Came Darkness: The Curse of Job

By Terence Kuch


A play for voices, dramatized from the book of Job and the sermons of John Donne about Job. It emphasizes the glories of the inspired language of this most poetic book of the Bible, and the soaring rhetoric of John Donne, the poet and most famous preacher of his day.
John Donne delivers a Lenten sermon to King James and his court on a text from Job. Donne introduces and comments on the dialogue between Job and his 'friends' (accusers). Gradually, Donne is drawn into the dialogue himself, and confides his own fears. God speaks, and Job is reconciled. Eight years later, Donne delivers his last sermon, and he also is reconciled, after a fashion.


Six parts requiring six readers, of whom two must be male, and the other parts, while nominally male, could be taken by either
male or female actors.
Since this is a play for voices, no special staging or costumes are required, and there is no action as such. Ideally, "Came
Darkness" is performed in a church, where 'John Donne' stands at a lectern, and the other performers are arranged in any
convenient way.
This play is primarily intended for adults.

    ACT 1. SCENE I
    (God, John Donne)

    GOD [proclaiming]:

      In the year sixteen hundred twenty three, on the thirty-first day of March of that year, the Right Reverend John Donne said Evening Prayer with King James and his court. That day being in the season of Lent, the Dean took the occasion to speak on the judgments of life and the terrors of death, using Job as his text.

      "There came a messenger unto Job; and while he was yet speaking, there came also another."
      I remember, Saint Gregory professes that he will speak to this text so the weakest understanding might comprehend the highest points, and the highest understanding not be weary to hear ordinary doctrine so delivered.
      "There came a messenger unto Job."
      Indeed it is good art to deliver deep points in holy plainness, and plain points in holy delightfulness; for many times one part of our auditory understands us not, when we have done, and so they are weary; and another part understands us before we begun, and so they are weary. [Donne laughs quietly and self-consciously at his own joke.]
      -- This evening my humble petition is that you will be content to hear plain things, messages plainly delivered. And of these messages, this is the first: "There was a perfect and upright man."

      A perfect and upright man, that feared God and shunned evil. His name was Job. And there were born unto him and his wife seven sons and three daughters. He owned many sheep and camels, oxen and Asses; and he had a very great household. Now one day the sons of God came before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said to Satan, "Where have ^you been?" And Satan said, "Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it." And the Lord said to Satan [with a confident tone] "Have you noticed my servant Job? There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man: he fears God, and shuns evil."
      And Satan said, "You have blessed the work of his hands. But command me to touch all he has, his bone, his flesh: he will ^curse you to your face!" And the Lord said to Satan [gestures with an open hand] "All that he has is in your hand." So Satan went forth from the Lord.

      And there shall presently come messengers to Job, to test if he will curse God to his face.

      -- So will the first part of this message concern Job's miseries, and sweet entreaties; this will be the first part; and the other will be of Job's wrath, and God's answer. Be pleased then to admit and charge your memories with this distribution of my words. I threaten you but with two parts, no farther tediousness, I can promise no more shortness in this message.

      There came a day when the sons and daughters of Job were eating and drinking in their eldest brother's house;
      And there came a messenger unto Job, who said, "The oxen were plowing, and the Asses feeding beside them. The enemy fell upon them; took them away; and I only am escaped alone, to tell thee."
      And while he was yet speaking there came also another, who said "The fire of God is fallen from heaven! It burned up the camels and sheep, and slew the servants, and I only am escaped alone, to tell thee."
      And while he was yet speaking

    GOD and DONNE:
      There came also a last messenger.

      Let no man say, "This is the worst"; for a worse thing than that may fall: five and thirty years' sickness may fall upon thee; and a worse thing than that: distraction and desperation may fall upon thee; for God only knows the worst that God can do to us.

    GOD and DONNE:
      There came also a last messenger

      Who said "Mere came a great wind from the wilderness. It smote your son's house; it fell upon your sons and daughters and they are dead? I only am escaped."
      And Satan smote Job with sores from the sole of his foot to his crown. Then did Job sit down in a dung heap?

      The best men have the most laid upon them. As soon as I hear God say that he hath found an upright man, in the next lines I find a commission to Satan to bring evil upon his cattle, and fire and tempest upon his children, and loathsome disease upon himself.

      Now when Job's three friends heard of all the evil that was come upon him, they came to mourn with him and comfort him. They sat with him seven days and seven nights, and none yet spoke a word to him; for they saw that his grief was very great.

      Let me ask in Job's behalf: "Can these bones live?" Can this anatomy, this skeleton, these ruins, this rubbish of Job speak? It can, it does.

    ACT 1. SCENE 2
    (GOD, JOB)


      Job opened his mouth, and cursed:

      ^God ^damn the ^day wherein I was born! And the night that said "There is a man-child conceived."
      Let that day be dark: let not God regard it from above; neither let the light shine upon it.
      Darkness and shadow of death stain it! Clouds, dwell upon it! Blackness of day, terrify it!
      As for that night, darkness seize it! Join it not to the days of the year.
      Let that night be barren; let no joyful voice come in; let them curse it who curse that day.
      Let the stars of its twilight be dark nor see the eyelids of day: because it shut not up my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
      Why died I not in the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost from the belly, or be a hidden untimely birth, as still-borns that never saw light?
      Why did the knees receive me? Why did the breasts give me suck?
      Now should I have lain still and quiet? I should have slept: then had I been at rest with kings and counselors of the earth.
      There the wicked cease from troubling; there the weary be at rest.
      There the prisoners rest together and hear not their keeper's voice.
      The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
      Why is light given to ^me, in misery, and life to die bitter in soul which long for death that cometh not; and dig for it as for treasure?
      The thing I greatly feared is come upon me.

    ACT 1, SCENE 3


      Job's friends did not expect the providence of God to be so abused.

      I cannot be still. Your words of old strengthened many who were troubled; but now God is come upon you, and ^you are troubled.

