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Mary at the Foot of the Cross


1 Where false witnesses against him soon were found

2 Who gave him quoits and purple cloth for scorn (see note)

3 The sun darkened its light from the sixth hour to the ninth hour

4 You would do well to think about my son

5 God made (shaped) me as a shield, to shield from shame

6 In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit



Quhat dollour persit our ladyis hert. Index no. 3904. MS: BL Arundel 285, fol. 141b (late fifteenth or early sixteenth century). Editions: Karl Brunner, "Mittelenglischen Marienstunden," Englische Studien 70 (1935), 106-09; B15, no. 94; J. A. W. Bennett, Devotional Pieces in Verse and Prose, from MS. Arundel 285 and MS. Harleian 6919, STS third series no. 23 (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1949), pp. 234-36.

houris. The Breviary contains the liturgies of the Divine Office, including the canonical hours (consisting of psalms, antiphons, and hymns) to be recited daily. The hours include prime (usually around 6 a.m., the "first hour"), terce (the "third hour," or 9 a.m.), sext (noon), none (mid-afternoon, around 3 p.m.), evensong (around 6 p.m.), and compline (around 9 p.m.). The poem is an adaptation of the "Hours of the Cross" form, unusual for its focus on Mary; for additional examples of the form see B14, nos. 30, 34, and 55; and B15, no. 93. In the MS, this rubric and the hours heading each stanza appear centered, in red.

1 persit. A good example of affective piety. Through empathy, Mary (and thus the poet/meditator) is experiencing the Crucifixion in her heart. The line also recalls Simeon's prophecy; see note to §25, line 119.

3 Annas. After Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he is taken to the high priest Caiaphas for questioning. According to the account in John 18:12-13, Jesus is first taken to Caiaphas' father-in-law, Annas. Annas and Caiaphas appear regularly as characters in medieval dramas. (See also Matthew 26:57-75; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54.)

4 fals witnes agane him. See Mark 14:55-59.

5 Pilotis place. Jesus' trial takes place before Pilate, governor of Judea. See Matthew 27:2, 11-26; Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-5 and 13-25; John 18:28-40.

9 Crucify him! Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:13-14; Luke 23:21-23; John 19:6 and 15.

10 quhit coit and purpour claith. His torturers mock Jesus as "King of the Jews" with a purple cloak (the color of royalty) and a crown of thorns (line 12). See Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1-5. They also cast lots (play quoits) for his garments (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24).

11 Thai scurgit him. John 19:1-16; Mark 15:15.

13 nalit on a tre. Accounts of Jesus' Crucifixion are given in Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:17-18.

14 For drink thai gaif him bitter gall. Matthew 27:34 (fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 69:21).

16 The erd trimblit, and cragis begouth to fall. The earthquake, recorded in Matthew 27:51-54, comes at the moment of Jesus' death. (Mark 15:28 and Luke 23:45 also indicate that the curtain of the temple is torn in two at the moment of his death.)

17 he commendit his moder to Sanct Johnne. John 19:25-27. Compare §37.

19 The sone tynt licht fra the sext till none. Luke 23:44-45: "It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the curtain of the temple was torn in the middle." See also Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33-41; John 19:28-37.

20 His passioun betuix God and ws maid peace. I.e., Jesus paid for the sins of humankind with his death. In his account of the Passion, Jacobus de Voragine cites St. Augustine on humanity's debt of sin: "Eve borrowed sin from the devil and wrote a bill and provided a surety, and the interest on the debt was heaped upon posterity. She borrowed sin from the devil when, going against God's command, she consented to his wicked order or suggestion. She wrote the bill when she reached out her hand to the forbidden apple. She gave a surety when she made Adam consent to the sin. And so the interest on the debt of sin became posterity's burden" (The Golden Legend, 1:210). Christ's death redeems, or pays for, the debt of sin. §59 echoes this idea: "Marie, out of synne help thu me, / And out of dette, for charité" (lines 7-8).

20 ws. Brunner reads this as an abbreviation and expands to world.

21 his syd oppinnit with a speir. John 19:34: "but one of the soldiers opened his side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water."

25-27 The account of Jesus' burial is given in Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; and John 19:38-42.

28 allane. MS: all. Bennett and Brown complete the rhyme with allane. On the tradition that Mary alone remained faithful through the events of the Crucifixion, see the Fasciculus Morum, p. 619.

29 mercy. A word is crossed out with red ink before this word.

At the close of the piece, the MS reads: Heir endis the exercicioun for Setterday and begynnis the exercicioun for Sonday. The poem is a devotional "exercise" for Holy Week meditation.


Jesu Cristes milde moder. Index no. 1697. MS: BL Arundel 248, fols. 154b-55a, with music (thirteenth century). Editions: Martin Jacoby, Vier Mittelenglische Geistliche Gedichte aus dem 13. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Bernstein, 1890), p. 42; B13, no. 47. The music, an early example of English polyphony, appears in Woolridge, p. 308, and in Gustave Reese, Music in the Middle Ages, (New York: Norton, 1940) p. 389. Commentary: Weber, pp. 139-45.

The poem is a paraphrase of the sequence Stabat juxta Christi crucem (printed in B13, p. 8), but the music (which supplies a different melody and descant for each verse) appears to be unique to this MS. For another example of that tradition, see B13, no. 4 (MS Bodl. 9995, opening stanzas missing).

8 neverre. Jacoby transcribes nevere.

no. Added above line.

10 The brithe day went into nith. For literal interpretation, see §31, note to line 19. But the death of Jesus, his mother's "heart's light" (line 11), also brings a figurative darkness. John's gospel emphasizes imagery of light and darkness; see, for example, John 1:1-9, 12:46, and 13:35-36.

11 thin. MS: hin. Brown's emendation.

18 The story of Simeon's blessing and prophecy at the purification of the infant Jesus is recorded in Luke 2:22-35. He represents the old heritage waiting patiently for this ecstatic and excruciating moment.

20 After Jesus dies on the cross, a soldier pierces his side with a spear (John 19:34).

27 the. Added above line.

wel crossed out after herte.

31 yielde. MS: þielde. Brown emends the þ to 3.

35-36 That thu . . . withelde thar biforn. Perhaps an allusion to Mary and Joseph's flight into Egypt with the infant Jesus; see Matthew 2:13-23.

40 MS: nu the þiolden, with s added above the line. Brown emends to the's 3 iolden, "you have yielded."

40-42 Nu thes thiolden . . . quite and fre. Now she knows the pain other women experience in labor. On the traditional belief that Mary suffered no pain in giving birth to Jesus, see note to §15, line 3.

43-48 These lines recall imagery of lines 10-11: darkness is restored to light, literally and figuratively, as morning follows night and the sun/son (line 47) rises on Easter morning. For the accounts of Jesus' resurrection, see Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20.

46 wende. MS: wen. Brown emends to wende; Jacoby emends to wenten.

50 See 1 Peter 3:18-20.

aros. MS: tharos. Brown's emendation.

51 he. MS: the. As in §3, "Gabriel, fram evene kingh," I follow Brown's reading of h for initial Þ in the Arundel MS. So also at lines 52 and 55.

Thur the hole ston he glod. The line suggests a double sense: the miracle of Jesus' passing through a solid (whole) tombstone, but also perhaps a parturition metaphor as Jesus passes through the passageway (hole) of the tomb and death into life.

63 yvel. The sense seems to be "affliction" as well as "sin." The comment is on the human condition under sin and death which the Resurrection and Mary's experience have so eloquently addressed.

65 Word erased at beginning of line.

66 wit his. MS: wit þis.


Stond wel, Moder, under rode. Index no. 3211. MS: BL Royal 12.E.1, fols. 193a-94b, with music (early fourteenth century, East Midlands). Other MSS: BL Harley 2253, fol. 79a (early fourteenth century); Trinity Dublin 301, fol. 194 (early fourteenth century, North/Midlands). The first 54 lines also appear in Bodl. 1687 (Digby 86), fol. 127a-b (c. 1275, West Midlands). Lines 1-28 appear, with the Latin sequence set to music, in St. John's College Cambridge 111, fol. 106b (thirteenth century, Southeast); and the first stanza appears as a sermon quotation in BL Royal 8.F.2, fol. 180a (c. 1300). Editions of Royal 12.E.1: B13, no. 49b; Sisam, Oxford, no. 56 (incomplete). Editions of Harley: Wright, Specimens, pp. 80-83; Böddekker, pp. 205-08; Wülcker, 1:46-48; Bruce Dickins and R. M. Wilson, Early Middle English Texts (Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1951), pp. 129-30; Brook, no. 20; Davies, no. 24; LH, no. 226; DH, no. 11. Editions of Digby: B13, no. 49a; Varnhagen, "Eine Marienklage," Anglia 2 (1879), 253-54; Furnivall, EETS o.s. 117, pp. 763-65; Kaiser, p. 260, Stevick, no. 19. Editions of St. John's Cambridge: B13, pp. 203-04. Edition of Royal 8: B13, p. 204.
Like §32, this poem is based on the Stabat juxta Christi crucem sequence which appears in the York Missal, c. 1390. Its music is adapted from the Latin hymn and uses the same meter, but the Latin source is not a dialogue. Crowne writes that this poem "was called by Wright 'Stabat Mater,' and was said by Böddekker to be unmistakably related to that poem. In reality, there is nothing in common between the Latin classic and this English Tenson or Debate, except the subject, the introductory words, and the metrical form" (p. 311); furthermore, "the 'Stabat Mater,' so popular throughout the Middle Ages, does not seem to have made a great impression in England. It influenced no extant Middle English poem, and, though found in late MSS., was not used in the office of the English Church." (Julian, p. 1082, supports this.)
The Royal MS represents a separate tradition from the other MSS. The Royal poet addresses Mary in an intimate tone absent in the other versions (the Harley version addresses Mary directly only once) and continues to address Mary where the other texts shift the focus to Christ (see notes below). In these stanzas, Royal translates its Latin source more closely than do the other MSS.
The earliest extant version of the poem is Digby (c. 1275). This version contains several unique variants, noted below, and ends at line 54. The Cambridge MS agrees with Royal on most variants, and probably shares a common source. Harley changes the order of stanzas. On the MSS, sources, variants, and music, see DH, pp. 153-60.
Wenzel discusses the various contexts in which this poem occurs and speculates on its origins (Preachers, pp. 48-53). For a theological analysis of the dialogue, see Weber, pp. 125-45. Weber discusses the poem as a counterpart to the dialogue in §25, "Als I lay upon a nith."

2 child. Harley: sone.

3 Blythe, Moder. Digby: Moder, blithe.

mittu. Cambridge: mai thu.

4 quu may. Harley: hou should y. Digby: hou may ich.

5 Hi se thin honden. Digby: and thine honde.

7 Moder, do wey. Cambridge: Do wai moder.

8 Hi thole this ded for mannes thinge. Digby: Ich tholie deth for monnes kuinde. Harley: y thole deth for monkynde. Cambridge: I thole this ded for mankende. Only Royal gives a rhyming line.

9 For owen gilte tholi non. Digby: Vor mine guiltes ne tholie non. Harley: For my gult thole y non.

13 reu upon thi bern. Digby: do wei thine teres. Harley: thou rewe al of thi bern. Cambridge: rewen of thi barne.

14 wasse. Digby: wip; Cambridge: vipe.

17 blodi flodes hernen. Digby: blodi woundes herne. Harley: blody stremes erne. Cam-bridge: blod on flod erne.

18 thin herte to min fet. Digby: thin herte to thi fot.

22 swngen. Cambridge: suingen; Harley: byswngen; Digby: iswonge.

23 Thi brest, thin hond, thi fot thur-stungen. Digby: Thine honde, thine fet, thi bodi istounge. Harley: Fet ant honden thourhout stongen. Cambridge: brest and hend ond fet thurtet sting.

24 selli. Harley, Digby: wonder.

25 if y dar. Harley: now y shal. Cambridge: wel I may.

26 Yif y ne deye. Cambridge: bot i deie.

26-27 Compare John 16:7, in which Jesus explains to his disciples, "But I speak the truth to you; it is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."

