16: The Masons' and Goldsmiths' Play: Herod and the Magi

The clouds clapped in clearness that these climates enclose
(Jupiter and Jove, Mars and Mercury amid),
Rushing over my realm in rows, make me rejoice,
Blending brutal blasts to blow when I bid.
Saturn, my subject, that subtly lies hid,
Listens at my liking and lays himself low.
The roof of the red sky of clouds I do rid.
Thunderbolts thickly by the thousands I throw
When I like.
Venus his voice to me owes,
That princes to play on him pick.

The prince of planets, proud in his light,
Shall brace forth his beams to make blithe my body.
The moon at my messages musters his might,
And Kaisars in castles great kindness give me.
Lords and ladies attend me lovingly,
For I am fairer of face, and fresher on fold
(The sooth I shall say), times seven and sixty
Than glorious gules, that gayer is than gold
In price.
How think ye these tales that I told?
I am worthy, witty, and wise.

All kings to your crown may clearly commend
Your law and your lordship as lodestar on height.
What traitor untrue that will not attend,
You shall lay him down low, far from brightness and light.

What faker, in faith, that does you offend,
We shall set him some soreness, that sot, in your sight.

In wealth shall I work you to dwell, ere I wend,
You warriors worthy, both witty and wight.

But you know well, cunning knights in counsel,
That my region so royal is ruled well, at rest.
I am aware of no one in this world that does dwell
That forges any felony; with force they're bound fast.
Arrest ye those ribalds who unruly are running!
Be they kings or caitiffs, for care make them cursed,
Yea, and work them to wail for woe, ere day's waning.
What brat that is brawling, his brain look you burst,
And ding ye him down!

Sir, what fool in faith you will feeze,
That sot full soon myself shall him seize.

We shall have no doubt to do him dis-ease,
But with countenances cruel we shall crack here his crown.

My son that is seemly, how seem to you these saws?
How comely these knights do converse in this case.

Father, if they like not to listen to your laws,
As traitors untrue you must teach them their place;
For, father, for unkindness you give them no cause.

Fairness befall you, my fair son, so handsome of face.
And, knights, I command, whoever towards dole draws,
Like chevaliers those churls you shall chastise and chase;
And dread you no doubt.

Father, I shall fell them in a fight,
What rank ones that rob you of your right.

With dints to death we indict
Him who listens not to your laws, that lout!

Ah, Lord that lives, everlasting light,
I love thee ever with heart and hand-
Thou, who has made me see this sight
Which my kindred hoped to understand.
They said, a star with beams so bright
Out of the east should stably stand;
And that it should mark the wondrous might
Of the one who should be lord in land--
Who people from sin should save.
And surely I shall say,
God, grant me grace to have
Your guidance on the way.

Almighty God, who all has wrought,
I honour thee as is worthy-
Thou, who with brightness has me brought
Out of my realm, rich Araby.
I shall not cease till I have sought
What stunning thing this shall signify.
God, grant me luck so that I might
Have grace to get good company,
And my comfort increase
With thy star, shining sheen.
For surely, I shall not cease
Till I know what it mean.

Lord God, that all good has begun,
And all may end, both good and ill,
That made for man both moon and sun,
And established yon star to stand stone still:
Till I the cause may clearly expound,
God guide me with his worthy will--
I think I have some fellows found,
My yearning faithfully to fulfill.
Sirs, God save thee and thee,
And keep you ever from woe.

Amen, so mote it be;
God save you, sir, also.

Sirs, with your will, I would you pray
To tell me some of your intent:
Whither you go forth on this way,
And, from what countries you both went?

Full gladly, sir, I shall you say.
A sudden sight to us was sent:
A royal star that rose ere day,
Before us, in the firmament.
That made us leave our homes,
The matter for to prove.

Surely, sirs, I saw the same
That makes us thus to move;

For, sirs, I have heard tell, certain,
It means some marvels shall betide.
Further knowledge I would gain;
That makes me on this road to ride.

Sir, your fellowship to attain
We would be glad.  Now side by side,
God grant us, ere we come again,
Encouragement this wintertide.
Sir, here is Jerusalem
To search before we go.
Beyond is Bethlehem;
There shall we seek also.

Sirs, you must well understand
(For wisdom now we all do need),
Sir Herod is king of this land,
And makes the laws, his land to lead.

