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allegorical personages, which likewise played a part in some of them, as e. g. in the Coventry Mysteries, it seems to show indeed the influence of those early beginnings of the English Drama. It may not seem to be out of place, first briefly to give here the contents of this lengthy poem. It is preceded by a Prologue, the first stanzas of which contain a glorification of Christ, whereas in the following stanzas the poet expatiates on the beneficial influence of our communion with Christ, of having his Passion always in mind, on the welfare of our souls, wherefore the poet resolves, for the benefit of the ignorant ones, as he says in the last three stanzas, to show in plain terms, how the Son of God suffered death for the sin of mankind. Invoking his assistance in the composition of his poem, he then turns to his subject. The contents of the poem itself are as follows: St. 1, 2. The Creation of man and the fall of Adam and Eve through the seduction of Lucifer. St. 3, 4. Their punishment. St. 5, 6. Contention of Mercy and Pity on the one hand and of Justice and Verity on the other, the former being in favour of granting grace to mankind, the latter of consigning them to everlasting pain and punishment. St. 7. God's decision that his Son should settle the debate by offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of men. St. 8. Annunciation of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary. St. 9. Immaculate Conception of Christ. St. 10. Mary's Visit to her Cousin. St. 11. Birth of Jesus. St. 12. The Circumcision. St. 13. Visit of the Holy Three Kings. St. 14. Presentation in the Temple. St. 15–17. The Massacre of the Innocent Children, Flight of the Holy Family to, and Return from, Egypt. St. 18–20. Life in Nazareth. Disputation of the child Jesus in the Temple. St. 21–27. Brief Reference to the Life of Christ from his thirtieth year. Christ in the Desert. Conversation with Moses and Elias. St. 28, 29. The treachery of Judas. St. 30–34. Preparations for the Lord's Supper. Feetwashing. Christ's announcement of his Betrayal to his disciples. St. 35, 36. The Lord's Supper. Exhortation to the disciples. St. 37. The poet's Complaint on the imminent Passion of Christ. St. 38–40. Christ with his disciples in Gethsemane. St. 41–43. Christ delivered up by Judas. St. 44. Peter and Malchus. St. 45, 46. Christ fettered. Flight of the disciples. Sufferings of Christ. St. 47. Reflections of the Poet on the sufferings of Christ: For Matins. St. 48, 49. Christ before Annas. Examined by him. Christ's answer. St. 50. Reflections of the poet thereon. St. 51. Peters denial of Christ. St. 52, 53. Christ before Caiphas. Christ condemned to death. St. 54, 55. Christ illtreated. St. 56, 57. Reflections of the poet thereon. St. 58, 59. Narrative of the sufferings and examination of Christ continued. St. 60, 61. Christ led in fetters to Pilate. St. 62. Accusation of Christ before Pilate. St. 63. Repentance and suicide of Judas. St. 64. Spending of Judas' money by the priests. St. 65–67. Examination of Christ before Pilate continued; Pilate declares Christ to be innocent. St. 68. Christ before Herod. Led back to Pilate. St. 69. Reflections of the poet thereon. St. 70. Narrative continued. Pilate again finds no fault with Christ. St. 71. Barrabas set at liberty by the choice of the Jews. St. 72. Christ scourged. St. 73–78. Detailed description of the sufferings of Christ. The crown of thorns. St. 79. Christ led forth with sceptre and crown, Pilate declaring himself unable to find any fault in him. St. 80, 81. Examination before Pilate continued. St. 82. Pilate wants to liberate Christ, but, threatened by the Jews, he is afraid to do so. St. 83. Reflections of the poet on Christ's sufferings. St. 84. Pilate's wife advising him to set Christ free. St. 85, 86. Impatience of the Jews. Jesus delivered up to them.
St. 87. Reflections of the poet on the blindness of the Jews. St. 88, 89. Sufferings of
Christ continued; he is led forth with the cross on his back. St. 90. Jesus being ex-
hausted, Simon is forced to bear the cross. St. 91, 92. Description of Christ's passage to
Mount Calvary continued. St. 93–95. Christs prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem;
the fulfilment and effects of it. St. 96. Two thieves led together with Jesus to Mount Cal-
vary to be crucified there. St. 97. Narrative of Christ's sufferings continued. St. 98. The
poet's reflections thereon. St. 99–101. Christ fixed on the cross with terrible pains.
