Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
St. Stephen and Herod
SEYNT STEVENE 1 was a clerk in Kyng Herowdes halle,
And servyd him of bred and cloth, as every kyng befalle.
Stevyn out of kechone cam, wyth boris hed on honde; 2
He saw a sterre was fayr and brygt over Bedlem 3 stonde.
He kyst adoun the boris hed and went in to the halle:        5
‘I forsak the, Kyng Herowdes, and thi werkes alle.
‘I forsak the, Kyng Herowdes, and thi werkes alle;
Ther is a chyld in Bedlem born is beter than we alle.’
‘What eylyt the, Stevene? What is the befalle?
Lakkyt the eyther mete or drynk in Kyng Herowdes halle?’        10
‘Lakit me neyther mete nor drynk in Kyng Herowdes halle;
Ther is a chyld in Bedlem born beter than we alle.’
‘What eylyt the, Stevyn? Art thu wod, or thu gynnyst to brede? 4
Lakkyt the eyther gold or fe, or ony ryche wede?’
‘Lakyt me neyther gold ne fe, ne non ryche wede;        15
Ther is a chyld in Bedlem born sal helpyn us at our nede.’
‘That is all so soth, Stevyn, all so soth, iwys,
As this capoun crowe sal that lyth here in myn dysh.’
That word was not so sone seyd, that word in that halle,
The capoun crew Cristus natus est! among the lordes alle.        20
‘Rysyt up, myn turmentowres, be to and al be on,
And ledyt Stevyn out of this toun, and stonyt hym wyth ston!’
Tokyn he Stevene, and stonyd hym in the way,
And therfore is his evyn Crystes owyn day.
Note 1. Printed from a manuscript which preserves this delightful little legend, has been judged by the handwriting to be of the age of Henry VI. (Child). [back]
Note 2. With boris hed on honde: the Christmas dish of old England, brought into the hall with much ceremonial and the singing of a carol with the refrain “Caput apri defero,” etc. [back]
Note 3. Bedlem: Bethlehem. [back]
Note 4. Or thu gynnyst to brede: “beginnest to entertain capricious fancies, like a woman.” (Child). [back]

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