      Eliphaz, an alien to the Covenant; yet he received a message from God for the instruction of Job himself. What was it?

      A message was secretly brought to me in a vision of the night. From sleep, fear came upon me, and trembling; all my bones shook! A formless spirit stood before me; the hair of my skin stood up! There was silence. Then I heard its voice:
      "God puts no trust in his servants", it said, "even his angels he calls fools."
      How much less must he think of us who live in houses of clay, who are formed of dust, who are crushed like moths? One morning alive, that night we are dead forever. How can mortal man be just in God's eyes? How can he satisfy the one who made him?
      Hear my words, Job; be not wroth with God.

      The arrows of God are within me; their poison my spirit drinketh up; the terrors of God are against me.
      O that my grief were thoroughly weighed, my calamity heaped on the balance, heavier than sands of the sea.
      Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: cause me to know where I have erred.
      I cry-out of wrong but am not heard; I cry aloud but there is no judgment.

      Suffer me a little, and I will show you that I have yet to speak on God's behalf I will fetch my knowledge and prove my Maker righteous.

      Do ye judge me with words, but hold my desperate speech as wind? I am given months of vanity, and wearisome nights are mine.
      When I lie down, I say "When shall I arise?" but the night is long and I am full of tossing to and fro unto the dawning of the day.
      When I say, "My bed shall comfort me", then He scares me with dreams and terrifies me in visions.

      Thy lying down is a parting, a taking leave, a shaking hands with God. Enter into thy metaphorical grave, thy bed, with holy tears.

      What is my strength that I endure?
      Is my strength the strength of stones? Is my flesh brass?
      My soul would choose strangling, and death for these my bones.
      For He breaketh me with a tempest and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
      He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.
      My days are passed away as die swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.
      I would speak with the Almighty?, I would dispute with God!

      Prepare your heart, stretch out your hands to Him. Acquaint now yourself with Him; and ease will come.

      I ^was at ease, but ^He brake me asunder: He hath taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for His mark.
      He hath kindled His wrath against me; He countest, me an enemy.
      His troops come on together, encamp about my tent.
      His archers compass me round; He cleaveth me asunder, and doth not spare; He poureth out my gall upon the ground.
      He breaketh me breach upon breach, He runneth upon me like a giant.
      I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin; my face is foul with weeping, on my eyelids is the shadow of death.
      Mine eye also is dim by sorrow, and all my members, shadow.
      My days are past, my purpose broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
      He hath destroyed me on every side; mine hope hath He plucked up like a tree.

      [To GOD:] Though I wash myself with snow water and make my hands never so clean, yet Thou plunge me in the ditch; mine own clothes abhor me.

      Thy flesh is thy clothes; so thou hast most clothes on when thou art naked; ^Then thou art in most danger of fouling thy hands with thine own clothes.
      Miserable man! That couldst have no use of hands if there were no other creature but thy self, and yet, if there were no other creature, couldst sin upon thy self, and foul thy hands with thine own hands.

      I am full of confusion; see Thou mine affliction; for it increaseth.
      Thou huntest me as a fierce lion, and shewest Thyself marvelous upon me.
      Thou renewest Thy witness against me, Thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.
      Withdraw Thine hand far from me: let not Thy dread affright me.
      O that I knew where to find Thee! That I might come even to Thy seat! I would lay my cause before Thee and fill my mouth with argument.

      How long will you speak these things? How long will the words of your mouth be strong wind? Happy is the one whom God corrects; therefore do not despise His chastening.
      What He hurts, He binds up; He wounds, and His hands make whole. You are His creature.

      I am His creature still, and contribute something to His glory, even in my damnation. God could not get into me by standing and knocking, by His ordinary means of entering, by His Word.
      His mercies hath applied His judgments, and hath shaked the house, this body, with agues and palsies, and set this house on fire with fevers and calentures, and frightened the master of the house, which is my soul, with horrors, and heavy apprehensions, and so made an entrance into me.

      Doth He not see my ways and count all my steps?
      I am troubled at His presence: when I consider, I am afraid of Him.
      Even when I remember, I am afraid; trembling taketh hold my flesh: the Almighty hath troubled me.

    ACT 1, SCENE 4


      Job's second friend now speaks:

      If there is guilt in your hand, put it far away; do not let wickedness live in your tent.

      Bildad; a mere natural man; a man not macerated with the fear of God; not dejected, not suppled, not entendred with crosses in this world; a mere natural man; and in the mere use of mere natural reason, this man says

      Job has spoken without knowledge; his words are without wisdom. The good prosper upon this earth; it has always been that way. But the light of the wicked will be put out; the sparks of their fire will not shine.
      Their strength will be hunger-bitten, and destruction will be ready for them. The firstborn of death will eat up their strength, and bring them to the king of terrors. They will be chased out of the world; their memory will die from the earth.
      But God will not cast away those who repent. Be good, He will fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with praise. Yea, he will be your defense, and you will have plenty of silver.

      Hold your peace! I will ^not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

      [To GOD] Call, and I will answer; or let ^me speak, and answer Thou me:
      How many are mine iniquities? Make me to know my sin.
      Why hidest Thou Thy face and holdest me Thine enemy?
      Wilt Thou harass a driven leaf Wilt Thou pursue dry stubble?
      For Thou writest bitter indictment of me.
      What is man that Thou should choose him that Thou should set thine heart upon him, that Thou should visit his every morning and try his every moment?
      Is it good that Thou should oppress, despise the work of Thine hands?
      Hast Thou eyes of flesh or seest Thou as man seeth? Are Thy days the days of man? Are Thy year’s man's years?
      ^Thine hands fashioned me together round about, yet Thou dost destroy me.
      Remember, I beseech Thee that Thou hast made me of clay; wilt Thou bring me into dust again?
      Hast Thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?
      Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, fenced me with bone and sinew. Thou has granted me life and favor and Thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
      Yet these things has Thou hid in Thine heart.
      My friends scorn me; but mine eye poureth out tears unto Thee.

