Page images
PDF
EPUB

Awake, all men, I say again,

Be merry as you may, For Harry our King is gone hunting,

To bring his deer to bay.

30

20

35

Farewell, my pleasures past,
Welcome my present pain.
I feel my torment so increase
That life cannot remain.
Toll on the passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,

For I must die,

There is no remedy.
Cease now the passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell,
For thou my death dost tell;
Lord pity thou my soul.

Death doth draw nigh.
Sound dolefully;
For now I die,
I die, I die.

MY HEART IS HIGH ABOVE

(16th Century) My heart is high above, my body is full of bliss, For I am set in luve as well as I would wiss; I luve my lady pure and she luves me again, I am her serviture, she is my soverane; She is my very heart, I am her hope and heill, 5 She is my joy inwárd, I am her luvar leal; I am her bond and thrall; she is at my com

mand; I am perpetual her man, both foot and hand; The thing that may her please my body shall

fulfil; Whatever her disease, it does my body ill. My bird, my bonny ane, my tender babe

venust, My luve, my life alane, my liking and my

lust! Luvers in pain, I pray God send you sic remeid As I have nicht and day, you to defend from

deid. Therefore be ever true unto your ladies free, 15 And they will on you rue as mine has done on

40

10

William Cornish 1

d. 1524?

5

me.

GOD'S CARE FOR MAN

Pleasure it is
To hear, iwis, ?

The birdės sing.
The deer in the dale,
The sheep in the vale,

The corn springing;
God's purveyance
For sustenance

It is for man.
Then we always
To Him give praise,

And thank Him than,3
And thank Him than.

10

[blocks in formation]

John Skelton

c. 1460-1529

[blocks in formation]

20

Alone in prison strong
I wail my destiny.
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Must taste this misery.
Toll on the passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell, 25

For I must die,

There is no remedy. Delightful. 1 This poem is supposed to date from "about the time of Henry VIII." It has been suggested that "the verses were written either by or in the person of Anne Boleyn"but this-while possible--is a pure conjecture.

A DIRGE FOR PHILIP SPARROW1

Pla ce bo,
Who is there, who?
Di le ri,
Dame Marjery;
Fare my my,

Wherefore and why, why? Cornish or Cornysebe, was a Court musician in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. He was connected with the court as early as 1493, and in 1509 he was made Master of the children of the Chapel Royal. 2 Certainly, truly.

* Then. 1 This is an Elegy addressed to Jane Scroupe, a pupil of the Black nuns at Carrow near Norwich, on the death of her pet sparrow. Dirge is a name given to the church service for the repose of the dead, and the poem is not merely an elegy but a lament in which the solemn words of the Church's requiem for the departed are heard at intervals, and the echoes of distant chants mingle with little Jane Scroupe's childish distress. Thus Placeh), 1.1, is the initial word of the opening Antiphon (Placeho Domino in regione virorum). Dileri, 1.3, is the first word of the Psalm which follows the placebo (Dileri quoniam exaudit Dominus vocem orationis meam) and Ad Dominum, (1.66) is the opening of the second antiphon Ad Dominum, cum tribularer clamavi.

[blocks in formation]

For the soul of Philip Sparrow
That was late slain at Carow,
Among the nunnės blake, 2
For that sweet soul's sake,
And for all sparrows' souls
Set in our bead roules,
Pater noster qui
With an Ave Maria,
And with the corner of a creed
The more shall be your meed.

15

5

[blocks in formation]

10

25

From COLIN CLOUT And if ye stand in doubt Who brought this rime about, My name is Colin Clout. I purpose to shake out All my cunning bag, Like a clerkly hag; For though my rime be ragged, Tattered and jagged, Rudely rain beaten, Rusty and moth eaten, If ye talk well therewith It hath in it some pith. For as far as I can see, It is wrong with each degree; For the temporalty Accuseth the spiritualty; The spiritual again Doth grudge and complain Upon temporal men; Thus each of other blother, 2 The one against the other: Alas they make me shudder! For in hugger mugger The church is put at fault; The prelates be so haut: They say, and look so high, As though they would fly Above the starry sky.

15

30

20

[blocks in formation]

35

25

40

30

Scarcely I cast mine eyes Toward the cloudy skies, But when I did behold My Sparrow dead and cold, No creature but that wolde Have pitied upon me To behold and see What heaviness did me pange? Wherewith my hands I wrange, That my sinews cracked As though I had been racked, So pained and so strained, That no life well remained.