27 thole this ded. Harley omits this. Cambridge: tholie det.

28 thu best me so minde. Digby: thou me bihest so milde. Harley: thou art so meke ant mynde.

29 With me nout; it is mi kinde. Digby: Icomen hit is of monnes kuinde. Harley: Ne wyt me naht; hit is my kynde.

30 for thee. Digby: sike and. Harley: for this.

31-36 Harley inserts this stanza after line 12 in the present text.

34 to rede. Digby: the stounde.

35 pined. Harley: pyneth; Digby: pinen.

to dede. Digby: to the grounde.

37 Moder, mitarst thi mith leren. Digby: Swete moder, nou thou fondest. Harley: moder nou thou might wel leren.

38 Wat pine tholen that childre beren. Digby: Of mi pine ther thou stondest. Harley: Whet sorewe haveth that children beren.

39 Wat sorwe haven that child forgon. Digby: Withhoute mi pine nere no mon. Harley: Whet sorewe hit is with childe gon.

40 Sune. Harley gives Sorewe, which breaks the pattern of "Mother"/ "Son" addresses.

41 the. Omitted in Harley.

43 reu of moder kare. Digby: of moder thus I fare.

44 Nu thu wost of moder fare. Digby: Nou thou wost wimmanes kare. Harley: For nou thou wost of moder fare.

44-45 See note to §32, lines 40-42.

45 Thou thu be clene mayden man. Digby: Thou art clene mayden on.

50 y fare. Digby: I go. Harley: y shal.

51 The thridde day y rise upon. Digby: I tholie this for thine sake.

52 y wyle withe funden. Digby: Iwis I wille founde.

53 Y deye ywis of thine wnden. Digby: I deye almest, I falle to grounde. Harley gives for in place of Royal's of.

54 The Digby MS ends with this line.

reuful. Digby: serwful; Harley: soreweful.

55 thi. Harley: hire. In the Royal MS, the speaker addresses Mary directly and personal-ly (see also note to line 58).

56 The. Harley: Hire.

57 Wen. Omitted in Harley.

58 Moder. Harley: Levedy. Only in this line does the Harley speaker address Mary directly, and less intimately than in the Royal version.

59 Bisech ure God, ure sinnes lesse. Harley: Bysech thi sone of sunnes lisse.

61 quen of hevene. Harley: ful of blysse.

62 Bring us ut of helle levene. Harley: Let us never hevene misse.

63 dere. Harley: suete.

64-66 Moder . . . Led us into hevene lith. While the speaker in Royal continues to address Mary, Harley reads Louerd, for that ilke blod / That thou sheddest on the rod, / Thou bryng us into hevene lyth. Trinity follows Harley.


Suete sone, reu on me. Index no. 3245. MS: National Library of Scotland Advocates 18.7.21, fol. 120a (Grimestone's commonplace book, 1372). Editions: B14, no. 64; LH, no. 225. Com-mentary: Weber, pp. 117-21.

The MS inscription above the poem reads: "Beda. Audi cum Maria quae dixit." Brown notes a general similarity between this poem and a meditation on Christ's Passion sometimes attributed to Bede (B14, p. 266; sermon in PL 94, col. 568).

3 honges. MS: honge; Brown's emendation.

7 tholen. The word suggests both "endure" and "outlive."

10 deth. MS: det3.


The angell sayde to thee that the fruyt off thi body sulde be blyssyde. Index no 427.5: At his burth thow hurdist angell syng. MS: Worcester Cathedral F.10, fol. 25a (early fifteenth century). Also in Balliol College Oxford 149 (262.D.3), fol. 12b (late fourteenth century). Both are sermon collections. In each MS, this poem and the next appear in a Latin sermon for Good Friday. Editions of Worcester: John Kestell Floyer, ed., rev. Sidney G. Hamilton, Catalogue of Manuscripts Preserved in the Chapter Library of Worcester Cathedral (Oxford: James Parker and Co., 1906), pp. 5-7; William H. Hulme, review of Floyer and Hamilton, JEGP 8 (1909), 292; Owst, p. 541. Balliol: Coxe, p. 46, lines 3-6.

Floyer speculates that this English fragment might be part of a Passion play. It is introduced in the Worcester MS by the following: "A, blyssedful mayden and modyr! This is a wonderful change: the angell behette the that Kryst walde be thi sonne and dwel wyt the and now he takys the a new son and gosse fro the."

1 The angell sayde to thee . . . . In Balliol, a line precedes this one: O blesful mayden and moder thys his a wondirful thaunge / The angel bihete the . . . .

6 despyte. Balliol: spit.

7 thow wantyd womanes wo. I.e., did not suffer the pains of childbirth (see note to §15, line 3).

8 wel. Omitted in Balliol.

11 to. Balliol: at. So also at line 12.

12 bitter gall. See Matthew 27:32.

13 thou founde hym in the mydyl off the doctors in the temple. When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents found him conversing with the teachers in the temple. See Luke 2:42-52.


A Son! tak hede to me. Index no. 14. MS: Worcester Cathedral F.10, fol. 25a. Also in Balliol College Oxford 149 (262.D.3), fols. 12b-13a. Editions of Worcester: Floyer and Hamilton (see notes to §35 above), p. 6; William H. Hulme, review of Floyer and Hamilton, JEGP 8 (1909), 292; Owst, p. 542; B14, no. 128; Stevick, no. 45.

Brown (B14, p. 285) notes that while the lines are ascribed to Chrysostom, they are not found in Chrysostom's works, but instead appear to be from the Liber de Passione Christi et Doloribus et Planctibus Matris Eius, "doubtfully" attributed to St. Bernard, the text of which is found in PL 182, cols. 1134-42. A Middle English metrical translation of that work occurs in the Cursor Mundi, Part 4, ed. Richard Morris, EETS o.s. 66 (London: Oxford University Press, 1876): see the extensive dialogue between Jesus and Mary in the assumption section, lines 20217-20682. G. Kribel prints both English and Latin texts in "Studien zu Richard Rolle de Hampole," Englische Studien 8 (1885), 84-114. The Liber de Passione Christi also appears to be the source for §41.

2 set me uppe wyt thee on i crosse. Balliol: set me with the opon thi crosse.

3 thus hense go. Balliol: hennys thus go.

4 wo. Balliol: endeles wo.

6 ever was god. Balliol: were ever godliche.

10 hyt. Balliol: this.

the. Balliol: thus.

11 in thoghte. Balliol: in thi thoughe.

14 Jone, thi kosyne, sall be thi sone. See §37, note to lines 1-2.


Womman, Jon I take to thee. Index no. 162: Allas wo sal myn herte slaken. MS: National Library of Scotland Advocates 18.7.21, fol. 121b (Grimestone's commonplace book, 1372). Edition: R. H. Robbins, "The Earliest Carols and the Franciscans," Modern Language Notes 53 (1938), 244.

1-2 John 19:25-27: "Now there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, thy son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, thy mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."

5 forwaken. Robbins' reading of MS. Perhaps a scribal error for forsaken? Mary has kept vigil fastidiously to the point of exhaustion; thus, she is for-waken. Or perhaps the sense is simply that she is exhausted by sleeplessness.


Nou goth sonne under wod. Possibly by St. Edmund of Abingdon. Index no. 2320. MS: Bodl. 3462 (Arch. Selden supra 74), fol. 55b, col. 2 (late thirteenth century). This poem appears in St. Edmund's Speculum ecclesie (composed in the early thirteenth century), which survives in more than forty French, English, and Latin MSS. For a more complete listing of MSS and editions, consult the Index and Supplement. Editions of this French MS: B13, no. 1; Sisam, Oxford, no. 269; Bennett and Smithers, second ed. (1968), p. 129; Davies, no. 6; Stevick, no. 4; LH, no. 190; Wilhelm, no. 269. Editions of Bodl. 1621 (Digby 20), fol 155a: B13, p. 166; J. E. Wells, First Supplement to A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1400 (New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1923), p. 988. Editions of Cambridge University Ii. 6.40: Henry Wolcott Robbins, "An English Version of St. Edmund's Speculum, Ascribed to Richard Rolle," PMLA 40 (1925), 250. Edition of BL Royal 7.A.1: Helen P. For-shaw, ed. Edmund of Abingdon: Speculum Religiosorum and Speculum Ecclesie (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 93.

Criticism: John L. Cutler, "Nou Goth Sonne Vnder Wod," Explicator 4 (1945), item 7; George Kane, Middle English Literature (London: Methuen, 1951), p. 140; C. G. Thayer, Explicator 11 (1953), item 25; Manning, pp. 80-84 (on spatial and temporal movement in the poem); W. B. Lockwood. "A Note on the Middle English 'Sunset on Calvary,'" Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik 9 (1961), 410-12; Stevick, "The Criticism of Middle English Lyrics," Modern Philology 64 (1966), 115; Dronke, pp. 64-65; Peck, pp. 461-68.

In the MS, the poem follows an account of Jesus' giving Mary to John. In several MSS, the poem is preceded by a reference to Canticles 1:5 (RSV Song of Solomon 1:6): "Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour." In Digby (a French MS), the poem is introduced by two biblical passages (given here in the Douay translation): Ruth 1:20, "But she said to them: Call me not Noemi (that is, beautiful), but call me Mara (that is, bitter), for the Almighty hath quite filled me with bitterness," and Canticles 1:15, "Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely."

1 sonne. As Reiss (pp. 15-17) observes, the pun on son/sun suggests a solar eclipse.

2 rode. Peck observes a pun, where the meaning of rode shifts from "countenance" to "cross" as the sun is eclipsed at the Crucifixion and the sense shifts from love conventions in praise of a woman to the speaker's anguish for the mother and son at the Crucifixion (p. 467).


Sodenly afraide, half waking, half slepyng. Index no. 4189: With favoure in hir face ferr passyng my reason. MS: Manchester Rylands Library 18932 (Latin 395), fol. 120a-b (late fifteenth century). Also in Trinity College Cambridge 1450 (O.9.38), fols. 63b-64a (late fifteenth century). Editions of Rylands MS: Joseph Haslewood, Censura Literaria 10 (1809),186-87; B15, no. 9; Sisam, Oxford, no. 227; EEC, no. 161; Stevick, no. 86; Reiss, pp. 145-46 (commentary, pp. 146-50). Editions of Trinity: F. J. Furnivall, Hymns to the Virgin and Christ, pp. 126-27; CS, no. 79; Segar, pp. 61-62.

A much longer poem with the same refrain, "Who can not wepe com lerne att me," which survives in the fifteenth-century MS Harl. 2274, fols. 35a-46b, tells the story of Mary's life from birth to Assumption. It is edited by Robert Max Garrett in "De Arte Lacrimandi," Anglia 32 (1909), 270-94. The line also recalls the Liber de Passione Christi et Doloribus et Planctibus Matris Eius (see note to §36), in which Bernard appeals to Mary to teach him to relate her feelings so he may share them: "Ladi, the teres, that thou ther gef, / Graunte me summe! he seide tho" (G. Kribel, "Studien zu Richard Rolle de Hampole," Englische Studien 8 [1885], 91, lines 135-36).

1-2 Sisam's punctuation and gloss suggest that the speaker is "Sodenly afraide . . . and gretly dismayde" to discover the weeping woman. Reiss acknowledges that the participles may refer to Mary or to the speaker and, implicitly, to the reader (Reiss, p. 146).

11 at. Trinity: of.

13 with wordys shortly. Trinity: schortly with wordys.

14 Lo. Omitted in Trinity.

thee. Greene reads the.

16 Trinity: Jesus so my sone ys bobbed.

18 "To weep," notes Reiss, "is to have contrition, and contrition is the first step toward salvation. To weep is also to go beyond words, to let action be acknowledgment, and to go beyond reason" (p. 147).

19 the. Trinity: thys.

she seid to me. Trinity: seyng to the.

20 may lerne at thee. Trinity: com lern at me.

22 Jewlye. Trinity: fuly ("foully").

23 me. Omitted in Trinity.

24 lygh. Omitted in Trinity.

25 Ever. Greene reads Evu in MS, emends and expands to Ever. Brown reads ever in MS and emends to Ay.

26 soon. MS: soone.

