey dwellyn in prosperyté,
Lord God, thane wel were me.
I wolde, the medys, forsake thee
      And nevere to comyn in Hevene.

[Scene xx]
MORS Ow, now it is tyme hye
To castyn Mankynd to Dethys dynt.
In all hys werkys he is unslye;
Mekyl of hys lyf he hath myspent.
To Mankynd I ney ny,
Wyth rewly rappys he schal be rent.
Whanne I com iche man drede forthi,
But yyt is ther no geyn-went,
      Hey hyl, holte, nyn hethe.
Ye schul me drede everychone;
Whanne I come ye schul grone;
My name in londe is lefte alone:
      I hatte drery Dethe.

Drery is my deth-drawth;
Ageyns me may no man stonde.
I durke and downbrynge to nowth
Lordys and ladys in every londe.
Whomso I have a lessun tawth,
Onethys sythen schal he mowe stonde;
In my carful clothys he schal be cawth,
Ryche, pore, fre and bonde;
      Whanne I come thei goo no more.
Whereso I wende in any lede,
Every man of me hat drede.
Lette I wyl for no mede
      To smyte sadde and sore.

Dyngne dukys arn adred
Whanne my blastys arn on hem blowe.
Lordys in londe arn ovyrled;
Wyth this launce I leye hem lowe.
Kyngys kene and knytys kyd,
I do hem delvyn in a throwe,
In banke I buske hem a bed,
Sad sorwe to hem I sowe,
      I tene hem, as I trowe.
As kene koltys thow they kynse,
Ageyns me is no defens.
In the grete pestelens
      Thanne was I wel knowe.

But now almost I am forgete;
Men of Deth holde no tale
In coveytyse her good they gete;
The grete fyschys ete the smale.
But whanne I dele my derne dette
Tho prowde men I schal avale.
Hem schal helpyn nothyr mel or
Tyl they be drewyn to dethys dale;
      My lawe thei schul lerne.
Ther ne is peny nor pownde
That any of you schal save sownde.
Tyl ye be gravyn undyr grownde
      Ther may no man me werne.

To Mankynde now wyl I reche;
He hathe holé hys hert on Coveytyse.
A newe lessun I wyl hym teche
That he schal bothe grwcchyn and gryse.
No lyf in londe schal ben hys leche;
I schal hym prove of myn empryse;
Wyth this poynt I schal hym broche
And wappyn hym in a woful wyse.
      Nobody schal ben hys bote.
I schal thee schapyn a schenful schappe.
Now I kylle thee wyth myn knappe!
I reche to thee, Mankynd, a rappe
      To thyne herte rote.

HUMANUM GENUS A, Deth, Deth! Drye is thi dryfte.
Ded is my desteny.
Myn hed is clevyn al in a clyfte;
For clappe of care now I crye;
Myn eyeledys may I not lyfte;
Myn braynys waxyn al emptye;
I may not onys myn hod up schyfte;
Wyth Dethys dynt now I dey!
      Syr Werld, I am hent.
Werld, Werld, have me in mende!
Goode Syr Werld, helpe now Mankend!
But thou me helpe, Deth schal me schende.
      He hath dyth to me a dynt.

Werld, my wyt waxyt wronge;
I chaunge bothe hyde and hewe;
Myn eyeledys waxyn al outewronge;
But thou me helpe, sore it schal me rewe.
Now holde that thou haste behete me longe,
For all felachepys olde and newe,
Lesse me of my peynys stronge.
Sum bote of bale thou me brewe
      That I may of thee yelpe.
Werld, for olde aqweyntawns,
Helpe me fro this sory chawns.
Dethe hathe lacchyd me wyth hys launce.
      I deye but thou me helpe.

MUNDUS Owe, Mankynd, hathe Dethe wyth thee spoke?
Ageyns hym helpyth no wage.
I wolde thou were in the erthe beloke
And anothyr hadde thyne erytage.
Oure bonde of love schal sone be broke;
In colde clay schal be thy cage;
Now schal the Werld on thee be wroke
For thou hast don so gret outrage.
      Thi good thou schalt forgoo.
Werldys good thou hast forgon
And wyth tottys thou schalt be torn.
Thus have I servyd here-beforn
      A hundryd thousend moo.

HUMANUM GENUS Ow, Werld, Werld, evere worthe wo!
And thou, synful Coveytyse!
Whanne that a man schal fro you go
Ye werke wyth hym on a wondyr wyse.
The wytte of this werld is sorwe and wo.
Be ware, good men, of this gyse!
Thus hathe he servyd many on mo.
In sorwe slakyth al hys asyse;
      He beryth a tenynge tungge.
Whyl I leyd wyth hym my lott
Ye seyn whow fayre he me behott;
And now he wolde I were a clott
      In colde cley for to clynge.

MUNDUS How, boy, aryse! now thou muste wende
On myn erdyn, be steppe and stalle.
Go brewe Mankynd a byttyr bende
And putte hym oute of hys halle.
Lete hym therinne no lenger lende.
Forbrostyn, I trowe, be hys galle
For thou art not of hys kende.
All hys erytage wyl thee wele befalle.
      Thus faryth myn fayre feres.
Oftyn tyme I have you told,
Tho men that ye arn to lest behold
Comynly schal youre wonnynge wold
      And ben youre next eyrys.

GARCIO Werld worthy, in wedys wounde,
I thanke thee for thi grete gyfte.
I go glad upon this grounde
To put Mankynde out of hys thryfte.
I trowe he stynkyth this ilke stounde.
Into a lake I schal hym lyfte.
Hys parkys, placys, and penys rounde,
Wyth me schul dryven in this dryfte
      In baggys as thei ben bownde.
For I thynke for to dele,
I vow to God, neythyr corn nore mele.
If he have a schete he beryth hym wele
      Whereinne he may be wounde.

Tunc iet ad Humanum Genus.

Whou faryst, Mankynde? Art thou ded?
Be Goddys body, so I wene.
He is hevyer thanne any led.
I wold he were gravyn undyr grene.

HUMANUM GENUS Abyde, I breyd uppe wyth myn hed.
What art thou? What woldyst thou mene?
Wheydyr comyst thou for good or qwed?
Wyth peynys prycke thou dost me tene,
      The sothe for to sey.
Telle me now, so God thee save,
Fro whom comyst thou, good knave?
What dost thou here? what woldyst thou have?
      Telle me or I deye.

GARCIO I am com to have al that thou hast,
Ponndys, parkys, and every place.
Al that thou hast gotyn fyrst and last,
The Werld hathe grauntyd it me of hys grace
      For I have ben hys page.
He wot wel thou schalt be ded,
Nevermore to ete bred;
Therfore he hath for thee red
      Who schal have thyne erytage.

