Works of Arthur Golding - Translations
A Tragedie of Abraham's Sacrifice, 1575
Original Spelling Version
Transcribed by Barboura Flues © copyright 2002
SATAN: But is not this ynough to make me mad,
That whereas I make euery man to gad,
And all the world to follow after me, 
If they my finger doe but hild up see,
And therwithall set all thinges on a rore:
Yit for all that I neuer could the more
This false olde fellow bring unto my lure,
For any thing that yit I can procure?
Behold he is departed from this place
Gods will full bent tobey in euery cace,
Although the matter neuer be so straunge.
But yit it may be that his mind will chaunge,
Or that he shall him sacrifyze in deede, 
And so he shall if I may help him speede.
For if he doe, then Isaac shall be dead,
Whereby my hart shal be deliuered
Of that same feare least God in him fulfill,
The threate whereby he promist me to spill.
And if he chaunge his mind, then may I say
The gold is wonne. For may I once so play
My part, as for to make him disobey
Almighty Gods commaundment, or repyne
Then were he banisht from the grace diuine. 
That is the marke whereat I alwayes shoote,
Now hye thee Cowle, set forth the better foote:
Lets ronne apace, and by some cunning drift
Foyle him in feeld, or put him to his shift.
* * * * *
ABRAHAM: My children: this is now the third day
That we haue traueld making little stay.
Here must you tarry: as for me, I will
With Isaac, goe yit further onward still,
Unto a place from hence yet distant more
Which God almighty shewed me before, 
Where I must pray and offer sacrifyze
As he requires. Wherefore in any wyze
Abide you here, and stirre not hence. But thou
Sonne Isaac shalt goe with me as now:
For God requires in this behalfe thy presence.
THE SHEPHERDS: Sir, sith you forbid us we will not hence.
ABRAHAM: This bundle unto him betake,
And I the fire and knife will take.
We shal (God willing) come agein right soone
But in the mean while, wot ye what to doone? 
Pray ye to God both for your selues and us.
Alas, alas, was neuer wyght, ywus.
SHEPHERDS: We will not fayle.
ABRAHAM: That had such neede as I.
Well Sirs, I say no more but God be wy.
SHEPHERDS: And with you too.
HALFE THE SHEP: ~~~ It greatly amazeth me.
HALFE THE SHEP: And me likewyze.
HALFE THE SHEP: ~~~ And me too, for too see
Him so dismayd which hath to stowtly borne
All haps that haue befalne him heretooforne.
HALFE THE SHEP: ~~~ To say he is afrayd of warre
Debate, or strife, or any iarre 
It were no reason: for we knowe,
Abimelech the king did showe
Such honor to our maisterward,
That he not onely had regard
To visit him, but eke did knit
A leage with him which lasteth yit.
And as for howshold matters, what
Can he desire which he hath nat?
HALFE THE SHEP: He liues in outward peace and rest:
But age perchaunce doth woork unrest. 
HALFE THE SHEP: Of zunnes he hath but onely one
But in the world mo such are none.
His cattell thryue in such great store,
As God doth seeme to giue him more,
Than he him selfe can wish or craue.
HALFE THE SHEP: Nothing ye can so perfect haue,
But alwaies sumwhat is amisse.
I pray to God him so to blisse,
As soone to cure this his disease.
HALFE THE SHEP: Amen, say I, if it him please. 
HALFE THE SHEP: Sure I suppoze how ere the cace doth stand
He hath this time some weightie thing in hand.
The Song of the Shepherds
As howge as is the world we see
With all the things that in it be,
Yet nothing is so strong and sure,
That can for euer here endure.
Almighty God which all mainteynes,
Can nothing spie that ay remaines,
Except him selfe: all else eche one
Indure short time, and soone are gone. 
The sunne with bright and burning beames
Goes casting forth his cheereful gleames,
As long as day in skie doth last.
Then darksom night doth ouer cast,
All kind of thinges both fowle and fayre,
With coleblacke winges aloft in ayre.
