John Skelton - AGAINST A COMELY CUSTRON

AGAINST A COMELY CUSTRON

That curiously chanted and currishly countered and madly in his musics mockishly made against the ix. Muses of politic poems and poets matriculate.

[This poem, and the three pieces which follow it, are given from a tract of four leaves, n.d., and without printer's name (but evidently from the press of Pynson,) collated with Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568.]

<1>

OF all nations under the heaven,
These frantic fools I hate most of all;
For though they stumble in the sins seven,
In peevishness yet they snapper and fall,
Which men the eighth deadly sin call. <2>
This peevish proud, this prendergest,
When he is well, yet can he not rest.

A sweet sugar-loaf and sour Bayard's bun
Be somedeal like in form and shape,
The one for a duke, the other for dun,                                             10
A
manchet for morel thereon to snap.
His heart is too high to have any hap;
But for in his gamut carp<3> that he can,
Lo, Jack would be a gentleman!<4>

With, hey, trolly, lolly,<5> lo, whip here, Jack,
Alumbek sodildim sillorim ben!
Curiously he can both counter and knack<6>
Of Martin Swart.<7> and all his merry men.
Lord, how Perkin is proud of his pea-hen!
But ask where he findeth among his monochords                           20
An holy water clerk a ruler of lords.

He cannot find it in rule nor in space:
He solfas too
haute, his treble is too high;
He braggeth of his birth, that born was full base;
His music without measure, too sharp is his Mi;
He trimmeth in his tenor to counter pyrdewy;<8>
His descant is busy, it is without a mean;
Too fat is his fancy, his wit is too lean.

He lumb'reth on a lewd lute Rutty Bully joys,
Rumble down, tumble down, hey go, now, now!                           30
He fumbleth in his fingering an ugly good noise,
It seemeth the sobbing of an old sow!
He would be made much of,
an he wist how;
Well sped in spindles and turning of tavells;
A bungler, a brawler, a picker of quarrels.

Comely he clappeth a pair of clavichords;
He whistleth so sweetly, he maketh me to sweat;
His descant is dashed full of discords;
A red angry man, but easy to entreat:
An usher of the hall fain would I get                                              40
To point this proud page a place and a room,
For Jack would be a gentleman, that late was a groom.

Jack would jet, and yet Jill said nay;
He counteth in his countenance to check with the best:
A malapert meddler that pryeth for his prey,
In a dish dare he rush at the ripest;
Dreaming in dumps to wrangle and to wrest:
He findeth a proportion in his prick-song<9>,
To drink at a draught a large and a long<10>.

Nay, jape not with him, he is no small fool,                                    50
It is a solemn sire and a sullen;
For lords and ladies learn at his school;
He teacheth them so wisely to solfa and to feign,<
11>
That neither they sing well prick-song nor plain:
This Doctor Deuce-ace<12> commenced in a cart,
A master, a minstrel, a fiddler, a fart.

What though ye can counter Custodi nos?<13>
As well it becometh you, a parish town clerk,
To sing Sospitati dedit aegros.<14>
Yet bear ye not too bold to brawl ne to bark                                   60
At me, that meddled nothing with your work:
Correct first thyself: walk, and be nought!<
15>
Deem what thou list, thou knowest not my thought.

A proverb of old: Say well or be still!
Ye are too unhappy occasions to find
Upon me to clatter, or else to say ill.
Now have I showed you part of your proud mind:
Take this in worth,<16> the best is behind!
Written at Croydon by Crowland-in-the-Clay,
On Candlemas even, the Calends of May.<17>                              70

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