History of Literature






Type of work: Drama
Author: Unknown
Type of plot: Moral allegory
Time of plot: Any time
Locale: Any place
Earliest extant version: 1508


Thanks to the preservation of four printed versions from the sixteenth century, this is one of the few morality plays to survive into the present. In addition, it has contemporary appeal, having been produced several times within the twentieth century. Written to teach moral lessons to the illiterate masses, the characters of the play are personifications of virtue and vice.


Principal Characters

God, who has decided to have a reckoning of all men.
Death, summoned to receive God's instructions to search out Everyman. Death agrees to give Everyman some time to gather together companions to make the journey with him.
Everyman, whom Death approaches and orders to make the long journey to Paradise in order to give an accounting for his life.
Good-Deeds, the one companion who can and will make the entire journey with Everyman. Everyman finds Good-Deeds too weak to stir, but after Everyman accepts penance, Good-Deeds is fit for the journey.
Knowledge, the sister of Good-Deeds. Knowledge
offers to guide Everyman, but cannot go with him into the presence of his Maker.
Confession, who lives in the house of salvation. Confession gives penance to Everyman.
Discretion, Strength, Beauty, and The Five Wits, companions who go part of the way with Everyman.
Fellowship, Kindred, and Goods, to whom Everyman turns for companions. All offer to help, but refuse when they learn the nature of the journey.
A Messenger, who appears in prologue to announce a moral play to the audience. He warns that man should look to the end of his life.
A Doctor, who appears at the end to remind the audience that only Good-Deeds will avail at the final judgment


The Story

One day a Messenger appeared to announce a moral play on the summoning of Everyman. In the beginning of his life, he declared, man should look to the ending, for we shall see how all earthly possessions avail little in the final reckoning. At first sin looks sweet, but in the end it causes the soul to weep in pain.
Then God spoke. All living creatures were unkind to Him. They lived with no spiritual thought in their worldly possessions. The Crucifixion was a lesson they had forgotten. Man had turned to the Seven Deadly Sins, and every year his state grew worse. Therefore, God had decided to have a reckoning of all men, lest mankind should become more brutish than the beasts.
At an imperative summons Death came to receive his instructions. He was ordered to search out every man and tell him that he had to make a pilgrimage to his final reckoning. Death promised to be cruel in his search for each man who lived outside God's law.
Spying Everyman walking unconcernedly about his business, his mind on fleshly lust and treasure. Death bade him stand still and asked him if he had forgotten his Maker. Then Death announced that God had dispatched him in all haste to warn Everyman. Everyman was to make a long journey, and he was to take with him his full book of accounts. He was to be very careful, for he had done many bad deeds and only a few good ones. In Paradise he would soon be forced to account for his life.
Everyman protested that death was farthest from his thoughts at the time. Death was adamant, setting no store by worldly goods or rank, for when he summoned all men must obey. Everyman cried in vain for respite. Then he asked if he must go on the long journey alone. Death assured him that he could take any companions who would make the journey with him. Reminding him that his life was only his on loan, Death said he would return very shortly; in the meantime Everyman would have an opportunity to find possible companions for his journey.
Weeping for his plight and wishing he had never been born, Everyman thought of Fellowship, with whom he had spent so many agreeable days in sport and play. Fortunately he saw Fellowship close by and spoke to him. Seeing Everyman's sad countenance. Fellowship asked his trouble. Everyman told him he was in deep sorrow because he had to make a journey. Fellowship reminded him of their past friendship and vowed that he would go anywhere with him, even to Hell. Greatly heartened, Everyman told him of Death's appearance and his urgent summons. Fellowship thought of the long trip from which there would be no return and decided against accompanying Everyman. He would go with him in sport and play, he declared, or to seek lusty women, but he definitely refused to go on that pilgrimage.
Cast down by this setback, Everyman thought of Kindred. Surely the ties of blood were strong. His Kindred swore that they would help him in any way they could, but when they heard that Everyman had to account for his every deed, good or bad, they knew at once the last journey he had in mind. They refused in one voice to go with him. Everyman appealed directly to his favorite cousin, who said he would have gone willingly if it had not been for a cramp in his toe.
Still reflecting on his woes, Everyman thought of turning to Goods. All his life he had loved Goods. Goods heard his plea and offered to help him, but when asked to go on that journey to the highest judge of all, Goods promptly refused. Everyman reminded him that money is supposed to right all wrongs. Goods disagreed with him. Anyway, if Everyman took Goods with him he would be the worse off, for worldly goods were not given, only lent.
Everyman became ashamed of having sought unworthy companions. Calling aloud to Good-Deeds, he asked again for help. Good-Deeds answered feebly, for he was lying on the cold ground, bound by sins. Good-Deeds already knew of the projected journey and wanted to go along, but he was too weak to stir. It was revealed that Good-Deeds had a sister, Knowledge, who would stay with Everyman until Good-Deeds could regain strength.
Promptly Knowledge offered to go with him and guide him in his great need. Knowledge led him to Confession, who lived in the house of salvation, to ask for strength for Good-Deeds. Confession in pity gave penance to Everyman to shrive his soul. Accepting penance joyfully, Everyman scourged his flesh and afterward Knowledge bequeathed him to his Savior. Thankfully Good-Deeds rose from the ground, delivered from sickness and woe. Declaring himself fit for the journey, Good-Deeds promised to help Everyman count his good works before the judgment throne. With a smile of sympathy Knowledge told Everyman to be glad and merry, for Good-Deeds would be his true companion. Knowledge gave a garment to Everyman to wear, a garment of sorrow which would deliver him from pain.
Asking Good-Deeds if his account were ready, Everyman prepared to start his pilgrimage. Good-Deeds reminded him that three other companions would go part of the way: Discretion, Strength, and Beauty. Knowledge proposed also the Five Wits, who would be his counselors. After Kindred had called the new companions together, Everyman, now well fortified, set out on his last journey.
Knowledge said that their first stop must be to see the priest, who would give Everyman unction and ointment, for priests perform the seven unctions as intermediaries of God. Surely priests were man's best hope on earth, in spite of the many weak and venal people who somehow were invested with holy orders.
After receiving the last rites from the priest, Everyman prepared to meet Death. Again he was troubled, however, for one by one his companions left him. Even Knowledge refused to go with him into the presence of his Maker. Only Good-Deeds stayed with Everyman until the end. So it is with every man who must die. Knowledge, Strength, Beauty—all the other companions are a help in the journey, but only Good-Deeds can face death.
The Angel greeted Everyman as an elected spouse of Jesus. Taking him on high, he announced that Everyman was thus exalted by reason of his singular virtue. When Everyman's soul was taken from his body, his reckoning was crystal clear. So shall it be with every man, if he will only live well before his doom.
Finally a Doctor appeared to remind all men that on the last journey, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and the Five Wits forsake every man at the end; only Good-Deeds avail at the final judgment.


