Friday, 18 April 2014

'Woefully arrayed'


Wofully araide,
My blode, man,
For thee ran,
It may not be naide;
My body blo and wanne,
Wofully araide.


Beholde me, I pray thee, with all thine whole reson,
And be not hard-herted for this encheson,
That I for thy saule sake was slaine in good seson,
Begylde and betraide by Judas fals treson;
Unkyndly entretid,
With sharpe corde sore fretid,
The Jewis me thretid,
They mowid, they grynned, they scornyd me,
Condempnyd to deth, as thou maist se,
Wofully araide.

Thus nakyd am I nailid, O man, for thy sake!
I love thee, then love me; why slepist thou? awake!
Remembir my tendir hart rote for thee brake,
With panys my vaynys constreyned to crake;
Thus toggid to and fro,
Thus wrappid all in woo,
Whereas neuer man was so,
Entretid thus in most cruell wyse,
Was like a lombe offerd in sacrifice,
Wofully araide.

Of sharpe thorne I haue worne a crowne on my hede,
So paynyd, so straynyd, so rufull, so red;
Thus bobbid, thus robbid, thus for thy loue ded,
Onfaynyd, not deynyd my blod for to shed;
My fete and handes sore
The sturdy nailis bore;
What might I suffir more
Than I haue don, O man, for thee?
Cum when thou list, wellcum to me,
Wofully araide.

Off record thy good Lord y haue beyn and schal bee;
Y am thyn, thou artt myne, my brother y call thee;
Thee love I enterly; see whatt ys befall me!
Sore bettyng, sore thretyng, too make thee, man, all free;
Why art thou unkynde?
Why hast nott mee yn mynde?
Cum yett, and thou schalt fynde
Myne endlys mercy and race;
See how a spere my hert dyd race,
Wofully araide.

Deyr brother, noo other thyng y off thee desyre
But gyve me thyne hert fre to rewarde myn hyre;
Y wrought thee, I bowght thee frome eternal fyre;
Y pray thee aray thee tooward my hyght empyre,
Above the oryent,
Wherof y am regent,
Lord God omnypotent,
Wyth me too reyn yn endlys welthe;
Remember, man, thy sawlys helthe.

Wofully araide,
My blode, man,
For thee ran,
It may not be naide;
My body blo and wanne,
Wofully araide.


This is a poem from the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century; it survives in a number of manuscripts (listed here) and is attributed to John Skelton. In one manuscript it is accompanied by music by William Cornysh:



The poem derives much of its power (more when read than when sung) from its urgent, insistent rhythm and patterned rhyme scheme, which bears a close relationship to that of another Passion poem, 'Suddenly afraid'. I've tried to preserve it here:

Woefully arrayed,
My blood, man,
For thee ran,
It may not be naide; [denied]
My body pale and wan,
Woefully arrayed.

Behold me, I pray thee, with all thy whole reason,
And be not hard-hearted for this encheson, [cause]
That I for thy soul's sake was slain in good season,
Beguiled and betrayed by Judas' false treason;
Unkindly treated,
With sharp cords sore fretid, [stung]
The Jews me thretid, [threatened]
They mocked, they grinned, they scorned me,
Condemned to death, as thou mayst see,
Woefully arrayed.

Thus naked am I nailed, O man, for thy sake!
I love thee, then love me; why sleepst thou? awake!
Remember my tender heart-root for thee brake,
With pains my veins constrained to crake;
Thus tugged to and fro,
Thus wrapped all in woe,
As never man was so,
Treated thus in most cruel wise,
Was like a lamb offered in sacrifice,
Woefully arrayed.

Of sharp thorn I have worn a crown on my head,
So pained, so strained, so rueful, so red;
Thus bobbed, thus robbed, thus for thy love dead,
Unfeigned, not denying my blod for to shed;
My feet and hands sore
The sturdy nails bore;
What might I suffer more
Than I have done, O man, for thee?
Come when thou wilt, welcome to me,
Woefully arrayed.

Of record thy good Lord I have been and shall be;
I am thine, thou art mine, my brother I call thee;
Thee love I entirely; see what is befall me!
Sore beating, sore threating, to make thee, man, all free;
Why art thou unkind?
Why hast not me in mind?
Come yet, and thou shalt find
My endless mercy and grace;
See how a spear my heart did race, [pierce]
Woefully arrayed.

Dear brother, no other thing I of thee desire
But give me thine heart free to reward my hire; [labour]
I wrought thee, I bought thee from eternal fire;
I pray thee, array thee toward my high empire,
Above the orient,
Whereof I am regent,
Lord God omnipotent,
With me to reign in endless wealth;
Remember, man, thy soul's health.

Woefully arrayed,
My blood, man,
For thee ran,
It may not be naide;
My body pale and wan,
Woefully arrayed.

There is, as you might expect, a very large body of Middle English poetry about the Passion of Christ, varying widely in style and approach. Here are some examples I've posted in the past:

'Stond wel moder under rode'

'I sigh when I sing'

'O man unkind, print in thy mind'

'O all women that ever were born'

'Unkind man, give heed to me'

Cold winds and Christ's Passion

1 comment:

Skyline Spirit said...

pretty nice blog, following :)