And of the moone what shall we say,
Which neuer keepeth at a stay?
Sometimes with hornes she doth appeere:
Sometime halfe fast: now thicke, now cleere: 
Anon with rownd and fulsom face
The night she fro the skie doth chace.
The twincling starres aboue on hye
Ronne rolling rownd about the skye,
One while with wether fayre and cleere,
Another while with lowring cheere.
Two dayes togither match, and ye
Them like in all poynts shall not see.
The one doth passe more swift away,
The other longer while doth stay: 
The one, as though it did us spyght,
Bereeues us of the cheerful lyght:
The other with his color bryght
Doth ioy our hart and dim our fight.
One burnes the world with heate from skyes,
With frost and cold another dyes.
With purple, greene, blew, white, and red
The earth earwhile is ouerspred.
Anon a blast of nipping cold
Maks freshest thinges looke seare and old. 
The riuers with their waters moyst
Aboue their bankes are often hoyst,
And passe their bownds with rage so farre,
That they the plowmans hope doe marre:
And afterward they fall within
Their chanells, ronning lank and thin.
And therefore whoso doth him grownd,
On awght that in the world is fownd,
Beneath or in the starrie skyes,
I say I count him nothing wyze? 
What then of him is to be sayd,
Whose hope on man is wholly stayd?
Each liuing creature subiect is
To endlesse inconueniencis:
And yit among them all, the sunne,
In all his course which he doth runne,
Beholdeth not a feebler wyght,
Than man is in his cheefest plyght.
For that he is most wyze and stowt,
Is so beseeged rownd abowt, 
And so assayld with vices strong,
That often he is throwen along.
What a foole is he, whose hart
Thinks to be free from wo and smart,
So long as he doth liue on mowld?
But if that any creature wowld
Be sure taccumplish that desire:
He must goe set his hart more higher.
Whereof our maister rightly may
A good example bee that way. 
HALFE THE SHEP: The best I thinke that can be now espyde,
Is for too draw us one asyde,
That ech of us may be him selfe alone
Pray God to send our maister which is gone,
A safe returne with gladnesse gowe.
HALFE THE SHEP: I will not be behind I trowe.
* * * * *
ISAAC: My father.
ABRAHAM: ~~~ Alas a poore father am I.
ISAAC: Sir, here is woode, with fire, and knyfe redy:
But as for sheepe or lambe I see none here.
For you to offer.
ABRAHAM: ~~~ O my sonne most deere, 
God will prouide. Abide thou heere I say,
While I to God a little whyle doo pray.
ISAAC: Good father go: but yit I pray you showe
Me whereupon this greef of yours doth growe,
Which doth (I see) so greatly you appall.
ABRAHAM: At my returne, my sonne, thou shalt know all.
But in the meane tyme pray thy selfe heere too.
ISAAC: It is good reason that I should so doe.
And therewithall I will ech thing addresse,
That first this wood may be in redinesse. 
This billet first shall gin the order heere:
Then this, then that shall cloze togither neere.
Thus all these thinges are redie now and prest:
My father shall prouide for all the rest.
And now O God I will aside retyre,
To pray to thee, as reason doth requyre.
* * * * *
SARA: The more we liue, the more we see, alas,
What life it is that in this world we passe.
Was neuer woman borne upon the mowld,
That for hir husband or hir yssue could 
Hirselfe with me in happinesse compare.
But yit I haue indurde such griefe and care
These last three dayes since they went hence, that well
I am not able to my life to tell,
Which of the twayne hath greater to me beene,
The former ioy, or present peyne I meene
Which I haue felt these last 3 dayes, since they
Haue bin away: for nother night nor day
Haue I tane rest, bycause my mind doth ronne
On nothing but my husband and my sonne. 
And of a truth I was to blame as tho,
In that I suffered them away to goe,
And went not with them. Of the six dayes three,
Alas but three my God, yit passed bee,
And yit three mo my patience still must proue.