St. 102. The poet's reflections thereon. St. 103. Description of the crucifixion. St. 104,
105. The poet's reflections on it. St. 106. Crucifixion of the two trespassers. Distribution
of Christ's clothing. St. 107. Inscription fixed on the cross. St. 108. Opposition of the
Jews to the wording of it. St. 109–111. The poet's opinion on it, on the meaning of
Saviour and of Nazareth. St. 112–120. Four kinds of people who scorned Christ, i. e.
those who were walking, standing, sitting, hanging; signifying representatives of four
kinds of sin, viz. covetise, pride, cruelty, impatience. Explanation thereof it. St. 121. The
good thief. St. 122. Words of Christ to his mother and St. John. St. 123. Their
feelings. St. 124, 125. Approaching death and mental sufferings of Christ. St. 126. The
poet's reflections thereon. St. 127–129. Jesus thirsty; refreshed with vinegar, refuses it.
St. 130–142. The poet's reflections thereon and on the last words, sufferings and death
of Christ, in a complaint (destined for use at None) consisting of 13 stanzas, each of
them ending with a refrain. St. 143, 144. Narrative continued. Signs accompanying the
death of Christ. St. 145. The mother of Christ with the other women and St. John re-
maining near the cross. St. 145. Her feelings described. St. 146–156. Dialogue between
Mary and the Cross. St. 157–160. Narrative continued. Preparations for the Descent
from the Cross. Legs of the thieves broken. The right side of Christ pierced with the
lance of blind Longinus, who regains his sight by the touching of Christ's blood.
St. 161. The poet's reflections on the death of Christ. St. 162, 163. Visit of Joseph of
Arimathea to the cross. St. 164. Demands Christ's body for burial from Pilate: Permission
granted. St. 165. Preparations for the burial. St. 166. Embalming of Christ's body by
Nicodemus. St. 167. Descent from the Cross. St. 168–173. Reception of the body by
the mother of Christ; her feelings, manifestations of grief and lamentations, the whole
forming again a special part of the poem, consisting of six stanzas, all of them with
the same refrain. St. 174. The grief of the mother of Christ controlled by reason.
St. 175. The poet's reflection thereon for the benefit of men at cumplin tyme. St. 176. Narra-
tive continued. Embalming and clothing the body. St. 177. The Burial of Christ.
St. 178. The poet's reflections thereon. St. 179. Mourning of Joseph, Nicodemus and the
mother of Christ. St. 180. The sepulchre closed by a stone. Departure of Joseph.
St. 181, 182. St. John comforts the mother of Christ and induces her to take leave of the
grave. St. 183. She remains three days in her closet. St. 184. Intended visit of Mary
Magdalene with her companions to the sepulchre. St. 185. Rumour of the impending
resurrection of Christ. St. 186. Precautions taken against it by the Jews. St. 187. A
body of armed mensent to watch the grave. St. 189, 190. Christ's body in the sepulchre
in spite of his divine nature, his soul meanwhile giving comfort to the fathers in the
Lymbe. The soldiers who had to watch the grave asleep. – Lacuna in the text. –
St. 191. Fragment of a disputation between Will on the one hand and Wit and Reason
on the other. St. 192, 193. The resurrection. Christ having been in the Lymbe till
Saturday, prepares to raise his body to Heaven, thus rebuilding the temple of Solomon pulled down by the Jews on Good Friday. St. 194. Christ rises from the dead on Passoverday. St. 195. Appears first to his mother St. 196. Her joy described St. 197. Their conversation, he showing her his hands and his feet, his body and his face all whole again. St. 198. Christ refers to Mary Magdalene having tried to see him in the grave; he intends to comfort her. St. 199–201. His apparition to her. St. 202, 203. His third apparition to the three Marys. St. 204. His fourth apparition to St. Peter. St. 205. His fifth apparition to St. James. St. 206–211. His sixth apparition to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. St. 212. The seventh apparition to the disciples locked in in a closed room. St. 213. Thomas unbelieving. St. 214–216. The eighth apparition of Christ to Thomas. St. 217–221. His ninth apparition to St. Peter and the other disciples at the lake of Genezareth. St. 223. His tenth apparition to five hundred and more of his disciples. St. 224–226. The Ascension of Christ. St. 227. The poet's reflections thereon. St. 228–230. Descent of