      What are we, that we ^can be innocent? Man born of woman, how can ^he be righteous? God puts no trust in his angels; even the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much less ^we are: worms of the earth. We drink up evil like water!

      God humbled himself to behold the things that are in heaven. With what amazedness must we consider the humiliation of God in descending to the earth, when even His descending unto heaven is humiliation? And yet He beholds, considers, studies us, worms of the earth, and no men.

      The wicked live with pain all their days; dreadful sounds come to their ears; in prosperity the destroyer is come upon them -- and they are waited for by the sword.

      How forcible are right words; but what doth ^your arguing prove? Ye wouldst cast lots for the fatherless and make merchandise of your friend.
      My heart is pure; my cause is just.

      Even if you ^are righteous, does that please God? What is it to Him if you are just?

      How then can man be acquitted by God?
      He doth great things past finding out, wonders without number.
      He goeth by me; I see Him not: He passeth on; I perceive Him not.
      He taketh the prey; who can hinder Him? Who will say to Him, "What dost Thou?"
      If I speak of strength, lo, He is strong; and of judgment, who can set a time to plead?
      He is not a man as I am, that I should answer Him that we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any judge betwixt us that might lay his hand upon us both.
      How shall I answer Him, and choose out my words for Him?
      If I had called, and He had answered me, yet would I not believe that He hearkened unto me.

      Job felt the hand of destruction upon him, and the hand of preservation too, and it was all one hand; this is God's method, to preserve by destroying. God winds us off the skein that he may weave us up into the whole piece; and he cuts us out of the whole piece into pieces, that he may make us up into a whole garment.

      My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and are spent without hope.

      God benights us, or eclipses us, or casts a cloud of medicinal afflictions upon us. In our afflictions we stand, and look upon God, and we behold Him.

      Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; ask the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee;
      speak to the earth and it shall teach thee and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto them that the hand of the Lord hath wrought all this.
      In His hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
      He breaketh down, it cannot be built again; He shutteth up, there can be no opening.
      He withholdeth the waters they dry up; He sendeth them out, they cover the earth.
      With Him is strength and power: deceived and deceiver are His.
      He discovereth deep things out of darkness and bringeth to light the shadow of death.
      He increaseth the nations, then destroyeth them; He enlargeth the nations, then straiteneth them again.
      He taketh away the hearts of peoples and causeth them to wander where there is no way. They grope in the dark without light: He maketh them stagger like a drunken man.

      When we see the calamity that falls on us, we may see the power and purpose of God, which inflicts that calamity. I cannot call the calamity by a name, but in that name, I name God; I cannot feel an affliction, but in that very affliction I feel His hand.
      God does not ^send the calamity, but bring it with Him. He is there as soon as it is there, calling it His own name. All calamity comes with Him, and therefore should be borne, or therefore ^must be borne.

      The mountain falling cometh to naught, and the rock is removed from its place.
      Waters wear the stones: they wash away the dust of the earth;

      [To GOD] -- and ^Thou destroyest the hope of man.
      Thou prevailest forever against him and he passeth; Thou changest his countenance and sendest him away.
      His sons come to honor and he knoweth it not; they are brought low, he perceiveth it not of them.

      But his own flesh upon him hath pain; his soul within him mourneth.

      O Lord! Not only Thine afflictions awaken me to consider how terrible Thy severe justice is; but even the rest and security which Thou affordest puts me often into fear that Thou reservest and sparest me for a greater measure of punishment.
      O God, have mercy upon me, for Thine own sake have mercy upon me. Let not sin and me be able to exceed Thee nor defraud Thee nor frustrate Thy purpose: but let me be of so much use to Thy glory, that by Thy mercy to my sin, other sinners may see how much sin Thou canst pardon. Thus shew mercy to many in one by calling back those thunderbolts, which Thou hast thrown against me!

      We are as stubble before the wind, as chaff the storm carrieth away.
      He is of one mind; who can turn Him? What His soul desireth, even that He doeth.
      Let Him take his rod away from me and let not His fear terrify me. Then would I speak, and not fear Him; -- but it would not be so.

      How long will you speak these things?

      Since the beginning (you ^must know it!) the triumph of the wicked is but a moment. Though their heads reach to the clouds, yet they will perish forever like their own dung; those who knew them will say 'Where are they now?
      They will vanish like a dream and will not be found; the eyes, which saw them, will see them no more; their homes will forget them.

      Your proverbs are ashes; your defenses are clay.
      And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth mine own.
      Know now that God hath subverted me in my cause, and hath compassed me with His net.
      -- Have pity on me, have pity on me, 0 ye my friends: for the hand of God hath touched me.

      [To GOD] Wilt Thou not look away from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
      What hath I done unto Thee, 0 watcher of men?
      Why dost Thou not pardon my sins and take away my guilt?

      If we will not plead to the indictment, if we stand mute and have nothing to say to God, we are condemned already; and if we do plead, we have no plea but "Guilty!" nothing to say, but to confess the indictment against out selves.

    ACT 1, SCENE 5


      Job and the Dean consider death, its sights and taste.

      Who hath imprinted terrors in thee? Damp in thine own heart? Swear to me that thou believest not in God, and before midnight thou wilt tell God thou dost. Miserable distemper! Not to see God at noon, and see him fearfully at midnight; not to see Him in the Congregation, and to see Him with terror, in the suburbs of despair, in thy solitary chamber.

      John Donne, born in London in the year 1575, descended by his mother from Sir Thomas More the sometime Lord Chancellor, trained in Law at Lincoln's Inn; in 1610 persuaded by the King to enter the Ministry, and later made Dean by him. "He preached in earnest", it was said, "with a most particular grace and an unexpressible addition of comeliness."

      I have not the righteousness of Job, but I have the desire of Job: I would speak to the Almighty; I would reason with God.

