HEROD As a lord in royalty, in this region so rich And ruler of all realms, I ride in rich array. There is no lord of land in lordship like to me None lovelier, none more lovesome, everlasting is my lay! Of beauty and of boldness, I bear evermore the bell, 5 With main and with might, I master every man. I ding with my doughtiness the devil down to hell, For of both heaven and of earth, I king am, certain. I am the comeliest king, clad in glittering gold, Yea and the seemliest sir that ever bestrode steed. 10 I tower over tall, if truth it be told. Yea, and worthily I am wrapped in worthy weeds. Ye knights, so comely, both courteous and keen To my palace I will pass, be prepared I you plight You dukes so doughty, follow me behind 15 On to my royal palace the way lies full right. Quickly from my steed, I skip down in haste To my high halls, I haste me in my way Ye minstrell of mirth, blow up a good blast While I go to my chamber and change my array. 20 FIRST KING Hail to you kings twain, Riding far from your reign. Methinks by your presence seen You seek our saviour. From Saba have I followed far 25 The gleaming of yon gay star A child's blood shall buy us dear That now is born in a beast's bower. My name is king Balthazar Of prophets' teaching I am aware. 30 Therefore, I have followed far A maiden's child to seek. For he, made man in our mold, Is king of high heaven's hold. I will him offer red gold, 35 As reason will me teach. SECOND KING Melchior my name is called In hot love my heart is held To the blossom upon his bed Born by a beast's bin. 40 In Tars I am a king with crown By banks and fields brown. I have travelled by many a town My lord's love to win I seek him with incense sweet 45 Of all priests he shall be the root. His bright blood shall be our boot To bring us to our end. The child shall be chosen a priest, In all virtue found the most 50 Before his father's fair breast Incense up shall he send. THIRD KING In Hipotan and in Arkage I have been king all my age. To seek a child wondrous sage 55 I have travelled right far. Jasper is my name known In many countries that are my own Through bitter blasts that begin to blow I follow after the star. 60 I bring myrrh as my present, lo, A bitter licour I tell you For he shall suffer a bitter blow Who in madonna's flesh is clad. On bitter tree he shall be bent, 65 Man and God omnipotent. With bitter beating his flesh be rent Until his blood be bled. HEROD Now I reign as the king arrayed full rich, Rolled in rings and robes of array. 70 Dukes with dents I drive to the ditch My deeds be full doughty, deemed by day I shall mar all those men that reverence too much And worship one God who is great they say There is no lord in this world but me as such. 75 For to lame liveried men of the less lay I am jollier than a jay Strong thieves to strike That our laws will break. On those wretches, vengeance will I wreak 80 And hunt them under the hay. In a girdle of cammaka as a king am I clad Cruel and curried in my crown now. I sit under Caesar in my throne sad Sorrow to sots, such seeds will I sow. 85 Boys now blabbering, boasting of a baron bad Born in a bed beside beasts! Such a boast is a blow! I shall prune that suckling and prove him to be a toad Shields and shafts shall I there throw My knights shall ride on a row 90 Knave children for to quell By Mahound, great duke of hell Sore death his life shall sell Such threats would me o'erthrow. Steward bold 95 Walk thou on wold And wisely behold All about. If anything Should grieve the king 100 Bring me tiding If there be any doubt. STEWARD Lord king in crown I go from town By banks brown 105 I will abide With my ears to list East and west If any guest On ground begins to glide. 110
Then the steward goes forth and meets with the three kings in the way and says to them,
Kings three Under this tree In this country Why will ye abide? Herod the king 115 From this stopping Unto his dwelling Now you should glide. FIRST KING Now lead us all To the king's hall. 120 Perhaps you can tell We pray to thee That you may show How we should go So we may know 125 God's fruit free. STEWARD Follow anon Upon this ground To the castle round. I shall you teach 130 Where the king dwells wide Up in this hide In pomp and in pride His might you shall reach. Sir king in throne, 135 Here comes anon By street and stone Kings three. They bear presents. What they have meant 140 Nor whither they are bent I cannot see. HEROD I shall them crave What they have. If they rave 145 Or seem mad I shall them beat Their wits defeat Their heads split Their blood to have. 150 FIRST KING Hail to thee king on throne full high! Hail, we are in thy hall right nigh! Knowest thou ought of a child near by? He is born here about. He is born of a maid young. 155 He shall be king over every king. We are seeking that lovely thing To him fain would I bow. SECOND KING Balaam spoke in prophecy A star should be full lovely 160 And light upon maid Mary Come of Jacob's kin. The child is born and lies hereby That bloomed in a maiden's body. A star has streaked across the sky 165 And led us far again. THIRD KING The star has led us out of the east To seek a baron born with beasts. He shall be king of might most As prophecy doth us tell. 170 We be kings in the way, weary. Sir king, for thy courtesy Guide us to that child so lovely In what town does he dwell? HEROD You three kings seated in a row 175 Set aside your words so low Such a carping is quite unknown Unreckoned in my realm. I am a king of high degree. There shall none be above me. 180 I have money and lands in fee, Parks and pounds as well. Go you to find him whom you seek And if you know such a leech And him find, I you beseech 185 Come again to me. I shall be both blithe and bound That all worship to him be done With reverence I shall seek him soon And honour him on my knee. 190 And therefore, kings, I you pray When you have done your journey Come again this same way The truth to me to tell. Come and tell me how you speed 195 And I shall fill right well your need With gold and treasure and rich weeds Furs rich and purses swelled. FIRST KING King have good day. I go my way 200 To seek The lord of might. He shall be right, Our leech. SECOND KING King full stern 205 By fell and fern I go To seek a king. He is dwelling In woe. 210 THIRD KING If we him find, Our king full kind By a maid, From king and queen We come again 215 This day.