HUMANUM GENUS What devyl! Thou art not of my kyn!
Thou dedyst me nevere no maner good.
I hadde lever sum nyfte or sum cosyn
Or sum man hadde it of my blod.
      In sum stede I wold it stod.
Now schal I in a dale be delve
And have no good therof myselve.
Be God and be hys apostelys twelve,
      I trowe the Weerld be wod.

GARCIO Ya, ya, thi parte schal be the leste.
Deye on, for I am maystyr here.
I schal thee makyn a nobyl feste
And thanne have I do myn devere.
The Werld bad me this gold areste,
Holt and hallys and castell clere.
The Werldys joye and hys jentyl jeste
Is now thyne, now myn, bothe fere and nere.
      Go hens, for this is myne.
Syn thou art ded and browth of dawe,
Of thi deth, syr, I am ryth fawe.
Thou thou knowe not the Werldys lawe,
      He hath gove me al that was thyne.

HUMANUM GENUS I preye thee now, syn thou this good schalt gete,
Telle thi name or that I goo.

GARCIO Loke that thou it not forgete:
My name is I-Wot-Nevere-Whoo.

HUMANUM GENUS I-Wot-Nevere-Who! so welaway!
Now am I sory of my lyf.
I have purchasyd many a day
Londys and rentys wyth mekyl stryf.
I have purchasyd holt and hay,
Parkys and ponndys and bowrys blyfe,
Goode gardeynys wyth gryffys gay,
To myne chyldyr and to myn wyfe
      In dethe whanne I were dyth.
Of my purchas I may be wo,
For, as I thout, it is not so,
But a gedelynge I-Wot-Nevere-Who
      Hath al that the Werld me behyth.

Now, alas, my lyf is lak.
Bittyr balys I gynne to brewe.
Certis, a vers that David spak
In the sawter I fynde it trewe:

Thesaurizat, et ignorat cui congregabit ea.48

Tresor, tresor, it hathe no tak;
It is othyr mens, olde and newe.
Ow, ow, my good gothe al to wrak!
Sore may Mankynd rewe.
      God kepe me fro dyspayr!
Al my good, wythout fayle,
I have gadryd wyth gret travayle,
The Werld hathe ordeynyd of hys entayle
      I-Wot-Nevere-Who to be myn eyr.

Now, good men, takythe example at me.
Do for youreself whyl ye han spase.
For many men thus servyd be
Thorwe the werld in dyverse place.
I bolne and bleyke in blody ble
And as a flour fadyth my face.
To Helle I schal bothe fare and fle
But God me graunte of hys grace.
      I deye certeynly.
Now my lyfe I have lore.
Myn hert brekyth, I syhe sore.
A word may I speke, no more.
      I putte me in Goddys mercy.

[Scene xxi]
ANIMA “Mercy,” this was my last tale
That evere my body was abowth.
But Mercy helpe me in this vale,
Of dampnynge drynke sore I me doute.
Body, thou dedyst brew a byttyr bale
To thi lustys whanne gannyst loute.
Thi sely sowle schal ben akale;
I beye thi dedys wyth rewly rowte,
      And al it is for gyle.
Evere thou hast be coveytows
Falsly to getyn londe and hows.
To me thou hast browyn a byttyr jows.
      So welaway the whyle!

Now, swet aungel, what is thi red?
The ryth red thou me reche.
Now my body is dressyd to ded
Helpe now me and be my leche.
Dyth thou me fro develys drede.
Thy worthy weye thou me teche.
I hope that God wyl helpyn and be myn hed
For “mercy” was my laste speche;
      Thus made my body hys ende.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

[MALUS ANGELUS] Wyttnesse of all that ben abowte,
Syr Coveytyse he had hym owte.
Therfor he schal, wythoutyn dowte,
      Wyth me to Helle pytt.

BONUS ANGELUS Ye, alas, and welawo!
Ageyns Coveytyse can I not telle.
Resun wyl I fro thee goo,
For, wrechyd Sowle, thou muste to Helle.
Coveytyse, he was thi fo;
He hathe thee schapyn a schameful schelle;
Thus hathe he servyd many on mo
Tyl thei be dyth to dethys delle,
      To byttyr balys bowre.
Thou muste to peyne, be ryth resun,
Wyth Coveytyse, for he is chesun.
Thou art trappyd ful of tresun
      But Mercy be thi socowre.

For ryth wel this founde I have
Ageyns Rythwysnesse may I not holde.
Thou muste wyth hym to careful cave
For grete skyllys that he hathe tolde.
Fro thee awey I wandyr and wave;
For thee I clynge in carys colde.
Alone now I thee lave
Whylyst thou fallyst in fendys folde,
      In Helle to hyde and hylle.
Rytwysnesse wyl that thou wende
Forthe awey wyth the fende.
But Mercy wyl to thee sende,
      Of thee I can no skylle.

ANIMA Alas, Mercy, thou art too longe!
Of sadde sorwe now may I synge.
Holy wryt it is ful wronge
But Mercy pase alle thynge.
I am ordeynyd to peynys stronge,
In wo is dressyd myn wonnynge,
In Helle on hokys I schal honge,
But mercy fro a welle sprynge.
      This devyl wyl have me away.
Weleaway! I was ful wod
That I forsoke myn Aungyl Good
And wyth Coveytyse stod
      Tyl that day that I schuld dey.

MALUS ANGELUS Ya, why woldyst thou be coveytous
And drawe thee agayn to synne?
I schal thee brewe a byttyr jous;
In bolnynnge bondys thou schalt brenne.
In hye Helle schal be thyn hous,
In pycke and ter to grone and grenne;
Thou schalt lye drenkelyd as a mous;
Ther may no man therfro thee werne
      For that ilke wyll.
That day the ladys thou forsoke
And to my counsel thou thee toke,
Thou were betyr anhangyn on hoke
      Upon a jebet hyll.

Farter fowle, thou schalt be frayed
Tyl thou be frettyd and al forbled.
Foule mote thou be dysmayed
That thou schalt thus ben ovyrled.
For Coveytyse thou hast asayed
In byttyr balys thou schalt be bred.
Al mankynd may be wel payed
Whou Coveytyse makyth thee adred.
      Wyth rappys I thee rynge.
We schul to Hell, bothe to,
And bey in Inferno.
Nulla est redempcio.
      For no kynnys thynge.