      Even today is my complaint bitter; His stroke is heavier than my groaning.
      One man dieth in full strength, wholly at ease and content, breasts full of milk, bones moistened with marrow.
      Another dieth with bitter soul, and never eateth pleasure.
      They lie down alike in the dust, and worms shall cover them both.
      He shall be brought to the grave, remain in the tomb. Clods of the valley shall be sweet to his teeth. Every man shall follow him, as did unnumbered before.
      O that I might have my request; that God would grant me what I long for! That it would please Him to destroy me: that He would loose His hand, and cut me off Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would exult in pain:
      Let Him not spare.

      Drought and heat consume the snow; so does the grave those who have sinned. The womb will forget them; the worm will feed sweetly on them; they will be no more remembered: their wickedness will be broken like a tree. This is God's gift to the wicked.

      If God sets His heart upon man and woman, if He gather to Himself our spirit and breath, all flesh will die together, and turn again to dust.

      He hath made me weary, and desolate with all my company.
      The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more; his eyes are upon me, then I am not.
      As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so I go down to the grave and come up no more.
      Soon will I rest? Yes, forever sleep. I shall return no more to mine house, neither shall my place know me any more; for now I would sleep in the dust.
      Thou wilt bring me to death, the meetinghouse of life.
      Why has Thou brought me out of the womb? O that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!
      I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.
      Are not my days few? Cease then; let me alone that I may take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return: land of darkness, shadow of death;
      A land as dark as dark, as the shadow of death, where the light itself is dark.
      Why do I take my flesh in my teeth, my life in mine hand?
      [Strongly] Though He slay me, yet will I maintain my ways.
      I await the grave, mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, "Thou art my father"; and to the worm, "Thou art my mother and my sister".

      [speaking faster and faster] Miserable riddle, when the same worm must be my mother, and my sister and myself! Miserable incest, when I must be married to my mother and my sister, and be both father and mother to my own mother and sister, beget and bear the worm that shall feed [pause, then more slowly] -- feed sweetly upon me; when my mouth shall be filled with dust.

      Our kind is born to trouble, surely as sparks fly upward.

      All our life is a continual burden, yet we must not groan; a continual squeezing, yet we must not pant; and as in the tenderness of our childhood we suffer and yet are whipt if we cry, so we are complained of if we complain, and made delinquents if we call the times ill.

      Where is now my hope? Who shall see it? It shall go down with me to the pit when once there is rest in the dust.
      Man born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
      He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth as a shadow, and continueth not; He is consumed as a rotten thing, a moth-eaten garment.
      His days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee: Thou has appointed the bounds he cannot pass.
      Turn from him, that he may rest.
      -- For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, the tender branch not cease.
      Though the root be old in the earth and the stock die in the ground yet by water it will bud and bring forth boughs anew.
      But man dieth, and wasteth away; he giveth up the ghost; where is he then?
      Waters fail from the sea; the flood decayeth and drieth up; so man lieth down, and riseth not.
      Till the heavens be no more he shall not awake nor be raised from his sleep.
      If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my time will I wait, till my change come.

      [To GOD] Dost Thou open Thine eyes to such a one, and bringest me into judgment with Thee? O that Thou wouldst hide me in the grave and keep me secret until Thy wrath be past!

    ACT 1, SCENE 6


      The Dean addresses James, the King:

      [turns to the audience] I have oft wondered why Puritans make long sermons, even longer than mine own! [Laughs quietly to himself] I have thought sometimes that out of conscience, they allow long measure to coarse ware. And sometimes, that usurping a liberty to ^speak ^freely of Kings -- [noises of approval from ALL] they would reign as long as they could.
      But now I think they do it of belief that they must preach on till their auditory wake. [Laughs a little] Kings are blessings; when we speak of the King, we raise our selves to a just reverence of him, knowing that he is the image of God to us.
      The Emperor Constantine was coined praying. Other emperors were coined in chariots, in battles, in victories, but he, Constantine, inn that posture, kneeling, praying. And yet this symbolical and catechistical image of Constantine's was not so irrefragable a testimony of his piety, as when we see as great a Prince as he was, personally - daily - duly at prayer with us.
      And what could the King command to be done that would bring him more honor than our own translation of Scripture, now these twelve years, in which the words of Job ring again. Thou [gestures at the King] art not only our King and Sovereign, but the principal mover and author of the work here presented.
      Most dread sovereign, the Lord of heaven and earth bless thee, and protect thee and thy Church against bitter censures and uncharitable imputations, knowing that Job, too, found himself under the calumny that kings themselves have not escaped.

      Though all Job's messengers thunder about thee, yet Job's protestation shall be thine, what end soever God have in this proceeding: "My cause is just". [Bows deeply to the king]

    ACT 1, SCENE 7


      Job and all the company of friends, accusers, and players will now recite [or, sing] the balled called "We Search for Wisdom"'.

      Where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?

      ^1 know not the place, not in the land of the living!

      The deep said

      "Not here!"

      And the sea said

      "Not there!"

      It cannot be bought for gold,

      not onyx nor crystal nor coral nor pearls

      nor silver,

      nor silver.

      From the earth cometh brass, from the earth cometh bread;

      But under its stones the fire burneth red! -- Where shall wisdom be found?

      Under an apple-tree on a Friday evening, in the month of apples, when the moon is full!

      Whence cometh wisdom? Where is it found?

      ^1 know not the place!

      Not in the land of the living!

      There is a path to wisdom's place by vultures eye unseen.

      No lion's whelps have trod it,

      no, nor serpent's tail traced it.

      He cut it through among the rocks

      and rivers rushed to fill it.

      The path's in flood, it's washed to sea, and wisdom's way is gone again! -- And where shall wisdom be found?

      Under an apple-tree on a Friday evening, in the month of apples when the moon is full!

      Whence cometh wisdom? Where is it found?