28 thee. Trinity: these.

30 said. Trinity: and seyd.

32 In sownyng. Trinity: And swonyng.

35 So. Trinity: how.

37 was. Trinity: ys.

38 word. Trinity: wordys.


Thou synfull man of resoun that walkest here up and downe. Index no. 3692. MS: Bodl. 6777 (Ashmole 189), fol. 109a (fifteenth century). Edition: B15, no. 8.

This poem combines the Planctus Mariae tradition with that of Christ's admonitions from the cross. The opening lines seem at first to be spoken by Jesus (compare Index no. 497, "Beholde me, I pray the," and Index no. 2150, "Men rent me on rode," both printed by Gray in Selection, nos. 27 and 28). The confusion emphasizes Mary's empathy for her son's suffering; we are to "learn to weep" with her as she has learned to weep with her son. Mary appeals first to the least selfish instincts of the listener, to pity for a stranger. She then moves progressively closer to the sinner's own heart, from appealing to feelings for a mother and child relationship (with which, perhaps, the listener can sympathize), then to Christ, who suffers for the sake of the listener, and finally to the most selfish instinct, to the sinful listener's own well-being. But the poem is not simply a call for pity. From inward examination, the listener is directed to move outward again, finding comfort and support in Christ and Mary. Thus the poem offers a model for meditation on the Passion, for understanding both the personal and the universal signifi-cance of the events.

4 chased. The verb employs connotations of hunting as well as dismissal and expulsion, all of which are metaphors laden with appropriate typology contingent on Mary's dismal situation.

5 swerd. See note to §25, line 119.

9 The visual image projected here, that of the Pietà, focuses dramatic attention on the darkest moment of Mary's agony as she, guided by faith and love alone, exemplifies the power of blind faith as she would have others "lerne to wepe wyth me" (lines 7 and 14).

21 come dwell wyth me. The refrain (lines 7 and 14) changes from an invitation to "lerne" to an invitation to "dwell," thus marking the progress of the plot as the exemplum addresses humankind's errant yearning for stability.


Why have ye no reuthe on my child? Index no. 4159. MS: National Library of Scotland Advocates 18.7.21, fol. 24a (Grimestone's commonplace book, 1372). Editions: B14, no. 60; Davies, no. 44; Gray, Selection, no. 22, LH, no. 223. Commentary: Weber, pp. 110-17.

The MS attributes these verse to "B"; Brown notes that the verses are based on St. Bernard's Liber de Passione Christi et Doloridus et Planctibus Matris Eius. See note to §36.

2 murning. MS: murnig.


Of alle women that ever were borne. Index no. 2619. MS: Cambridge University Ff.5.48, fols. 73a-74b (fifteenth century). Also in Cambridge University Ff.2.38, fol. 55b and Manchester Chetham Library 8009, fol. 119b. Edition based on Chetham MS: B15, no. 7; Wright and Halliwell, 2:213-15. Editions of Ff.2.38: Wright, The Chester Plays (London: Shakespeare Society, 1847), 2:207-09; Davies, no. 112. Edition of Chetham: Max Förster, "Kleinere Mittelenglische Texte," Anglia 42 (1918), 167-72.

Compare Index no. 1447, which prefaces a similar monologue with a chanson d'aventure setting in which the poet observes the vision while kneeling in church (printed in Helen Sandison, The "Chanson d'aventure" in Middle English [Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawr College, 1913], pp. 104-09; and in Rose Cords, "Fünf me. Gedichte aus den Hss. Rawlinson Poetry 36 und Rawlinson C. 86," Archiv 135 [1916], 300-02).

4 kne. Chetham, Cambridge Ff.2.38: skyrte.

10 dose. Chetham: settist.Cambridge Ff.2.38: castyst.

11 ble. "Appearance" is perhaps too neutral a gloss; "skin color," "youthful glow," "cheerful vitality" would perhaps come closer to the effect.

18 dose. Chetham: doth. Cambridge Ff.2.38: dere.

19 with gret solas. Chetham, Cambridge Ff.2.38: gret ioy thou mas.

28 gret gap is. Chetham: many gappis.

34 stroke. The mother uses "stroke" in the sense of caress or playful cuff, but there is a pun on the more violent strokes (blows, slashes) Mary's son has received on the cross.

36 layke. Cambridge Ff.2.38: laghe.

38 speyre. Chetham, Cambridge Ff.2.38: sere.

43 Ye fele ther fete, so fete are thay. MS: He fele therfor fittys or day. Emended by Brown from Chetham and Cambridge Ff.2.38.

45 any hande. Chetham, Cambridge Ff.2.38: my hand.

49 town. MS: towm. Brown's emendation.

63 be holdyne. Chetham: were holdyn. Cambridge Ff.2.38: were wele holden.

81-82 I may no more / For drede of deth reherse his payne. Here, as in Bernard's dialogue, Mary's suffering is so intense that she fears she may die if she continues to tell about it.


O litel whyle lesteneth to me. Index no. 2481. MS: BL Royal 18.A.10, fol. 126b (early fifteenth century). A longer text, lacking opening stanzas, Index no. 2718, occurs in Bodl. 3938 (Eng. Poet a.1, the Vernon MS), fol. 315b, and in BL Addit. 22283 (Simeon), fol. 124b. Edition of Royal: Morris, Legends of the Holy Rood, Symbols of the Passion and Cross-Poems, EETS o.s. 46 (London: N. Trübner, 1871), pp. 197-209. Editions of Vernon: Morris, EETS o.s. 46, pp. 131-49; F. J. Furnivall, EETS o.s. 117, pp. 612-26; Susanna Greer Fein, ed., Moral Love Songs and Laments (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998), pp. 87-160.

Indented lines indicate a change of speaker.

1-13 Vernon omits this stanza. Apocrifum (line 12) is "a writing or statement of doubtful authorship or authenticity" (OED), though the root of the term simply designates a "hidden meaning." The Royal scribe is perhaps aware of Wycliffite attitudes toward fiction; he is careful to label the story spurious in order not to mislead his audience, yet he believes the use of fiction in the service of truth and teaching is justified. Compare lines 343-55, also omitted from Vernon.

10 expouned. To "expound" is to set forth, present, interpret, translate, paraphrase, render, comment upon, or gloss.

11 bryght. The luminosity of the example connotes moral resonance. See MED adj.4.

14 In margin: Maria.

20-21 Vernon reverses these lines.

24 fle. Probably a form of flen, "to flay" (MED v.2). Vernon reads fleo, which could either be a form of flen or of flouen, "to flow."

26 Tre. Vernon: Cros.

32 gode. Vernon: fayre.

34 unfyled. MS: unfyle. Morris emends for rhyme and sense.

35-38 Child . . . werkis wylde. Mary briefly addresses her son as he hangs on the cross.

37-38 As grete thevys that were gramed, / That. . . . Vernon: Grete Iewes [Jews] thus were gramed / And. . . .

40-43 Vernon: In mournyng I may melte / Mi fruit that is so holi halwed / In a feeld is fouled and falwed /With grete Jewes he is galwed / And dyeth for Monnes gelte.

48 deep. Vernon: deth, which may be a preferable reading.

50 breyde. The MED suggests the following meanings: attack, blow, affliction, torment, deceptive act, or insult (see breid, n.1 and n.2). In any case, the sense is that the Cross acts intentionally to harm Jesus.

51 stont in stroke and stryfe. Vernon: stont nou in a strong stryf.

53-56 Here Vernon uses the lines found at lines 40-43 of Royal.

55 briddes. The word brid can refer to a young bird, a baby, or a child (MED brid, 3.a), or it can be used as a term of endearment (brid, 3.b). The brid metaphor here and in lines 66, 85, 110, and 120 may be glossed as "bird," suggesting painfully the unnatural nesting place for this one of God's creatures (see note to lines 100-05); but it also suggests "bride" in the sense of spouse or virginal loved one, to whom Mary is so devoted, in which case the blood is virtually a sign of rape. See OED bride, sb.2.

56 Droppynge as dewe on ryssche. Perhaps an allusion to Proverbs 19:12, which compares the cheerfulness of a king to dew upon the grass; thus a suggestion that Christ's suffering is a blessing. But Mary does not realize this yet. Dew is often a biblical symbol of blessing.

57 The jugement have thei joyned. Vernon: Thorw Jugement thou art enjoynet.

61 twyned. Vernon: teynet.

62 fenne. Thieves lurk in fens, where hiding is easy. The metaphor does not suit well the image of Golgotha as a hill, but it works superbly with the notion that truth is hidden amidst the muck.

63 feet. Vernon: limes.

66 brid. Vernon: fruit.

67 this tree. Vernon: a theoves tre.

69 hert now hath a wounde. Vernon: holi herte hath wounde.

81 The goode hangeth among the wikke. This might be read as a gloss on Apocrifum (lines 12 and 347), that fictive statement in which the message (the good, the connotation) is obscured by the fictive (wicked, the literal, with its criminal designations) - a sense Mary, in her grief, seems not yet to have allowed.

83 Cros. Vernon: Tre.

85 bridde. Vernon: fruit.

86 fruyt. Vernon: flour.

falle. MS: fall.

88 eysell and galle. Though this alludes to the soldiers who offered the thirsting Jesus vinegar (Luke 23:36) or gall (Matthew 27:42), Mary seems more concerned with the figurative bitterness of Jesus' suffering.

89 white rose. A symbol of purity, often used to describe Mary herself as well as Jesus.

90 floryssched. Vernon: fostred (fostered).

96 hys leir. Vernon: the eyr.

96-99 Mary juxtaposes her confining of the infant Jesus by binding him in the cradle with swaddling clothes so that his hands be not hurt with the Cross' binding him to its frame. There may be a pun on wynde in line 99, implying a kind of aery winding sheet binding his nakedness which harms rather than protects his hands in a wild, irresponsible way.

100-05 Fowles formen her nest . . . My sones hed hath reste none. Compare Jesus' words in Matthew 8:20: "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air nests: but the son of man hath nowhere to lay his head."

101 Foxes. Vernon: Wolves.

103 holdeth. Vernon: leoneth.

thornes. See John 19:2.

105 My sones. Vernon: Godes.

107 the panne. Vernon: his flesch.

108 Thys. Vernon: His.

112 Hys faire feet. Vernon: Mi fruites feet.

113 putte. Vernon: pulte (thrust out).

114 Hys feet to kys. Vernon gives a full line: To cusse his feet, Soth thing hit is.

122 In margin: sta crux.

124 palme. The palm leaf is a symbol of victory, glory, or reward.

125 of. Vernon: thorw.

126 Thy trye fruyt I to-tere. Vernon: Thi feire fruit on me ginneth tere.

128 as thou mayst here. Vernon: that lay in lure.

132 waltereth. Vernon: swelte.

137 fruit. Vernon: son.

138 tyndes towe. Vernon: teone inouh.

139 body . . . ny the tharmes. Vernon: flesch . . . with dethes tharmes.

140 swemely swow. Swemely is a form of swimble, meaning "a swaying motion"; OED cites Harley CT, The Knight's Tale, lines 1126-27: "Then ran a swymbul and a swough, / As though a storm shodde bresten every bough."

141 armes. Vernon: swarmes.

143 goode. Vernon: leove.

144-47 Isayas spak . . . . See Isaias 25:8.

147 Vernon inserts a stanza not found in Royal:
The stipre that is under the vyne set            support
May not bringe forth the grape;
Theih the fruit on me beo knet,
His scharpe schour have I not schape:
Til grapes to the presse beo set
Ther renneth no red wyn in rape;
Nevere presse pressed bet,
I presse wyn for kniht and knape               servant
Upon a blodi brinke
I presse a grape, with strok and stryf,
The rede wyn renneth ryf:
In Samaritane God gaf a wyf
That leof licour to drynke.                         precious
148 dothe thee alegge. Vernon: doth the to alegge.

151 beest of horde. Vernon: of godes hord.

153 The bak. Vernon: His bodi.

155 one. Vernon: of.

161 hys figour. Vernon: in his figour.