Now dagge we hens a dogge trot.
In my dongion I schal thee dere.
On thee is many a synful spot;
Therfore this schame I schal thee schere
      Whanne thou comyst to my neste.
Why woldyst thou, schrewe schalt nevere thé,
But in thi lyve don aftyr me?
And thi Good Aungyl tawth thee
      Alwey to the beste,

Ya, but thou woldyst hym not leve.
To Coveytyse alwey thou drow.
Therfore schalt thou evyl preve;
That foul synne thi soule slow.
I schal fonde thee to greve
And putte thee in peynys plow.
Have this, and evyl mote thou scheve,
For thou seydyst nevere “inow, inow.”
      Thus lacche I thee thus lowe.
Thow thou kewe as a kat,
For thi coveytyse have thou that!
I schal thee bunche wyth my bat
      And rouge thee on a rowe.

Lo, synful tydynge,
Boy, on thi bak I brynge.
Spedely thou sprynge.
Thi “Placebo” I schal synge.
To devylys delle
I schal thee bere to Helle.
I wyl not dwelle.
Have good day! I goo to Helle.

[Scene xxii]
MISERICORDIA A mone I herd of mercy meve
And to me, Mercy, gan crye and call;
But if it have mercy, sore it schal me greve,
For ell it schal to Hell fall.
Rythwysnes, my systyr cheve,
Thys ye herde; so dyde we all.
For we were mad frendys leve
Whanne the Jewys proferyd Criste eysyl and gall
      On the Good Fryday.
God grauntyd that remission,
Mercy, and absolicion,
Thorwe vertu of hys passion,
      To no man schuld be seyd nay.

Therfore, my systyr Rytwysnes,
Pes, and Trewth, to you I tell,
Whanne man crieth mercy, and wyl not ses,
Mercy schal be hys waschynge-well:
      Wytnesse of Holy Kyrke.
For the leste drope of blode
That God bledde on the Rode
It hadde ben satysfaccion goode
      For al Mankyndys werke.

JUSTICIA Systyr, ye sey me a good skyl,
That mercy pasyt mannys mysdede.
But take mercy whoso wyl
He muste it aske wyth love and drede;
And everyman that wyl fulfyll
The dedly synnys and folw mysdede,
To graunte hem mercy me thynkyth it no skyl;
And therfore, systyr, you I rede
      Lete hym abye hys mysdede.
For thou he lye in Hell and stynke,
It schal me nevere ovyrthynke.
As he hath browyn, lete hym drynke;
      The Devyl schal quyte hym hys mede.

Unusquisque suum honus portabit.

Trowe ye that whanne a man schal deye,
Thanne thow that he mercy crave,
That anon he schal have mercye?
Nay, nay, so Crist me save!

Non omne qui dicit “Domine, Domine” intrabit regnum celorum.49

For schuld no man do no good
All the dayes of hys lyve
But hope of mercy be the Rode
Schulde make bothe werre and stryve
      And torne to gret grewaunse.
Whoso in hope dothe any dedly synne
To hys lyvys ende, and wyl not blynne,
Rytfully thanne schal he wynne
      Crystis gret vengaunse.

VERITAS Rytwysnes, my systyr fre,
Your jugement is good and trewe.
In good feyth so thynkyth me;
Late hym hys owyn dedys rewe.
I am Veritas and trew wyl be
In word and werke to olde and newe.
Was nevere man in fawte of me
Dampnyd nor savyd, but it were dew.
      I am evere at mans ende.
Whanne body and sowle partyn atwynne,
Thanne wey I hys goode dedys and hys synne,
And weydyr of hem be more or mynne
      He schal it ryth sone fynde.

For I am Trewthe and trewthe wyl bere,
As grete God hymself us byd.
Ther schal nothynge the sowle dere
But synne that the body dyd.
Syth that he deyed in that coveytous synne,
I, Trewthe, wyl that he goo to pyne.
Of that synne cowde he not blynne;
Therfore he schal hys sowle tyne
      To the pytte of Hell.
Ellys schuld we, bothe Trewthe and Rytwysnes,
Be put to ovyrmekyl dystresse
And every man schul be the wers
      That therof myth here tell.

PAX Pes, my systyr Verité!
I preye you, Rytwysnes, be stylle!
Lete no man be you dampnyd be
Nor deme ye no man to Helle.
He is on kyn tyl us thre,
Thow he have now not al hys wylle.
For hys love that deyed on Tre,
Late save Mankynd fro al peryle
      And schelde hym fro myschaunsse
If ye tweyne putte hym to dystresse
It schuld make gret hevynesse
Betwene us tweyne, Mercy and Pes,
And that were gret grevaunce.

Rytwysnes and Trewthe, do be my red,
And Mercy, go we to yone hey place.
We schal enforme the hey Godhed
And pray hym to deme this case.
Ye schal tell hym youre entent
Of Trewthe and of Rytwysnesse,
And we schal pray that hys jugement
May pase be us, Mercy and Pes.
      All foure, now go we hens
Wytly to the Trinité
And ther schal we sone se
What that hys jugement schal be,
Wythoutyn any deffens.

Tunc ascendent ad Patrem omnes pariter et dicet Veritas:50

[Scene xxiii]
VERITAS Heyl, God almyth!
We cum, thi dowterys in syth,
Trewth, Mercy, and Ryth,
And Pes, pesyble in fyth.

MISERICORDIA We cum to preve
If Man, that was thee ful leve,
If he schal cheve
To Hell or Hevene, be thi leve.

JUSTICIA I, Rytwysnes,
Thi dowtyr as I ges,
Late me, neverthelesse,
At thi dom putte me in pres.

PAX Pesyble kynge,
I, Pes, thi dowtyr yynge,
Here my preyinge
Whanne I pray thee, Lord, of a thynge.

DEUS Welcum in fere,
Bryther thanne blossum on brere!
My dowterys dere,
Cum forth and stand ye me nere.

VERITAS Lord, as thou art Kyng of kyngys, crownyd wyth crowne,
As thou lovyste me, Trewthe, thi dowtyr dere,
Lete nevere me, Trewthe, to fall adowne,
My feythful Fadyr, saunz pere!

Quoniam veritatem dilexisti.

For in all trewthe standyth thi renowne,
Thi feyth, thi hope, and thi powere,
Lete it be sene, Lord, now at thi dome,
That I may have my trewe prayere
      To do trewthe to Mankynd.
For if Mankynd be dempte be ryth
And not be mercy, most of myth,
Her my trewthe, Lord, I thee plyth,
      In presun man schal be pynyd.

Lord, whow schuld Mankynd be savyd,
Syn he dyed in dedly synne
And all thi comaundementys he depravyd
And of fals covetyse he wolde nevere blynne?

Aurum sitisti, aurum bibisti.