    ZOPHAR [suddenly breaking in]:
      ^Who plays at life with words? 'Wisdom!' 'Wisdom!' a noise of wind through hollow brain! [Mocks] 'Wisss-dm!'; 'Wisss-dm!' ^You play at life with words! Be men! Stand up! Curse God!

    GOD [gently]:
      This is Zophar. He has been silent since I sent him forth to visit Job. Now he speaks.

      I also will answer; I also will show my opinion. For I am bloated with words: I cannot contain the wind of my belly. Behold, I am unvented wine, ready to burst like new bottles.
      I will speak, and be relieved. I will open my lips and proclaim to Job: -^Curse ^God - and ^die!

    [Brief silence]


      Job and the remainder of the company will now conclude the ballad called "We Search for Wisdom’”

      Whence cometh wisdom? Where is it found?

      The ^Lord knoweth the place thereof

      He searches the ends of the earth

    GOD [enthusiastically]:
      and sees whole heaven! Decrees the rain its place, lightning and its thunder, and sets a bound to darkness

      on a Friday evening, when the moon is full.

      Where is wisdom's place?

      Our graves!

      The Lord's where wisdom's place is found; to man on earth He said, "To fear the Lord is wisdom's path, is better than the earth, its onyx, and its silver."

      And its silver; yes,

      Whence cometh wisdom? Where is it found?

      Under an apple-tree, on a Friday evening in the month of apples

      When the moon is full!

    ACT 1, SCENE 8


      The Dean reflects on God and His judgments.

      And a terror he has of them!

      What kind of man I shall be upon my death bed, what trembling hands, what deaf ears, what gummy eyes I shall have then, I know; and the nearer I come to that disposition, the more mortified I am to leave an injured world, and meet an incensed God.
      When I look upon those terrible judgments, which God hath executed upon Job, I see nothing between me and the same; for I have sinned the same sins, and God is the same God. He is a terrible God, I take him so. I cannot say "He hath been terrible to ^that man; it reaches not to ^me."
      Why ^not to me? I am the same desperate sinner; He is the same terrible God.
      It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But to fall into His hands so that He passes a final, irrevocable judgment upon me, this is the consternation of my spirit.
      What extraction of wormwood can be so bitter, what exaltation of fire can be so raging, what confection of gnawing worms, of gnashing teeth of howling cries of scalding brimstone of palpable darkness can be so inexpressible so in-imaginable as the ^curse of God?
      [In fright] -- Therefore let us not by our works nor by our words, teach God to curse!

    GOD [to ZOPHAR]:
      Shall we soften his heart?

      Do! His head is soft already.

    GOD [to DONNE]:
      I will not always be wroth with my people; I will some day lift the curse.

      [To the KING, indicating DONNE]: He has faith and doubt, strength and tremors. I would not have him leave you this first part without hope for him, for you.

      I'll let him go for now -- fear is a long leash.

      "There came a messenger unto Job."
      So ends the first part of this message. I leave thee this first part with this my bidding:
      If God have not been fully in thine heart before, this is his coming.
      If He have been there and gone again, this is His returning.
      Meet Him and love Him; embrace Him as He offers Himself to thy soul.
      He shall shine upon thee in all dark ways and rectify thee in all ragged ways and direct thee in all cross ways and arm thee against even Himself, enabling thee to prevail upon Him, saying O Lord, return! Make speed to save us! Make haste to help us! -- Deliver my soul!


    ACT 11, SCENE I


      And so have you as much as we proposed for our first part. Proceed we now to those particulars, which constitute our second part: Job's wrath, and God's answer.

      And ^my wrath, with ^no answer!

      The first branch of this part is Job's protest: he hath been good, and is smitten, while the wicked prosper; then Job telleth how sweet was his life, when he was hedged about by God, and then how his friends despise him since Satan did wager with God as to whether, or not, Job would curse Him. (We see, Job hath not yet cursed ^God, though he hath cursed all else.) Then Job shall have an answer such as no man ever had.

      Or wished for!

      Job speaks:

      Mine innocence I hold fast and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
      As God liveth, who hath taken away my right; the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;
      While my breath is in me and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips shall not speak wickedness nor my tongue utter deceit.
      My foot hath trod the steps of God; His way have I kept, and turned not aside.
      I have not gone back from the commands of His lips? I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than gold.

      Should not this multitude of >words be answered? Should one so full of ^talk be acquitted?

    BILDAD [to JOB]:
      Should your lies make us hold our peace? You have said "His way have I kept." But 0 that God would speak, and open His lips against you! God exacts of you less than your sins deserve.
      I pray you, when did the innocent suffer? When were the righteous convicted? The ones who plow iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His nostrils they are consumed.

      God does great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number. He gives rain upon the earth; He sends water upon the fields.

      He sets on high those that are low; and those who mourn are exalted. He disappoints the devices of the sinful. They meet with darkness in the day, and grope in the noonday as the night. But He saves the righteous from the sword; the pure, He raises up.

      [To JOB] You ^must be guilty!

      Dear old Bildad!

      Behold, I also am formed of clay. Therefore, Job, I pray you, listen to my words: they come from my heart; I speak the truth. The wicked are judged already. Their wealth is hollow, their happiness a dream. -- Pity them, for their illusions.

      I would to ^God that He ^would reward the wicked according to their deeds, but robbers prosper, they that provoke God are secure, into their hand God bringeth abundantly.
      The wicked live, become old, yea; wax mighty in power, their offspring before their eyes.
      Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
      They send forth their little ones like a flock. Their children dance, they sing to the timbrel and harp, rejoice at the piper's sound.
      They spend their days in wealth, and in a >moment go down to the grave.
      Yet they say to God, "Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.
      What is the Almighty that we should serve Him? What ^profit should we have to pray to Him?"

      What is God that ^I should serve Him?

