John Skelton - POEMS AGAINST GARNESCHE

POEMS AGAINST GARNESCHE

SKELTON LAUREATE, DEFEND[ER], AGAINST M[ASTER] GARNESCHE, CHALLENGER, ET CETERA

<1>

[These Poems against Garnesche (now for the first time printed) are from a MS. in the Harleian Collection, 367, (fol. 101), which is in many places scarcely legible, being written in a hand very difficult to decipher, as well as being much injured by damp.]

SITH ye have me challenged, M[aster] Garnesche,
Rudely reviling me in the king's noble hall,
Such another challenger could no man wish,<2>
But if it were Sir Termagant<3> that tourneyed without nall;<4>
For Sir Frollo de Franko<5> was never half so tall.
But say me now, Sir Satrapas,<6> what authority ye have
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave?

What, have ye kithed you a knight,<7> Sir Douglas the Doughty,<8>
So currishly to beknave me in the king's place?<9>
Ye strong sturdy stallion, so stern and stouty,                                            10
Ye bear ye bold as Barabbas, or Sir Terry of Thrace;<
10>
Ye girn grimly with your gums and with your grisly face.
But say me yet, Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave?

Ye foul, fierce and fell, as Sir Ferumbras the freke,<11>
Sir captain of Catywade, catacombs of Cayre,<12>
Though ye be lusty as Sir Libius <13> lances to break,
Yet your countenance uncomely, your face is not fair:
For all your proud pranking, your pride may impair.
But say me yet, Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have                                 20
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave?

Of Mantrible the Bridge, Malchus the Morrion,<14>
Nor black Balthasar<15> with his basnet rough as a bear,
Nor Lycaon, that loathly lusk,<16> in mine opinion,
Nor no boar so bremly bristled is with hair,
As ye are bristled on the back for all your gay gear.
[But say me yet, Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave?]

Your wind-shaken shanks, your long loathly legs,
Crooked as a cammock, and as a cow calfless,                                           30
Brings you out of favour with all female
tegs:
That Mistress Punt put you off, it was not all causeless;
At Orwell her haven<17> your anger was lawless.
[But say me yet, Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave?]

I say, ye solemn Saracen, all black is your blee;
As a glede glowing,<18> your eyen glister as glass,
Rolling in your hollow head, ugly to see;
Your teeth tainted with tawny; your seemly snout doth pass,
Hooked as an hawk's beak, like Sir Thopas.<19>                                       40
Boldly bend you to battle, and
busk yourself to save:
Challenge yourself for a fool, call me no more knave!

By the King's most noble commandment.

SKELTON LAUREATE, DEFENDER, AGAINST M[ASTER] GARNESCHE, CHALLENGER, WITH GREASY, GORBELLIED GODFREY<20> [ET] CETERA.

How may I your mockery meekly tolerate,
[Your] groaning, your grunting, your groining like a swine?<21>
[Your] pride is all to-peevish, your port importunate;
[You] manticore, ye malapert, ye can both wince and whine;
[Your] loathsome leer to look on, like a greased boot doth shine.
Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate,
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware yet of checkmate.<22>

Whole is your brow that ye brake with Deu[ra]ndall<23> your own sword;
Why hold ye on your cap, sir, then? your pardon is expired:
Ye hobble very homely before the king's board;                                         10
Ye
counter umwhile too captiously, and ere ye be desired;
Your moth-eaten mockish manners, they be all to-mired.
Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate,
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of checkmate.

O Gabionite of Gabion,<24> why do ye gane and gasp?
Huff a gallant<25> Garnesche, look on your comely corse!
Lusty Garnesche, like a louse, ye jet full like a jasp;<26>
As witless as a wild goose, ye have but small remorse
Me for to challenge that of your challenge maketh so little force.<27>
Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate,                           20
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of checkmate.

Sir Guy, Sir Gawain, Sir Cayus, for and Sir Oliver,<28>
Pyramus, nor Priamus<29> nor Sir Pyrrhus the proud,
In Arthur's ancient acts<30> nowhere is proved your peer;
The fashion of your phys'nomy the devil in a cloud;
Your heart is too haught, ywis, it will not be allowed.
Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate,
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of checkmate.

Ye ground you upon Godfrey,<20> that grisly gorgon's face,
Your standard, Sir Olifranke,<31> against me for to splay:                       30
Baile, baile at you both, frantic fools! follow on the chase!
Come Garnesche, come Godfrey, with as many as ye may!
I advise you beware of this war, range you in array.
Ye capped Caiaphas copious, [your paltock on your pate,
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of checkmate.]