They go away
HEROD Ah fie, fie! The tale I have been told Here before my cruel knee How that a bairn should wax so bold! By beasts if he born be 220 He is young and I am old. But a hardy king of high degree! This day the kings shall be cold If they come again to me. My Gods I shall upraise. 225 A dark devil with falseness I say Shall cast a mist in the king's eye By banks and by dales dry That by dark they shall come this way. FIRST KING Go we to seek our lord and our leech. 230 Yon star will us teach the way full soon. To save us from mischief God I beseech Unto his joys that we may reach. I pray of him this boon.
Then come the kings with their gifts to Jesus and the First King says,
Hail be thou king in cold clad! 235 Hail with a maiden's milk fed! Hail! I come to thee with gold glad As wise writings bear it record. Gold is the richest metal And for wearing most royal 240 Gold I give thee in this hall And know thee for my lord. SECOND KING Lord, I kneel upon my knee. Sweet incense I offer to thee. Thou shalt be first of high degree, 245 None so much of might. In God's house, as men shall see, Thou shalt honour the Trinity, Three persons in one God free, And all one lord of might. 250 THIRD KING Lord I kneel down by thy bed. In maiden's flesh thou art hid. Thy name shall be widely spread And king over all kings. Bitter myrrh to thee I bring 255 For bitter dents on thee shall ding, And bitter death shall be thy ending, And therefore I make mourning. MARY Kings kind From the fiend 260 God you defend! Homeward you wend And to your places you lend That you should tend. FIRST KING Now we have the place found. 265 To Herod, whose reknown abounds With our words we were bound That we should come again. Go we apace and say our speech For we have found our lord and leech 270 All the truth we will them teach How the king is born of a queen. SECOND KING My head is heavy and limp as lead Unless I sleep I am adread My wits shall fare the worse. 275 I shall wax heavy in limb and flank. Down I lay me upon this bank Under this bright star, iwis. THIRD KING Brother, I must lie thee by I will go never over this sty 280 Until I have a sleep. The young king and his mother Mary Save us all from every villainy Now Christ us save and keep. FIRST KING Such heaviness has us caught 285 I must drink with you a draught To sleep a little while. I am heavy, head and foot, I should stumble at rush and root, If I should go a mile. 290
Here the kings sleep and an angel comes to them and says,
ANGEL Ye kings on this hill Work not after Herod's will For if you do, he will you kill This day or night. My lord has sent this tiding 295 Rest you kings in rich clothing And when you rise, go to your dwelling Take home the way full right. Whether you be awake or asleep My lord God shall you keep 300 In good time you did down droop To take your rest. Herod to the devil he'll thrust To mar him in a dark mist. My Lord is full pleased 305 To welcome you as his guests. And therefore, kings, when you rise Wend forth by ways wise Where in your halls you be set in assise In diverse lands. 310 The father of good in all thing Hath you granted his sweet blessing He shall save you from all harming With his right hand.
Then the kings shall arise and say,
FIRST KING A bright star led us to Bethlehem, 315 A brighter thing I saw in a dream. Brighter than a sun beam. An angel right here I saw. That fair flower that here did fall From Herod the king he did us call 320 He told us go home to our hall By another way. SECOND KING I saw a sight My heart is light To wend home, 325 God full of might Has told us aright From the devil's doom THIRD KING Our God I bless. He sent iwis 330 His angel bright. Now we wake The way to take, Home full right.
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