161-62 And Moyses fourmed . . . noon other beest. See Exodus 12 on the rites of Passover, which specify that an unblemished lamb be eaten, with no bone broken.

163 He sacred so oure savyour. Vernon: Schulde be sacred ur saveour.

165 in honour. Vernon: chargeour.

167 creatour. Vernon: saveour.

168 Hys flessche fedeth. Vernon: He fedeth bothe.

172 Whan flessche and veynes. Vernon: Til feet and hondes.

174 this resoun rad. Vernon: in rule hath rad.

175 The line in Vernon reads We schulde ete ur lomb in sour vergeous.

176 saws. Vernon: vergeous.

178 fende. Vernon: devel.

184 take. Vernon: cake.

185 devyll. Vernon: feond.

187 is schewed with a scryne. Vernon: scheweth be a shrine.

187-99 Whan pardoun is schewed with a scryne . . . . Your boke was bounde in blode. Christ's body is compared to a sign declaring pardon, his body the board, his blood the ink with which the decree is written. Compare §60, line 23 and note.

189 blyne. Vernon: be lyne.

190 me. Vernon: men.

191 My. Vernon: Ur.

195 rede in hys rode. Vernon: red upon the rood. Although the intended meaning for rode here is probably "countenance" (MED rode, n.1), there are several possible puns, both on rede (read, counseled) and rode, as "redness," or "cross" (as the Vernon reading suggests), or "reckoning," or "account" (MED rode, n.4); or, given Jesus' mount at the Crucifixion (n.5), perhaps even on rode as "journey" (n.3).

196 Youre. Vernon: Ur.

boke. Vernon: brede.

199 Vernon adds two stanzas (16 and 17 in Morris, p. 138, and Fein, pp. 112-13) after this line; their content is repeated elsewhere in the poem.

202 good scheperde. John 10:11, 14.

207 draf. Chaff, waste; both a thrashing/judgment metaphor as well as a term of rhetoric, where the good reader separates the hidden sense from the literal to arrive at the nourishing fruit.

210 bande. MS: hande.

215-18 Thus seyde Poule . . . Thei bete a lambe withoute lothe. Possibly a reference to 1 Corinthians 5:7, which simply says, "for Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed." Christ is thus compared to the lamb sacrificed at the Passover feast.

216 fikell Jewes, withoute othe. Vernon: feolle Jewes, with false othe.

222 mylk. Vernon: eny.

225 brisseden. Vernon: wolden ha broken.

Vernon inserts a stanza here (19 in Morris and in Fein); again, the sense is redundant.

232 The Cros seyde. Vernon: Ladi.

234 Sithe. Vernon: Til.

235 yelde hys goost with voys. Matthew 27:50; Mark 19:30.

236 Men chose me a relyk choys. Vernon: I was chose a relik chois.

249-51 Compare Jesus' final words according to John 19:30: "It is consummated"; note also his prayer during the Last Supper: "I have glorified thee on earth; I have accomplished the work that thou hast given me to do" (John 17:4).

252 The Vernon MS inserts a somewhat redundant stanza here, followed by the lines found at lines 200-12 in Royal. Vernon then inserts nine stanzas in which Mary describes three Jews who were sorrowful after witnessing Jesus' Crucifixion; and if the Jews were sorrowful, she says, then it behove Mary to grieve with the sorrow of both mother and father. Mary then describes the cosmic disorder that followed Jesus' death: planets going out of orbit and birds falling out of their flight.

255 faunt. MS: faint.

256 schelde of scrifte. I.e., no man had the protection of confession. Old Testament law required confession and restitution; Leviticus 5:5 specifies the sacrifice of a lamb, commonly interpreted as an anticipation of Christ's sacrifice, the ultimate "shield."

257 lyoun raumpaunt. The lion is sometimes identified with the devil through Psalm 90:13 (RSV 91:13): "Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon." The passage is interpreted as referring to Christ defeating Satan (variously represented by each of the creatures named).

272 Hys. MS: Hy.

278 Nichodemus. See John 3:3 ff.

299 God. Vernon: Jhesu.

311 Truyt and treget. Compare line 41.

313 hys. MS: hy.

flessch trewe. Vernon: fleschly trene. The Vernon scribe describes Mary as a tree branch, alluding to the tree of Jesse (see note to §8, line 17) and, of course, drawing a parallel between Mary and the Cross.

314 lele and newe. Vernon: leothi and lene.

315-16 It is right the Rode to Eve helpe schewe, / Man, woman, and chylde. Because Eve sinned by means of the tree that bore forbidden fruit, it is fitting that a tree should play some part in Eve's redemption. See note to §9, line 8. In Vernon, this sense is lost: Hit is riht the Roode helpe to arene / Wrecches that wratthe thi chylde.

321-24 These lines are missing in the MS; they have been supplied from the Vernon MS (pp. 147-48 in Morris).

331 sorwe to seighe. Vernon: wo to wite.

332 As he had see in scharp schour. Vernon: He saih himself that harde stour.

333 Cristes. Vernon: Godes.

rune. Slandered, as in oaths sworn by "Goddes armes." See Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale with its admonition against such swearing:
Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable
That it is grisly for to heere hem swere.
Oure blissed Lordes body they totere -
Hem thoughte that Jewes rent hym noght ynough. (lines 472-75)
But "sweryng is a thyng abhominable" (line 631), the Pardoner declares and warns that if you swear "By Goddes armes, if thou falsly pleye, / This daggere shal thurgh-out thyn herte go" (lines 654-55).

336 This tale florrissched with a faire flour. "Flourish" suggests rhetorical embellishment as well as a pun on "flourishing" and "flowering."

343-55 Not found in Vernon.

348 In swich a lay dar thee naght dere. This may be read in several ways: daren (or durren) may mean "to dare" (or "to risk"), "to fear," or "to lurk." So the line might be read "In such a poem fear you no harm" or "In such a poem you risk no harm."

352 lombe. I gloss as "lamb" (compare line 234), which suggests both a member of the Christian flock (MED lomb, n.2), and a gentle or kind person. However, Morris glosses the word as "? clerk" (possibly thinking of "loom" as an "implement or tool" [OED sb.1, 1.a]).

363-64 roode . . . rede . . . rede. Compare the word-play in line 195 (see note, above).


Upon my ryght syde y me leye. Index no. 3844. MS: BL Harley 541, fol. 228b (late fifteenth century). Editions: B15, no. 127; Gentleman's Magazine 69 (1799), 33; John Brand, Obser-vations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, rev. Sir Henry Ellis (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), 3:131.

1 me. So MS. Brand transcribes as may.

8 frwte. So MS. Brand reads freute.

8-9 Owre Lorde is the frwte . . . Blessed be the blossome that sprange. An allusion to the tree of Jesse; see §8, note to line 17.


M and A and R and I. Index no. 1650. MS: BL Sloane 2593, fol. 24b (fifteenth century). Also in Bodl. 29734 (Eng. Poet e.1), fol. 25a. Editions of Sloane: EEC, no. 180B; Wright, Songs (Warton Club), 69-70; Fehr, Archiv 109, 64; Rickert, p. 7. Editions of Eng. Poet: Wright, Songs (Percy Society), p. 31; Greene EEC, no. 180a; Greene, Selection, no. 48; Davies, no. 74.

For additional examples of carols on initial letters, see EEC nos. 83 and 139.

1 M and A and R and I. Bodleian: Of M, A, R, I.

3 It wern fowre letterys of purposy. Bodleian: Of thes iiii letters purpose I.

5-6 Tho wern letteris of Mary / Of hom al our joye sprong. Bodleian: Thei betokyn mayd Mary; / All owr joy of hyr it sprong.

6 The Bodleian MS inserts a stanza after this line:
Withoughten wem of hyr body,
M and A, R and I,
Of hyr was borne a Kyng truly
The Jewys dedyn to deth with wrong.
9 bryte. The MED suggests "radiant," "morally pure," and "untarnished." Bodleian: bar ("bare").

13 with here ey. Bodleian: ful bytterly.

14 alwey the blod folwyd among. The image of Mary's weeping tears of blood and water recalls John 19:34, where water and blood flow from the wound in Jesus' side after his death. Compare §46, line 17. In the Liber de Passione Christi et Doloribus, Mary is so overcome by sorrow that she weeps tears of blood (see note to §36, and Kribel, pp. 88-89). Bodleian: And terys of blod ever among.

15-18 Not found in Bodleian.


Mary myelde made grete mone. By James Ryman. Index no. 3944. MS: Cambridge University Ee.1.12, fol. 77a (late fifteenth century). Editions: Zupitza, Archiv 89 (1892), 277-78; EEC, no. 159.

3 fals Judas. See Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14:10; Luke 22:3-6.

7 Cayphas and An. See §31, note to line 3.

17 watre and bloode. See §45, note to line 14.

22 alone. Omitted in MS.


I syke when y singe. Index no. 1365. MS: BL Harley 2253, fol. 80a (West Midlands, early fourteenth century). Also in Bodl. 1603 (Digby 2), fol. 6a (late thirteenth century). Editions of Harley: Wright, Specimens, pp. 85-87; Böddekker, pp. 210-12; Cook, Reader, pp. 455-57; Kaiser, p. 293; Davies, no. 22; Brook, no. 22; LH, no. 228. Editions of Digby: Furnivall, Archiv 97 p. 308; Furnivall, Minor Poems of the Vernon Manuscript, vol. 2 (EETS o.s. 117), p. 753; B13, no. 64; Sisam, Oxford, no. 18.

1 when. Digby: al wan.

5 Ant. Digby: hi (I).

9 stille ant mete. A formula rich in connotations. Stille: silently, gently, perpetually; mete: fittingly, appropriately, copiously, equitably.

9-10 Digby: Marie, milde and sute / thu haf merci of me.

10 reweth. Brook suggests an impersonal construction: "Mary, it grieves thee."

13 from uch toune. Digby: wyt hute the tune.

15 is. Digby: was.

15-20 The poet creates an image for the reader to contemplate; such imagistic devices characterize poetry of Mary at the Cross and parallel iconographic representation in medieval art and drama, which is likewise directed toward the eye as preceptor for meditation.

16 His. The Cross'. Personification of the cross is common in medieval poetry, the most famous example being the Anglo-Saxon Dream of the Rood. Compare §43.

aren. Digby: werin al.

19 Marie stont hire one. Digby: Mari hir selfe al hon.

20 Ant seith "Weylaway!" Digby: Hir songe was wayle.

21 thee. Digby: him.

22 eyghen bryhte. Digby: hey and herte.

31-50 These two stanzas are transposed in Digby.

38 Johan. John with a above line.

41 The introspective conclusion completes the contemplative journey that began with Mary as companion and model, in empathy, and ends with the opening of the dreamer's (viewer's) heart and the awakening into a redemptive mood.

48-50 smerte . . . gon. Brook reads these as infinitives depending on y se in line 45.


Maiden and moder, cum and se. Index no. 2036. MS: National Library of Scotland Advocates 18.7.21, fol. 121a, col. 2 (Grimestone's commonplace book, 1372). Editions: B14, no. 67; EEC, no. 157D; Edward Bliss Reed, Christmas Carols Printed in the Sixteenth Century (Cam-bridge: Harvard University Press, 1932), p. 82. The poem forms the basis for a later carol; see EEC nos. 157a-c (Index nos. 1219, 1211, and 3575); EEC no. 158 is similar.

1-8 In the carol found in BL Sloane 2593 (EEC 157c), these lines are attributed to John.

21 falle. The sense seems to be "fallen," in opposition to the notion of the "risen" flesh of the Resurrection.



Heir followis the houris of oure ladyis dollouris.

   Quhat dollour persit our ladyis hert
   Quhan scho hard hir sone was tane and bund,
   Syne led to Annas that of syn had na part,
   Quhair fals witnes agane him sone wer fund. 1

At prime
   At prime scho followit him to Pilotis place
   With sobing, siching, lik to fall in swone;
   Thair the Jowis spittit in his face
   And fals witnes spak fast to put him doun.

