John Skelton - ON TIME


[This and the next three poems are from the ed. by King and Marche of Certain Books compiled by Master Skelton, n.d., collated with the same work, ed. Day, n.d., and ed. Lant, and with Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568. I may here notice that in those eds. the present piece is preceded by a copy of verses, "All noble men of this take heed," &c., which will be given afterwards, before Why Come ye not to Court? where it is repeated in all the eds. ]

YE may hear now, in this rime,
How every thing must have a time.

Time is a thing that no man may resist;
Time is transitory and irrevocable;
Who sayeth the contrary, time passeth as him list;
Time must be taken in season convenable:
Take time when time is, for time is aye mutable;
All thing hath time, who can for it provide;
Bide for time who will, for time will no man bide.

Time to be sad, and time to play and sport;                                                 10
Time to take rest by way of recreation;
Time to study, and time to use comfort;
Time of pleasure, and time of consolation:
Thus time hath his time of divers manner fashion:
Time for to eat and drink for thy repast;
Time to be liberal, and time to make no waste:

Time to travail, and time for to rest;
Time for to speak, and time to hold thy peace:
Time would be used when time is best;
Time to begin, and time for to cease;                                                          
And when time is, [to] put thyself in press,<
And when time is, to hold thyself aback:
For time well spent can never have lack.

The roots take their sap in time of vere;
In time of summer flowers fresh and green;
In time of harvest men their corn shear;
In time of winter the north wind waxeth keen,
So bitterly biting the flowers be not seen:
The calends of Janus, with his frosts hoar,                                                  30
That time is when people must live upon the store.

Quod Skelton, Laureat

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