Alas my God which seest me from aboue,
Both outwardly and inwardly alway,
Vowtsafe to shorten these three yeeres I say,
For were they much more shorter than they be,
They be not dayes, but moneths & yeeres to me 
My God, thy promis putts me out of dowt:
But if thou long delay the falling out,
I feare I shall haue neede of greater strength,
To beare the peyne in holding out at length,
Wherefore my God, now graunt thou unto me
I may with ioy right soone my husband see,
And eke mine Isaac in mine armes embrace
Returnd in helth and saftie to this place.
ABRAHAM: O God, my God, thou seest my open hart,
And of my thowghts thou seest ech secret part, 
So that my cace I neede not to declare.
Thou seest, alas thou seest my wofull care.
Thou onely canst me rid of my diseaze,
By graunting me (if that it might thee pleaze)
One onely thing the which I dare not craue.
SATAN: An other song then this yit must we haue.
ABRAHAM: What? what? and is it possible that Gods
Behest and deede should euer be at oddes?
Can he deceiue? euen to this present day
He hath kept towche in all that he did say. 
And can he now unsay his word? no, no.
But yit it would ensew he should doe so,
If he my sonne should take away as now.
What say I? O my God, my God, sith thow
Doost bid me, I will doe it. Is it right
That I so sinfull and so wretched wight,
Should fall to scanning of the iudgements
Of thy most perfect pure commaundements.
SATAN: My cace goes ill. O Cowle we must yit find
Some other way tassault this hagards mind. 
ABRAHAM: It maybe that I haue imagind
Amisse: the more it is examined,
The more the cace seemes straunge. It was perchaunce
Some dreame or wicked feend that at a glaunce
Did put this matter in my head for why,
So cruell offrings please not God perdye.
He cursed Cayne for killing of his brother:
And shall I kill myne Isaac and none other?
SATAN: No no. Neuer doe soe.
ABRAHAM: Alas alas what ment I so to sayne? 
Forgiue me, Lord, and pluck me backe agein
From this leawd race wherein my sin gan go:
O Lord my God deliuer me from this wo,
This hand of mine shall certeinly him smight.
For sith it is thy will, it is good right
It should de [be] doone. Wherfore I will obey.
SATAN: But I will keepe you from it if I may.
ABRAHAM: So doing I should make my God untrew,
For he hath told me that there should insew
So great a people out of this my sonne, 
As ouer all the earth should spred and ronne,
And therefore if that Isaac once were kild,
I see not how this couenant could be hild.
Alas Lord, hast thou made him then for nowght:
Alas Lord, is it vaine that thou so oft
Hast promist me such things in Isaake,
As thou wooldst neuer doo for others sake?
Alas and can the things repealed be,
Which thou so oft hast promist unto me?
Alas and shall my hope haue such an end? 
Whereto should then mans hope & trusting tend
The summe of all I minded to haue sayd,
Is that to thee I hartily haue prayd,
To giue me yssue: hoping that when thow
Hadst graunted it, I should haue liued now
In ioy and pleasure: but I see full well,
The contrary to my desire befell.
For of my sonns, which were no mo but twayn,
To put away the one my selfe was fayne:
And of the other (O hard extremitee) 
Both father I, and tormenter must be,
Yea tormenter, yea tormenter, alas.
But are not thou the selfe same God, which was
Contented for too heere me patiently,
When I did pray to thee so instantly,
Euen in the midds of all thy wrath and yre,
When Sodom thou didst mind to burne with fire?
Now then my God and king, wilt thou say nay,
When so my selfe I unto thee doe pray?
Whom I begate him must I now deface. 
O God, at leastwise graunt me yit this grace.
SATAN: Grace? in my book that word I neuer found.
ABRAHAM: Some other man my sonne to death may wownd.
Alas my Lord, and must this hand of myne
To such a stroke against all kind declyne?
