John Skelton - WARE THE HAWK


[From the ed. by Kynge and Marche of Certain Books Compiled by Master Skelton, n.d., collated with the same work, ed. Day, n.d. and Lant, n.d. and with Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568.]




THIS work devised is
For such as do amiss;
And specially to control
Such as have cure of soul,
That be so far abused<2>
They cannot be excused
By reason nor by law;
But that they play the daw,
To hawk, or else to hunt
From the altar to the font,                                                                             10
With cry unreverent,
Before the sacrament,
Within holy church's bounds,
That of our faith the ground is.
That priest that hawks so
All grace is far him
He seemeth a schismatic,
Or else an heretic,
For faith in him is faint.
Therefore to make complaint                                                                        20
Of such misadvised
Parsons and
This book we have devised,
Compendiously comprised,
No good priest to offend,
But such daws to amend,
In hope that no man shall
Be miscontent withal.

I shall you make relation,
By way of apostrophation,                                                                            30
Under supportation
Of your patient toleration,
How I, Skelton Laureate,
Devised and also
Upon a lewd curate,
A parson beneficed,
But nothing well advised:
He shall be as now nameless,
But he shall not be blameless,
Nor he shall not be shameless;                                                                      40
For sure he wrought amiss
To hawk in my church of Diss.<
This fond frantic falconer,
With his polluted pautener,<5>
As priest unreverent,
Straight to the sacrament
He made his hawk to fly,
With hideous shout and cry.
The high altar he stripped naked;
Thereon he stood, and craked;                                                                      50
He shook down all the cloths,
And sware horrible oaths
Before the face of God,
By Moses and Aaron's rod,
Ere that he hence
His hawk should prey and feed
Upon a pigeon's maw.
The blood ran down raw
Upon the altar-stone;
The hawk tired<6> on a bone;                                                                      60
And in the holy place
muted there a chase<7>
Upon my corporas face.
Such sacrificium laudis<8>
He made with such gambades.


His second hawk waxed gery,<9>
And was with flying weary;
She had flown so oft,
That on the rood-loft<10>
She perched her to rest.                                                                                 70
The falconer then was pressed,
Came running with a
And cried Stow, stow, stow!<11>
But she would not bow.
He then, to be sure,
Called her with a lure.<12>
Her meat was very crude,
She had not well endued;
She was not clean ensaimed,
She was not well reclaimed:                                                                          80
But the falconer
Was much more feebler brained.
The hawk had no list
To come to his fist;
She looked as she had the frounce;<13>
With that he gave her a bounce
Full upon the gorge:
I will not feign nor forge;
The hawke with that clap
Fell down with evil hap.                                                                               90
The church doors were sparred,
Fast bolted and barred,
Yet with a pretty
I fortuned to come in,
This rebel to behold,
Whereof I him controlled;
But he said that he would,
Against my mind and will,
In my church hawke still.


On Saint John decollation<15>                                                                    100
He hawked in this fashion,
Tempore vesperarum,
Sed non secundum Sarum

But like a March hare-um
His brains were so parum.<17>
He said he would not let
His hounds for to fet,
To hunt there by liberty
In the despite of me,
And to halloo there the fox:                                                                          110
Down went my offering-box,
Book, bell, and candle,
All that he might handle:
Cross, staff, lectern, and banner,
Fell down in this manner.


With troll, cytrace, and trovy,<19>
They ranged Hankin Bovy,<20>
My church all about.
This falconer then gan shout,
These be my gospellers,                                                                                 120
These be my epistolers,<
These be my choristers,
To help me to sing,
My hawks to matins ring.
In this priestly guiding<22>
His hawk then flew upon
The rood with Mary and John.<23>
Dealt he not like a fon?
Dealt he not like a daw?
Or else is this God's law,                                                                               130
Decrees or
Or holy synodals,
Or else provincials,
Thus within the walls
Of holy Church to deal,
Thus to ring a peal
With his hawk's bells?
Doubtless such losels
Make the church to be
In small authority:                                                                                         140
A curate in special
snapper and to fall
Into this open crime;
To look on this were time.


But whoso that looks
In the official booke,
There he may see and read
That this is matter indeed.
Howbeit, maiden Meed<25>
Made them to be agreed,                                                                              150
And so the Scribe was fee'd,
And the Pharisee
Then durst nothing say,
But let the matter slip,
And made truth to trip;
And of the spiritual law
They made but a gewgaw,
And took it out in drink,
And thus the cause doth shrink:
The Church is thus abused,                                                                          
Reproached and polluted:
Correction hath no place,
And all for lack of grace.


Look now in Exodi<27>
And de arca Domini,<28>
With Regum<29> by and by;
(The Bible will not lie);
How the Temple was kept,
How the Temple was swept,
Where sanguis taurorum,                                                                              170
Aut sanguis vitulorum
, <
Was offered within the walls,
After ceremonials;
When it was polluted
Sentence was executed,
By way of expiation
For reconciliation.