Critical Evaluation

The morality play, of which Everyman is the best extant example, and the mystery play are the two principal kinds of medieval drama. The mystery play is a dramatic recreation of a story from Scripture, and its aim is the elucidation of the revelation contained in the Bible. The morality play is an allegorical form, peopled by personified abstractions, such as Beauty, Justice, and Fortitude, and types such as Everyman, Priest, and King. In addition, the subject matter is admonitory, particularly concerning man's last end. As Albert Baugh has pointed out, it is difficult to discover precise sources for the subject matter or the dramatic method. There are, however, certain parallels in medieval sermons, which often bolstered moral exhortations with allegorical examples. Indeed, allegory is pervasive in medieval literature as is, for that matter, concern about a happy death, but how these evolved into the particular form of the morality play is hard to tell.
Few morality plays have survived, and only Everyman is well enough thought of to be dignified with modern performance. One reason for the unpopularity of the genre is the limitation placed on dramatic complication by the static nature of the personifications. The characters are of necessity simple and there is no possibility of change except perhaps in a central type like Everyman. All characters are partially—and most characters are completely—frozen as what they are. As a result, there can be little psychological insight and little of the diverse movement that invigorates earlier and later drama.
Like all forms of allegory, the method is essentially intellectual. The active involvement of the spectator is not through emotion so much as it is in the discovery of the meanings of characters and the significance of the configurations in which they are arranged. Allegory engages the mind and Everyman succeeds well in representing a complex, highly specific, theological system, while generating, by juxtaposition and order, sufficient immediacy to give force to the moral exhortation. The structure is elegant and compact; there is no attempt to catalog the deficiencies of Everyman's past life. Rather the play focuses on the poignant hour of death and implies what Everyman is and what he ought to be at that critical moment.
Because of the allegorical method, it is easy to trivialize the significance of the play by reducing it to the identification of the personifications. But one thereby misses the awesome power of its abstractions and the complex view of life that is represented. A play about the reaction to imminent death, Everyman, in its configurations of characters, implies much about how life should be lived. When God initiates the action, we begin with the premise that all men are to be called to give an account of their actions. As the plot develops, it would perhaps be more accurate to refer to the central character as Any-man, but the use of the name Everyman implies that the experience is not random, not what might happen, but is paradigmatic of what will happen and how we ought to respond.
As Everyman turns to his valued, habitual companions for comfort on his difficult and dangerous journey, it is important that the playwright does not present a pageant of specific sins. Instead, in Fellowship, Kindred, and Goods, we have summary abstractions, which are not particular sins in themselves, but rather examples of the distractions which divert man away from positive direction toward God and salvation. Thus, Everyman's failures are represented not by a static series of vices, but by the vital enticements which have taken too much of his attention. The conception is a Dantean analysis of sin as a turning away from God, the end toward Whom we ought to tend, in favor of the preoccupations of this world.
In the theology of the play, salvation obviously cannot come by faith alone, since it is imperative that Everyman be accompanied to judgment by Good Deeds. However, Good Deeds is so infirm, because of Everyman's prior misdirection, that a prior step is necessary: Everyman is entrusted to Knowledge for guidance. The implication is that knowledge of the institutional Church and its remedies is necessary for the successful living of the good life. Knowledge first directs Everyman to Confession, one of the tangible means of repentance and regeneration. When Confession has been completed, Good Deeds begins to revive since contrition and amendment free the accumulated merits of past virtuous actions.
Knowledge also summons other attainments which can travel at least part way with Everyman. Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five Wits are all auxiliary human accomplishments which can help and comfort men along their way, though none can persevere to the final moment of judgment. As they fall away, one by one, we are watching the process of death. Of course Beauty is the first to depart in this telescoped version of man's death. Of course Strength follows as life ebbs. The last of the attainments to leave is Five Wits, the sensual means through which man acquires whatever understanding he gains in life.
In the end, even Knowledge, the representative of the human intellect, which builds on sense and is a higher power than sense, cannot go the whole distance with Everyman. The respect for Knowledge in the play's implied theological system is enormous: Knowledge plays the pivotal role in informing Everyman of the way to salvation. Yet, in the final analysis, only Good Deeds can descend into the grave with Everyman because it is only the efficacious result of knowledge in right living that merits eternal reward.
An examination of the abstractions and of the arrangement of them reveals in Everyman the complex shape of medieval Christianity. The play suggests a means to salvation everywhere consistent with the prescriptions of the medieval church; there is an ultimate accountability, but man has the capacity, through faith and reason, to direct himself toward God by using the institution of the Church to enable him to do the good which is required of all men.










