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[From Fauke's ed. 1523, collated with Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568, (in which it is entitled The Crown of Laurel,) and with fragments of the poem among the Cottonian MSS. Vit. E.X. fol. 200. The prefaratory Latin lines are from Fauke's ed., where they are given on the back of the title page, and below a woodcut portrait headed "Skelton Poeta,": they are not in Marshe's ed. nor in MS.]



Eterno mansura die dum sidera fulgent,
Aequora dumque tument, haec laurea nostra virebit:
Hinc nostrum celebre et nomen referetur ad astra,
Undique Skeltonis memorabitur alter Adonis

Arrecting my sight toward the zodiac,
The signs xii for to behold afar,
When Mars retrogradant reversed his back,
Lord of the year in his orbicular,
Put up his sword, for he could make no war,
And when Lucina plenarly did shine,
Scorpio ascending degrees twice nine;

In place alone then musing in my thought
How all thing passeth as doth the summer flower,
On every half my reasons forth I sought, 10
How often fortune varieth in an hour,
Now clear weather, forthwith a stormy shower;
All thing compassed, no perpetuity,
But now in wealth, now in adversity.

So deeply drowned I was in this dump,
Encrampished<3> so sore was my conceit,
That, me to rest, I leant me to a stump
Of an oak, that sometime grew full straight,
A mighty tree and of a noble height,
Whose beauty blasted was with the boisterous wind, 20
His leaves lost, the sap was from the rind.

Thus stood I in the frithy forest of Galtres,
Ensoaked with silt of the miry moss,<4>
Where harts bellowing,<5> embossed with distress,
Ran on the range so long, that I suppose
Few men can tell now where the hind-calf<6> goes;
Fair fall that forester that so well can bate his hound!
But of my purpose now turn we to the ground.

Whiles I stood musing in this meditation,
In slumbering I fell and half in a sleep; 30
And whether it were of imagination,
Or of humours superflue,<
7> that often will creep
Into the brain by drinking over-deep,
Or it proceeded of fatal persuasion,
I cannot well tell you what was the occasion;

But suddenly at once, as I me advised,
As one in a trance or in an ecstasy,
I saw a pavilion wondrously disguised,<8>
Garnished fresh after my fantasy,
Enhatched with pearl and stones preciously,<9> 40
The ground
engrosed and bet with bourne gold,<10>
That passing goodly it was to behold:

Within it, a princess excellent of port;
But to recount her rich habiliment,
And what estates to her did resort,
Thereto am I full insufficient;
A goddess immortal she did represent;
As I heard say, dame Pallas was her name;
To whom supplied the royal Queen of Fame.<11>


Princess most puissant, of high pre-eminence, 50
Renowned lady above the starry heaven,
All other transcending, of very congruence<
Madam regent of the science seven,
To whose estate all nobleness must leanen,
My supplication to you I arrect,
Whereof I beseech you to tender the effect.

Not unremembered it is unto your grace
How you gave me a royal commandement
That in my court Skelton should have a place,
Because that his time he studiously hath spent
In your service; and, to the accomplishment 60
Of your requests, registered in his name
With laureate triumph in the court of Fame.

But, good madam, the accustom and usage
Of ancient poets, ye
wot full well, hath been
Themself to embusy with all their whole courage,
So that their works might famously be seen,
In figure whereof they wear the laurel green;
But how it is, Skelton is wonder slack,
And, as we dare, we find in him great lack. 70

For, ne were only he hath your promotion,
Out of my books full soon I should him rase;
But sith he hath tasted of the sugared potion
Of Helicon's well, refreshed with your grace,
And will not endeavour himself to purchase
The favour of ladies with words elect,
It is sitting that ye must him correct.


The sum of your purpose, as we are advised,
Is that our servant is somewhat too dull;
Wherein this answer for him we have comprised,<13> 80
How rivers run not till the spring be full;
Better a dumb mouth than a brainless skull;
For if he gloriously polish his matter,
Then men will say how he doth but flatter;

And if so him fortune to write true and plain,
As sometime he must vices
Then some will say he hath but little brain,
And how his words with reason will not accord;
Beware, for writing remaineth of record;
Displease not an hundred for one man's pleasure; 90
Who writeth wisely hath a great treasure.

Also, to furnish better his excuse,

Ovid was banished for such a skill,
And many more whom I could
Juvenal was threat, pardie, for to kill<14>
For certain invectives, yet wrote he none ill,
Saving he rubbed some upon the gall;
It was not for him to abide the trial.

In general words, I say not greatly nay,
A poet sometime may for his pleasure taunt, 100
Speaking in parables, how the fox, the grey,<
The gander, the goose, and the huge elephant,
Went with the peacock again the pheasant;
The lizard came leaping, and said that he must,
With help of the ram, lay all in the dust.