Sir, since he now is near at hand,
Unto his help we must take heed.
If in his blessing we may stand,
Then we may without fear proceed.

To have leave of the lord
Is reasonable, indeed.

To that let us accord,
And go, with all good speed.

My lord, Sir Herod, king with crown!

Peace, dastard, in the devil's despite!

My lord, some news has come to town!

What?  Vile villain, would you fight?
Go, beat this boy, and ding him down!

Lord, messengers no man should spite;
It may be for your own renown.

That would I hear.  Tell on, then, quite.

My lord, I saw this morn
Three kings, speaking together
Of a babe that is born;
And they agreed to come hither.

Three kings, indeed?

           			Sir, so I say,
For I myself saw them come here.

My lord, do question him, I pray!

Say, fellow, are they far or near?

My lord, they will be here today;
I know it well, and never fear.

Let me be dressed in rich array,
And every man make merry cheer,
That no sign should be seen
But of friendship and goodwill,
'Till we know what they mean:
Whether good or ill.

The lord that lends everlasting light
Which has us led out of our land,
Keep thee, sir king and comely knight,
And all thy folk that here do stand.

Mahound, my god, the most in might,
That has my health all in his hand,
May he save you, sirs seemly in sight.
Now, give us news to understand.

Some shall we say to you, sire:
A star stood us before
That made us soon enquire
Of one that is new-born.

New-born?  That burden I think bad;
And surely, unwise men you were
To leap over land to look for a lad.
Say, when did you lose him?  Not long before?
All wise men will think you mad;
Therefore, mention this no more.

Yes, surely, such heartening have we had,
We will not cease 'till we come there.

This would be a wondrous thing.
Say, what babe might this be?

Indeed, he shall be king
Of Jews and of Jewry.

King?  In the Devil's name, dogs, you lie!
New well I see you rant and rave.
By any shimmering of the sky
How should you know either king or knave?

Nay, he is king, and none but he;
That you shall know if that you crave.
And he is judge of all Jewry,
To speak or spoil, to slay or save.

Such tricks may greatly grieve:
To witness that which never was.

Now, lord, we ask but leave
By your power to pass-

Where to go, in the Devil's name?
To look for a lad, here, in my lands?
False villains!  Unless you get you home
You shall be beaten and bound in bands!

My lord, to defeat this foul defame
Let all this wrath run off now; and
With sober mind ask them their aim.
Thus shall you clearly understand
Their mind and their meaning;
And take good heed thereto.

I thank thee for this thing;
So, surely, shall I do.

Now, kings, to catch all care away,
Since you are come from kith and kin:
Against our law, now, nothing say
On pain of losing life and limb.
And so that you the truth will say,
I grant you leave to pass herein.
And if your words please me, I may
Myself go with you.  Now, begin.

Sir king, we all accord
And say a babe is born
That shall be king and lord,
And heal those that are torn.

Sir, you need wonder at no thing
Of this same matter that gives us news;
For Balaam said a star should spring
From Jacob's kin; that is, the Jews.

Isaiah says a maiden young
Should bear a babe, among the Hebrews,
Who of all countries shall be king,
And govern all that on Earth grows;
Emmanuel is his name,
That is, "God's son of Heaven,"
And indeed this is the same
That we here to you mention.

Sir, the proven prophet Hosée
Did prophecy in town and tower.
A maiden of Israel indeed, said he,
Shall bear one like to the lily flower.
He means, a child conceived shall be
Without the seed of man's succour,
And his mother, a maiden free,
And he, both son and saviour.

What the fathers said before,
No man has the power to curse.

Alas, I am no more;
This waxes worse and worse.

My lord, be ye nothing distressed;
This fix to an end shall well be brought.
Bid them go forth, and kindly request
The truth of this that they have sought,
To tell it to you-thus you shall test
Whether their tales be true or not.
Then, you shall quickly them arrest,
And make all waste that they have wrought.

Now surely, this is well said.
This eases all my pain.
Sir kings, I hold me paid
Of all your purpose plain.
Go forth, your mission to fulfill,
For Bethlehem is here at hand.
And ask now keenly of good and ill
Of him that should be lord in land.
And, come again then me untill,
And tell me truly how it does stand.
To honour him would be my will;
Thus you must surely understand.

Surely, sir, we shall you say
The truth of that same child,
In all the haste we may.

Farewell!  You are beguiled.