I pray you all give your audience,
And here this matter with reverence,
By figure a moral play-
The Summoning of Everyman called it is,
That of our lives and ending shows
How transitory we be all day.
This matter is wonderous precious,
But the intent of it is more gracious,
And sweet to bear away.
The story saith,-Man, in the beginning,
Look well, and take good heed to the ending,
Be you never so gay!
Ye think sin in the beginning full sweet,
Which in the end causeth thy soul to weep,
When the body lieth in clay.
Here shall you see how Fellowship and Jollity,
Both Strength, Pleasure, and Beauty,
Will fade from thee as flower in May.
For ye shall here, how our heavenly king
Calleth Everyman to a general reckoning:
Give audience, and here what he doth say.


I perceive here in my majesty,
How that all the creatures be to me unkind,
Living without dread in worldly prosperity:
Of ghostly sight the people be so blind,
Drowned in sin, they know me not for their God;
In worldly riches is all their mind,
They fear not my rightwiseness, the sharp rod;
My law that I shewed, when I for them died,
They forget clean, and shedding of my blood red;
I hanged between two, it cannot be denied;
To get them life I suffered to be dead;
I healed their feet; with thorns hurt was my head:
I could do no more than I did truly,
And now I see the people do clean forsake me.
They use the seven deadly sins damnable;
As pride, covetise, wrath, and lechery,
Now in the world be made commendable;
And thus they leave of angels the heavenly company;
Everyman liveth so after his own pleasure,
And yet of their life they be nothing sure:
I see the more that I them forbear
The worse they be from year to year;
All that liveth appaireth* fast, *is impaired
Therefore I will in all the haste
Have a reckoning of Everyman�s person
For and I leave the people thus alone
In their life and wicked tempests,
Verily they will become much worse than beasts;
For now one would by envy another up eat;
Charity they all do clean forget.
I hope well that Everyman
In my glory should make his mansion,
And thereto I had them all elect;
But now I see, like traitors deject,
They thank me not for the pleasure that I to 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 asketh it heartily;
They be so cumbered with worldly riches,
That needs on them I must do justice,
On Everyman living without fear.
Where art thou, Death, thou mighty messenger?


Almighty God, I am here at your will,
Your commandment to fulfil.


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
Without delay or any tarrying.

Lord, I will in the world go run over all,
And cruelly outsearch both great and small;
Every man will I beset that liveth beastly
Out of God�s laws, and dreadeth not folly;
He that loveth riches I will strike with my dart,
His sight to blind, and from heaven to depart,
Except that alms be his good friend,
In hell for to dwell, world without end.
Lo, yonder I see Everyman walking;
Full little he thinketh on my coming;
His mind is on fleshly lust and his treasure,
And great pain it shall cause him to endure
Before the Lord Heaven King.
Everyman,  stand still; whither art thou going
Thus gaily? Hast thou thy Maker forget?


Why askst thou?
Wouldest thou wete*? *know


Yea, sir, I will show you;
In great haste I am sent to theeFrom God out of his great majesty.

Everyman: What, sent to me?

Yea, certainly.
Though thou have forget him here,
He thinketh on thee in the heavenly sphere,
As, or we depart, thou shalt know.

Everyman: What desireth God of me?


That shall I show thee;
A reckoning he will needs have
Without any longer respite.

To give a reckoning longer leisure I crave;
This blind matter troubleth my wit.

On thee thou must take a long journey:
Therefore thy book of count with thee thou bring;
For turn again thou can not by no way,
And look thou be sure of thy reckoning:
For before God thou shalt answer, and show
Thy many bad deeds and good but few;
How thou hast spent thy life, and in what wise,
Before the chief lord of paradise.
Have ado that we were in that way,
For, wete thou well, thou shalt make none attournay*. *mediator


Full unready I am such reckoning to give
I know thee not: what messenger art thou?

I am Death, that no man dreadeth.
For every man I rest and no man spareth;
For it is God�s commandment
That all to me should be obedient.

O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind;
In thy power it lieth me to save,
Yet of my good will I give thee, if ye will be kind,
Yea, a thousand pound shalt thou have,
And defer this matter till another day.

Everyman, it may not be by no way;
I set not by gold, silver nor, riches,
Ne by pope, emperor, king, duke, ne princes.
For and I would receive gifts great,
All the world I might get;
But my custom is clean contrary.
I give thee no respite: come hence, and not tarry.

Alas, shall I have no longer respite?
I may say Death giveth no warning:
To think on thee, it maketh my heart sick,
For all unready is my book of reckoning.
But twelve year and I might have abiding,
My counting book I would make so clear,
That my reckoning I should not need to fear.
Wherefore, Death, I pray thee, for God�s mercy,
Spare me till I provided of remedy.

Thee availeth not to cry, weep, and pray:
But haste thee lightly that you were gone the journey,
And prove thy friends if thou can.
For, wete thou well, the tide abideth no man,
And in the world each living creature
For Adam�s sin must die of nature.