The more he hadde, the more he cravyd,
Whyl the lyf lefte hym wythinne.
But he be dampnyd I am abavyd
That Trewthe schuld com of Rytwys kynne,
      And I am thi dowtyr Trewthe.
Thou he cried mercy, moriendo,
Nimis tarde penitendo,
Talem mortem reprehendo.51
      Lete hym drynke as he brewyth!

Late repentaunce if man save scholde,
Wheythyr he wrouth wel or wyckydnesse,
Thanne every man wold be bolde
To trespas in trost of forgevenesse.
For synne in hope is dampnyd, I holde;
Forgevyn is nevere hys trespase.
He synnyth in the Holy Gost manyfolde.
That synne, Lord, thou wylt not reles
      In this werld nor in the tothyr.
Quia veritas manet in eternum,
Tendit homo ad infernum,
Nunquam venit ad supernum,52
      Thou he were my brothyr.

For man on molde halt welthe and wele,
Lust-and-lykynge in al hys lyfe,
Techynge, prechynge, in every sele,
But he forgetyth the Lord belyve.
Hye of hert, happe and hele,
Gold and sylvyr, chyld and wyf,
Denteth drynke at mete and mele,
Unnethe thee to thanke he can not kyth
      In any maner thynge.
Whanne mans welthe gynnyth awake
Ful sone, Lord, thou art forsake.
As he hathe browne and bake,
      Trewthe wyl that he drynke.

For if Man have mercy and grace
Thanne I, thi dowtyr Sothfastnesse,
At thi dom schal have no place
But be putte abak be wronge dures.
Lord, lete me nevere fle thi fayr face
To make my power any lesse!
I pray thee, Lord, as I have space,
Late Mankynd have dew dystresse
      In Helle fere to be brent.
In peyne loke he be stylle,
Lord, if it be thi wylle,
Or ell I have no skylle
      Be thi trew jugement.

hear trumpets proclaim; wrath
goes; war
split; entirely
Those; intentions; destroy
banner; spike
Prepare; shining shields
Yon scurvy sluts to scare
Prepare yourselves; quickly
great anxiety
a virtuous life


far and wide
chattering women; reward
torments; bleed
their; despoil
Go to it; course
go; quickly

high; shout

Goliath; (see note)
shoot each of yon sluts
In her; rough
clatter; strike
Meekness bad luck
bright; command
next to you


hear a hideous hooting of loud voices
Quickly, shine
splendid sight; (t-note)
giant; begin to stare; (see note)
move; weight
rascals; crush; demolish
sorrow; crack; shatter
Into the river

greatest foe
Truly; woeful

get ready
shields; spears; break
rogue, shoot; slut
must regain him
Shoot we together
equipment; can best use
chase; yon dwelling; (t-note)

how; go
twist; acquit myself well
rascals I shall teach [a lesson]
bitches; turn pale; blubber
shit out of fear

Then they descend into the place

Says to the Devil
To; Like a herald loudly; shout; (t-note)
chase; the villains’ dwelling
banner; rags; riot
Make; bitch Meekness melt to a speck
take on; scurvy slut
on; prepare an attack
barren hills
noble; see
[we will] drive; (t-note)

[He speaks] to Flesh

frail; lavishly
brave make yourself feared
Equip yourself; toe
Show; lavishly

By; oppressed
Industry; blue
skill, its value known

[He speaks] to the World

dressed in garments
Greed shout, yell; call
are; soldiers; offer
injure; believe

worthy man; Cross
prepare; terrible cavern; (t-note)
torments; brew far and wide
to roll and toss
each; wary
enemies; amiss
are able; means

almsdeeds; prayer
do; bade
make themselves ready
Certainly; defeated
Were I not


(see note)
Help, ladies; incense
Red; torn from a branch
Although; has good intentions
thoughts; unstable

frailty; decline

sea; shore (i.e., everywhere)
be with us
give him
have seen
defect; found
by us steadfastly

each of his enemies

shield; guard
shameful attack
enemies wander
destroy; cruel disgrace
flowers; float down; (see note)

sweet; (t-note)
rain down; roots
man’s remedy

drive; cares
Prepare; widely
that follow me

strong blows; rush; advise

Pride; To; ruin
deceiver; banner
on all sides arrayed lavishly
gowns; overcome
destroy; might
Bitches; how
yield yourself; advise


MEEKNESS; boasting

destroy; grievous
meek; everywhere
settled humbly



bound; terrible torments
prove; proper reason
nobleman (i.e., Jesus); hill (Golgatha)
might; have a place

humbles himself; high
although; crafty
destroy; attempts

out of; virtuous
strike; attire
crossbow bolt; (t-note)

burn; wild fire; (see note)

bitch; filthy cunt; (see note)

fear of you; protect

Ripped; root; bark

despoilers; push
might have forced; dust

might have
To have avenged; quickly
fierce blade
into distant fields

turn from my dwellings
chase from
(see note)

begins to seek vengeance; (t-note)
gray rag
function foully
may the Devil choke you
Unless; strike; terrible blow
shield; break

shoot at

Charity; Although; wickedness
as a reward


control; (t-note)
true; the Creed
scripture; read
Although; blade of grass
true teaching


spot; (t-note)
a bloody countenance

placed in; torment

What are you jabbering about
all together
Strike down; bitches; (t-note)
Make destruction; dwelling
Cause; bitches; moans
brave deeds
Go to it; blue
Trumpets; loudly
bagpipes; (see note)

Then they will fight for a long time; (see note)

severely beaten
by; destroyed
wail; bloody wounds

taken away

swarthy person

I’m covered with scabs; (see note)


terrible blow
was torn from the Cross

hangs [in strings]

are not; turd
Bad luck to you
Quickly; attack again; (t-note)
sorrow; shit and cower

By which

let; go to [work]

Let’s go

Each; gain fame; (see note)
mastery; (t-note)
Let them be thrown; ditch
try to endow
Quickly; how; begin

are able to

Beware; smoke

although you turn pale

torch on my shoulder
on fire
flame; hinder
believe; (t-note)

on fire

ABSTINENCE; unhealthy

cause them; injury
fire although
diminish your prosperity
bread; brought
Cross; injury
mean; (see note)
same blessed


bread; brought



nourish pleasantly although; eager
shut up; earth

Lechery; slut
fire; genitals
leaps; flame
coals; (t-note)
pain; tie up
private parts

hope for repose
on fire


Mother and Virgin, quench carnal lusts; (see note); (t-note)

made no room for you


ruffians; harm


From; have learned; lesson


sully; seed (semen); (t-note)