Yet divers there be, industrious of reason,
Somewhat would gather in their conjecture
Of such an endarked chapter some season;
Howbeit, it were hard to construe this lecture;
Sophisticated craftily is many a confecture; 110
Another man's mind diffuse is to expound;<
Yet hard is to make but some fault be found.


Madam, with favour of your benign sufferance,
Unto your grace then make I this motive;<17>
Whereto made ye me him to advance
Unto the room of laureate promotive?
Or whereto should he have that prerogative,
But if he had made some memorial
Whereby he might have a name immortal?

To pass the time in slothful idleness, 120
Of your royal palace it is not the guise,
But to do somewhat each man doth him dress:
For how should Cato else be called wise,
But that his books, which he did devise,
Record the same? or why is had in mind
Plato, but for that he left writing behind,

For men to look on? Aristotle also,
Of philosophers called the principal,
Old Diogenes, with many other
Demosthenes, that orator royal, 130
That gave Aeschines<
18> such a cordial,
That banished was he by his proposition,
Against whom he could make no contradiction?


Soft, my good sister, and make there a pause.
And was Aeschines rebuked as ye say?
Remember you well, point well that clause;
Wherefore then rased ye not away
His name? or why is it, I you pray,
That he to your court is going and coming, 140
Sith he is slandered for default of conning?


Madame, your apposal<19> is well inferred,
And at your advantage quickly it is
Touched,<20> and hard for to be debarred;<21>
Yet shall I answer your grace as in this,
With your reformation, if I say amiss,
For, but if your bounty did me assure,
Mine argument else could not long endure.

As touching that Aeschines is remembered,
That he so should be, me seemeth it sitting,
Albeit great part he hath surrendered 150
Of his honour, whose dissuasive in writing
To courage Demosthenes was much exciting,
In setting out freshly<
22> his crafty persuasion,
From which Aeschines had none evasion.

The cause why Demosthenes so famously is bruited
Only proceeded for that he did outray<23>
Aeschines, which was not shamefully confuted
But of that famous orator, I say,
Which passed all other; wherefore I may
Among my records suffer him named, 160
For though he were vanquished, yet was he not shamed:

As Jerome, in his preamble Frater Ambrosius,<24>
From that I have said in no point doth vary,
Wherein he reporteth of the courageous
Words that were much consolatory
By Aeschines rehearsed to the great glory
Of Demosthenes, that was his utter foe:
Few shall ye find or none that will do so.


A thank to have, ye have well deserved,
Your mind that can maintain so apparently; 170
But a great part yet ye have reserved
Of that must follow then consequently,
Or else ye demean you inordinately;
For if ye laud him whom honour hath opprest,
Then he that doth worst is as good as the best.

But whom that ye favour, I see well, hath a name,
Be he never so little of substance,
And whom ye love not ye will put to shame;
Ye counterweigh not evenly your balance;
As well folly as wisdom oft ye do advance:
For report riseth many diverse ways.
Some be much spoken of for making of frays;

Some have a name for theft and bribery;
Some be called crafty that can pick a purse;
Some men be made of for their mockery;
Some careful cuckolds, some have their wives curse;
Some famous wittols, and they be much worse;
Some lidderons, some losels, some naughty packs;
Some facers, some bracers, some make great cracks;<25>

Some drunken dastards with their dry souls; 190
Some sluggish slovens, that sleep day and night;
Riot and Revel be in your court-rolls;<
Maintenance and Mischief, these be men of might;
Extortion is counted with you for a knight;
These people by me have none assignment,
Yet they ride and run from Carlisle to Kent.

But little or nothing ye shall hear tell
Of them that have virtue by reason of conning,
Which sovereignly in honour should excel;
Men of such matters make but a mumming,<27> 200
For wisdom and
sadness be set out a-sunning;
And such of my servants as I have promoted,
One fault or other in them shall be noted.

Either they will say he is too wise,
Or else he can nought but when he is at school;
Prove his wit, sayeth he, at cards or dice,
And ye shall well find he is a very fool;
Twish, set him a chair, or reach him a stool,
To sit him upon, and read Jack-a-Thrum's bible,<28>
For truly it were pity that he sat idle. 210


To make repugnance against that ye have said
Of very duty it may not well accord,
But your benign sufferance for my discharge I laid,
For that I would not with you fall at discord;
But yet I beseech your grace that good record
May be brought forth, such as can be found,
With laureate triumph why Skelton should be crowned;

For else it were too great a derogation
Unto your palace, our noble court of Fame,
That any man under supportation 220
Without deserving should have the best game:
If he to the ample increase of his name
Can lay any works that he hath compiled,
I am content that he be not exiled

From the laureate senate by force of proscription;
Or else, ye know well, I can do no less
But I must banish him from my jurisdiction,
As he hath acquainted him with idleness;
But if that he purpose to make a redress,
What he hath done, let it be brought to sight; 230
Grant my petition, I ask you but right.