Then much more, by the rood,
Where Christ's precious blood
Daily offered is,                                                                                            180
To be polluted thus;
And that he wished withal
That the dove's dung down might fall
Into my chalice at Mass,
When consecrated was
The blessed Sacrament:
O priest unreverent!
He said that he would hunt
From the altar to the font.


Of no tyrant I read                                                                                        190
That so far did exceed,
Neither Diocletian,
Nor yet Domitian,
Nor yet crooked Cacus,<
Nor yet drunken Bacchus;
Neither Olibrius,<34>

Nor Dionysius;
Neither Phalary;
Rehearsed in Valery;<35>
Nor Sardanapall,<36>                                                                                   200
Unhappiest of all;
Nor Nero the worst,
Nor Claudius the curst;
Nor yet Egeas,<
Nor yet Sir Ferumbras;<38>
Neither Zorobabel,
Nor cruel Jezebel;
Nor yet Tarquinius,
Whom Titus Livius
In writing doth enroll;                                                                                   210
I have read them
poll by poll;<39>
The story of Aristobel,<40>
And of Constantinople,
Which city miscreants<41> won
And slew many a Christian man;
Yet the Soldan, nor the Turk,
Wrought never such a work,
For to let their hawks fly
In the Church of Saint Sophy;<42>
With much matter more,                                                                               220
That I keep in store.


Then in a table plain
I wrote a verse or twain,
Whereat he made disdain:
The peakish parson's brain
Could not reach nor attain
What the sentence meant;
He said, for a crooked intent,
The words were perverted:
And thus he overthwarted.                                                                           230
Of the which process
Ye may know more express,
If it please you to look
In the residue of this book.

Hereafter followeth the table.

Look on this table,
Whether thou art able
To read or to spell
What these verses tell.

Sicculo lutureis est colo búraará
Nixphedras visarum caniuter tuntantes
Raterplas Natábrian umsudus itnugenus. téuvalet.
Chartula stet, precor, haec nullo temeranda petulco.
Has rapiet numeros non homo, sed mala bos.
Ex parte rem chartae adverte asperte, pone Musam Arethusam hanc.

Whereto should I rehearse
The sentence of my verse?                                                                            240
In them be no schools
For brain-sick frantic fools:
Construas hoc,<

Ware the hawk!
Master sophista,
Ye simplex syllogista,
Ye devilish dogmatista,<46>
Your hawk on your fist-a,
To hawk when you list-a                                                                               250
In ecclesia ista,
Domine concupisti,
With thy hawk on thy fisty?
Nunquid sic dixisti?
Nunquid sic fecisti?
Sed ubi hoc legisti,
Aut unde hoc,<
Doctor Dawcock?

Ware the hawk!
Doctor Dialetica,                                                                                           260
Where find you in Hypothetica,
Or in Categoria,
Latina sive Dorica,
To use your hawk's forica
In propitiatorio,
Tanquam diversorio?

Unde hoc, <
Domine Dawcock?

Ware the hawk!
Say to me, Jack Harris,<51>                                                                         270
Quare aucuparis
Ad sacramentum altaris?
For no reverence thou spares
To shake thy pigeon's feathers
Super arcam foederis:
Unde hoc,<53>
Doctor Dawcock?

Ware the hawk!
Sir Dominus vobiscum,<54>
Per aucupium
<55>                                                                                       280
Ye made your hawk to come
Desuper candelabrum
Christi Crucifixi
To feed upon your fisty:
Dic, inimice crucis Christi,
Ubi didicisti
Facere hoc
Domine Dawcock?

Ware the hawk!
Apostata Julianus,                                                                                         290
Nor yet Nestorianus,<
Thou shalt nowhere read
That they did such a deed,
To let their hawkes fly
Ad ostium tabernaculi,
In que est corpus Domine

Cave hoc,<59>
Doctor Dawcock!

Ware the hawk!
Thus doubtless ye raved,                                                                               300
Diss church ye thus depraved;<
Wherefore, as I be saved,
Ye are therefore beknaved:
Quare? quia Evangelia,
Concha et conchylia,
Accipter et sonalia,
Et bruta animalia,
Caetera quoque talia
Tibi sunt aequalia:

Unde hoc,<61>                                                                                             310
Domine Dawcock?

Ware the hawk!
Et relis et ralis,
Et reliqualis
From Granada to Galis,<63>
From Winchelsea to Wales,
Non est brain-sick talis,
Nec minus rationalis,
Nec magis bestialis,
That sings with a chalice:                                                                              320
Construas hoc,<
Doctor Dawcock!
Ware the hawk!
Mazed, witless, smeary smith,
Hampar with your hammer upon thy stith,
And make hereof a sickle or a saw,
For though ye live a c. year, ye shall die a daw.
Vos valete,
Doctor indiscrete

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