How will it towch his wofull mother neere,
When of his violent death she needes shal heere?
If I alledge thy will for my defence,
Who will beleue that thou wilt so dispence?
And if men doe not credit it: what fame 
Will fly abrode to my perpetuall shame?
I shall be shund of all men more and lesse,
As paterne of extremest cruelnesse.
And as for thee, who will unto thee pray,
Or on thy word and promise euer stay?
Alas, may these hore heares of myne abide
The sorrow that is likely to betide?
Haue I alredy past so many daungers,
Haue I so traueld countries that are straungers,
In heate and cold, in thirst and hunger still, 
Continewally obedient to thy will:
Haue I so long time liued lingringly,
Now in the end to dye unhappily?
O hart of mine, clyue, clyue, asunder clyue:
And linger heere no longer time aliue.
The speedier death, the lesser is the greef.
SATAN: Now is he downe, if God send no releef.
ABRAHAM: What sayd I? what intend I? O my God
Which didst create and make me of a clod,
Thou art my Lord, and I thy seruant trew, 
Out of my natiue countrie thou me drew.
How oftentimes hast thou assured me,
That unto mine this land should lotted be?
And when thou gaue me Isaac, didst not thow
Most faithfully and constantly auow,
That out of him such offspring should be bred,
As should this land throughout all ouerspred?
Then if thou wilt needs take him now away,
What should I thereunto ageinst thee say?
He is thine owne, I had him of thy gift. 
Take him therfore. Thou knowest best how to shift.
I know thou wilt to life him rayze agein,
Rather than that thy promis should be vaine,
Howbeit Lord, thou knowest I am a man,
No good at all or doo or thinke I can.
But yit thy power which ay is inuincible,
Doth to beleef make all things possible.
Hence flesh, hence fond affections euerychone:
Ye humane passions let me now alone.
Nothing to me is good or reasonable, 
Which to Gods will is not agreeable.
SATAN: Well, well, then Isaac shall dye: and wee
What will insew thereof shall after see.
O false old hag, thou makste me soft to grone.
ABRAHAM: See where my sonne walks up & downe alone
O silie child! O wretched men, death oft
Within our bosoms lodgeth him full soft,
When furthest of we take him for too be.
And therfore right great need alwaies haue we
To leade such a life, as if we fayne would die. 
But wotest thou my sonne (alas) what I
Intend to say?
ISAAC: ~~~ What pleaseth you good father.
ABRAHAM: Alas, that word doth kill my hart the rather.
Yit must I better corage to me take.
Isaac my sonne: alas my hart doth quake.
ISAAC: Father, me thinks that feare hath you dismayd.
ABRAHAM: O my deere child: it is as thou hast sayd.
Alas my God.
ISAAC: ~~~ Sir if it may you pleaze,
Be bold to tell me what doth you diseaze.
ABRAHAM: Ah my deere child, wist thou what thing it were 
Mercie good Lord, thy mercie graunt us here.
My sonne my sonne, beholdest thou this lyne.
This wood, this fire, and eke this knife of myne?
This geere my Isac serueth all for thee.
SATAN: Of God and nature enmie though I bee:
Yit is this thing so hard a cace to see,
That euen almost it is a greef to mee.
ABRAHAM: Alas my sonne.
ISAAC: ~~~ Alas my father deere,
Uppon my knees I humbly pray you heere,
My youthfull yeeres to pitie, if you may. 
ABRAHAM: O of mine age the only staffe and stay,
My derling, O my derling, faine would I
That I for thee a thowsand times might dye:
But God will haue it otherwise as now.
ISAAC: Alas my father, mercie I kry you.
Alas alas I want both tung and hand,
Ageinst you in mine owne defence to stand.
But see, but see my tears for natures fake,
None other sence I can or will now make
Ageinst you. ~~~ I am Isaac, none other 
But Isaac, your only by my mother.
I am your sonne that through your self hath life
And will you let it be bereft with knife?