Gup, gorbellied Godfrey, gup, Garnesche, gaudy fool!
To tourney or to taunt with me ye are too far to seek:
For these twain whipslovens call for a cuck-stool:
Thou manticore, ye marmoset, garnished like a Greek,
Wrangling, wayward, witless, wraw, and nothing meek.                            40
Ye capped Caiaphas
copious, your paltock on your pate,
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of checkmate.

Myrres vous y,<32>
Look not too high.

By the King's most noble commandment.

SKELTON LAUREATE, DEFENDER, AGAINST LUSTY GARNESCHE, WELL-BESEEN CHRISTOPHER,<33> CHALLENGER, ET CETERA.

I have your lewd letter received,
And well I have it perceived,
And your scribe<34> I have espied,
That your mad mind contrived.
Saving your usher's rod,
I cast me not to be odd
With neither of you twain:
Wherefore I write again
How the favour of your face
Is void of all good grace;                                                                             10
For all your carpet cushions,
Ye have knavish conditions.
Gup, marmoset, jaist ye, morel!
I am laureate, I am no lorel.
Lewdly your time ye spend
My living to reprehend;<35>
And will never intend
Your own lewdness to amend:
Your English lewdly ye sort,
And falsely ye me report.                                                                            20
Garnesche, ye gape too wide:
Your knavery I will not hide,
For to assuage your pride.

When ye were younger of age
Ye were a kitchen-page,
A dish-washer, a
drivel,
In the pot your nose did snivel;<31>
Ye fried and ye broiled,
Ye roasted and ye boiled,
Ye roasted, like a fon,                                                                                  30
A goose with the feet upon;
Ye
sluffered up sauce
In my Lady Bruce's house.
Whereto should I write
Of such a greasy knight?
A bawdy dish-clout,
That bringeth the world about
With hafting and with polling,
With lying and controlling.

At Guines when ye were                                                                             40
But a slender spear,
Decked
lewdly in your gear;
For when ye dwelt there,
Ye had a knavish coat
Was scantly worth a groat;
In dud frieze<37> ye were shrined
With better frieze lined;
The outside every day,
Ye might no better a way;
The inside ye did call                                                                                   50
Your best gown festival.
Your drapery ye did want,
The
ward with you was scant.
When ye cast a sheep's eye,
. . . . Mistress Andelby,<38>
. . . . Guines upon a gong,
. . . . sat somewhat too long;
. . . . her husband's head
. . . . mall of lead,
. . . . that ye there preached,                                                                         60
To her love ye not reached:
Ye would have bussed her bum
So that she would have come
Unto your lousy den;
But she of all men
Had you most in despite,
Ye lost her favour quite;
Your pilled-garlic head<
39>
Could occupy there no stead;<40>
She called you Sir Guy of Gaunt,<41>                                                       70
Nosed like an elephant,
A pickaxe or a
twibill;
She said how ye did bridle,
Much like a dromedary;
Thus with you she did warray
With much matter more
That I keep in store.

Your breath is strong and quick;
Ye are an elder-stick;
Ye wot what I think;                                                                                   80
At both ends ye stink.
Great danger for the king,
When his Grace is fasting,
His presence to approach:
It is to your reproach.
It falleth for no swine,
Nor
souters, to drink wine,
Nor such a noddypole
A priest for to control.

Little wit in your scribe's noll,                                                                     90
That scribbled your fond scroll,
Upon him for to take
Against me for to make,
Like a doctor
dawpate,
A laureate poet for to rate.
Your terms are too gross,
Too far from the purpose,
To contaminate
And to violate
The dignity laureate.                                                                                    100

Bold bayard, ye are too blind,<42>
And grow all out of kind,
To occupy so your mind;
For reason can I none find
Nor good rhyme in your matter;
I wonder that ye smatter,
So for a knave to clatter,
Ye would be called a maker;
And make much like Jake Raker;<43>
Ye are a comely craker,                                                                                110
Ye learned of some pie-baker.
Cast up your curious writing,
And your dirty inditing,
And your spiteful despiting,
For all is not worth a
miting,
A mackerel nor a whiting:
Had ye gone with me to school
And occupied no better your tool,<44>
Ye should have couthed me a fool.

But now, gaudy, greasy Garnesche,                                                            120
Your face I
wis to varnish
So surely it shall not tarnish.
Though a Saracen's head ye bear,
Rough and full of lousy hair,
As every man well seeth,
Full of great knavish teeth,
In a field of green peason,
Is rhyme yet out of reason;
Your wit is so geson,
Ye rail all out of season.                                                                              130

Your skin scabbed and scurvy,
Tawny, tanned, and
shurvy;<45>
Now upon this heat
Rankly when ye sweat,
Men say ye will wax lousy,
Drunken, droopy, drowsy.
Your sword ye swear, I ween,
So trenchant and so keen,
Shall cut both white and green:<46>
Your folly is too great                                                                                  140
The king's colours to threat.
Your breath it is so fell
And so
puauntly doth smell,
And so heinously doth stink,
That neither pump nor sink
Doth savour half so sour
Against a stormy shower.
O ladies of bright colour,
Of beauty that beareth the flower,
When Garnesche cometh you among                                                          150
With his breath so strong,
Without ye have a confection
Against his poisoned infection,
Else with his stinking jaws
He will cause you cast your craws,
And make your stomach seek
Over the perch to
prick.