45

35

Laymen say indeed How they take no heed Their silly sheep to feed, But pluck away and pull The fleeces of their wool; Unnethest they leave a lock Of wool among their flock. And as for their cunning A glumming and a mumming, And make thereof a jape, They gaspé and they gape All to have promotion; There is their whole devotion, With money, if it will hap To catch the forked cap, Forsooth they are too lewd? To say so all be shrewd.

40

55

45

I sighėd, and I sobbed,

50
For that I was robbed
Of my Sparrow's life;
O maiden, widow, and wife,
Of what estate ye be
Of high or low degree,
Great sorrow then ye might see,
And learn to weep at me;
Such pains did me freats
That mine heart did beat,
My visage pale and dead,
Wan, and blue as lead,
The pangs of hateful death
Well-nigh stopped my breath.

Heu, heu, me, : Black nuns.

60

3 Choked.

* Moment. 5 Swoon.

6 Would. i Oppress.

8 Damage.

1 In this poem Skelton voices the popular discontent, blames the clergy for the wrongs which the people suffer, and attacks Cardinal Wolsey. The arraignment is put into the mouth of one Colin Clout. Colin suggests a shepherd, or countryman: Clout may mean ragged or patched, hence we may assume that Colin Clout (the patched rustic or shepherd) was intended to stand for the humbler, or lower classes.

2 Chatter.
3 Proud
• Scarcely.
5 Jest.
« Chance.
; Ignorant.

Sir John Fortescue

if it be a poor coat under their outermost

garment, made of great* canvas, and call it a d. c. 1476

frock. Their hose be of like canvas, and pass THE ROYAL POWER IN FRANCE AND 5 their thighs bare. Their wives and children go

not their knee; wherefore they be gartered and ENGLAND

barefoot; they may in no otherwise live. For (From The Difference Between an Absolute and a

some of them, that was wont to pay to his lord Limited Monarchy, 1450?)

for his tenement, which he hireth by the year,

a scute, payeth now to the King, over that There be two kinds of Kingdoms, of the 10 scute, five scutes. Through which they be which that one is a Lordship, called in Latin, forced by necessity, so to watch, labor, and Dominium Regale, and that other is called, grub in the ground, for their sustenance, that Dominium Politicum et Regale. And they their nature is much wasted, and the kind of differ, in that the first may rule his people by them brought to naught. They are gone such laws as he maketh himself; and therefore 15 crooked, and are feeble, not able to fight, nor he may set upon them Talys,' and other to defend the realm; nor have they weapons, impositions, such as he will himself, without nor money to buy them weapons withal; their assent. The second may not rule his but verily they live in the most extreme poverty people, by other laws than such as they assent and misery, and yet they dwell in one of the unto; and therefore he may set upon them no 20 most fertile realms of the world; wherefore the Impositions without their own assent.

French King hath not men of his own realm to

defend it, except his nobles, which bear no (After treating of the origin and nature of such Impositions; and therefore they are right royal power, and considering why one King rules likely of their bodies, by which cause the said as an absolute and another as a limited monarch, 25 King is compelled to make his armies, and the author passes on to consider the effects of retenue for the defence of the land, of strangers, absolute monarchy (The fruits of Jus Regale") as Scots, Spaniards, Arragonars, men of in France.]

Almaigne, and of other nations, or else his And howso it, that the French King reigneth enemies might over-run him. For he hath no upon his people Dominio Regali: yet St. Lewis ? 30 defense of his own, except his castles and sometime King there, nor any of his progenitors fortresses. Lo, this is the fruit of his Jus set never Talys or other Impositions, upon the Regale. If the realm of England, which is an people of that land, without the assent of the isle, and therefore may not lightly get succours three Estates, which when they be assembled from other lands, were ruled under such a law, are like to the Court of Parlement in England. 35 and under such a Prince, it would be then a And this order kept many of his successors until prey to all other nations that would conquer, late days, that Englishmen made such a war in rob, and devour it; which was well proved in France, that the three Estates durst not come the time of the Britons, when the Scots and the together. And then for that cause and for Picts so beat and oppressed this land, that the great necessity wh the French king had of 40 people thereof sought help of the Romans, to goods, for the defence of that land, he took whom they had been tributary. upon him to set Talys and other Impositions upon the Commons, without the assent of the But blessed be God, this land is ruled under a three Estates; but yet he would not set any better law, and therefore the people thereof be such charges, nor hath set, upon the nobles, 45 not in such penury, nor thereby hurt in their for fear of rebellion. And because the Com- persons, but they be wealthy and have all mons, though they have grudged, have not things necessary to the sustenance of nature. rebelled or be hardy to rebel, the French Kings Wherefore they be mighty, and able to resist have yearly since set such charges upon them, the adversaries of the realm, and to beat other and so augmented the same charges, as the 50 realms, that do or will do them wrong. Lo,

Commons be so impoverished and this is the fruit of the Jus Politicum et Regale destroyed, that they may scarcely live. They under which we live. Somewhat now I have drink water, they eat apples, with bread right showed you of the fruits of both laws, Ul er brown made of rye. They eat no flesh, but if3 fructibus eorum cognoscatis eos.? it be seldom, a little lard, or of the entrails, or 55 heads of beasts slain for the nobles and mer

* Coarse, thick.