At terce
   At terce, "Crucify him!" the Jowis can cry;
   The quhit coit and purpour claith gaif him for scorne. 2
   Thai scurgit him, and our lady that stude by
   Saw him beir the croce and crownt with thorne.

At sext
   At sext thai him nakit nalit on a tre;
   For drink thai gaif him bitter gall.
   The blud droppit doun on his moder Mary,
   The erd trimblit, and cragis begouth to fall.

At none
   At none he commendit his moder to Sanct Johnne,
   Syne with gret dolour scho saw him decese.
   The sone tynt licht fra the sext till none. 3
   His passioun betuix God and ws maid peace.

At ewinsang
   Oure lady saw his syd oppinnit with a speir
   At ewinsang; syne his body thai tuk doun,
   And laid him with mony salt tere
   In our ladyis bowum, of glore the crowne.

At compling
   Our lady saw thame to graif his body beir,
   And clois him thairin with a gret stane;
   To keip him the Jowis put men of weir,
   And the faith of Crist remanit in our lady allane.

   O Mary, moder of mercy and of grace,
   This houris to thi honour I refer,
   To be my advocat in every cais
   And stand with me at the bar.

   Grant me of thi sonne to have compassioun
   And ay be ane servand to thee,
   And for my synnis do satisfactioun,
   Syne be tane to the blis of hevin finalie.


Jesu Cristes milde moder
Stud, biheld hire sone o rode
That he was ipined on.
The sone heng, the moder stud
And biheld hire childes blud,
Wu it of hise wundes ran.
Tho he starf that king is of lif,
Dreriere nas neverre no wif
Than thu were, levedi, tho.
The brithe day went into nith;
Tho Jhesu Crist, thin herte lith,
Was iqueint with pine and wo.

Thi life drei ful harde stundes
Tho thu seye hise bludi wundes
And his bodi o rode don.
Hise wundes sore and smerte
Stungen thureu and thurw thi herte
As te bihichte Simeon.

Nu his heved with blud bisprunken,
Nu his side with spere istungen
Thu bihelde, levedi fre.
Nu his hondes sprad o rode,
Nu hise fet washen wit blode
An inaillet to the tre.

Nu his bodi with scurges beten,
And his blud so wide hutleten
Maden the thin herte sor;
Warso thu castest thin eyen
Pine strong thu soie im dreien;
Ne mithte noman tholie mor.

Nu is time that thu yielde
Kende that thu im witheld.
Tho thi child was of thee born;
Nu he hoschet wit goulinge
That thu im in thi chiltinge
Al withelde thar biforn.

Nu thu fondest, moder milde,
Wat wyman drith with hir childe,
Thei thu clene maiden be.
Nu thes thiolden arde and dere
The pine werof thu were
Ine ti chilthing quite and fre.

Sone after the nith of sorwen
Sprong the lith of edi morwen;
Ine thin herte, suete may,
Thi sorwen wende al to blisse,
Tho thi sone al mid iwisse
Aros hupon the tridde day.

Welle wat thu were blithe
Tho aros fram deth to live,
Thur the hole ston he glod.
Al so he was of the boren;
Bothen after and biforen,
Hol bilof thi maidenhod.

Neue blisse he us broute
That mankin so dere boute
And for us gaf is dere lif.
Glade and blithe thu us make,
For thi suete sones sake,
Edi maiden, blisful wif.

Quen of evene, for thi blisse
Lithe al hure soriness
And went hur yvel al in to gud.
Bring hus, moder, to thi sone,
Mak hus evre with im wone
That hus boute wit his blud.


"Stond wel, Moder, under rode,
Bihold thi child wyth glade mode;
Blythe, Moder, mittu ben."
"Sune, quu may blithe stonden?
Hi se thin feet, hi se thin honden
Nayled to the harde tre."

"Moder, do wey thi wepinge:
Hi thole this ded for mannes thinge;
For owen gilte tholi non."
"Sune, hi fele the dede stunde;
The swerd is at min herte grunde,
That me byhytte Symeon."

"Moder, reu upon thi bern:
Thu wasse awey tho blodi teren,
It don me werse than mi ded."
"Sune, hu mitti teres wernen?
Hy se tho blodi flodes hernen
Huth of thin herte to min fet."

"Moder, ny y may thee seyn,
Bettere is that ic one deye
Than al mankyn to helle go."
"Sune, y se thi bodi swngen,
Thi brest, thin hond, thi fot thur-stungen
No selli thou me be wo."

"Moder, if y dar thee tellen,
Yif y ne deye, thu gost to helle;
Hi thole this ded for thine sake."
"Sune, thu best me so minde.
With me nout; it is mi kinde
That y for thee sorye make."

"Moder, merci, let me deyen,
For Adam ut of helle beyn
And al mankin that is forloren."
"Sune, wat sal me to rede?
Thi pine pined me to dede;
Let me deyn thee biforen."

"Moder, mitarst thi mith leren
Wat pine tholen that childre beren,
Wat sorwe haven that child forgon."
"Sune, y wot y kan thee tellen,
Bute it be the pine of helle,
More sorwe ne woth y non."

"Moder, reu of moder kare,
Nu thu wost of moder fare,
Thou thu be clene mayden man."
"Sune, help alle at nede,
Alle tho that to me greden —
Mayden, wyf, and fol wyman."

"Moder, y may no lenger duellen;
The time is cumen y fare to helle,
The thridde day y rise upon."
"Sune, y wyle withe funden.
Y deye ywis of thine wnden;
So reuful ded was nevere non."

When he ros than fel thi sorwe:
The blisse sprong the thridde morewe
Wen blithe, Moder, wer thu tho.
Moder, for that ilke blisse
Bisech ure God, ure sinnes lesse,
Thu be hure chel ayen hure fo.

Blisced be thu, quen of hevene,
Bring us ut of helle levene
Thurth thi dere sunes mith.
Moder, for that hithe blode
That he sadde upon the rode
Led us into hevene lith. Amen.


Suete sone, reu on me, and brest out of thi bondis:
For nou me thinket that I se thoru bothen thin hondes
Nailes dreven into the tre; so reufuliche thu honges.
Nu is betre that I fle and lete alle these londis.

Suete sone, thi faire face droppet al on blode,
And thi bodi dounward is bounden to the rode;
Hou may thi modris herte tholen so suete a fode,
That blissed was of alle born, and best of alle gode?

Suete sone, reu on me, and bring me out of this live,
For me thinket that I se thi deth, it neyhit suithe.
Thi fete ben nailed to the tre; nou may I no more thrive,
For al this werld withouten thee ne sal me maken blithe.


The angell sayde to thee that the fruyt off thi body sulde be blyssyde;
Ande now, in the dome of the Jewys, Crist es a-cursede.
At hys burth thu harde angels syngynge;
Ande now thow seys hys frendis wepynge.
At hys burthe kyngis and schiperdys dyd hym omage and wyrschyppe;
And now al maner of men don hym despyte and schendschyppe.
At hys burth thow wantyd womanes wo;
Bot, as thow wel fellys, now it ys noght so.
Some tyme thou hadest cause for to synge Alullay,"
Bot now thi songh ys all off wylaway.
Somtym thou fed hym wyth thi sweet mylk to hys esse;
Ande now the Jewys fedyng hyme wyt bitter gall to his dysesse.
Som tyme thou founde hym in the mydyl off the doctors in the temple;
Ande now thou fyndyst hyme hangynge in the mydyl of the Jewes on the krosse.


"A Son! tak hede to me whas sone thou was,
And set me uppe wyt thee on i crosse.
Me her to leve, and thee thus hense go,
Yt is to me gret kare and wo.
Stynt now, Son, to be harde to thi moder,
Thou that ever was god to all other."

"Stynt now, Moder, and wepe no more;
Thi sorow and thi dyssesse grevysse me fule sore.
Thou knowyse that in the I tok mannys kynde,
In hyt for mannys syne to be the pynde.
Be now glade, Moder, and have in thoghte
That mannes hel is fondyn forwake, that I have soght.
Thow salt noght now kare what thow salt done;
Lo! Jone, thi kosyne, sall be thi sone."


   "Womman, Jon I take to thee
   Instede of me thi sone to be."

Allas, wo sal myn herte slaken?
To Jon I am towarde taken;
Mi blisful sone me hat forwaken,
And I have no mo.

Wel may I mone and murning maken,
And wepen til myn eyne aken.
For wane of wele my wo is waken,
Was nevere wif so wo.


Nou goth sonne under wod;
Me reweth, Marie, thi faire rode.
Nou goth sonne under tre;
Me reweth, Marie, thi sone and thee.


Sodenly afraide, half waking, half slepyng,
And gretly dismayde, a wooman sate weepyng —

With favoure in hir face ferr passyng my reason,
And of hir sore weepyng this was the enchesone:
Hir soon in hir lap lay, she seid, slayne by treason.
Yif wepyng myght ripe bee, it seemyd than in season.
"Jhesu," so she sobbid,
So hir soon was bobbid
And of his lif robbid,
Saying thies wordis as I say thee:
"Who cannot wepe come lerne at me."

I said I cowd not wepe, I was so harde-hartid.
Shee answerd me with wordys shortly that smarted:
"Lo, nature shall move thee, thou must be converted;
Thyne owne Fader this nyght is deed," lo thus she thwarted.
"So my soon is bobbid
And of his lif robbid."
Forsooth than I sobbid,
Veryfying the wordis she seid to me.
"Who cannot wepe may lerne at thee."

"Now breke, hert, I thee pray; this cors lith so rulye,
So betyn, so wowndid, entreted so Jewlye.
What wight may me behold and wepe nat? Noon truly,
To see my deed dere soone lygh bleedyng, lo, this newlye."
Ever stil she sobbid,
So hire soon was bobbid
And of his lif robbid,
Newyng the wordis as I say thee:
"Who cannot wepe com lerne at me."

On me she caste hire ey, said, "See, mane, thy brothir."
She kissid hym and said, "Swete, am I not thy moder?"
In sownyng she fill there, it wolde be non othir;
I not which more deedly, the toone or the tothir.
Yit she revived and sobbid,
So hire soon was bobbid
And of his lif robbid;
"Who cannot wepe," this was the laye.
And with that word she vanysht away.


Thou synfull man of resoun that walkest here up and downe,
Cast thy respeccyoun one my mortall countenaunce.
Se my blody terys fro my herte roote rebowne,
My dysmayd body chased from all plesaunce,
Perysshed wyth the swerd moste dedly of vengaunce.
Loke one my sorofull chere and have therof pytee,
Bewailynge my woo and payne, and lerne to wepe wyth me.

Yf thu can not wepe for my perplexed hevynesse,
Yet wepe for my dere sone, which one my lap lieth ded
Wyth woundis innumerable, for thy wyckednesse,
Made redempcyoun wyth hys blood, spared not hys manhed.
Then the love of hym and mornynge of my maydenhed
Schuld chaunge thyne herte, and thu lyst behold and see
Hys deth and my sorow, and lerne to wepe wyth me.

Thyne herte so indurat is that thu cane not wepe
For my sonnes deth, ne for my lamentacyoun?
Than wepe for thy synnes, when thu wakest of thy slepe
And remembre hys kyndnes, hys payne, hys passioun,
And fere not to call to me for supportacyoun.
I am thy frend unfeyned and ever have be;
Love my sone, kepe well hys lawes, and come dwell wyth me.


Why have ye no reuthe on my child?
Have reuthe on me, ful of murning,
Taket doun on rode my derworthi child,
Or prek me on rode with my derling.
More pine ne may me ben don
Than laten me liven in sorwe and schame;
Als love me bindet to my sone,
So lat us deyyen bothen i-same.