Death, if I should this pilgrimage take,
And my reckoning surely make,
Show me, for saint charity,
Should I not come again shortly?

No, Everyman; and thou be once there,
Thou mayst never more come here,
Trust me verily.

O gracious God, in the high seat celestial,
Have mercy on me in this most need;
Shall I have no company from this vale terrestrial
Of mine acquaintance that way to me lead?

Yea, if any be so hardy
That would go with thee and bear thee company.
Hie thee that you were gone to God�s magnificence,
Thy reckoning to give before his presence.
What, weenest thou thy life is given thee,
And thy worldly goods also?

I had went so verily.

Nay, nay; it was but lent thee;
For as soon as thou art go,
Another awhile shall have it, and then go therefor
Even as thou hast done.
Everyman, thou art mad; thou hast thou wits five,
And here on earth will not amend thy life,
For suddenly I do come.

O wretched caitiff, whither shall I flee,
That I might scape this endless sorrow!
Now, gentle Death, spare me till to-morrow,
That I may amend me
With good advisement.

Nay, thereto I will not consent,
Nor no man will I respite,
But to the heart suddenly I shall smite
Without any advisement.
And now out of thy sight I will me hie;
See thou make thee ready shortly,
For thou mayst say this is the day
That no man living may escape away.

Alas, I may well weep with sighs deep;
Now have I no manner of company
To help me in my journey, and me to keep;
And also my writing is full unready.
How shall I do now for to excuse me?
I would to God I had never be gete*! *been born
To my soul a great profit it had be;
For now I fear pains huge and great.
The time passeth; Lord, help that all wrought;
For though I mourn it availeth nought.
The day passeth, and is almost a-go;
I wot not well what for to do.
To whom were I best my complaint do make?
What, and I to Fellowship thereof spake,
And show him of this sudden chance?
For in him is all my affiance;
We have in the world so many a day
Be on good friends in sport and play.
I see him yonder, certainly;
I trust that he will bear me company;
Therefore to him will I speak to ease my sorrow.
Well met, good Fellowship, and good morrow!

Everyman, good morrow by this day.
Sir, why lookest thou so piteously?
If anything be amiss, I pray thee, me say,
That I may help to remedy.

Yea, good Fellowship, yea,
I am in great jeopardy.

My true friend, show me your mind;
I will not forsake thee, unto my life�s end,
In the way of good company.

That was well spoken, and lovingly.

Sir, I must needs know your heaviness;
I have pity to see you in any distress;
If any have you wronged ye shall revenged be,
Though I on the ground be slain for thee,-
Though that I know before that I should die.

Verily, Fellowship, gramercy.

Tush! by thy thanks I set not a straw.
Show me your grief, and say no more.

If I my heart should to you break,
And then you to turn your mind from me,
And would not me comfort, when you here me speak,
Then should I ten times sorrier be.

Sir, I say as I will do in deed.

Then be you a good friend at need;
I have found you true here before.

And so ye shall evermore;
For, in faith, and thou go to Hell
I will not forsake thee by the way!

Ye speak like a good friend; I believe you well;
I shall deserve it, and I may.

I speak of no deserving, by this day.
For he that will say and nothing do
Is not worthy with good company to go;
Therefore show me the grief of your mind,
As to your friend most loving and kind.

I shall show you how it is;
Commanded I am to go on a journey,
A long way, hard and dangerous,
And give a strait count without delay
Before the high judge Adonai*. *God
Wherefore I pray you bear me company,
As ye have promised, in this journey.

That is a matter indeed! Promise is duty,
But, and I should take such a voyage on me,
I know it well, it should be to my pain:
Also it make me afeard, certain.
But let us take counsel here as well we can,
For your words would fear a strong man.

Why, ye said, If I had need,
Ye would me never forsake, quick nor dead,
Though it were to hell truly.

Fellowship: So I said, certainly,
But such pleasures be set aside, thee sooth to say:
And also, if we took such a journey,
When should we come again?

Nay, never again till the day of doom.

In faith, then will not I come there!
Who hath you these tidings brought?

Indeed, Death was with me here

Now, by God that all hath brought,
If Death were the messenger,
For no man that is living to-day
I will not go that loath journey-
Not for the father that begat me!

Ye promised other wise, pardie.

I wot well I say so truly;
And yet if thou wilt eat, and drink, and make good cheer,
Or haunt to women, the lusty companion,
I would not forsake you, while the day is clear,
Trust me verily!

Yea, thereto ye would be ready;
To go to mirth, solace, and play,
Your mind will sooner apply
Than to bear me company in my long journey.

Now, in good faith, I will not that way.
But and thou wilt murder, or any man kill,
In that I will help thee with a good will!

O that is a simple advice indeed!
Gentle fellow, help me in my necessity;
We have loved long, and now I need,
And now, gentle Fellowship, remember me.

Whether ye have loved me or no,
By Saint John, I will not with thee go.

Yet I pray thee, take the labour, and do so much for me
To bring me forward, for saint charity,
And comfort me till I come without the town.

Nay, and thou would give me a new gown,
I will not a foot with thee go;
But and you had tarried I would not have left thee so.
And as now, God speed thee in thy journey,
For from thee I will depart as fast as I may.

Whither away, Fellowship? Will you forsake me?

Yea, by my fay, to God I betake thee.

Farewell, good Fellowship; for this my heart is sore;
Adieu for ever, I shall see thee no more.

Fellowship: In faith, Everyman, farewell now at the end;
For you I will remember that parting is mourning.