      They devoureth the barren that beareth not; they doeth not good to the widow.
      They turn the needy out of doors; they reap every one his corn in the field; they gather the vintage of all.
      The poor of the earth hide themselves together. The naked lodge without clothing and have no covering in the cold; wet with showers of the hills they embrace rock for bed.
      Men groan from out of the city, the soul of the wounded crieth out!
      The earth is given unto the wicked, ^they are the judges of men!
      -- Yet God doth not indict ^them.

      Have you noticed my servant Mammon? There is none like him in the earth. He makes cheeks fat and keeps the altars warm.

      Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night; who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?
      Behold, I go forward but He is not there; backward, I cannot perceive Him; on the left hand, I cannot behold Him.
      He hideth Himself on the right hand but I cannot see him for He knoweth the way that I turn.

      His eyes are upon the ways of man: He sees all our steps. God speaks once, yea twice, yet we perceive it now. God thunders marvelously with His voice?, great things He does, which we cannot comprehend.
      Although you say you cannot see Him, yet judgment is before Him; God is great; therefore trust in Him.

      I have understanding as well as you. Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
      He hath tom me in His wrath, Who hateth me; He hath gnashed upon me with His teeth; mine Enemy sharpeneth His eyes upon me.
      -- Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.

      You took pledges from your brother for naught, and stripped your neighbors of their clothes! You sent widows away empty, and broke the arms of the fatherless. ? It must have been so.

    JOB [sarcastically]:
      No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

      [To GOD:] If I sin, then markest Thou me and do not acquit me.

      If I be wicked, then woe to me; let me not lift up my head.

    DONNE [piously]:
      Was Job so innocent, that he need not care though all the world knew all? Perchance there may have been some excess in his manner of his expressing it; we cannot excuse the inordinate vehemence of some holy men, in such expressions.

      You will ^curse ^yet, O ordinate one, and to excess!

    ACT 11, SCENE 2


      Job dares me to judge and punish, if I find fault in him, in the ballad called "Woe to Me".

      Job has his woes from You, O begetter of worlds!

      [1) If I have walked with vanity or my foot hath hasted to deceit; if my step hath turned out of the way or mine heart walked after mine eyes; if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands then markest Thou me, and woe to me.
      [2] If my land cry against me and the furrows weep together; if I despised the cause of man or maid when they contended with me; if I said to gold "Thou art my savior" then let me sow, and another cat; and let my field be rooted out.
      [3] If I have withheld the poor from their desire or caused the widow's eye to fail, or eaten my morsel myself alone and the fatherless hath none thereof, if any perish for want of food then markest Thou me, and woe to me.
      [4] If I rejoice because my wealth was great, because mine hand had gotten much; if the loins of the poor have not blessed me and were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle for barley.
      [5] If mine heart have been with a woman, if I have lain wait at my neighbor’s door then let my wife grind unto another and let others bow down upon her.
      [6] If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth kissed my hand; if I have whispered to Satan in the night then markest Thou me, and woe to me.
      [7] If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hate me, or lifted up myself when evil found him; if I have praised my God when another fell or tasted sweetness in his pain; if I have blessed God with hating lips then let mine arm fall from my shoulder, and my hand be broken from the bone. And markest Thou me, then woe to me.

      I would join with Job in his adjuration: let all the world know all the sins of my youth, and of mine age too, and I would not doubt but God should receive more glory, and the world more benefit, than if I had never sinned

      What kind of nonsense is this? "Sin all the more, that grace may about?" Curse, John!

    ACT 11, SCENE 3


      Job tells of his good life before, and how things have changed since the curse has fallen upon him.

      0 that I were as in months past, the days when God preserved me; when His lamp shined upon my head, when by His light I walked through darkness, as I was in days of youth, sign of God upon my tent; the Lord yet with me, my children about me.
      I went out into the city; I prepared my seat in the square. Young men saw me, and hid; old men rose and bowed.
      Princes refrained talking, laid hand to mouth. Nobles held their peace, tongue cleaved to check.
      To me men gave car, waited, kept silence for my counsel. My speech dropped upon them; [proudly] After ^my words they spake not again.
      They waited for my words as for the rain; they opened their mouths wide to drink the drops.
      If I laughed at them they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down.
      I chose their way and sat as chief, and dwelt as king among them.
      When the car heard, it blessed me, when the eye saw, it witnessed to me.
      I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was rose and diadem.
      I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the prey from his teeth.

      He does good, and shuns evil: what a perfect and upright man!

      Then I said, "I shall multiply my days as sand, root spread out by the water, dew all night upon my branch, my glory fresh in me, my bough renewed in my hand.
      "Then I shall die in my nest, when my day is come."

      Would he trust in his riches? Who shall preserve them? The Law? Then he trusts in the Law. But who shall preserve the Law? The King? But who shall preserve the King? Almighty God; and therefore his trust must be at last in Him.

      Pity should be shewed to one afflicted; even to him forsaken by God.
      My friends have streamed away as a brook, as a stream of brooks they run away; and when it waxeth warm, they vanish in the sand.
      They came to me, and were ashamed. They see my casting down, and are afraid.
      Did I say, "Bring unto me!”?-- or, "Give me of your substance!"-- or, "Deliver me from the enemy's hand!"?
      I am a laughing-stock to my neighbor: a man that called on God, and He answered me; the just, the perfect man is laughed to scorn.

      I consider what God did with one word: with one fiat He made all; and I know He can do as much with another word: with one pereat, He can destroy all. He spake, and it was done; so He can speak, and all shall be undone; command, and all shall fall in pieces.

      He hath made me a byword of the people; I am become an open abhorring.
      They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.
      God hath delivered me to the ungodly and given me up to the hands of the wicked.
      He hath put my brethren far from me; mine acquaintance are wholly estranged.
      My kinfolk have failed me; familiar friends forgotten me.
      They that swell in mine house count me a stranger: I am alien to their sight.
      My breath is strange to my wife, and mine own body also.
      Young children despise me; I arise, they speak against me.
      All my inward friends abhor me and they whom I love are turned against me.
      Now they hold me in derision; they whose fathers I disdained to set with the dogs of my flock.
      Yea, how could their strength have profited me, when old age had come upon them?
      Gaunt with want and famine they gnawed the dry ground in gloom of waste and desolation.