Of alle women that ever were borne
That berys childur, abyde and se
How my son liggus me beforne
Upon my kne, takyn fro tre.
Your childur ye dawnse upon your kne
With laghyng, kyssyng, and mery chere:
Behold my childe, beholde now me,
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

O woman, woman, wel is thee,
Thy childis cap thu dose upon;
Thu pykys his here, beholdys his ble;
Thu wost not wele when thu hast done.
But ever alas I make my mone
To se my sonnys hed as hit is here:
I pyke owt thornys be on and on
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

O woman, a chaplet choysyn thu has
Thy childe to were, hit dose thee gret likyng
Thu pynnes hit on with gret solas;
And I sitte with my son sore wepyng.
His chaplet is thornys sore prickyng;
His mouth I kys with a carfull chere.
I sitte wepyng, and thu syngyng,
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

O woman, loke to me agayne
That playes and kisses your childur pappys
To se my son I have gret payne,
In his brest so gret gap is,
And on his body so mony swappys.
With blody lippys I kis hym here;
Alas, full hard me thynk me happys,
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

O woman, thu takis thi childe be the hand
And seis, "My son, gif me a stroke!"
My sonnys handis ar sore bledand,
To loke on hym me list not layke.
His handis he suffyrd for thi sake
Thus to be boryd with nayle and speyre;
When thu makes myrth, gret sorow I make,
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

Beholde, women, when that ye play
And hase your childur on knees daunsand:
Ye fele ther fete, so fete are thay,
And to your sight ful wel likand.
But the most fyngur of any hande
Thorow my sonnys fete I may put here
And pulle hit out sore bledand,
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

Therfor, women, be town and strete,
Your childur handis when ye beholde,
Theyr brest, theire body and theire fete
Then gode hit were on my son thynk ye wolde, 4
How care has made my hert full colde,
To se my son, with nayle and speyre,
With scourge and thornys manyfolde,
Woundit and ded, my dere son, dere.

Thu hase thi son full holl and sounde,
And myn is ded upon my kne;
Thy childe is lawse, and myn is bonde,
Thy childe is an life and myn ded is he;
Whi was this oght but for thee?
For my childe trespast never here.
Me thynk ye be holdyne to wepe with me
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

Wepe with me, both man and wyfe:
My childe is youres and lovys yow wele.
If your childe had lost his life,
Ye wolde wepe at every mele,
But for my sone wepe ye never a del.
If ye luf youres, myne has no pere;
He sendis youris both hap and hele,
And for yow dyed my dere son, dere.

Now alle wymmen that has your wytte
And sees my childe on my knees ded,
Wepe not for yours, but wepe for hit,
And ye shall have ful mycull mede.
He wolde ageyne for your luf blede
Rather or that ye damned were.
I pray yow alle, to hym take hede,
For now liggus ded my dere son, dere.

Fare wel, woman, I may no more
For drede of deth reherse his payne.
Ye may lagh when ye list, and I wepe sore,
That may ye se and ye loke to me agayne.
To luf my son and ye be fayne,
I wille luff yours with hert entere,
And he shall brynge your childur and yow sertayne
To blisse wher is my dere son, dere.
   Explicit fabula.


O litel whyle lesteneth to me
Ententyfly, so have ye blys.
Gode ensaumple here schul ye,
Of noble mater wrought it is,
How Mary spak to the Rode tre
Whan her sone was in anguys.
The Cros answeryd that lady fre
Ful myldely, seiye clerkys wys,
That this tale have made couthe;
Thei have expouned it by sight,
A good ensaumple and a bryght.
But apocrifum thei holde it right,
For tre spak nevere with mouthe.

   Oure lady fre
To the Rode tre
Sche made her mone
And seyde, "On thee
Is fruyt of me
Full wo-bygone;
With blody ble
My fruyt I gan see
Among hys fone.
Of sorewe I see
Hys veynes fle
Fro blody bone.
Tre, thou dost no treuthe
On pilory my fruyt to pynne;
He hath no spot of Adam synne.
Flessche and veynes fle atwynne,
Wherfore I rede of reuthe.

"Cros, thi bondes schul be blamed:
My gode fruyt thou hast bigyled,
The fruytes moder was never famed,
My wombe is faire, founde unfyled.
Child, why art thou noght aschamed
On pilory to be ipyled,
As grete thevys that were gramed,
That dyeden thorough her werkis wylde?
Blode from hede is hayled;
All to-fowled is my faire fruyte,
That never dyd treget ne truyte
With thevys that love ryot unrighte.
Why schal my sone be nayled?

"Thee grete thevys galowes were greyd,
That evere to robbe ronnen ryfe;
Why schal my sone theron be leyde?
He noyyed never man ne wyfe.
A drynk of deep, sothely seyde,
Cros, thou gevys the Lord of lyfe;
Hys veynes breke with thi breyde,
My fruyte stont in stroke and stryfe.
The faire fruyte of my flessche,
My leve childe, withoute lak,
For Adam Goddis biddyng brak,
The blood ran on my briddes bak,
Droppynge as dewe on ryssche.

"The jugement have thei joyned
To bere fooles full of synne;
Yet scholde my sone fro thee be soyned
And never hys blood on thee rynne.
But now is truthe with tresoun twyned,
With a theef to henge fer in fenne.
With fele nayles hys feet be pyned.
A careful modir men may me kenne;
In balys I am bounde.
The brid that was of a mayde borne
On this tree is all fortorne:
A broche torow hys breest was borne;
Hys hert now hath a wounde.

"Tre, thou art loked by lawe
That a theefe and a traytour on thee schal deye:
Now is truthe with tresoun drawe,
Vertu is falle by vicys weye.
Love and truthe and sothefast sawe
On a tre traytours do teye;
Now is vertue with vyces slawe.
Of all vertues Cryst is keye;
Vertue is swetter than spyces.
In foote and honde he bereth blody prykke,
The heed is full of thornes thikke,
The goode hangeth among the wikke:
Vertue thus deieth with vyces.

"Cros, unkynde thou schalt be kyd;
My sonys stepmoder I thee calle.
My bridde was borne with beeste on bedde,
And by my fleissche my fruyt gan falle,
And with my breestys my brid I fedde.
Cros, thou gyvest hym eysell and galle.
My white rose rede is spred,
That floryssched was in fodders stalle.
Feet and faire handes
That now be croysed, I kissed hem ofte,
I lulled hem and leyde hem softe;
And thou, Cros, haldes hym highe alofte,
Bounde in blody bandes.

"My love I lulled uppe in hys leir,
With cradel bande I gan hym bynde;
Cros, he stiketh uppon thi steir,
Naked in the wylde wynde.
Fowles formen her nest in the eyr,
Foxes in den rest thei fynde,
But Goddys Sone and hevenys eir,
Hys hede holdeth on thornes tynde;
Of moornyng I may mynne.
My sones hed hath reste none,
But leneth on the schuldre bone.
The thornes thorow the panne is gone:
Thys woo I wyte synne.

"Cros, to sle hym is thi sleithe;
My blody brid thou berest for blysse.
Cros, thou holdest hym highe on heithe;
Hys faire feet I may not kysse.
My mouthe I putte, my swere I strecche,
Hys feet to kys:
The Jewes fro the Cros me kecche,
And on me make her mowe amys,
Her game and her gawdes;
The Jewes wrought on me wo.
Cros, I fynde thou art my fo;
My brid thou berist beten blo
Among thes folys frawdys."

   Crystys Cros than gaf answere,
"Lady, to thee I owe honour.
Thi bryght palme now I bere;
My schynyng scheweth of thi flour,
Thy trye fruyt I to-tere.
Thi fruyt me florysschith in blood colour
The worlde to wynne, as thou mayst here:
This blossom blomed in thi bour
Not all for thee alone,
But forto wynne all this werd,
That waltereth under the develes swerd.
Thorowe foote and honde God lete hym gerd
To amende mannys mone.

"Adam dyd full grete harmes;
He bote a fruyt under a bowe.
Therfore thi fruit spred hys armes
On tre that is tighed with tyndes towe.
Hys body is smyte ny the tharmes,
He swelt with a swemely swow,
Hys breest is bored with deethis armes,
And with hys deeth fro deeth us drowe,
And all hys goode freendys.
As Isayas spak in prophecye,
He seyde this sone, Seynt Marye,
Hys dethe slowe dethe in Calvarye
And leveth withoute endys.

"Lady, love dothe thee alegge
Fruite prikkyd with sperys orde.
I Cros, withoute knyves egge,
I kerve fruit beest of horde.
All is rede, ribbe and rigge,
The bak bledeth agens the borde;
I am a pyler and bere a brigge.
God is the weye, witnesse one worde:
God seith he is sothefast weye.
Many folk slode to hell slider;
To hevene noman cowde thider,
Til God deighed and taught whider
Men drawe whan thei deye.

"And Moyses fourmed hys figour,
A whyte lambe, and noon other beest;
He sacred so oure savyour
To be mete of myghtes meest.
And chosen cheef in honour,
I bare fleissche to folkys feest,
Jesu Cryst oure creatour;
Hys flessche fedeth leste and mest,
Rosted agens the sonne.
On me lay the lambe of love;
I was plater, hys body above,
Whan flessche and veynes all toclove,
With blood I was bironne.

"Yit Moyses this resoun rad,
'Ete youre lambe with soure vergeous';
Sowre saws make the sowle glad,
Sorowe for synnes oures.
That vergeous maketh the fende adrad,
And fer fleth fro Goddis spous.
And bere a staaf and stonde sadde
Whan flessche thee fedith in Goddis hows.
This staf is Crystis crouche:
Stonde thou styf by this stake
Whan the fonge yowre fleissche in take;
Than may the devyll no maystryes make
Youre sowles to touche.

"Whan pardoun is schewed with a scryne,
With boke on bord with nayles smyte,
With rede lettres wryten blyne.
Blewe and blak among me pyte,
My Lorde I likne to that signe:
The body was bored and on borde bete,
In bright blode oure boke gan schyne.
How woo he was no wight may wyte,
Ne rede in hys rode
Youre pardoun boke fro top to too.
Wryten it was full wonder woo,
Rede woundes and strokes bloo:
Your boke was bounde in blode.

"In holy write this tale I herde,
How riche giftis God us gaf;
God seith hymself a good scheperde,
And every herde byhoveth a staf.
The Cros I kalle the heerdys yerde;
Therwith the devyl a dent he gaf.
With that yerd the wolfe he werid,
With dyntes drofe hym all to draf."
The Cros this tale tolde,
How he was the staf in herdis hande,
Whan scheep borsten oute of bande;
The wolfe he wered oute of lande,
That devouride Crystis folde.
   Oure ladye seyde, "Cros, of thi werk
Wonder naght, thei I be wrothe.
Thus seyde Poule, Crystes clerk,
To the fikell Jewes, withoute othe,
Jewes stone-hard, with synnes merke,
Thei bete a lambe withoute lothe,
Softer than water under serk,
Milk or mede melled bothe:
The Jewes were the hard stonys.
Softer than water or mylk lycour
Or dew that lithe on lily flour
Was Cristes body in blode colour —
The Jewes brisseden hys bonys.

"Sithe mannys sone was so nedy
To be lad as a lamb so mylde,
Why were gylours so gredy
To fowle so my faire chylde?
And Cros, why were thou so redy
My fruite to foule fer in felde?"
   The Cros seyde, "To make the devyll dredy,
God schope me schelde, schame to schelde. 5
Sithe lombe of love dyede
And on me yelde hys goost with voys
Men chose me a relyk choys,
The signe of Jesu Crystis Croys.
Ther dar no devyl abyde.
"Many folk I defende fro her foos,"
Cristes Cros this sawe he syde,
"Hevene gate was keithed clos
Til lambe of love now he deyede.
It is write in tixt and glos,
For Cristis deeth prophetes preyde,
Till lambe of love deyed and roos.
In hell pyne many folk was teyde;
In the houre of highest noone
The lambe of love seide his thought:
'All is fulfilled that well was wrought;
Man is oute of bondys brought,
And hevene dorys undone.'

"And I was Cros, and kepte that gifte
That geve was of Fadres graunt;
I was loked I schulde uplifte
Goddis Sone and maydenes faunt.
Noman had schelde of scrifte:
The devyll stode as lyoun raumpaunt,
Many folk he keighte to hell clifte,
Till the dyntes of the Cros gan hym adaunte.
My dede is founde and boked,
All the werke that I have wroughte,
It was in the Fadres forthoughte.
Lovely lady, lak me noughte,
I dyd as I was loked.