SLOTH; Beware; dig

Spiritual; pour out; shed
ditch; empty; (see note)
meet soon enough
With; ditch; broad
I’m well acquainted with
would prefer; alehouse
(see note); (t-note)
Industry; swollen dung beetle
for you; ruin



rascal; hinder; glad
rascal; great distress
led astray
should do; this fellow
Nor absolve them


for deadly sin an easy path

torment; bind

beads; pay [for it]
great and small
plan to shame him
beads; prayer
Such as a Bible; hand

bones; (t-note)
Rascals; jabbering
strike at crowds in [military] array
Slay; if you can
For a little while
With bright trumpets

Then they will fight for a long time

destroyed; (see note)

am not; turd
beaten, head
go crouch like a quail; (see note)

beaten; drowned; (t-note)
let her have
fire; (see note)
be hanged

urchin (child); disgraced

die; Pour
swoon; stagger(?)
Yon; jabbering
smashed; scabbed
Before; injury
by a secret path
testicles; (see note)
rest (play; lick?) entirely

complain; cower; shit
fizzle (break wind) foully
glare; owl

[He goes] to the World

this [battle]

Greed; Banner forward

since; infant

Finish off; tame her
torments; for her
rewards; (t-note)
Canwick; again; (see note)
be appropriate


Greed; troubled
Since; stronghold

stay; (t-note)

carry yourself boldly
advise; (see note)



Almost; each mortal
much; tormented
By; (see note)
almighty; pleased
Since; gave birth to; ruin
widely; begin to spread; (t-note)
become almost mad
because of; wealth
Will make

Cursed are the avaricious from this time forth

trouble; strife

At any time
Except; cause; (t-note)

keep from

truly; in every way

ails; Generosity
worthy; dais (platform)
not at all

place; control
very generous
abate; put an end to

stretch out
prosperity; wealth


become; (see note); (t-note)

crawl; become

loose gown; (see note)

hair becomes; gray

[By St.] Peter

servants; (see note)
give your allegiance
present your petition

because of
your own fault

do ill
go to

wealth truly

Book of Nature; (see note)


Although; pray

pay attention
cling; hold tight
manage yourself
needy; age; (t-note)


shelter myself

Before a meal; get; (see note)
wealth somewhere

something; own
occasion; happen; (t-note)

fine clothes

shut up
appropriate manner


Then he (Mankind) goes down to Covetousness

MEEKNESS; about that
Although; drown; slay
do [anything] about that; (t-note)

what was appropriate to us

consider us

axe; haft

There is no one to blame
kept himself

By death’s blow; be buried
virtues; fight
Let him think of himself; deed (choice)

nothing to do
asked for anything; request
see; quickly; (t-note)

moon; (see note)
Make; steadfast

knows his mind
each one

Each of you
perform; deeds
stool; (t-note)

placed; death’s torment
true account; read
torn; painful tools
burn; bright coals
executors; complaint

their; very little
one executor; other; (t-note)

lie; death’s company


deals with
consider; beast
be prudent about another
experienced everything himself
bead [prayer]
avail more for you
wealth; are able to
on the earth

Industry; one

Ill-gotten wealth; destroy
weigh down; weight; scales
foolish; bondage


Generosity; not softly


enclosed in the grave
fine clothes

As is the fashion of the fickle world
(see note)

Blame it on Greed

whores; (t-note)
Wherever; (see note)
their feathers
Wherever geese; turds
run quickly
hoards [of money]
placed; shackles
Untie; moneybags; tables

Certainly, you are no part of
Unless; mind

Necessarily; be placed
float; toss
kind (species)

Money [personified]; much; (see note)
on; place; put
Wherever; go; (t-note)
good and bad times; maintain
Wherever; in crowds
good man to get something done

Night; midnight

much shame; reduced
rot and deteriorate

do [anything] about it


given himself
wealth; be excited
would wish nothing; (t-note)
Except; companion

because of Greed

somewhat advanced
fared ill
to become acquainted with; (see note)
bower; make happy
wealth; truly
of this full possession

endow; goods

Truly; sung
knew; low banks (i.e., everywhere)
Say that; clay until; buried
Enough; opportunity

am able; to play
enough, before; die
live; joy (comfort)

(see note)
got this for you

many great things
Lend; injury

Although; starve

grass; buried

(see note)
hurry; in haste
(see note)

Although; (see note); (t-note)


horses; powerful
tall woods

these goods

by evil means
by; (t-note)
go ahead
struck down
Proceed; deceits
length; breadth

wealth, night
it seems to me; (t-note)

About; song

petition (vow)
I would be happy
as a reward

Death; high time
come close
terrible blows; torn
each; is fearful of it
no road back
High; nor heath
remains alone on earth
am called dreadful

Dreadful; death-potion

lurk; nought

To whom; taught
Scarcely afterwards; be able to stand
clothes of care; caught

go; crowd
Stop; reward
forcibly; sorely

Worthy; afraid
blown at them; (t-note)

bold; famous knights
bury in a moment
On a hill I prepare for them

injure; believe
spirited colts although; shy away

known; (see note)

pay no attention
their goods
fish; (see note)
give; stealthy blow
Those; bring down
Shall help them; banquet nor feast mete; (see note)
driven to death’s valley

There is neither

avoid me

entirely [set]

complain; tremble
No person; physician
show him my power
strike; manner
make for you; shameful appearance
give; blow

Hard; power
split; gash
blow; sorrow

once; head; lift
Death’s stroke; die
taken (seized)

Unless; destroy
dealt me a [mortal] blow; (t-note)

becomes twisted
complexion; color
wrung out [with tears]
Unless; regret
keep that [which]; promised; for a long time

Release; pains
remedy for torment
praise you

miserable fortune

locked up
Because; crimes; (see note)
goods; lose
goods; lost; (t-note)
by devils

woe to you forever

deal; in a strange manner
many others
ends; fashion
harmful tongue
placed; destiny; (t-note)
how fairly; made promises; (t-note)
waste away

errand; stable

Shattered; let be; gall bladder; (see note)
Because; kinship
heritage; fall properly to you
dear companions

Those; to whom you owe the least
Often; rule your dwelling

Boy; dressed in [fine] clothes

believe; very moment
pit; throw
be taken by force

sheet (shroud); does well

Then he goes to Mankind

How are you

buried; grass

do you intend
Do you come; evil
torment of pain; hurt
before; die



kind of
would prefer; nephew
of my family
I wish it were of some use
buried in a valley
benefit from it
think; mad

You don’t have anything to say about this
Go ahead and die

done my duty
far and near

brought to death
very pleased

wealth; (t-note)


woods; fields
pleasant bowers
For; children
should be put; (t-note)
thought; (see note); (t-note)

In the Psalms

(see note)


Oh; wealth; ruin
(see note)
gathered; effort
determined testamentary disposition

Provide; time

swell; grow pale; countenance


(see note)