      They cut up mallows by the bushes; juniper roots were their meat.
      They were driven forth from among men in clefts of the valleys to dwell, in caves of the earth, in rocks.
      Among the bushes they crawled; in the nettles they gathered together.
      They were children of fools, yea, children of basemen, viler than the earth.

    ZOPHAR [astonished at what lie hears]:
      "Viler than the earth”?

      And now am ^I their song, yea, ^I am their jest.
      They abhor, stand aloof from me, and spare no spit from my face.
      Upon my right hand rise the rabble; they thrust aside my feet.
      As through a wide breach they come; they roll themselves upon me.
      Terrors are turned upon me; they chase my soul as the wind, my welfare is passed away as a cloud.
      -- I looked for good, but evil came; I waited for light, -- came darkness.

    ACT 11, SCENE 4


      Job makes a final plea to God.

      And the Dean considers the end of life.

      And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken me, days of affliction are come upon me.
      My bones are pierced in the night season: the pains that gnaw me take no rest.
      My bowels boil and rest not; I go mourning without the sun; I stand up and cry in the congregation.
      I am brother to jackals, companion to owls. My skin is fallen from me; my bones are burned with heat.
      My harp is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to them that weep.
      He hath cast me into the mire; I am become like dust and ash.
      I loathe my life; I would not live always; -- Let me go!

    [Brief pause]


      Hath any man here forgot today, that yesterday is dead? The bell tolls now today, and will ring out anon for every one of us.
      We die every day, and we die all the daylong. Is there comfort in that state? Why, that is the state of hell itself, eternal dying, and not yet dead!

      [To JOB:] Thy flesh is but dust held together by plasters; dissolution and putrefaction is gone over thee alive; thou has over lived thine own death, and art become thine own ghost, thine own hell; and in the grave -- canst thou make those worms silk worms?
      Doth not the body that boasted but yesterday of that privilege above all creatures, that it ^only could go upright, lie to day as flat upon the earth as the body of a dog?.
      And doth it not tomorrow lose his other privilege, of looking up to heaven? Is it not farther removed from the eye of heaven than any dog, by being covered with earth?
      Between that excremental jelly that thy body is made of at first, and that jelly which thy body dissolves into at last, there is not so noisome, so putrid a thing in nature. This skin, this body, must be destroyed, says Job.
      Death is passed upon all men, for all have sinned. -- All sinners. -- All dead.
      When I consider what I am now, an aged child a gray-headed infant the ghost of mine own youth, when I consider what I shall be at last sordid senseless nameless dust when I consider this body, I am able to conceive the worst that can befall it. But the least degree of glory that God hath prepared for it -- I am ^not able to conceive.

      Hear hear! Hear it well!

      But is God's right hand shorter than His left? His mercy shrunk, His justice stretched? No, certainly. Certainly every man may see Him. Man cannot bide himself from God; God does not hide Himself from. man: not from any man.
      Unto God the Lord belong the issues of death, and by recompacting this dust into the same body, and reinanimating the same body with the same soul, He shall give me such an issue from this death, as shall never pass into any other death.

      He hopes! For it's clear he does not believe. ? And now does Job still wail?

    JOB [to GOD]:
      I cry unto Thee, -- Thou dost not answer; Thou art become cruel to me: with Thy strong hand Thou persecutest me.

      He prays, but the Lord relieves him not. And yet, when wilt Thou relieve ^me, O reliever of men, if not upon my prayer? Yet, St Austin hath repeated more than once, more than twice, "Be not overjoyed when God grants thee thy prayer!"

      Thou liftest me up to the wind; Thou causeth me to ride upon it; Thou dissolvest me in the storm.

      O that He would hear me! Behold my desire: that God would answer me, that I had the indictment mine Adversary hath written!

      This man, thus kneaded by the hand of God, he ^shall see God, whether he will or not. A holy and heavenly violence shall be offered him. It shall not be in the power of the world, the flesh, or the devil to blind him, he ^shall see God; and God shall open his eyes.

      O that God would hear me!

      Be not overjoyed!

    ACT 11, SCENE 5

    GOD [suddenly]:

      Who darkens counsel with words?
      Gird up your loins like a man for ^I will ask; answer thou ^me:
      Where were ^you. When I laid the foundations of the earth? Answer, if you know this much.
      Who measured the earth? ^You know!
      Who stretched the tape upon it while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted joy?
      Have ^you entered the springs of the sea? Have ^you walked in the depths of the deep?
      Who shut up the sea when it would burst forth as from the womb?

    ZOPHAR [indicating GOD]:
      The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, creator of heaven and earth, the Almighty, has found his strength at last. Look upon the proud and bring them low!
      Will they bless You for it?

      ^1 made the cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, wrote on it my decree:
      "Here you may come: no further, here shall your proud waves be stayed."
      Have ^you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dayspring to know its place? Taken hold of the ends of the earth and shaken the wicked out of it like dirt?
      ^You know, for you were there; the number of ^your days is great!

      Your power we see, God; not your justice. Job never doubted your power. He was not there when you stilled the sea, nor when you wagered him with me, nor did he have to be.
      ^Job has judged ^You; so have we all. You have given it away, pleaded "Guilty!" unwitting, of being blind, unconscious Force, of no more or less consequence than the wind that pushed the house of Job's children down upon them.

      ^You darken counsel like the sea-clouds you made. To curse is not to declare evil, but to dismiss. I dismiss you from my world, O blind Strength; like the tides and winds you are here, and slay or save; but Your words tell nothing.