Alack! Shall we thus depart indeed?
Our Lady, help, without any more comfort,
Lo, Fellowship forsaketh me in my most need:
For help in this world whither shall I resort?
Fellowship herebefore with me would merry make;
And now little sorrow for me doth he take.
It is said, in prosperity men friends may find,
Which in adversity be fully unkind.
Now whither for succour shall I flee,
Sith that Fellowship hath forsaken me?
To my kinsmen I will truly,
Praying them to help me in my necessity;
I believe that they will do so,
For kind will creep where it may not go.
I will go say, for yonder I see them go.
Where be ye now, my friends and kinsmen?

Here be we now at your commandment.
Cousin, I pray you show us your intent
In any wise, and not spare.

Yea, Everyman, and to us declare
If ye be disposed to go any whither,
For wete you well, we will live and die together.

In wealth and woe we will with you hold,
For over his kin a man may be bold.

Gramercy, my friends and kinsmen kind.
Now shall I show you the grief of my mind:
I was commanded by a messenger,
That is a high king�s chief officer;
He bade me go on a pilgrimage to my pain,
And I know well I shall never come again;
Also I must give a reckoning straight,
For I have a great enemy, that hath me in wait,
Which intendeth me for to hinder.

What account is that which ye must render?
That would I know.

Of all my works I must show
How I have lived and my days spent;
Also of ill deeds, that I have used
In my time, sith life was me lent;
And of all virtues that I have refused.
Therefore I pray you thither with me,
To help to make account, for saint charity.

What, to go thither? Is that the matter?
Nay, Everyman, I had liefer fast bread and water
All this five year and more.

Alas, that ever I was bore!
For now shall I never be merry
If that you forsake me.

Ah, sir; what, ye be a merry man!
Take good heart to you, and make no moan.
But as one thing I warn you, by Saint Anne,
As for me, ye shall go alone.

My Cousin, will you not with me go.

No by our Lady; I have the cramp in my toe.
Trust not to me, for, so God me speed,
I will deceive you in your most need.

It availeth not us to tice.
Ye shall have my maid with all my heart;
She loveth to go to feasts, there to be nice,
And to dance, and abroad to start:
I will give her leave to help you in that journey,
If that you and she may agree.

Now show me the very effect of your mind.
Will you go with me, or abide behind?

Abide behind? Yea, that I will and I may!
Therefore farewell until another day.

How should I be mary or glad?
For fair promises to me make,
But when I have most need, they me forsake.
I am deceived; that maketh me sad

Cousin Everyman, farewell now,
For varily I will not go with you;
Also of mine an unready reckoning
I have to account; therefore I make tarrying.
Now, God keep thee, for now I go.

Ah, Jesus, is all come hereto?
Lo, fair words maketh fools feign;
They promise and nothing will do certain.
My kinsmen promised me faithfully
For to abide with me steadfastly,
And now fast away do they flee:
Even so Fellowship promised me.
What friend were best me of to provide?
I lose my time here longer to abide.
Yet in my mind a thing there is;-
All my life I have loved riches;
If that my good now help me might,
He would make my heart full light.
I will speak to him in this distress.-
Where art thou, my Goods and riches?

Who calleth me? Everyman? What hast thou hast!
I lie here in corners, trussed and piled so high,
And in chest I am locked so fast,
Also sacked in bags, thou mayst see with thine eye,
I cannot stir; in packs low I lie.
What would ye have, lightly me say.

Come hither, Goods, in all the hast thou may,
For of counsel I must desire thee.

Sir, and ye in the world have trouble or adversity,
That can I help you to remedy shortly.

It is another disease that grieveth me;
In this world it is not, I tell thee so.
I am sent for another way to go,
To give a straight account general
Before the highest Jupiter of all;
And all my life I have had joy and pleasure in thee.
Therefore I pray thee go with me,
For, peradventure, thou mayst before God Almighty
My reckoning help to clean and purify;
For it is said ever among,
That money maketh all right that is wrong.

Nay, Everyman, I sing another song,
I follow no man in such voyages;
For and I went with thee
Thou shouldst fare much the worse for me;
For because on me thou did set thy hand,
Thy reckoning I have made blotted and blind,
That thine account thou cannot make truly;
And that hast thou for the love of me.

That would grieve me full sore,
When I should come to that fearful answer.
Up, let us go thither together.

Nay, not so, I am, to brittle, I may not endure;
I will follow no man one foot, be ye sure.

Alas, I have thee loved, and had great pleasure
All my life-days on good and treasure.

That is to thy damnation without lesing,
For my love is contrary to the love everlasting.
But if thou had loved moderately during,
As, to the poor give part of me,
Then shouldst thou not in this dolour be,
Nor in this great sorrow care.

Lo, now was I deceived or was I ware,
And all may wyte* my spending time. *blame

What, weenest thou that I am thine?

Everyman: I had wend so.

Nay, Everyman, say no;
As for a while I was lent thee,
A season thou hast had me in prosperity;
My condition is man�s soul to kill;
If I save one, a thousand I do spill;
Weenest thou that I will follow thee?
Nay, from this world, not verrily.

I had wend otherwise.

Therefore to thy soul Good is a thief;
For when thou art dead, this is my guise
Another to deceive in the same wise
As I have done thee, and all to his soul�s reprief.

O false Good, cursed thou be!
Thou traitor to God, that hast deceived me,
And caught me in thy snare.

Marry, thou brought thyself in care,
Whereof I am glad,
I must needs laugh, I cannot be sad.