Now, Garnesche, guard thy gums;
My serpentines and my guns
Against ye now I bend;                                                                               160
Thyself therefore defend.
Thou toad, thou scorpion,<
47>
Thou bawdy babion,
Thou bear, thou bristled boar,
Thou Moorish manticore,
Thou rammish stinking goat,
Thou foul churlish parrot,
Thou grisly Gorgon gleimy,
Thou sweaty sloven seamy,
Thou morrion, thou maument,<48>                                                             170
Thou false stinking serpent,
Thou mockish
marmoset,
I will not die in thy debt!<49>
Tyburn thou me assigned,
Where thou shouldst have been shrined;
The next halter there shall be
I bequeath it whole to thee;
Such pelfry thou hast packed,<50>
And so thyself o'er-watched
That there thou shouldst be racked,<51>                                                    180
If thou were meetly matched.

Ye may well be bedawed,<52>
Ye are a fool outlawed;
And for to tell the ground,
Pay Stokes his five pound.
I say, Sir Dalyrag,<53>
Ye bear you bold and brag
With other men's charge:
Ye cut your cloth too large:
Such polling pageants ye play,<54>                                                            190
To point you fresh and gay.

And he that scribbled your scrolls,<55>
I reckon you in my rolls
For ii drunken souls.
Read and learn ye may,
How old proverbs say,
That bird is not honest
That fouleth his own nest.<56>
If he wist what some wot,
The flesh basting of his coat                                                                        200
Was sowed with slender thread.
God send you well good speed,
With Dominus vobiscum!
Good Latin for Jack-a-Thrum,<
57>
Till more matter may come.

By the King's most noble commandment.

DONUM LEAUREATI DISTICHON CONTRA GOLIARDUM GARNESCHE ET SCRIBAM EIUS<58>

Tu, Garnesche, fatuus, fatuus tuus est mage scriba:
Qui sapuit puer, insanit vir, versus in hydram.<
59>

SKELTON LAUREATE DEFENDER AGAINST LUSTY GARNESCHE WELL BESEEN CHRISTOPHER <60> CHALLENGER, ET CETERA.

Garnesche, gorgon, ghastly grim,
I have received your second hyime.
Though ye can skill of large and long,<61>
Ye sing alway the cuckoo song:
Ye rail, ye rhyme, with Hey, dog, hey!
Your churlish chanting is all one lay. <62>
Ye, sir, rail all in deformity:
Ye have not read the property
Of Nature's works, how they be
Mixed with some incommodity,                                                                  10
As proveth well in his Rhetorics old,
Cicero with his tongue of gold.<
63>
That Nature wrought in you and me,
Irrevocable is her decree;
Waywardly wrought she hath in thee,
Behold thyself, and thou mayst see;
Thou shalt behold nowhere a worse,
Thy mirror may be the devil's arse.
With knave, sir knave, and knave again!
To call me knave, thou takest great pain:                                                     20
The proudest knave yet of us twain
Within thy skin he shall remain;
The starkest knave, and least good can,
Thou art called of every man;
The court, the country, village and town,
Saith from thy toe unto thy crown
Of all proud knaves thou bearest the bell,
Loathsome as Lucifer lowest in hell.<
64>
On that side, on this side thou doth gaze,
And thinkest thyself Sir Piers de Brasy,<65>                                             30
Thy caitiff's carcass coarse and crazy;
Much of thy manners I can
blazy.

Of Lombardy George Hardyson,<66>
Thou would have scored his habergeon;
That gentle George the Januay,<67>
Ye would have triced his trull away:
Such pageants<68> with your friends ye play,
With treachery ye them betray.
Garnesche, ye got of George with gaudery
Crimson velvet for your bawdry.                                                                 40
Ye have a fantasy to Fenchurch Street,
With Lombards'
lemans for to meet,
With Buss me, butting, pretty Cis!
Your loathsome lips love well to kiss,
Slavering like a slimy snail—
I would ye had kissed her on the tail!

Also not far from Bowgy Row,<69>
Ye pressed pertly to pluck a crow:
Ye lost your hold, unbend your bow,
Ye won nothing there but a mow;                                                               50
Ye won nothing there but a scorn;
She would not of it thou had sworn.
She said ye were coloured with coal-dust;
To dally with you she had no lust.
She said your breath stank like a
brock,
With Gup, Sir Guy,<70> ye got a mock
She swear with her ye should not deal,
For ye were smeary, like a seal,
And ye were hairy, like a calf;
She prayed you walk, on God's half! <71>                                                 60
And thus there ye lost your prey;
Get ye another where ye may.