Soul; word; (see note)
concerned with
Unless; valley [see Psalm 23:6]
damning; sorely; fear
sorrow; (see note)
pleasures when you yielded
wretched; cold
pay for; terrible blows

brewed; potion

right way; direct
for death
Put me; from

(see note); (t-note)

(see note)

the pit of Hell

Reason determines; from

prepared; dwelling
many others; (t-note)
put in death’s pit
bower of sorrow
by just reason
[the] cause


Justice; argue
cave of sorrow
good reasons; explained
turn and toss
[the] devil’s enclosure
take shelter
Justice determines; go

I have no power to help you; (t-note)

too long [coming]; (t-note)

Unless; surpass; (see note)
condemned to terrible pains
prepared; dwelling
Unless; fountain


swelling; burn; (t-note)
In the depths of Hell
pitch; tar; gnash your teeth
Because of; same desire

hanged on a hook; (t-note)

foul; bruised
gnawed; bloody
Foully may
torments; roasted
How; afraid
blows; surround
suffer; Hell; (see note)
There is no redemption
manner of

jog; hence
dungeon; injure
(see note)
cut off

rascal [who] will never prosper
Only; follow after

thrive in anguish; (t-note)
make you grieve
harness you to pain’s plow
Take this [blow]; may you thrive evilly; (see note)
enough; (see note)
strike; down
Although; mew
(i.e., he strikes another blow)
rough you up in order

(see note)
“I will please”; (see note)
In; pit

delay; (t-note)

MERCY; moan; spoken

Unless; grieve
Justice; chief

made; dear; (see note)

Through virtue


fountain of purification
As Holy Church testifies
least; (see note)
would be

good argument
is greater than
receive; whoever

practice sin
no good reason
pay for
pay; reward

Everyone shall bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5)

Do you believe
Then although; beg

by; Cross
war; strife
turn; injury


TRUTH; Justice; noble

it seems to me
Let; deeds regret

weigh; (t-note)
which of them; less
very quickly

bear [witness]

could; cease

Otherwise; Justice
too much
might hear tell [of it]

PEACE; Peace; Truth

related to; (see note)
died on the Cross
Let Mankind be saved; peril
defend; disaster

injury; (see note); (t-note)

explain to; high

be rendered by




sight (presence)
peaceably in discussion

decide; (t-note)
very dear to you

judgment exert myself

Peaceful; (t-note)
concerning something

GOD; together; (t-note)
Brighter; briar

without equal

For you have loved truth; (see note)

Let; judgment

damned justly
prison; tormented


greed; cease

You thirsted for gold, you have drunk gold

Unless; amazed

If late repentance

sin; expectation
committed in hope of redemption; argue

many times
other [world]



earth holds; goods
Proud; happy; healthy

Scarcely; show

begins to grow

brewed; baked

set aside; force
flee from

appropriate punishment
fire; burnt
See to it that he be in perpetual pain

else; ability

  MISERICORDIA O Pater misericordiarum et Deus tocius consolacionis, qui consolatur nos in omni tribulacione nostra! 53 (see note)
















































O thou Fadyr, of mytys moste,
Mercyful God in Trinité!
I am thi dowtyr, wel thou woste,
And mercy fro Hevene thou browtyst fre.
Schew me thi grace in every coste!
In this cas my conforte be!
Lete me, Lord, nevere be loste
At thi jugement, whowso it be,
      Of Mankynd.
Ne had mans synne nevere cum in cas
I, Mercy, schuld nevere in erthe had plas.
Therfore graunte me, Lord, thi grace,
      That Mankynd may me fynd.

And mercy, Lord, have on this man
Aftyr thi mercy, that mekyl is,
Unto thi grace that he be tan,
Of thi mercy that he not mys!
As thou descendyst fro thi trone
And lyth in a maydyns wombe iwys,
Incarnat was in blod and bone,
Lat Mankynd cum to thi blys,
      As thou art Kynge of Hevene!
For werldly veynglory
He hathe ben ful sory,
Punchyd in purgatory
      For all the synnys sevene.

Si pro peccato vetus Adam non cecidisset,
Mater pro nato numquam gravidata fuisset.54

Ne had Adam synnyd here-before
And thi hestys in Paradys had offent,
Nevere of thi modyr thou schuldyst a be bore,
Fro Hevene to erthe to have be sent.
But thyrti wyntyr here and more,
Bowndyn and betyn and al to-schent,
Scornyd and scourgyd sadde and sore,
And on the Rode rewly rent,
      Passus sub Pilato Poncio.
As thou henge on the Croys
On hye thou madyste a voys,
Mans helthe, the gospel seys,
      Whanne thou seydyst “Scitio.”

Scilicet, salutem animarum.

Thane the Jewes that were unquert
Dressyd thee drynke, eysyl and galle.
It to taste thou myth nowth styrt
But seyd “Consummatum est” was alle.
A knyt wyth a spere so smert,
Whanne thou forgafe thi fomen thrall
He stonge thee, Lord, unto the hert.
Thanne watyr and blod gan oute wall,
      Aqua baptismatis et sanguis redempcionis.
The watyr of Baptomm,
The blod of redempcioun
That fro thin herte ran doun
      Est causa salvacionis.

Lord, thou that man hathe don more mysse thanne good
If he dey in very contricioun,
Lord, the lest drope of thi blod
For hys synne makyth satysfaccioun.
As thou deydyst, Lord, on the Rode,
Graunt me my peticioun!
Lete me, Mercy, be hys fode,
And graunte hym thi salvacion,
      Quia dixisti “Misericordia servabo.”55
“Mercy” schal I synge and say
And “Miserere” schal I pray
For Mankynd evere and ay.
      Misericordias Domini in eternum cantabo.56

JUSTICIA Rythwys Kynge, Lorde God almyth,
I am thi dowtyr Rythwysnesse.
Thou hast lovyd me evere, day and nyth,
As wel as othyr, as I gesse.

Justicias Dominus justicia dilexit.

If thou mans kynde fro peyne aquite,
Thou dost ageyns thyne owyn processe,
Lete hym in preson to be pyth
For hys synne and wyckydnesse,
      Of a bone I thee pray.
Ful oftyn he hath thee, Lord, forsake
And to the Devyl he hathe hym take.
Lete hym lyn in Hell lake,
      Dampnyd for evere and ay.

Quia Deum, quia se genuit, dereliquit.

For whanne Man to the werld was bornn
He was browth to Holy Kyrke,
Feythly followd in the funte-ston
And wesch fro orygynal synne so dyrke.
Satanas he forsok as hys fone,
All hys pompe and al hys werke,
And hyth to serve thee alone;
To kepe thi commandementys he schuld not irke,
      Sicut justi tui.
But whanne he was com to mans astate
All hys behestys he thanne forgate.
He is worthi be dampnyd for that,
      Qui oblitus est Domini creatoris sui.