"In water and blood cristenyng was wrought,
Holy writ witnessith it well;
And in the well of worthi thought,
Man is cristened to soule hele.
The blood that all the world hath bought,
A digne cristenyng he gan me dele.
Cryst in cristenynge forgat me nought,
Hys fressche blood whan I gan fele,
Mayde, modir, and wyve:
Crystis blood gaf me bapteme;
Bystreke I was with rede streme
Whan Jesu bled upon a beme
Of cipresse and olyve.

"Jesu seyde to Nichodemus,
But a barn be twies born,
Whan domesday schal blowe his bemys,
He schulde lye as man lorn:
First bore of wombe where rewthe remys,
Sith with font synne is schorn.
And I was Cros to mannys quemys;
I baar the fruyt thou bere aforn
For thi beryng alone;
But I had born hym efte,
Fro riche rest man had be refte,
And in a lore logge lefte,
Ay, to grucche and grone.

"Thou were crowned hevene queen
For the birthen that thou bere;
Thi garlond is of gracious greene,
Of hell emperesse and hevene empere.
I am the relyk that schyneth schene;
Men wolde wyte where I were.
At the pleyn parlement I schal been,
At domesday prestly to pere
Whan God schal seye right there,
'Trewly on thee, Rode tre,
Man, I dyed for love of thee;
Man, what hast thou do for me
To be my frendly fere?'

"At parlement I wil put pleynyng,
How maydenes sone on me gan sterve,
Spere and spounge and hard naylyng,
The hard hede the helme gan kerve;
And I schal crye, 'Rightful kyng!
Ilk man have as thee serve.'
The right schul ryse to ryche reynynge;
Truyt and treget to helle schal terve.
Mayde meke and mylde,
God took in thee hys flessch trewe;
I bare thi fruyt lele and newe.
It is right the Rode to Eve helpe schewe,
Man, woman, and chylde."

   The queen, thus acorded with the Cros,
Agens hym spak nomore speche.
The lady gef the Cros a cosse;
The lady of love, love gan seche,
Theigh hire fruit on him were dight to dros,
Whon rendyng ropus gan him reche.
Cristes Cros hath kept us from lose,
Maries preyers and God ur leche.
The queen and the Cros acord:
The queen bare first, the Cros aftirward,
To fecche folk fro hellward,
On holy styres to styghe upward
And reigne with oure Lord.

A clerk fourmed this figour
Of Maries sorwe to seighe summe,
As he had see in scharp schour
How Cristes armes were rent and rune.
The Cros is a colde creatour,
And ever yet was deef and dum;
This tale florissched with a faire flour,
This poynt I prove apocrifum.
Witnesse was never founden
That evere Crystis Cros spak,
Ne oiure lady leyde hym no lak;
But for to dryve the devyll abak,
Men speke of Cristes wounden.

A clerk fourmed this fantasye
On Crists stervyng stok to stere,
That bare the body all blody,
Whan dethes dent gan hym dere.
This apocrifum is no foly;
In swich a lay dar thee naght dere,
That dothe man to seke mercy,
Wikked werkes awey to were,
In tixte ful well is write.
A lombe hath larged all this glose,
Plenté speche therin to prose,
The counseill of the Cros to unclose,
Of Maryes woo to wite.

In flesshly wede
God gan hym hede,
Of mylde may
Was born to blede,
As Cristes crede,
Sothely to say.
On stokky stede
He roode, men rede,
In rede aray.
Fro develis drede
That Duk us lede
At domesday,
Whan pepil schal parte and passe
To holy hevene and hell the wode.
Now Cristes crosse and Crystes blode
And Maries praier mylde and goode
Graunte us the lyfe of grace. Amen.


Upon my ryght syde y me leye;
Blessid lady, to thee y pray:
For the teres that ye lete
Upon yowre swete sonnys feete,
Sende me grace for to slepe,
And good dremys for to mete,
Slepyng, wakyng till morowe daye bee.

Owre Lorde is the frwte, oure lady is the tree,
Blessed be the blossome that sprange, Lady, of thee.
In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti. 6 Amen.


       M and A and R and I,
       syngyn I wil a newe song.

It wern fowre letterys of purposy:
M and A, R and I.
Tho wern letteris of Mary
Of hom al our joye sprong.

On the mownt of Calvory,
With M and A, R and I,
There he betyn his bryte body
With schorges that wern bothe scharp and long.

Our swete lady stod hym by,
With M and A and R and I,
Che wept water with here ey,
And alwey the blod folwyd among.

God, that sit above the sky,
With M and A, R and I,
Save now al this cumpany,
And sende us joye and blysse among!


       Mary myelde made grete mone
       For her dere sonne alone.

When fals Judas her son had solde
To the Jewes wikked and bolde,
As he before to hir had tolde,
   She was wofull alone.

When he came to Cayphas and An
To be juged for synfull man,
In her hert she was woofull than
   For hir dere son alone.

When that she sawe his flessh to-torn,
And on his hede a crowne of thorn,
And how the Jewes hym did shorn,
   She was wofull alone.

When hir dere son, Jhesus so goode,
Was nayled fast uppon the roode,
She sobbed and wept watre and bloode
   For hir dere son alone.

Whenne hir dere son on the thirde day
With hir dide mete and thus did say,
"Hayle, holy moder, wyfe, and may,"
   She was joyfull alone.


I syke when y singe,
   For sorewe that y se,
When y with wypinge
   Biholde upon the tre
Ant se Jesu the suete,
Is herte blod forlete,
   For the love of me
Ys woundes waxen wete;
Thei wepen stille ant mete.
   Marie, reweth thee.

Heghe upon a doune,
   Ther al folk hit se may,
A mile from uch toune,
   Aboute the midday,
The Rode is up arered;
His frendes aren afered,
   Ant clyngeth so the clay.
The Rode stond in stone,
Marie stont hire one
   Ant seith "Weylaway!"

When y thee biholde,
   With eyghen bryhte bo,
Ant thi bodi colde,
   Thi ble waxeth blo,
Thou hengest al of blode
So heghe upon the Rode
   Bituene theves tuo;
Who may syke more?
Marie wepeth sore
   Ant siht al this wo;

The naylles beth to stronge,
   The smythes are to sleye,
Thou bledest al to longe,
   The tre is al to heyghe,
The stones beoth al wete.
Alas, Jesu the suete,
   For nou frend hast thou non
Bote Seint Johan, mournynde,
Ant Marie, wepynde,
   For pyne that thee ys on.

Ofte when y sikesigh
   Ant makie my mon,
Wel ille thah me like,
   Wonder is hit non,
When y se honge heghe
Ant bittre pynes dreghe
   Jesu my lemmon,
His wondes sore smerte,
The spere al to is herte,
   Ant thourh is sydes gon.

Ofte when y syke
   With care y am thourhsoht.
When y wake y wyke;
   Of serewe is al my thoht.
Alas men beth wode
That suereth by the Rode
   Ant selleth him for noht
That bohte us out of synne:
He bring us to wynne
   That hath us duere boht.


   Maiden and moder, cum and se,
   Thi child is nailed to a tre.
   Hand and fot he may nouth go,
   His bodi is wonden al in wo.
   Al abouten he is to-toren,
   His heved is wrethen with a thorn,
   His sides bothen on blode be,
   With blod hes blent, he may nouth se.

   Mi suete sone that art me dere,
   Wat has thu don, qui art thu here?
   This suete bodi that in me rest,
   That loveli mouth that I have kist,
   Nou is on rode mad thi nest.
   Mi dere child, quat is me best?

   Jon, this womman for my sake,
   Womman, to Jon, I thee betake.
   Alone I am withoten make,
   On rode I hange for mannis sake
   This gamen alone me must pleyye
   For mannis soule this det to deyye.
   Mi blod is sched, my fles is falle
   Me thristet sore, for drink I calle
   Thei geven me eysil medlid with galle.
   For mannis senne in wo I walle
   Yef thei weren kende to loven me outh,
   Of al my peine me ne routh.

   Fader, my soule I thee betake!
   My bodi deyghet for mannis sake.
   Senful soules in helle lake,
   To hem I go, awey to take.
   Mannis soule, thou art my make;
   Love me wel, I thee nouth forsake,
   And my moder herteliche,
   For sche helpet thee stedfasliche
   An thou salt comen that blisse to
   Ther my Fader is for evermo.
(see note)

hours; sadness; (see note)

What dolor pierced; (see note)
When she heard; taken; bound
Then; [he] who; no; (see note)
(see note)

6 a.m.
she; Pilate's; (see note)
sobbing, sighing; swoon
There; Jews spit
witnesses spoke

did; (see note)
(see note)
They scourged; stood; (see note)
bear; cross; crowned [him]

naked nailed; tree; (see note)
gave; (see note)
earth trembled; rocks began; (see note)

commended; Saint John; (see note)
Then; she; die
(see note)
between; us made; (see note)

side opened; spear; (see note)
evensong; then
many; tears
bosom; glory

them; grave; bear; (see note)
close; therein; great stone
keep; Jews; war (soldiers)
remained; alone; (see note)

(see note)
These hours
in court [at Judgment Day]

from your son
also be a servant
sins; penance
Then be taken; heaven finally;

(see note)

Stood, beheld her son on cross
son hung; stood
her; blood
How it from his wounds
When; died who; life
More sorrowful; woman; (see note)
you were, lady, then
bright; night; (see note)
Then; your heart's light; (see note)
quenched; pain; woe

Your life endured; difficult hours
When you saw his bloody wounds
on the cross mounted
wounds; smarting
Stung through and through
[to] you promised; (see note)

head; blood besprinkled
spear pierced; (see note)

hands spread on cross
washed with blood
And nailed; tree (cross)

scourges beaten
blood; let out
Made your heart sore; (see note)
Wherever you cast your eyes
Pain; you saw him suffer
Nor might anyone endure more

Now; (see note)
Child; [from] them withheld
Now they demand with shouting
He whom you in your child-care; (see note)
withheld from them before

Now; find
What; suffer; their children
Though you are a pure virgin
you have suffered hard; dearly; (see note)
pain you suffered
In giving birth, free and clear

Soon; night of sorrow; (see note)
Sprang; light of blessed morning (Easter)
In your; sweet maiden
sorrows turned; (see note)
When; with complete certainty
Arose upon; third

Indeed you were joyful
When [he] arose from death; (see note)
Through; whole [tomb]stone ; glided; (see note)
Just as; of you born
Whole remained your virginity

New bliss
Who mankind so dearly bought
gave his dear life
Glad; joyful

Blessed; woman

Queen; heaven
Lighten all our sorrow
turn our evil into good; (see note)
Make us ever; him dwell; (see note)
us bought with; blood; (see note)

(see note)

Stand; cross
glad spirit; (see note)
Happy; might you be; (see note)
Son, who; (see note)
I see your feet, I see your hands; (see note)
tree (cross)

cease your weeping; (see note)
I suffer death; mankind's sake; (see note)
my own guilt suffer I none; (see note)
I sense; time of death
my heart ground

have pity on your child; (see note)
wash; those bloody tears; (see note)
pains me worse; my death
how may I stop my tears
I see these bloody streams run; (see note)
Out; feet; (see note)

now I say to you
I alone die

hanging (swung); (see note)
breast; hand; foot pierced; (see note)
wonder I am woeful; (see note)

dare tell you; (see note)
If I do not die, you go to hell; (see note)
I suffer this death; (see note)
Son, you are for me such a concern; (see note)
Blame; not; my nature; (see note)
I make sorrow for you; (see note)

die; (see note)
To redeem Adam from hell
all mankind; lost
what will prepare me; (see note)
Your suffering pains me to death; (see note)
die before you

first you might learn; (see note)
What suffering they endure who bear children; (see note)
sorrow they have; lose; (see note)
I know I can tell you; (see note)
Unless it be; (see note)
More sorrow know I none

pity of motherly sorrow; (see note)
Now you know; mother's experience; (see note)
Though you are a virgin; (see note)
all in need
they who to me cry out
unchaste woman

longer dwell
The time has come [that] I go to hell; (see note)
third; (see note)
I want to go with you; (see note)
I die, I know, of your wounds; (see note)
sorrowful [a] death; (see note)

ended your sorrow; (see note)
sprang; third day; (see note)
When joyful, Mother, were you then; (see note)
same bliss; (see note)
Beseech our God, our sins forgive; (see note)
our shield against; foe