the Holy Ghost on the disciples in Jerusalem. St. 231–235. Conclusion. Influence of the Holy Ghost. Intercession of our Saviour for repenting sinners. The poet's prayer to our Lord for the salvation of mankind. From this table of contents of the poem it is evident that the poet, with regard to the principal events in the life of Jesus, chiefly those connected with his birth and younger years and those connected with his passion and death, follows the description given in the Gospels. On the other hand it is clear that none of the Gospels was the direct source of his narrative, as otherwise he probably would not have omitted entirely the chief events in the life of Christ during his manhood, viz. his teaching and the miraculous deeds reported as done by him during that time. Probably the poet had before him a narrative of the life of Christ compiled by some priest from the contents of the Gospels, chiefly from St. Matthew, St. Luke, St. John and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. This is also evident from the fact that in that part of the poem which treats of the Lord's Supper, the poet only, according to the usage of the Roman-Catholic church, refers to the breaking of the bread, but in no way to the wine as a symbol of the blood shed by Christ for the salvation of mankind. Our own opinion regarding the poetical merits of the poem is that it is not only the longest and most elaborate, but also the best of the few religious poems of Kennedy that have come down to us. At all events it is to be considered as his magnum opus. Nor is it to be denied that he has endeavoured earnestly to do full justice to the lofty subject he has chosen. From the standpoint of his contemporaries at least it must be admitted that the plan he followed in composing his poem was well designed and equally well executed. The Prologue and Introduction to the poem as well as the Conclusion of it are, regarding their contents and leading idea, in perfect harmony with the poem itself, by which he intends not only to instruct, but also morally to improve his readers. In order to do this the more effectually, he frequently intersperses his own reflections on the chief events of his narrative, and he also endeavours to make these the more touching and effective by dwelling upon them in lyrical effusions of a higher tone and a more elaborate metrical form. Thus in his reflections on the crucifixion of Christ he makes use of sectional rhyme (st. 104, 105); in two other lyrical passages, on the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross, consisting of 13 stanzas (st. 130–142) and on his Descent from the Cross, consisting of 6 stanzas (st. 168–173), the poet makes use of the refrain, and he gives his own reflections on the sufferings of Christ and the necessity of his death for the salvation of mankind in the then popular form of a dialogue between Mary and the Cross. On the other hand it is not to be denied that some parts of the poem are rather dull. But this is owing to a certain extent, to the corrupt form in which it has come down to us. Those parts of the poem which have been tolerably well preserved, especially towards the end of it, are not badly written as regards their diction, nor with respect to rhythm and rhyme, which, however, in some passages, owing partly to the corrupt state of the MS., partly also, it is true, to the carelessness of the poet himself, are faulty and halting (cf. rhymes like paradice : glaidles or gladnes st. 3, cumin : fundin st. 19, gan : ham st. 20, sla : pray: ta st. 99, twyn : dyme : ryme st. 100, lang : dang : ran st. 103, hym : sin : uyn st. 110, bund: ourerun st. 138, lymbe : syn st. 154 and many others). The form in which the poem is written throughout, is, also in the lyrical passages, as has already been said, that of the popular rhyme-royal-stanza.
[Preserved only in MS. A, fol. 6a – 47a; extracts of it formerly edited by D. Laing in his edition of the Poems
of William Dunbar, Edinburgh 1834, vol. II, pp. 97–112 ]
Ms. 4, foloa, Hail, Cristin Knycht! Haill, etern confortour!
v Haill, Riall King, in trone celistiall!
Haill, Lampe of Licht! Haill, Jhesu Saluitour,
In Hevin empire Prince perpetuall!
Haill, in distres Protectour principall! HD
Haill, god and man, borne of a virgin cleyne!
Haill, boist of balme, spilit within my splene!
Haill, in my Hert with Lufe wippit Intern!
Haill, spice of taist, to heir sueit sympheony !