For he hathe forgetyn thee that hym wrout
And formydiste hym lyke thyne owyn face
And wyth thi precyous blod hym bowth
And in this world thou geve hym space.
All thi benefetys he set at nowth
But toke hym to the Develys trase,
The Flesch, the World, was most in his thowth
And purpose to plese hem in every plase,
      So grymly on grounde.
I pray thee, Lord lovely,
Of man have no mercy,
But, dere Lord, lete hym ly,
      In Hell lete hym be bounde!

Man hathe forsake the Kynge of Hevene
And hys Good Aungels governaunce
And solwyd hys soule wyth synnys sevene
Be hys Badde Aungels comberaunce.
Vertuis he putte ful evyn away
Whanne Coveytyse gan hym avaunce.
He wende that he schulde a levyd ay,
Tyl Deth trypte hym on hys daunce,
      He loste hys wyttys fyve.
Ovyrlate he callyd Confescion;
Ovyrlyt was hys contricioun;
He made nevere satisfaccioun.
      Dampne hym to Helle belyve!

For if thou take Mans sowle to thee
Ageyns thi Rythwysnesse,
Thou dost wronge, Lorde, to Trewth and me
And puttys us fro oure dewnesse.
Lord, lete us nevere fro thee fle,
Ner streyne us nevere in stresse,
But late thi dom be by us thre
Mankynde in Hell to presse,
      Lord, I thee beseche!
For Rytwysnes dwellys evere sure
To deme Man aftyr hys deserviture,
For to be dampnyd it is hys ure,
      On Man I crie wreche.

Letabitur justus cum viderit vindictam.57

MISERICORDIA Mercy, my systyr Rythwysnes!
Thou schape Mankynde no schonde.
Leve systyr, lete be thi dresse.
To save Man lete us fonde.
For if Man be dampnyd to Hell dyrknes,
Thanne myth I wryngyn myn honde
That evere my state schulde be les,
My fredam to make bonde.
      Mankynd is of oure kyn.
For I, Mercy, pase al thynge
That God made at the begynnynge
And I am hys dowtyr yynge,
      Dere systyr, lete be thi dyn!

Et misericordia ejus super omnia opera ejus.58

Of Mankynde aske thou nevere wreche
Be day ner be nyth,
For God hymself hath ben hys leche,
Of hys mercyful myth.
To me he gan hym beteche,
Besyde al hys ryth.
For hym wyl I prey and preche
To gete hym fre respyth,
      And my systyr Pese.
For hys mercy is wythout begynnynge
And schal be wythoutyn endynge,
As David seyth, that worthy kynge;
      In scriptur is no les.

Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies, et cetera.59

VERITAS Mercy is Mankynde non worthy,
David thou thou recorde and rede,
For he wolde nevere the hungry
Neythyr clothe nor fede,
Ner drynke gyf to the thrysty,
Nyn pore men helpe at nede.
For if he dyd non of these, forthy
In Hevene he getyth no mede.
      So seyth the gospel.
For he hathe ben unkynde
To lame and to blynde
In Helle he schal be pynde.
      So is resun and skyl.

PAX Pesible Kyng in majeste,
I, Pes thi dowtyr, aske thee a boun
Of Man, whouso it be.
Lord, graunte me myn askynge soun,
That I may evermore dwelle wyth thee
As I have evere yyt doun,
And lat me nevere fro thee fle,
Specialy at thi dome
      Of Man, thi creature.
Thou my systyr Ryth and Trewthe
Of Mankynd have non rewthe,
Mercy and I ful sore us mewythe
      To cacche hym to our cure.

For whanne thou madyst erthe and Hevyn,
Ten orderys of aungelys to ben in blys,
Lucyfer, lyter thanne the levyn
Tyl whanne he synnyd, he fel iwys.
To restore that place ful evyn
Thou madyst Mankynd wyth thys
To fylle that place that I dyd nevene.
If thy wyl be resun it is,
      In pes and rest,
Amonge thyne aungels bryth
To worchep thee in syth,
Graunt, Lord God almyth!
      And so I holde it best.

For thou Truthe, that is my systyr dere,
Arguyth that Man schuld dwell in wo
And Rytwysnes wyth hyr powere
Wolde fayn and fast that it were so,
But Mercy and I, Pes, bothe in fere,
Schal nevere in feyth acorde therto.
Thanne schuld we evere dyscorde here
And stande at bate for frend or foo
      And evere at dystaunce.
Therfore my counseyl is
Lete us foure systerys kys
And restore Man to blys,
      As was Godys ordenaunce.

Misericordia et Veritas obviauerunt sibi, Justicia et Pax osculate sunt.60

For if ye, Ryth and Truthe, schuld have your wylle,
I, Pes, and Mercy schuld evere have travest.
Thanne us betwene had bene a gret perylle
That oure joyes in Hevene schuld a ben lest.
Therfore, gentyl systerys, consentyth me tyll,
Ellys betwene oureself schuld nevere be rest.
Where schuld be luf and charité, late ther cum non ille.
Loke oure joyes be perfyth, and that I holde the best,
      In Heveneryche blys.
For ther is pes wythowtyn were,
There is rest wythowtyn fere,
Ther is charité wythowtyn dere.
      Our Fadyris wyll so is.

Hic pax, hic bonitas, hic laus, hic semper honestas.61

Therfore, jentyl systerys, at on word,
Truth, Ryth, and Mercy hende,
Lete us stonde at on acord,
At pes wythowtyn ende.
Late love and charyté be at oure bord,
Alle venjauns awey wende,
To Hevene that Man may be restoryd,
Lete us all be hys frende
      Before oure Fadyrs face.
We schal devoutly pray
At dredful Domysday
And I schal for us say
      That Mankynd schal have grace.

from; brought willingly

however it be [settled]

into question
have been needed

be deprived

alighted; truly



commandments; broken
have been born; (see note)
years; (t-note)
Bound; seriously injured; (t-note)
Cross grievously torn
He suffered under Pontius Pilate
hung; Cross
[For] man’s salvation
I thirst

That is, for the salvation of souls

Prepared for you; vinegar
could not avoid
It is finished
soldier; sharp
foe’s servants
The water of baptism and the blood of redemption

It is the cause of salvation

although; ill
die; true
least; (see note)

died; Cross


have mercy
for ever and ever

Righteous; almighty
the others; believe

The just Lord had loved justice

nature; release; (t-note)
judicial procedure
prison; placed; (t-note)


taken; (t-note)
lie; Hell’s pit
for ever and ever

For he has forsaken God, who created him

Devoutly christened; font
washed of; dark
Satan; foe
grow weary
According to your laws
promises; forgot

