delve and span

Adolfo Afogutu

Senior Member

I would appreciate if someone could clarify to me the sense of delve and span in the following phrase:

When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?

Context: artwork from the original 1888 edition of “A dream of John Ball”, by English writer William Morris. It is a historical novel which takes place during the English peasants’ revolt of 1381. See here for more context.

Thanks in advance.
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