    GOD [to JOB]:
      Can ^you bind the Pleiades, or loose Orion's bonds? Can ^you bring forth Venus in its season or guide Arcturus with his sons?
      Can ^you recite the rules of heaven and enchantments of the earth? Can ^you bid the lightning bolts to gather in your hand?
      Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Who can pour out the water jars of heaven when dust grows hard, and clods cleave fast together?
      Has the rain a father? Who begot the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who bore it?
      Have the gates of death been opened to you? Have you seen the shadowed door?
      Answer, if you can.

      Job is long since silent from your blast, and waits the gates of death; your speech pertains to me. But 1, too, never doubted your ^power. It is not? Strength you lack.

    GOD [to JOB and ZOPHAR]:
      Will you hunt prey for the lion? Or feed the young lions when they couch in their dens and abide in the covert to lie in wait?
      Will the unicorn serve you and abide your crib?
      Can you bind him to the plough? Will he harrow the valleys for you? Will you leave your labor to him because his strength is great?
      Will you trust him to bring home the grain and gather it in the barn?
      -- Who gave your body wisdom? Who gave understanding to your heart?
      Shall he who was made by God instruct Him?

      Yes! I instruct you on your self No longer act as clueless human kind behaves; remember Wisdom and where it is found: under a tree, on a Friday evening. I reflect you to your self-Remember: there is Another to reflect you yet; we were not alone when we made our bet. -- But continue, then let Job answer what he will.

    GOD [to JOB and ZOPHAR]:
      Will you condemn me to gain acquittal?
      Have ^you an arm like God's? Can ^you ^thunder with a voice like Mine?
      Deck yourself in majesty; array yourself with glory; cast abroad your raging wrath.
      Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; tread down the wicked where they stand.
      Then will I judge that your own right hand has acquitted you.

      ^He has darkened counsel, Job; there will be no acquittal; ^curse ^Him!



      Behold your God!



      What shall I answer Thee? I lay my hand upon my mouth.
      I have uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
      I had heard of Thee by hearing words of ear, but now mine eye hath seen Thee.
      I abhor my words; I repent in dust and ashes.




      As we shall stand naked to one another, and not be ashamed of our scars or morphews in the sight of God, so God stands naked to the eyes of man, and is not ashamed of that humiliation. Bring every single sin naked into the presence of God.
      Howsoever thine habitual and customary and concatenated sins, sin enwrapped and complicated in sin entrenched and barricadoed in sin screwed up and riveted with sin may stand out as a naked scar, --Yet neither shall sin oppress thee; nor the exhalations and damps and vapors of thy sad soul hang between thee and the mercy of God.

      Even as it hath pleased the Lord so cometh things to pass: -- blessed -- be the name of the Lord.
      Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
      For I know that my Redeemer liveth, that I shall rise from the earth in the last day, shall be covered again with my skin, and shall see God in my flesh:
      Yea, and I myself shall behold Him, not with other, but with ^these ^same eyes and not as a stranger.

    ACT 11, SCENE 6


      The wager is done, the players paid.

      Ego, I, I the same body and the same soul; I shall be all there: all my body, and all my soul.

      I am not all here, now: I am here now preaching upon this text, and I am at home in my library considering if Saint Gregory have said better of it before.
      I am here now speaking to you, and yet I consider in the same instant what it is likely you will say to one another, when I have done.
      --You are not all here now, neither: You are here now, hearing me, and yet you are thinking that you have heard a better sermon of this text before.
      You are here, and yet you think you could have heard some other doctrine roundly delivered somewhere else with more edification.
      You are here, and you remember, now ye think of it, that this had been the fittest time, when everybody else is at church, to made such and such a visit;
      --and because you would be there, you ^are there, now.
      I cannot say I am here", I cannot be so perfectly ^now, so entirely ^now, as when I shall see God in my flesh, when I shall be Ego, I am here; I, body and soul: now.

      And it was so, that I gave Job twice as much as he had before.
      Then came to him all they of his acquaintance, and ate bread with him in his house; and they bemoaned him, and comforted him for all the evil that I had brought upon him.
      And I blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning; for he had more sheep, and more camels, and more oxen, and more Asses.
      He had also seven more sons and three daughters; and in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job.
      After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. Then Job died, being old and full of days.
      His children bore his body to the tomb, with the poor and orphans and all the helpless, weeping and singing

      Gone to day

      is the strength of the helpless

      Gone to day

      the eyes of the blind

      Gone is the father of orphans. Gone is the clother of widows

      Gone to day the eyes of the blind

      who ^would not ^curse!

      ^Who will not weep for this man of God?

      They laid him in the tomb; and his name is renowned in all generations forever.

      I, John Donne, by the mercy of Christ Jesus and by the calling of the Church of England, Priest, do make my will and testament.

      After today lived John Donne eight years more. He had strength and tremors, his strength of soul increasing as tremors took his bones? Upon reports that he had died, he sent a message to the Lord Chamberlain that he would preach once more, to the King, on a Friday evening in Lent; and he prepared his last Will.

      First I give my gracious God an entire sacrifice of body and soul, knowing my Witness is in heaven, my Judge is in heaven, my Redeemer is in heaven.

      He appeared in the pulpit, many thought to preach mortality by a decayed body and a dying face. And after some faint pauses he gathered up his meditations on death, and spoke them clearly.

      Our last day is our first day, our sun setting is our morning; that day shall show me to my self Here, I never saw my self but in disguise; there, then, I shall see my self, and God too.
      I leave in love and charity with all the world, to go in peace.

      Many that saw his tears, and heard his faint and hollow voice, knew that he had preached his own funeral sermon.

      Go then in peace.

      After he spoke, he was carried to his home.

      Go, in this peace.

      And there he died.

      Who will not weep for this man of God?

      Go then in this peace, that though in the ways of fortune or understanding or conscience thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen clouded, eclipsed, damped and benumbed till now, Now God comes to thee in the dawn of day in the bud of Spring as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows.

      All occasions invite His mercies; all days are His years.


    actors off stage


    Copyright Terrence Kuch, all rights reserved.
    This copy of the script is available for evaluation only. Permission to perform this script should be requested from Terence Kuch,