Howbeit, if you do't to'bey the Lord,
Then on my knees I humbly doe accord,
To suffer all that euer God and yow,
Shall think expedient for too doo as now.
But yit what deeds, what deeds of mine deserue
This death O God. my God my life preserue.
ABRAHAM: Alas my sonne, God hath commaunded me 
To make an offring unto him of thee,
To my great greef, to my great greef and pine,
And endlesse wo.
ISAAC: ~~~ Alas poore mother mine.
How many deathes shall my death giue to thee?
But tell me yit, my killer who shall be?
ABRAHAM: Who? my deere son I my God my God graunt grace
That I may dy now present in this place.
ISAAC: O father mine.
ABRAHAM: ~~~ Alas, no whit that name
Agrees to me. yit should we be to blame
If we obeyd not God.
ISAAC: ~~~ Sir I am redy. 
SATAN: Who would haue thought he would haue him so stedie?
ISAAC: Now then my father, well I see in deede
That I must dye. Lord help me at my neede.
My God, my God, now strengthen thou my mind,
And at thy hand such fauor let me find,
That of my selfe I may the upper hand
Obteyne, ageinst this sodein death to stand.
Now bind me, kill me, burne me, I am prest
To suffer all, sith God so thinks it best.
ABRAHAM: Ah what a thing, a what a sight is heere! 
Mercie good God, now for thy mercie deere.
ISAAC: Thou Lord hast made me and created me,
Thou Lord upon the earth hast lodged me,
Thou hast me giuen the grace to knowledge thee
Yit haue I not so well obeyed thee
My Lord and God as dewtie doth require:
Which me to pardon lowd I thee desire.
And whereas I to you my Lord and father
Haue not alwaies such honor yeelded rather,
As your great kindnesse did deserue to haue: 
Therfore forgiuenesse humbly I doe craue.
My mother: she is now a great way hence,
Wherfore my God vowtsafe hir thy defence,
And so preserue hir through thy speciall grace,
As she no whit be trubbled at my cace.
[Here Isaac is bound]
Alas, I go to deepe and darksom night:
Farewell as now for ay all worldly light.
But sure I am I shall at Gods hand find
Farre better things than these I leaue behind.
Good father, I am redy at your will. 
SATAN: Was neuer child that spake with better skil.
I am ashamde, and therfore take my flight.
ABRAHAM: Alas my sonne, before thou leaue this light
And that my hand doe giue thunkindly blowe,
Upon thy mouth let me a kisse bestowe.
Isac my sonne, let this same arme of mine
Which must thee kil, imbrace this neck of thine.
ISAAC: With right good wil and hartie thankes.
ABRAHAM: Ye skyes the great gods woork ay glistring
in our eyes
Which well haue seene how God (who still is trew) 
Did me with frute by Isaac here indew:
And thou O land fiue times to me behight,
Beare witnesse that my fingers doo not smight
This child of mine for hatred or for vengance,
But only for to yeeld my dew obeysance,
To that great God which hath created me,
And all the thinges that liue or moue or be:
Who saues the good that put in him their trust,
And stroyes the bad that serue their wicked lust.
Beare witnesse that I faithfull Abraham, 
Through gods great goodnes stil so stedfast am
As notwithstanding all that humane wit
Can say or think, to make me now to flit:
In one beleef I euer doo remaine,
That not one word of God doth happen vaine.
But now my hand, high time it is that thow
Doo gather strength to execute thy vow.
[Here the knife falles out of his hand.]
That by thy killing of mine only sonne,
Thy deadly stroke may through my hart eke ronne.
ISAAC: What doe I heere?
~~~ Alas my father deere! 
ABRAHAM: A, a, a, a.
ISAAC: ~~~ I am at your will.
Am I now well? your pleasure then fulfill.
ABRAHAM: Did euer man so piteous cace yit find?
Was euer any frendship yit so kind?
And was there euer yit so piteous cace.
I dye my sonne, I dye before thy face.