Various Readings: Fol. 5b of MS. A contains on the upper part a woodcut, which has been coloured and pasted on the leaf, about 62 cm. broad and 82 cm. high, showing how Christ, fastened by cords to a column, is scourged by two men. Under this picture there is the following inscription in red letters filling up the rest of the page: Heir begynnis the proloug of be passioun of Crist compilit be m. Walter Kennedy. – The poem itself begins on fol. 6 a without a heading. The first line is formed by the first 6 letters written in capitals, the first of them being a red one, as also in the other stanzas of the prologue and in the first 9 stanzas of the poem itself. The prologue has been printed already by Laing.
I. 1 knycht A/rundel MS.). Confortour L(aing). 2 king A. celestiall L. 3 lampe of licht L. saluitour A, salvatour L. 4 prince A. 5 protectour A. 6 god and man A. Virgin L. 7 bbalme A. II. 1 Intern A.
Notes: V. 1. Cristin knycht, christian knight, seems to be a rather strange appellation for Christ himself, from whom the adjective christian is derived. But not much logic is to be expected in poems of this kind.
V. 7. Boist has here undoubtedly the meaning box or chest', quoted by Jamieson. It is, of course, the Old French boiste, Mod. French bote. But what is the meaning of Spilit within my splene? In conformity with the whole train of thought in this stanza it probably signifies: poured out within my mind or over my troubled mind.
V. 8. Hail in my hert etc. Hail (oh Christ) who art enwrapped with love internally within my heart.
V. 9. Spice of taist, etc. = spice of taste, sweet symphony to the ear.
Denkschriften der phil.-hist. Classe. XLVIII. Bd. I. Abh. 4
Haill, silk to graipe, to sichtrycht lycht in dern, 10
To feit futebrode! Haill, gide to gude herbry!
Haill, dern closit till woundit and very!
Haill, bed till rest! Haill, saulis habitakill!
Haill, beyme to skaill of ded be dirk vmbrakill!
In till oure Hert, quhill pou art herbriour, 15
We ar wiser ban wes King Salomone;
Throu spirituall pith moir potent protectour,
MS. A, fol. 6b. Stranger pan Hectour, Judas, or Sampson;
Farar be fer pan ever wes Absalon;
Richer in grace ban Alexander be Gret; 20
Waldin as wynd, be grace eth for to tret.
Various Readings: 3 brycht lycht in dern L. rycht lycht odour A. 4 fute rode A, L. guide L. 5 berne closit L, dern closit A. very A, wery L. 7 deid L. vnbrakill A, umbrakill L. III. 2 viser A, wiser L. 3 Throw L. protettour A, protectour L. 4 hectour Judas or sampson A. 5 ffarar A. absolon A, Absalon L. 6 alexander pe gret A. 7 ech for L. IV. 2 fermilus or fernulus A, Fermulus L. 4 Lazar A, lazar L. 5 structioun or possibly struttioun A.
Notes: V. 10. Silk to graipe, soft as silk to the sense of feeling. – The reading in dern = in darkness, inserted by Laing for odour, which neither fits the rhyme nor the sense, is in all probability the right one. The emendation brycht for rycht, however, was not absolutely necessary, although it may possibly also be the right reading. V. 11. The reading fute rode in the MS., although retained by Laing, seems to be suspicious. We have inserted futebrode, a footstool (Jamieson), instead. V. 12. Dern closit etc. = secret or quiet chamber for the wounded and weary. Why Laing should have changed the reading dern into berne we cannot understand. V. 14. Toskaill. v. a. To disperse, to scatter. Umbrakill s. Shadow. V. 15. Herbriour, s. Dweller, lodger. V. 17. Pith, of course, means strength here. V. 18. Judas comes in very awkwardly here between Hectour and Sampson. Or does it mean that Christ foiled the treachery of Judas by rising from the dead? V. 21. Waldin, adj. Able, powerful, from to wald v. a., to wield, manage, govern; eth for to tret = easily to be treated, as the MS. reads, is certainly better than Laing's emendation ech for to tret, which hardly gives a sense. V. 22. Fra ou disluge. From the time that thou didst go away because of our iniquity. V. 23. Fermilus or Fernulus. This is unintelligible to us, as is likewise the reading Nabel Carnales or tarnales in v. 28. V. 26. Struttioun is, of course, the Latin struthio, ostrich; but what this strange comparison means, it is difficult to say. Possibly it signifies as stiff or helpless as an ostrich'. But then the following comparison as tigar tiranus, as tyrannous or cruell as a tiger, is the more singular in connection with it.