5 An old French coin said to have been worth three chants of the land. They wear no woolen, but shillings and sixpence or about eighty cents.

and scudi in Cerit. Dict.

6 i.e. The class or order of the common people. i Taxes. 2 Louis IX, 1215-1270.

7 That by their fruits ye may know them.

same

See scute,

3 Unless.

Sir Thomas galory

to behold the stone and the sword. And when

they saw the scripture, some assayed, such as c. 1430-c. 1470

would have been king. But none might stir

the sword nor move it. He is not here, said the THE DRAWING OF THE SWORD

5 Archbishop, that shall achieve the sword, but (From the Morte d'Arthur, c. 1470)

doubt not God will make him known. But this

is my counsel, said the Archbishop, that we So on the morn all the barons with Merlin let purvey? ten knights, men of good fame, and came before the king; then Merlin said aloud they to keep this sword. So it was ordained, unto king Uther, Sire, shall your son Arthur 10 and then there was made a cry, that every man be king after your days, of this realm with all should assay that would, for to win the sword. the appurtance? Then Uther Pendragon And upon New Year's Day the barons let turned him and said in hearing of them all, make a joust and a tournament, that all I give him God's blessing and mine, and bid knights that would joust or tourney there him pray for my soul, and righteously and 15 might play, and all this was ordained for to worshipfully that he claim the crown upon for- keep the lords together, and the commons, feiture of my blessing, and therewith he for the Archbishop trusted that God would yielded up the ghost, and then was he interred make him known that should win the sword. as longed to a king. Wherefore the queen, fair So upon New Year's Day, when the service was Igraine, made great sorrow, and all the barons. 20 done, the barons rode unto the field, some to

Then stood the realm in great jeopardy long joust and some to tourney, and so it happened while, for every lord that was mighty of men that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about made him strong, and many weened to have London, rode unto the jousts, and with him been king Then Merlin went to the Arch- rode Sir Kay his son, and young Arthur that bishop of Canterbury, and councilled him for 25 was his nourished brother;: and Sir Kay was to send for all the lords of the realm, and all made knight at All Hallowmass afore. So as the gentlemen of arms, that they should to they rode to the jousts-ward, Sir Kay lost his London come by Christmas, upon pain of sword, for he had left it at his father's lodging, cursing; and for this cause, that Jesus, that was and so he prayed young Arthur for to ride for born on that night, that He would of His 30 his sword. I will well, said Arthur, and rode great mercy show some miracle, as He was come fast after the sword, and when he came home, to be king of mankind, for to show some the lady and all were out to see the jousting. miracle who should be right-wise king of this Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, realm. So the Archbishop, by the advice of I will ride to the churchyard, and take the Merlin, sent for all the lords and gentlemen of 35 sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for arms that they should come by Christmas even my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a unto London. And many of them made them sword this day. So when he came to the clean of their life, that their prayer might be churchyard, Sir Arthur alit and tied his horse the more acceptable unto God. So in the to the stile, and so he went to the tent, and greatest church of London, whether it were 40 found no knights there, for they were at Paul's or not, the French book maketh no men- jousting; and so he handled the sword by the tion, all the estates were long ere day in the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled it out church for to pray. And when matins and the of the stone, and took his horse and rode his first mass was done, there was seen in the way until he came to his brother Sir Kay, and churchyard, against the high altar, a great 45 delivered him the sword. And as soon as stone four square, like unto a marble stone, and Sir Kay saw the sword, he wist well it was the in midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a sword of the stone, and so he rode to his father foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword Sir Ector, and said: Sir, lo here is the sword of naked by the point, and letters there were the stone, wherefore I must be king of this land. written in gold about the sword that said 50 When Sir Ector beheld the sword, he returned thus:-Whoso pulleth out this sword of this again and came to the church, and there they stone and anvil, is rightwise king born of all alit all three, and went into the church. And England. Then the people marvelled, and anon he made Sir Kay swear upon a book how told it to the Archbishop. I command, said the he came to that sword. Sir, said Sir Kay, by Archbishop, that ye keep you within your 55 my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me. church, and pray unto God still; that no man How gat ye this sword? said Sir Ector to touch the sword till the high mass be all done. Arthur. Sir, I will tell you. When I came So when all masses were done all the lords went home for my brother's sword, I found nobody at 1 Belonged.