Ah, Good, thou hast had long my heartly love;
I gave thee that which should be the Lord�s above.
But wilt thou not go with me in deed?
I pray thee truth to say.

No, so God me speed,
Therefore farewell, and have good day.

O, to whom shall I make my moan
For to go with me in that heavy journey?
First Fellowship said he would go with me gone;
His words were very pleasant and gay,
But afterward he left me alone.
Then spake I to my kinsmen all in despair,
And also they gave me words fair,
They lacked no fair speaking,
But all forsake me in the ending.
Then went I to my Goods that I loved best,
In hope to have comfort, but there had I least;
For my Goods sharply did me tell
That he bringeth many to hell.
Then of myself I was ashamed,
And so I am worthy to be blamed;
Thus may I well myself hate.
Of whom shall now counsel take?
I think that I shall never speed
Till that I go to my Good-Deed,
But alas, she is so weak,
That she can neither go nor speak;
Yet I will venture on her now.-
My Good-Deeds, where be you?

Here I lie cold in the ground;
Thy sins hath me sore bound,
That I cannot stir.

O, Good-Deeds, I stand in fear;
I must you pray counsel,
For help now should come right well.

Everyman, I have understanding
That ye be summoned account to make
Before Messias, of Jerusalem King;
And if you do by me that journey what you will I take.

Therefore I come to you, my moan to make;
I pray you, that ye will go with me.

I would full fain, but I cannot stand verily.

Why, is there anything on you fall?

Yea, sir, I may thank you of all;
If ye had perfectly cheered me,
Your book of account now full ready had be.
Look, the books of your works and deeds eke;
Oh, see how they lie under the feet,
To your soul�s heaviness.

Our Lord Jesus, help me!
For one letter here I can not see.

There is a blind reckoning in time of distress!

Good-Deeds, I pray you, help me in this need,
Or else I am forever damned indeed;
Therefore help me to make reckoning
Before the redeemer of all thing,
That king is, and was, and ever shall.

Everyman, I am sorry for your fall,
And fain would I help you, and I were able.

Good-Deeds, you counsel I pray you give me.

That shall I do verily;
Though that on my feet I may not go,
I have a sister, that shall with you also,
Called Knowledge, which shall you abide,
To help you make that dreadful reckoning.

Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go by thy side.

In good condition I am now in every thing,
And am wholly content with this good thing;
Thanked be God my creator.

And when he hath brought thee there,
Where thou shalt heal thee of thy smart,
Then go with your reckoning and your Good-Deeds together
For to make you joyful at heart
Before the blessed Trinity.

My Good-Deeds, gramercy;
I am well content, certainly,
With your words sweet.

Now we go together lovingly,
To Confession, that cleansing river.

For joy I weep; I would we were there;
But, I pray you, give me cognition
Where dwelleth that holy man, Confession.

in the house of salvation:
We shall find him in that place,
That shall us comfort by God�s grace.
Lo, this is Confession; kneel down and ask mercy,
For he is in good conceit with God almighty.

O glorious fountain that all uncleanness doth clarify,
That on me no sin may be seen;
I come with Knowledge for my redemption,
Repent with hearty and full contrition;
For I am commanded a pilgrimage to take,
And great accounts before God to make.
Now, I pray you, Shrift, mother of salvation,
Help my good deeds for my piteous exclamation.

I know your sorrow well, Everyman;
Because with Knowledge ye come to me,
I will you comfort as well as I can,
And a precious jewel I will give thee,
Called penance, wise voider of adversity;
Therewith shall your body chastised be,
With abstinence and perseverance in God�s service:
Here shall you receive that scourge of me,
Which is penance strong, that ye must endure,
To remember thy Saviour was scourged for thee
With sharp scourges, and suffered it patiently;
So must thou, or thou scape that that painful pilgrimage;
Knowledge, keep him in this voyage,
And by that time Good-Deeds will be with thee.
But in any wise, be sure of mercy,
For your time draweth fast, and ye will saved be;
Ask God mercy, and He will grant truly,
When with the scourge of penance man doth him bind,
The oil of forgiveness then shall he find.

Thanked be God for his gracious work!
For now I will my penance begin;
This hath rejoiced and lighted my heart,
Though the knots be painful and within.

Everyman, look your penance that ye fulfil,
What pain that ever it to you be,
And Knowledge shall give you counsel at will,
How your accounts you shall make clearly,

O eternal God, O heavenly figure,
O way of rightwiseness, O goodly vision,
Which descended down in a virgin pure
Because he would Everyman redeem,
Which Adam forfeited by his disobedience:
O blessed Godhead, elect and high-divine,
Forgive my grievous offence;
Here I cry thee mercy in this presence.
O ghostly treasure, O ransomer and redeemer
Of all the world, hope and conductor,
Mirror of joy, and founder of mercy,
Which illumineth heaven and earth thereby,
Hear my clamorous complain, though it late be;
Receive my prayers; unworthy in this heavy life,
Though I be, a sinner most abominable,
Yet let my name be written in Moses� table;
O Mary, pray to the Maker of all thing,
Me for to help at my ending,
And same me from the power of my enemy,
For Death assaileth me strongly,
And, Lady, that I may by means of they prayer
Of your Son�s glory to be partaker,
By the means of h is passion I it crave,
I beseech you, help my soul to save.
Knowledge, give me the scourge of penance;
My flesh therewith shall give a quittance;
I will now begin, if God give me grace.