(see note)
out of hell's flame; (see note)
Through; dear son's might; (see note)
comforting(?) blood; (see note)
shed; cross
heaven's light

(see note)

Sweet son, have pity; burst
see through; hands
driven; ruefully you hang; (see note)
better; flee; leave; lands

drips; blood
bound; cross
heart suffer; child; (see note)
[most] blessed; good

approaches swiftly; (see note)
world; never shall; happy

(see note)

(see note)
court; is cursed
see; friends weeping
injury; harm; (see note)
lacked woman's woe; (see note)
you well feel; is not; (see note)

song; "wellaway" (a cry of lament)
his ease; (see note)
with; discomfort; (see note)
midst of; (see note)

(see note)

Ah; take heed; whose
with you upon the; (see note)
Me here to leave; hence; (see note)
It; (see note)
Cease; harsh
good; (see note)

Stop; weep
discomfort grieves
took human nature
the afflicted [one]; (see note)
thought; (see note)
mankind's salvation is found
shall not worry about
John; kinsman, shall; (see note)

(see note)

John; give to you; (see note)

who; heart relieve

exhausted by vigilance; (see note)

moan; mourning
eyes ache
waning of happiness; woe; awakened
woman; woeful

(see note)

sun; wood; (see note)
I have pity; [upon] your; face; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)
dismayed; sat

beauty; far
be; then
As; son; beaten/mocked
these words
learn from; (see note)

could; hard-hearted
(see note)
(see note)
dead; argued
son; cheated/derided; (see note)

Truly; sobbed; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)

break, heart; corpse; pitifully
beaten; wounded, treated by Jews; (see note)
person; weep not? None; (see note)
dead dear son lie; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)

Renewing; (see note)

eye; man; (see note)

swooning; fell; no other; (see note)
know not; deathlike; one; other

(see note)

song; (see note)
(see note)

(see note)

attention on
See; tears; heart's root spring
pleasure; (see note)
sword; (see note)
Look on; countenance; pity

who on; lies dead; (see note)
manhood (life)
change; you desire to

hard; can

fear; support
unfeigned; been
(see note)

(see note)

mourning; (see note)
Take down from the cross; precious
crucify; cross; beloved
More pain may not be inflicted on me
[to] let me live; sorrow; shame
As; binds me
let; alike

(see note)

Who bear children, stay and see
lies before me
knee; from [the] cross; (see note)
children; dandle; knee

lies dead; dear

well are you
child's; you put on; (see note)
You comb his hair; appearance; (see note)
You do not know (appreciate)
see; son's head; it
pick out thorns one by one

you have chosen a garland
wear, it pleases you greatly; (see note)
great satisfaction; (see note)

thorns sorely pricking
kiss; careful (woeful) face

look; again
Who; child's breast

hole (wound); (see note)
my circumstances

you take; by
give me a pat; (see note)

I do not like; (see note)
hands; suffered (permitted)
pierced; nail and spear; (see note)

bounce your children on your knees
touch; feet; comely; (see note)
largest finger; (see note)
Through; feet
it; sorely bleeding (i.e., the feet)

by town and way; (see note)
When you behold your children's hands
breast; feet

sorrow; heart
see; nail and spear
scourge; many thorns
Wounded and dead

You have your son whole and sound
dead; knee
free; bound
alive; mine is dead
Why did this happen but for you
are obligated; weep; (see note)

yours; loves you well

not a bit
you love yours, mine has no equal
sends yours; fortune; salvation
you died

wit (mind)

it (my child, i.e., Jesus)
great reward
bleed for love of you
Rather than letting you be damned
think of him

(see note)
fear of dying; suffering
laugh when you please
may you see if you look to me
If you desire to love my son
I will love yours with my whole heart
you certainly

End of story

(see note)

A; listen; (see note)
Attentively; bliss
Good example hear you shall
spoke; Rood tree (Cross)
son; anguish
say wise clerks
interpreted; (see note)
example; moral [one]; (see note)
fiction; rightly
tree spoke; mouth

noble; (see note)
Rood tree (Cross)

appearance; (see note)
fruit (child) I saw
In sorrow
veins flayed; (see note)
do nothing true; (see note)
Flesh and veins flayed both in two
urge pity

your bonds shall
beguiled; (see note)
undefiled; (see note)
ashamed; (see note)
thieves; punished; (see note)
died for their works wild
befouled; (see note)
trickery nor wrong
thieves; unjust riot

[For] you great thieves' gallows; built
run in great numbers

injured; nor
deep drink, truly said; (see note)
you give
break; assault; (see note)
stands; buffetting; strife; (see note)

beloved; fault; (see note)
Because Adam broke God's command
bird's back; (see note)
dew; rushes; (see note)

imposed (enjoined upon you); (see note)
bear criminals
run on you
truth; treason intertwined; (see note)
thief; far out; fen; (see note)
many; pinned; (see note)
sorrowful; know
bird; (see note)
torn apart; (see note)
spear through; breast
(see note)

traitor on you shall die
fallen; vicious means
truthful speech
tie traitors to a tree
virtues; vices slain
bears; wounds

wicked; (see note)

you shall be known; (see note)
beasts; (see note)
flesh; was born; (see note)
breasts; bird; fed
vinegar; (see note)
red [with blood]; (see note)
bloomed; barn; (see note)

crucified; them often
sang lullabies to; folded them softly
holds him

bed; (see note)
did bind him
is nailed; frame
wild wind
Birds make their nests; aerie; (see note)
dens find rest; (see note)
God's Son; heaven's heir
Holds his head; sharp (tined); (see note)
For mourning; be remembered
head has no rest[ing place]; (see note)
leans; your shoulder
through; brain; (see note)
know [to be] sin; (see note)

kill; trick
with joy
(see note)
neck I stretch; (see note)
(see note)
from; drive
at; their taunts wicked
Their jests; devices
bear; blue
fools dishonest

Christ's; gave; (see note)

(see note)
beauty shows off (manifests); (see note)
true (precious); rend; (see note)
adorns me
may hear; (see note)
bloomed; bower (womb)
Not all for you alone
to redeem; world
welters; devil's sword; (see note)
Through; hand; be pinned
To amend; lament

did; harm
bit; branch
your fruit (Jesus); (see note)
tree; tied; two spikes; (see note)
smitten near the intestines; (see note)
sweats (bleeds); swaying swoon; (see note)
pierced; deadly weapons; (see note)
death from death us drew
friends; (see note)
Isaiah; (see note)
son, Saint
death slew death
cleanses; (see note)

causes you [to] allege; (see note)
Spear's point
knife's edge
cut; best of the lot; (see note)
red; rib and back (i.e., completely)
back bleeds against; board; (see note)
pillar; bear a bridge
way; (see note)
says; true way
slid; slipperily
no one could go
died; where
go when

Moses; figure; (see note)
no; beast
venerated as; (see note)
food; most
(see note)
flesh (meat, food); mankind's feast
(see note)
feeds least and most; (see note)
Roasted (scorched/tortured); sun
When; severed; (see note)

Yet; counsel gave; (see note)
Eat; bitter herbs (paschal lamb); (see note)
Sour sauces; soul; (see note)
Sorrow for our sins
herb; fiend dread(see note)
far flees from God's spouse
bear; staff; solemnly
you eat flesh; God's house
Stand; stiffly
When you receive the host; (see note)
power have; (see note)

betokened by a shrine; (see note)
sign; board; driven
written by line; (see note)
Blue; upon me written (depicted); (see note)
liken; (see note)
pierced; board beaten
book did shine
woeful; person; know
read; face; (see note)
book from; toe; (see note)
Written; [with] wondrous woe
Red/Read wounds; blows blue
book; bound; (see note)

writings; heard
gifts; gave
calls; (see note)
shepherd needs; staff
call; shepherd's staff
he gave the devil a blow
defended against
blows drove; chaff; (see note)

burst; flock; (see note)
Christ's [sheep]fold
your work
Doubt not, though; angry
St. Paul; (see note)
fickle; oath; (see note)
sin's mark
beat; fault
mead blended
liquid; (see note)
lies; flower
bloody hue
bruised; bones; (see note)

Since; compelled
jailors; greedy

far off in a field
fearful; (see note)

[the] lamb; died; (see note)
yielded his spirit with his voice; (see note)
choice relic; (see note)
Christ's Cross

from their foes
saying; spoke
Heaven's gate; locked closed

written; text; gloss
death prophets prayed
died and rose
pain; tied
high noon

(see note)
bondage brought
doors opened

(see note)
given; Father's consent
maiden's babe; (see note)
No one; shield; confession; (see note)
lion rampant; (see note)
took; chasm
blows; did him daunt
judged and recorded

doubt me not
did; ordained

writing (the Bible)

for soul's healing

noble; did me give

did feel; (see note)
baptized me
Bestreaked; red stream
cypress; olive

(see note)
Unless a man is born twice
Judgment Day; trumpets
lie; lost
born; sorrow cries out
Then; [baptismal] font [where]; shorn
for mankind's benefit
bore; bore before
Unless; after
From; deprived
lost home
moan and groan

child; bore
empress; heaven's empire
shines bright
will know where I was
final judgment; shall be
eagerly; appear
(see note)


make complaint
did die
skull; helmet (crown of thorns) did cut

Each; as [he] serves you
rise; rich reigning
Sin; trickery; fall; (see note)

his; true; (see note)
bare; faithful; (see note)
Cross; show; (see note)

Against; spoke no more speech
gave; kiss
sought to love [the Cross]
Though; condemned to death; (see note)
tearing ropes; grab
prayers; our healer

fetch; from
stairs; rise

composed; story
tell some; (see note)
seen; sharp suffering/pain; (see note)
torn; slandered; (see note)
inanimate creature
deaf; dumb
flower (message); (see note)

Christ's Cross spoke
Nor [that] Our Lady accused him of fault

(see note)
Toward; dying cross; direct

Death's blows; injure
fiction; folly
In such a poem lurks [for] you no harm; (see note)
causes; seek
Wicked; scorn
text; written
lamb ; elaborated [on]; commentary; (see note)
Rich; compose
woe; know

garment (i.e., human form)
did conceal himself


stocklike steed
rode; teach; (see note)
red array
From fear of the devil
Duke (Christ)

people shall divide and go

(see note)

I; lay; (see note)

tears; you cried
son's feet
dreams to dream
until morning comes

fruit; (see note)
from you

(see note)

(see note)

were; purpose; (see note)

They were; (see note)
From whom; sprang; (see note)

mount; Calvary

they beat; untarnished; (see note)

stood by him

She; her eye; (see note)
always; blood flowed; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)


(see note)


Annas; (see note)
as a


water; (see note)


(see note)

(see note)

sigh; (see note)
sorrow; see
And see; (see note)
His; pouring forth

gently; fittingly; (see note)
have pity; (see note)

High; hill
Where all folks may see it
each town; (see note)

Cross; raised; (see note)
are afraid; (see note)
shrink [in fear] like [dry] clay

nearby; (see note)
And says; (see note)

I you; (see note)
eyes; both; (see note)

color turns blue
Between two thieves

And sees

are too strong; (see note)

too long
too high
are all wet
now; none
But; mourning; (see note)
And; weeping
suffering; upon you

sigh; (see note)

hung high
enduring bitter pains
hurt sorely; (see note)
spear pierces his
goes through his sides

pierced through
lie awake I grow weak
sorrow; thought
are insane
Who bought (redeemed)
dearly purchased

(see note)

(see note)
tree (cross)
foot; not
wounded; woe

head; wreathed

he is blinded; not

dear to me


what is best for me


cross; man's

debt; die
shed; fallen; (see note)
thirst painfully
vinegar mixed
sin; wail
If; taught; properly
I do not care

give to you
dies; man's
Sinful; hell's lake
Man's; mate
do not forsake you
she helps you steadfastly
And you shall come to that bliss
Where; evermore


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