For he has forgotten God his creator; (t-note)

made himself
a place; (t-note)
thought; (t-note)
intended; place
cruelly on the earth


temptation; (t-note)
Virtues; entirely; (t-note)
thought; have lived forever
tripped; in; (see note)

Too late
Too little

quickly; (t-note)


restrain; by force
judgment; (see note)

judge; deserving

make for; shame
Dear; severity

condition; inferior [to yours]
put in restraint



nor; night
entrusted him
Against; laws



there are no lies

not worthy of
although; recite; read

Nor; give



PEACE; Peaceful

because of your judgment

sisters Justice
strongly exert ourselves
take; care; (t-note)

be; (t-note)
brighter; lightning
Until; truly
for this reason

eagerly; resolutely
argument agree
in conflict
in opposition

have been lost
to my proposal

Heaven’s bliss

with one word
in agreement

Let; table

fearful Judgment Day

  Et tuam, Deus, deposcimus pietatem ut ei tribuere digneris lucidas et quietas mansiones.62; (see note); (t-note)













Lord, for thi pyté and that pes
Thou sufferyst in thi pascioun,
Boundyn and betyn, wythout les,
Fro the fote to the croun,
Tanquam ovis ductus es
Whanne gutte sanguis ran adoun,
Yyt the Jwes wolde not ses
But on thyn hed thei thryst a croun
      And on the Cros thee naylyd.
As petously as thou were pynyd,
Have mercy of Mankynd,
So that he may fynde
      Oure preyer may hym avayle.

PATER [Sedens in trono:
Ego cogito cogitaciones pacis, non affliccionis.63

Fayre falle thee, Pes, my dowtyr dere!
On thee I thynke and on Mercy.
Syn ye acordyd beth all in fere,
My jugement I wyl geve you by
Not aftyr deservynge to do reddere,
To dampne Mankynde to turmentry,
But brynge hym to my blysse ful clere
In Hevene to dwelle endelesly,
      At your prayere forthi.
To make my blysse perfyth
I menge wyth my most myth
Alle pes, sum treuthe, and sum ryth,
      And most of my mercy.
Misericordia Domini plena est terra.64 Amen!

Dicet filiabus:

My dowters hende,
Lufly and lusti to lende,
Goo to yone fende
And fro hym take Mankynd.
Brynge hym to me
And set hym here be my kne,
In Hevene to be,
In blysse wyth gamyn and gle.

VERITAS We schal fulfylle
Thin hestys, as resun and skylle,
Fro yone gost grylle
Mankynde to bryng thee tylle.

Tunc ascendent ad Malum Angelum omnes pariter et dicet:65

PAX A, thou foule wyth,
Lete go that soule so tyth!
In Hevene lyth
Mankynde sone schal be pyth.

JUSTICIA Go thou to Helle,
Thou devyl bold as a belle,
Therin to dwelle,
In bras and brimston to welle!

Tunc ascendent ad tronum.

MISERICORDIA Lo here Mankynd,
Lyter thanne lef is on lynde,
That hath ben pynyd.
Thi mercy, Lord, lete hym fynde!

PATER [Sedens in judicio:
Sicut scintilla in medio maris.66

My mercy, Mankynd, geve I thee.
Cum syt at my ryth honde.
Ful wel have I lovyd thee,
Unkynd thow I thee fonde.
As a sparke of fyre in the se
My mercy is synne-quenchand.
Thou hast cause to love me
Abovyn al thynge in land,
      And kepe my comaundment.
If thou me love and drede
Hevene schal be thi mede;
My face thee schal fede:
      This is myn jugement.
beaten; lying

Like a sheep you were led
drops of blood
Jews; cease

piteously; tormented


Sitting on a throne

May good fortune come to you

are in agreement together
according to your proposal
according to punishment

According to
mingle; might
peace; justice

He says to his daughters:

gracious; (t-note)
joyful to consent


joy and mirth

commands; as is reasonable
fierce spirit
to you

creature; (t-note)
the light of Heaven

(see note)

brass (fetters?); boil

Then they go up to the throne

Brighter; leaf; linden tree

THE FATHER; Sitting in judgment
(see note); (t-note)


though; found


  Ego occidam et vivificabo, percuciam et sanabo, et nemo est qui de manu mea possit eruere.67






Kyng, kayser, knyt, and kampyoun,
Pope, patriark, prest, and prelat in pes,
Duke dowtyest in dede, be dale and be doun,
Lytyl and mekyl, the more and the les,
All the statys of the werld is at myn renoun;
To me schal thei geve acompt at my dygne des.
Whanne Myhel hys horn blowyth at my dred dom
The count of here conscience schal putten hem in pres
      And yeld a reknynge
Of her space whou they han spent,
And of her trew talent,
At my gret jugement
      An answere schal me brynge.

Ecce, requiram gregem meum de manu pastoris.68

And I schal inquire of my flok and of her pasture
Whou they have levyd and led her peple sojet.
The goode on the ryth syd schul stond ful sure;
The badde on the lyfte syd ther schal I set.
The sevene dedys of mercy whoso hadde ure
To fylle, the hungry for to geve mete,
Or drynke to thrysty, the nakyd, vesture,
The pore or the pylgrym hom for to fette,
      Thi neybour that hath nede;
Whoso doth mercy to hys myth
To the seke, or in presun pyth,
He doth to me; I schal hym quyth;
      Hevene blys schal be hys mede.
knight; champion

bravest; valley; hill

estates; under my control
account; worthy throne
Michael; terrible judgment
account; difficulties
time [on earth] how; have; (see note)
their real good deeds

to me

their pastors
How; the people in their care

use; (see note); (t-note)

according to his ability
sick; [those] put in prison

  Et qui bona egerunt ibunt in vitam eternam; qui vero mala, in ignem eternum.69; (see note)



And thei that wel do in this werld, her welthe schal awake;
In Hevene thei schal be heynyd in bounté and blys;
And thei that evyl do, thei schul to Helle lake
In byttyr balys to be brent: my jugement it is.
My vertus in Hevene thanne schal thei qwake.
Ther is no wyth in this werld that may skape this.
All men example here-at may take
To mayntein the goode and mendyn her mys.
      Thus endyth oure gamys.
To save you fro synnynge
Evyr at the begynnynge
Thynke on youre last endynge!
      Te Deum laudamus!
grow; (see note)
exalted; (t-note)
the pit of Hell
torment; burnt
virtues; tremble
creature; escape

amend their sins

We praise you, O God; (see note)

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