Disparage ye mine ancestry?
Ye are disposed for to lie:
I say, thou fell and foul flesh-fly,
In this debate I thee
ascry.
Thou claimest thee gentle, thou art a cur;
Heralds they know thy coat armour:
Though thou be a gentleman born,
Yet gentleness in thee is threadbare worn;                                                  70
Heralds from honour may thee divorce,
For harlots haunt thine hateful corse;
Ye bear out
brothels like a bawd;
And get thereby a slender laud
Between the tapet and the wall<72>—
Fusty bawdias!<73> I say not all.
Of harlots to use such an harass,<74>
Ye breed moths in cloth of Arras.<75>

What aileth thee, ribald, on me to rave?
A king to me mine habit gave:                                                                     80
At Oxford, the university,
Advanced I was to that degree;
By whole consent of their senate,
I was made poet laureate.
To call me
lorel ye are too lewd:
Lith and listen, all beshrewed!
Of the Muses nine, Calliope
Hath pointed me to rail on thee.
It seemeth not thy pilled pate
Against a poet laureate                                                                                90
To take upon thee for to
scrive;
It comes thee better for to drive
A dung-cart or a tumbril
Than with my poems for to mell.

The honour of England I learned to spell, <76>
In dignity royal that doth excel.
Note and mark well this parcel:
I gave him drink of the sugared well
Of Helicon's waters crystalline,
Acquainting him with the Muses nine.                                                        100
It
cometh thee well me to remord<77>
That creancer<78> was to thy sovereign lord:
It pleaseth that noble prince royal
Me as his master for to call
In his learning primordial.
Avaunt, ribald, thy tongue reclaim!<79>
Me to beknave thou art to blame;
Thy tongue untaught, with poison infect,
Without thou leave thou shalt be checked,<80>
And taken up in such a frame.                                                                     110
That all the world will spy your shame.
Avaunt, avaunt, thou sluggish . . .
And say poets no dis . . .
It is for no bawdy knave
The dignity laureate for to have.

Thou callest me scold, thou callest me mad:
Though thou be pilled, thou art not sad.
Thou art frantic and lackest wit,
To rail with me that thee can hit.
Though it be now full-tide with thee,                                                          120
Yet there may fall such casualty,
Ere thou be ware, that in a throw
Thou mayest fall down and ebb full low.
Wherefore in wealth beware of woe,
For wealth will soon depart thee
fro.
To know thyself if thou lack grace,
Learn or be lewd, I shrew thy face.

Thou sayest I called thee a peacock:
Thou lyest, I called thee a woodcock;
For thou hast a long snout,                                                                          130
A seemly nose and a stout,
Pricked like an unicorn:
I would some man's back ink-horn
Were thy nose spectacle-case;<81>
It would garnish well thy face.

Thou deemest my railing overthwart:
I rail to thee such as thou art.
If thou were acquainted with all
The famous poets satirical,
As Persius and Juvenal,                                                                               140
Horace and noble Martial,
If they were living this day,
Of thee wot I what they would say;
They would thee write, all with one
stevin,
The foulest sloven under heaven,
Proud, peevish, lither, and lewd,
Malapert, meddler, nothing well-thewed,
Busy, brainless, to brawl and brag,
Witless, wayward, Sir Wrig-wrag,
Disdainous, double, full of deceit,                                                              150
Lying, spying by subtlety and sleight,
Fleering, flattering, false, and fickle,
Scornful and mocking over too mickle.

My time, I trow, I should but lese
To write to thee of tragedies,<82>
It is not meet for such a knave;
But now my process for to save,<83>
Inordinate pride will have a fall.
Presumptuous pride is all thine hope:
God guard thee, Garnesche, from the rope!                                                160
Stop a tide, and be well ware
Ye be not caught in an hempen snare.
Harken thereto, ye Harvy Hafter,<84>
Pride goeth before and shame cometh after.

Thou writest, I should let thee go play:
Go play thee, Garnesche, garnished gay;
I care not what thou write or say,
I cannot let thee the knave to play,
To dance the hay or run the ray:<85>
Thy fond face can me not fray.
Take this for that, bear this in mind,
Of thy lewdness more is behind;
A ream of paper will not hold
Of thy lewdness that may be told.
My study might be better spent;
But for to serve the king's intent,
His noble pleasure and commandment,
Scribble thou, scribble thou, rail or write,
Write what thou wilt, I shall thee aquite.                                                    170

By the King's most noble commandment.

Prev Next