Everyman Everyman

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The opinion has been commonly accepted that the English version of the play was a translation from the Dutch version Elckerlyc ascribed to Dorlandus. The chief support of this view is the fact that the Dutch version was printed before the English. It may be safer to consider the question still open, for either may be the earlier, and both may go back to an earlier version now lost.

Here beginneth a treatise how the High Father of Heaven sendeth Death to summon every creature to come and give an account of their lives in this world, and is in manner of a moral play.

[The Messenger enters.

[The Messenger goes.

[Death enters.

[Everyman enters.

[Enter Fellowship.

[Fellowship goes.

[Kindred and Cousin go.

[Goods is disclosed hemmed in by chests and bags.

[Goods is hidden from view.

[Good Deeds is shown.

[Knowledge enters.

[Confession goes.

[Good Deeds rises and walks to them.

[Everyman puts on the robe of contrition.

[They enter.

[Beauty goes, followed by the others, as they speak in turn.

[Everyman goes into the grave.

[The Angel appears.

[The Angel goes and the Doctor enters.


Thus endeth this moral play of Everyman.

I pray you all give your audience,
And hear this matter with reverence,
In form a moral play.
The Summoning of Everyman it is called so,
That of our lives and ending maketh show(5)
How transitory we be every day.
This matter is wondrous precious,
But the meaning of it is more gracious
And sweet to bear away.
The story saith: Man, in the beginning(10)
Watch well, and take good heed of the ending,
Be you never so gay!
Ye think sin in the beginning full sweet,
Which, in the end, causeth the soul to weep,
When the body lieth in clay.(15)
Here shall you see how Fellowship and Jollity,
Both Strength, Pleasure, and Beauty,
Will fade from thee as flower in May,
For ye shall hear how our Heaven’s King
Calleth Everyman to a general reckoning.(20)
Give audience and hear what he doth say.
God speaketh:
I perceive, here in my majesty,
How that all creatures be to me unkind,
Living, without fear, in worldly prosperity.
In spiritual vision the people be so blind,(25)
Drowned in sin, they know me not for their God;
In worldly riches is all their mind.
They fear not my righteousness, the sharp rod.
My law that I disclosed, when I for them died,
They clean forget, and shedding of my blood red.(30)
I hung between two it cannot be denied,
To get them life I suffered to be dead,
I healed their feet, with thorns was hurt my head.
I could do no more than I did truly,
And now I see the people do clean forsake me;(35)
They use the seven deadly sins damnable
In such wise that pride, covetousness, wrath, and lechery,
Now in this world be made commendable,
And thus they leave of angels the heavenly company.
Every man liveth so after his own pleasure,(40)
And yet of their lives they be nothing sure.
The more I them forbear, I see
The worse from year to year they be;
All that live grow more evil apace;
Therefore I will, in briefest space,(45)
From every man in person have a reckoning shown.
For, if I leave the people thus alone
In their way of life and wicked passions to be,
They will become much worse than beasts, verily.
Now for envy would one eat up another, and tarry not(50)
Charity is by all clean forgot.
I hoped well that every man
In my glory should make his mansion,
And thereto I made them all elect,
But now I see, like traitors abject,(55)
They thank me not for the pleasure that I for them meant,
Nor yet for their being that I them have lent.
I proffered the people great multitude of mercy,
And few there be that ask it heartily.
They be so cumbered with worldly riches, thereto(60)
I must needs upon them justice do,—
On every man living without fear.
Where art thou, Death, thou mighty messenger?
Almighty God, I am here at your will,
Your commandment to fulfil.(65)
Go thou to Everyman,
And show him in my name
A pilgrimage he must on him take,
Which he in no wise may escape,
And that he bring with him a sure reckoning(70)
Without delay or any tarrying.
Lord, I will in the world go run over all,

(The entire section is 7,649 words.)