ISAAC: Away with all this feare of yours I pray.
Will you from God yit longer time me stay?
ABRAHAM: [Heere he intendeth to stryke him.]
Alas who euer yit so stowt a mind
Within so weake a bodie erst did find? 
Alas my sonne I prey thee me forgiue
Thy death. It kills me that thou may not liue.
THE ANGELL: Abraham, Abraham.
ABRAHAM: ~~~ My God heere I am.
ANGELL: Into the sheath put up thy knife,
And see thou doe not take his life,
Nor hurt the child in any wyse.
For now I see before mine eyes,
What loue thou bearest to the Lord,
And honor unto him auord,
In that thou doost so willingly 
Thy sonne thus offer euen to dye.
ABRAHAM: O God.
ISAAC: O God.
ABRAHAM: O Lord a man may see.
[Heere he takes the sheepe.]
How good it is obedient for to bee
To thee: the cace is fitly furnished.
I will go take him tyed by the head.
ANGELL: O Abraham.
ABRAHAM: ~~~ Lord heere I am.
ANGELL: Thus sayth the Lord, I promis thee
By my eternall maiestie,
And by my Godhead: sith that thow
Hast shewed thy self so willing now, 
Me to obey, as to forbeare
Thine only Isaks life: I sweare,
That mawgre Satan to his face,
I will thee blisse and all thy race.
Considrest thou the lightsom skye,
And on the shore the grauell drye?
I wil increace thyne offspring more,
Than starres in heauen, or sand on shore.
Their enmies they shall ouercome,
And of thy bodie one shall come, 
By whom my blissing shall spred foorth
On all the nations of the earth.
By him the treasures of my loue
And mightie power, shall from aboue
Be sheaded downe on all mankind,
Bycause thou hast obeyd my mind.
See here the mightie power of earnest faith,
And what reward the trew obedience payth
VVherfore ye Lords & Ladies I you pray,
VVhen you from hence shall go agein away.
Let not this trew and noble storie part
Out of the mind and tables of your hart.
It is no lye, it is no peynted tale,
It is no feyned iest nor fable stale.
It is a deede, a deede right trew, of one
That was Gods faithful seruant long agone. [Epi.10]
VVherefore ye maisters and ye mistresses,
Ye Lords and Ladies all both more and lesse,
Ye rich and poore, ye sorie and ye sad,
And you also whose harts with mirth are glad,
Behold, and looke upon your selues ech one,
In this so fayre example heere foregone.
Such are trew glasses, shewing to our sight,
The fayre, the fowle, the crooked, and the right.
For whoso doth unfeynedly indeuer
(As Abraham) to keepe Gods sayings euer, [Epi.20]
And (notwithstanding all the reasons which
His mind alledgeth backward him to twich)
Doth stil referre him selfe and all his deedes
To God: with much more happy yssue speeds
Than he can wish: for come there stormes or wind,
Come greef, come death, come cares of sundry kind.
Let earthquake come, let heauen & skyes downe
Let dark confuzion ouercouer all:
The faithful hart so stedfastly is grownded,
As it abodeth euer unconfounded. [Epi.30]
Contrariwise the man that trusteth too
His owne selfwit, therafter for to doe,
And standeth in his owne conceyt shall find,
The more he goes, the more he comes behind.
And euery litle puffe and sodein blast
From his right course shal quite & cleane him cast
Agein, how owne selfwilled nature will
Him ouerthrowe and all his dooings spill.
Now thou great God which makest us to knowe
The great abuses which doo plainly showe [Epi.40]
The wretched world to be peruerted quite,
Make all of us to take such warning by'te,
As ech of us may fare the better by
The liuely faith set foorth before our eye
In Abraham that holy personage,
VVhose dooings haue bin playd upon this stage.
Lo maisters heere the happie recompence
VVhich God doth giue you for your gentle silence.
ALL PRAYSE AND THANKS BEE GIUEN
TO GOD. AMEN.
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