Everyman, God give you time and space:
Thus I bequeath you in the hands of our Savior,
Thus may you make your reckoning sure.

In the name of the Holy Trinity,
My body sore punished shall be:
Take this body for the sin of the flesh;
Also though delightest to go gay and fresh;
And in the way of damnation thou did me brine;
Therefore suffer now strokes and punishing.
Now of penance I will wade the water clear,
To save me from purgatory, that sharp fire.

I thank God, now I can walk and go;
And am delivered of my sickness and woe.
Therefore with Everyman I will go, and not spare;
His good works I will help him to declare.

Now, Everyman, be merry and glad;
Your Good-Deeds cometh now;
Now is your Good-Deeds whole and sound,
Going upright upon the ground.

My heart is light, and shall be evermore;
Now will I smite faster than I did before.

Everyman, pilgrim, my special friend,
Blessed by thou without end;
For thee is prepared the eternal glory,
Ye gave me made whole and sound,
Therefore I will bid by thee in every stound*. *season

Welcome, my Good-Deeds; now I hear thy voice,
I weep for very sweetness of love.

Be no more sad, but ever rejoice,
God seeth they living in this throne above;
Put on his garment to thy behove,
Which is wet with your tears,
Or else before god you may it miss,
When you to your journey�s end come shall.

Gentle Knowledge, what do you it call?

It is a garment of sorrow:
From pain it will you borrow;
Contrition it is,
That getteth forgiveness;
It pleaseth God passing well.

Everyman, will you wear it for your heal?

Now blessed by Jesu. Mary�s Son!
From now have I on true contrition.
And let us go now without tarrying;
Good-Deeds, have we clear our reckoning?

Yea, indeed I have it here.

Then I trust we need not fear;
Now friends, let us not part in twain.

Nay, Everyman, that will we not, certain.

Yet must thou lead with thee
Three persons of great might.

Who should they be?

Discretion and Strength, they hight,
And thy Beauty may not abide behind.

Also ye must call to mind.
Your Five-wits as for your counsellors.

You must have them ready at all hours

How shall I get them hinder?

You must call them all together,
And they will hear you incontient.

My friends, come hither and be present
Discretion, Strength, my Five-wits and Beauty.

Here at you will we be all ready.
What will ye that we should do?

That ye would with Everyman go,
And help him in his pilgrimage,
Advise you, will ye with him or not in that voyage?

We will bring him all thither,
To his help and comfort, ye may believe me.

So will we go with him all together.

Almighty God, loved thou be,
I give thee laud that I have hither brought
Strength, Discretion, Beauty, and Five-wits; lack I nought;
And my Good-Deeds, with Knowledge clear,
I desire no more to my business.

And I, Strength, will by you stand in distress,
Though thou would be battle fight on the ground,.

And though it were through the world round,
We will not depart for sweet nor sour.

No more will I unto death�s hour,
Whatsoever thereof befall.

Everyman, advise you first of all;
Go with a good advisement and deliberation;
We all give you virtuous monitiion
That all shall be well.

My friends, harken what I will tell:
I pray God reward you in his heavenly sphere.
Now harken, all that be here,
For I will make my testament
Here before you all present.
In alms half good I will give with my hands twain
In the way of charity with good intent,
And the other half still shall remain
In quiet to be returned there it ought to be.
This I do in despite of the fiend of hell
To go quite out if his peril.
Even after and this day.

Everyman, hearken what I say;
Go to priesthood, I you advise,
And receive of him in any wise
The holy sacrament and ointment together;
Then shortly see ye turn again hither;
We will all abide you here.

Yea, Everyman, hie you that ye ready were,
There is no emperor, king, duke, ne baron,
That of God hath commission,
As hath the least priest in the world being;
He beareth the keys and thereof hath the cure
For man�s redemption, it is ever sure;
Which God for our soul�s medicine
Gave us out of his heart with great pine;
Here in this transitory life, for thee and me
The blessed sacraments seven there be,
Baptism, confirmation, with priesthood good,
And the sacrament of God�s precious flesh and blood,
Marriage, the holy extreme unction, and penance;
Gracious sacraments of high divinity.

Fain would I receive that holy body
And meek to my ghostly father I will go.

Everyman, that is the best that ye can do:
God will you to salvation bring,
For priesthood exceedeth all other things;
To us Holy Scripture they do teach.
And converteth man from sin heaven to reach;
God hath to them more power given,
Than to any angel that is in heaven;
With five words he may consecrate
God�s body in flesh and blood to male,
And handleth his maker between his hands;
The priest bindeth and unbindeth all bands,
Both in earth and in heaven;
Thou ministers all the sacraments seven;
Though we kissed thy feet thou were worthy;
Thou art surgeon that cureth sin deadly;
No remedy we find under God
But all only priesthood.
Everyman, God gave priests that dignity,
And setteth them in his stead amount us to be;
Thus be they above angels in degree

If priests be good it is so surely;
But when Jesus hanged on the cross with great smart
There he gave, out of his blessed heart,
The same sacrament in great torment:
He sold them not to us, that Lord Omnipotent.
Therefore Saint Peter the apostle doth say
That Jesu�s curse hath all they
Which God their Savior do buy or sell,
Or they for any money do take or tell.
Sinful priests giveth the sinners example bad;
Their children sitteth by other men�s fires, I have heard;
And some haunteth women�s company,
With unclean life, as lusts of lechery:
These be with sin made blind.

