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Poem by John Skelton


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Woefully arrayed,
My blood, man,
For thee ran,
It may not be nay'd:
My body blue and wan,
Woefully arrayed:

Behold me, I pray thee, with thy whole reason,
And be not so hard-hearted, and for this encheason,
Sith I for thy soul sake was slain in good season,
Beguiled and betrayed by Judas' false treason:
Unkindly entreated,
With sharp cord sore fretted,
The Jews me threated:
They mowed, they grinned, they scorned me,
Condemned to death, as thou may'st see,
Woefully arrayed.

Thus naked am I nailed, O man, for thy sake.
I love thee, then love me; why sleepest 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,
Whereas never man was so,
Entreated 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 I deigned my blood for to shed.
My feet and handis sore
The sturdy nailis bore:
What might I suffer more
Than I have done, O man, for thee?
Come when thou list, 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'n 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
Mine endless mercy and grace--
See how a spear my heart did race,
Woefully arrayed.

Dear brother, no other thing I of thee desire
But give me thine heart free to reard mine hire:
I wrought thee, I brought 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 nay'd:
My body blue and wan,
Woefully arrayed.



John Skelton


John Skelton's other poems:
  1. A Lawde and Prayse
  2. The Prelates
  3. The Book of Phillip Sparrow
  4. To the Second Person
  5. Upon a Dead Man's Head


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