Now surely this is a clever plot.
Now shall they truly take their way
And tell me of that trivial tot,
And all their counsel they shall say.
If it be true, then I shall not
Hold off for gold; I shall them slay.
But let us go and play somewhat
Elsewhere, until return they may.
I think that shall avail;
Yet none must know.  For these
Three kings we must not fail
To murder as we please.

[Then Herod exits, and the three kings enter again to make their offerings.]

Ah, sirs, for sorrow what shall I say?
Where is our sign?  I see it not.

No more do I.  Now dare I say
That in our going some wrong is wrought.

Unto that prince I advise we pray
Who to us sent his sign unsought,
To let us know a certain way
That we may find him as we ought.

Ah, sirs!  I see it stand
Above where he is born!
Lo!  Here is the house at hand;
We have not failed this morn.

Whom seek you, sirs, on journeys wild,
With talking and traveling to and fro?
Here dwells a woman with her child;
Her husband also, and no more.

We seek a ruler and a child;
His certain sign has told us so.
And his mother, a maiden mild;
Here we hope to find the two.

Come near, good sirs, and see;
Your way to its end is brought.
Behold, sirs; hear and see
The same that you have sought.

Loved be that lord by night and day
Who has us guided courteously
To travel many a difficult way,
And come to this pure company.

Let us make now no more delay,
But bring us forth our treasury
And ordained gifts of good array,
To worship him; this is worthy.

He is worthy to wield
All worship, wealth, and win.
Brother, we do yield
To you; you shall begin.

Hail, the fairest on earth, shield of mankind;
From the fiend and his forces faithfully us defend.
Hail, the best that shall be born, to unbind
All the people that down to Hell's pains did descend.
Hail; mark us as your men and keep us in mind
As your might is on earth, our misease to amend.
Hail, pure one, that comes to us of a king's kind
To be king of this land, as we do comprehend.
And since it shall be in this wise,
Yourself I have sought soon, I say you,
With gold that is greatest of price;
Please accept now this present, I pray you.

Hail, food that your folk fully may feed;
Hail, flower fairest, that never shall fade;
Hail, son that is sent of that very same seed
That shall save us from the sin that our fathers had.
Hail, mild one, for you marked us for favour indeed;
Of a maiden unblemished your mother you made;
Into her, through the grace of your Godhead,
Like a gleam in a glass you did glide and were glad.
And since you shall sit and shall deem,
To Hell or to Heaven to give us,
Incense does your honour beseem.
My son, see to your subjects and save us.

Hail, babe that is best for our bales to beat;
Beaten and bound shall you be for our debt.
Hail, faithul friend; we fall to your feet;
Your Father's folk from the fiend may you get.
Hail, man that is made, your own men to meet,
As you and your mother with joy are thus met.
Hail, duke that drives death under his feet;
When your deeds are done, die you must yet.
And since your body buried shall be,
This myrrh I will give to your graving.
This gift is not of great degree,
Yet receive it, and see to our saving.

Sir kings, you travel not in vain.
As you have sought, here you may find;
For I conceived my son certain
Without the sin of man in mind,
And bore him here without any pain
Where pain is the part of all womankind.
God's angel in his greeting plain
Said he should comfort all humankind;
Therefore, have no doubt at all
Here for to have your boon;
I shall witness fill well
To all that is said and done.

For solaces certain now may we sing;
All is performed for which we prayed.
But, good babe, give us thy blessing,
For a good fortune before you is laid.

Let us return to Herod the king;
To hear of this he shall be repaid,
And shall come himself and make offering
Unto this child, for so he said.

I suggest we rest somewhat
For to maintain our might,
And then do as we ought
Unto the king and knight.

Now, courteous kings, to me be attent,
And turn away quickly, yourselves to defend.
From God himself thus am I sent
To warn you as your faithful friend.
Herod the king in malice has meant
To destroy you all; your lives he will end.
And so, to avoid that man malevolent,
By other ways God shall you send
Even to your own country.
And if you ask him a boon,
Your protector shall he be
For this that you have done.

Ah, Lord, I love you fervently.
Sirs, God has kindly warned us three;
His angel here now heard have I,
And how he said.

Sir, so did we.
He said Herod is our enemy,
And readies himself our killer to be,
With feigned falsehood.  Therefore I
Suggest that from his force we flee.

Sirs, fast I suggest we go
Each to his own country;
May the source of wisdom show
Us the way, and with you be.

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