I trust to God no such may we find;
Therefore let us priesthood honour,
And follow their doctrine for our souls� succour;
We be their sheep, and they shepherds be
By whom we all be kept in surety.
Peace, for yonder I see Everyman come,
Which hath made true satisfaction.

Methinketh it is he indeed.

Now Jesu be our alder speed*. * speed in help of all
I have received the sacrament for my redemption,
And then mine extreme unction:
Blessed be all they that counsell me to take it!
And now, friends, let us go without longer respite;
I thank God that ye have tarried so long.
Now set each of you on this rod your hand,
And shortly follow me:
I go before, there I would be; God be our guide.

Everyman, we will not from you go,
Till ye have done this voyage long.

I, Discretion, will bide by you also.

And though this pilgrimage be never so strong,
I will never part you fro:
Everyman, I will be as sure by the
As ever I did by Judas Maccabee.

Alas, I am so faint I may not stand,
My limbs under me do fold;
Friends, let us not turn again to this land,
Not for all the world�s gold,
For into this cave must I creep
And turn to the earth and there to sleep.

What into this grave? Alas!

Yea, there shall you consume more and less.

And what, should I smother here?

Yea, by my faith, and never more appear.
In this world live no more we shall,
But in heaven before the highest Lord of all.

I cross out all this; adieu by Saint John;
I take my cap in my lap and am gone.

What, Beauty, whither will ye?

Peace, I am deaf; I look not behind me,
Not and thou would give me all the gold in thy chest.

Alas, whereto may I trust?
Beauty goeth fast away hie;
She promised with me to live and die.

Everyman, I will thee also forsake and deny;
Thy game liketh me not at all.

Why, then ye will forsake me all.
Sweet Strength, tarry a little space.

Nay, sir, by thy rood of grace
I will hie me from thee fast,
Though thou weep till thy heart brast.

Ye would ever bide by me, ye said.

Yea, I have you far enough conveyed;
Ye be old enough, I understand,
Your pilgrimage to take on hand;
I repent me that I hither came.

Strength, you to displease I am to blame;
Will you break promise that is debt?

In faith, I care not;
Thou art but a fool to complain,
You spend your speech and waste your brain;
Go thrust thee into the ground.

I had went surer I should you have found.
He that trustest in his Strength
She him deceiveth at the length.
Both Strength and Beauty forsaketh me,
Yet they promise me fair and lovingly.

Everyman, I will after Strength be gone,
As for me I will leave you alone.

Why, Discretion, will ye forsake me?

Yea, in faith, I will go from thee,
For when Strength goeth before
I follow after evermore.

Yet, I pray thee, for the love of the Trinity,
Look in my grave once piteously.

Nay, so nigh will I not come.
Farewell, every one!

O all thing faileth, save God alone;
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion;
For when Death bloweth his blast,
They all run from me full fast.

Everyman, my leave now of thee I take;
I will follow the other, for here I thee forsake.

O Jesu, help, all hath forsaken me!

Nay, Everyman, I will bide with thee,
I will not forsake thee indeed;
Thou shalt find me a good friend at need.

Gramercy, Good-Deeds; now may I true friends see;
They have forsaken me every one;
I loved them better than my Good-Deeds alone.
Knowledge, will ye forsake me also?

Yea, Everyman, when ye to death do go;
But not yet for no manner of danger.

Gramercy, Knowledge, with all me heart.

Nay, yet I will not depart from hence depart,
Till I see where ye shall be come.

Methinketh, alas, that I must be gone,
To make my reckoning and my debts pay,
For I see my time is nigh spent away.
Take example, all ye that do hear or see,
How they that I loved best do forsake me,
Except my Good-Deeds that bideth truly.

All earthly things is but vanity:
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion, do man forsake,
Foolish friends and kinsmen, that fair spake,
All fleeth save Good-Deeds, and that am I.

Have mercy on me, God, most mighty;
And stand by me, thou Mother and Maid, holy Mary.

Fear not, I will speak for thee.

Here I cry God mercy.

Short our end, and minish our pain;
Let us go and never come again.

Into thy hands, Lord, my soul I commend;
Receive it, Lord, that it be not lost;
As thou me boughtest, so me defend,
And save me from the fiend�s boast,
That I may appear with that blessed host
That shall be saved at the day of doom.
In manus tuas- of might�s most
For ever- commendo spiritum meum.

Now hath he suffered that we all shall endure;
The Good-Deeds shall make all sure.
Now hath he made ending;
Methinketh that I hear angels sing
And make great joy and melody,
Where Everyman�s soul received shall be.

Come, excellent elect spouse to Jesu:
Hereabove thou shalt go
Because of thy singular virtue:
Now the soul is taken the body fro;
Thy reckoning is crystal-clear.
Now shalt thou into the heavenly sphere,
Unto the which all ye shall come
That liveth well before the day of doom.

This moral men may have in mind;
Ye hearers, take it of worth, old and young,
And forsake pride, for he deceiveth you in the end,
And remember Beauty, Five-wits, Strength, and Discretion,
They all at last do Everyman forsake,
Save his Good-Deeds, there doth he take.
But beware, and they be small
Before God, he hath no help at all.
None excuse may be there for Everyman:
Alas, how shall he do then?
For after death amends may no man make,
For then mercy and pity do him forsake.
If his reckoning be not clear when he do come,
God will say- ite maledicti in ignem aeternum.
And he that hath his account whole and sound,
High in heaven he shall be crowned;
Unto which place God bring us all thither
That we may live body and soul together.
Thereto help the Trinity,
Amen, say ye, for saint Charity.





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