Cause to be provided.

3 Foster brother.

home to deliver me his sword, and so I thought spears. I have enow, said the knight; 60 my brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, there came a squire and brought in good and so I came hither eagerly and pulled it out spears, and Arthur chose one and he another; of the stone without any pain. Found ye any so they spurred their horses and came together knights about this sword, said Sir Ector. 5 with all their mights, that either brake their Nay, said Arthur. Now, said Sir Ector to spears to their hands. Then Arthur set hand Arthur, I understand ye must be king of this on his sword. Nay, said the knight, ye shall land. Wherefore I, said Arthur, and for what do better; ye are a passing good jouster as ever cause? Sir, said Ector, for God will have it so, I met withal; and once for the love of the high for there should never man have drawn out 10 order of knighthood let us joust once again. this sword, but he shall be rightwise king of this I assent me, said Arthur. Anon there were land. Now let me see whether ye can put the brought two great spears, and every knight sword there as it was, and pull it out again. gat a spear, and therewith they ran together, That is no mastery, said Arthur, and so he put that Arthur's spear all to-shivered. But the it in the stone. Wherewith Sir Ector assayed 15 other knight hit him so hard in midst of the to pull out the sword and failed.

shield, that horse and man fell to the earth, and Now assay, said Sir Ector unto Sir Kay. therewith Arthur was eager, and pulled out his And anon he pulled at the sword with all his sword, and said, I will assay thee, sir knight, might, but it would not be. Now shall ye on foot, for I have lost the honour on horse assay, said Sir Ector to Arthur. I will well

, 20 back. I will be on horseback, said the knight. said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And Then was Arthur wroth, and dressed his therewithal Sir Ector knelt down to the earth, shield toward him with his sword drawn. When and Sir Kay.

the knight saw that, he alit, for him thought no

worship to have a knight at such avail," he to ARTHUR'S ENCOUNTER WITH PELL- 25 be on horseback and he on foot; and so he alit INORE

and dressed his shield unto Arthur. And there

began a strong battle with many great strokes, And so Arthur rode a soft pace till it was and so hewed with their swords that the day, and then was he aware of three churls cantels4 flew in the fields, and much blood they chasing Terlin, and would have slain him. 30 bled both, that all the place there as they Then the king rode unto them, and bade them: fought was overbled with blood. And thus Flee, churls! then were they afeared when they they fought long and rested them, and then saw a knight, and fled. O Merlin, said Arthur, they went to the battle again, and so hurtled here hadst thou been slain for all thy crafts had together like two rams that either fell to the I not been. Nay, said Merlin, not so, for I 35 earth. So at the last they smote together that could save myself an I would; and thou art both their swords met even together. But the more near thy death than I am, for thou goest sword of the knight smote King Arthur's sword to the deathward, an God be not thy friend. in two pieces, wherefor he was heavy. Then So as they went thus talking they came to said the knight unto Arthur, Thou art in my the fountain, and the rich pavilion there by it. 40 danger whether me list to save thee or slay Then King Arthur was ware where sat a knight thee, and but thou yield thee as overcome and armed in a chair. Sir knight, said Arthur, for recreant, thou shalt die. As for death, said what cause abidest thou here, that there may King Arthur, welcome be it when it cometh. no knight ride this way but if he joust with But to yield me unto thee as recreant I had thee? said the king. I rede thee leave that 45 liefer die than to be so shamed. And therecustom, said Arthur. This custom, said the withal the king leapt unto Pellinore, and took knight, have I used and will use maugre who him by the middle and threw him down, and saith nay, and who is grieved with my custom rased off his helm.5 When the knight felt that, let him amend it that will. I will amend it, he was adread, for he was passing big man of said Arthur. I shall defend' thee, said the 50 might, and anon he brought Arthur under him, knight. Anon he took his horse and dressed and rased off his helm and would have smitten his shield and took a spear, nd they met so off his ad. hard either in other's shields, that all to- Therewithal came Merlin and said, Knight, shivered their spears.

Therewith anon hold thy hand, for an thou slay that knight Arthur pulled out his sword. Nay, not so, said 55 thou puttest this realm in the greatest damage the knight; it is fairer, said the knight, that we that ever was realm; for this knight is a man of twain run more together with sharp spears. more worship than thou wotest of. Why, who I will well, said Arthur, an I had any more is he? said the knight. It is King Arthur. 1 Prevent. 2 Broke to pieces. 3 Advantage.

* Pieces.

5 Helmet.

« PreviousContinue »