To your request we be well condescended:
Call forth, let see where is your
To blow a blast with his long breath extended;
Aeolus, your trumpet,<30> that known is so far,
That bararag bloweth in every martial war,
Let him blow now, that we may take a view
What poets we have at our retinue;

To see if Skelton will put himself in press,
Among the thickest of all the whole rout; 240
Make noise enough, for clatterers love no peace;
Let see, my sister, now speed you, go about;
Anon, I say, this trumpet were found out,
And for no man
hardly let him spare
To blow bararag till both his eyen stare.


Forthwith there rose among the throng
A wonderful noise, and on every side
They pressed in fast; some thought they were too long;
Some were too hasty, and would no man bide;
Some whispered, some rowned, some spake, and some cried. 250
With heaving and shouting, have in and have out;
Some ran the next way, some ran about.

There was suing to the Queen of Fame;
He plucked him back, and he went afore;
Nay, hold thy tongue, quod another, let me have the name;
Make room, said another, Ye press all too sore;
Some said, Hold thy peace, thou gettest here no more;
A thousand thousand I saw on a
With that I heard the noise of a trump,

That long time blew a full timorous blast, 260
Like to the boreal winds when they blow,
That towers and towns and trees down cast,
Drove clouds together like drifts of snow;
The dreadful din drove all the rout on a row;
Some trembled, some
girned, some gasped, some gazed,
As people half peevish, or men that were mazed.

Anon all was whist, as it were for the nonce,
And each man stood gazing and staring upon other:
With that there come in wonderly at once
A murmur of minstrels,<32> that such another 270
Had I never seen, some softer, some louder;
Orpheus, the Thracian, harped melodiously
With Amphion, and other Muses of Arcady:

Whose heavenly harmony was so passing sure,
So truly proportioned, and so well did agree,
So duly entuned with every measure,
That in the forest was none so great a tree
But that he danced for joy of that glee;
The huge mighty oaks themself did advance,
And leap from the hills to learn for to dance:

In so much the stump, whereto I me leant,
Start all at once an hundred foot back:
With that I sprang up toward the tent
Of noble Dame Pallas, whereof I spake;
Where I saw come after, I wot, full little lack
Of a thousand poets assembled together:
But Phoebus was foremost of all that came thither;

Of laurel leaves a coronal on his head,
With hairs encrisped<
33> yellow as the gold,
Lamenting Daphnes,<34> whom with the dart of lead<35> 290
Cupid hath striken so that she
ne wold
Consent to Phoebus to have his heart in hold,
But, for to preserve her maidenhood clean,
Transformed was she into the laurel green.

Meddled with mourning the most part of his muse,
O thoughtful heart,<36> was evermore his song!
Daphnes, my darling, why do you me refuse?
Yet look on me, that loved you so long,
Yet have compassion upon my pains strong: 300
He sang also how, the tree as he did take
Between his arms, he felt her body quake.<

Then he assurded<38> into this exclamation
Unto Diana, the goddess immortal;
O merciless madame, hard is your constellation,
So close to keep your cloister virginal,
Enharded adamant the cement of your wall!
Alas, what ails you to be so overthwart,
To banish pity out of a maiden's heart?

Why have the gods showed me this cruelty,<39>
Sith I contrived first principles medicinable? 310
I help all other of their infirmity,
But now to help myself I am not able;
That profiteth all other is nothing profitable
Unto me; alas, that herb nor grass
The fervent access of love cannot repress!

O fatal fortune! what have I offended?
Odious disdain, why
rayest<40> thou me on this fashion?
But sith I have lost now that I intended,<41>
And may not attain it by no meditation,
Yet, in remembrance of Daphne's transformation, 320
All famous poets ensuing after me
Shall wear a garland of the laurel tree.

This said, a great number followed by and by
Of poets laureate<
42> of many divers nations;
Part of their names I think to specify:
First, old Quintilian with his Declamations;
Theocritus with his bucolical relations;
Esiodus, the iconomicar,<43>
And Homerus, the fresh historiar;

Prince of eloquence, Tullius Cicero, 330
With Sallust against Lucius Cataline,
That wrote the history of Jugurta also;
Ovid, enshrined with the Muses nine;
But blessed Bacchus, the pleasant god of wine,
Of clusters
engrossed with his ruddy floats
These orators and poets refreshed their throats;

Lucan, with Statius in Achilleidos;
Persius pressed forth with his problems diffuse;
Virgil the Mantuan, with his Aeneidos;
Juvenal satirray, that men maketh to muse; 340
But blessed Bacchus, the pleasant god of wine,
Of clusters
engrossed with his ruddy floats
These orators and poets refreshed their throats;

There Titus Livius himself did advance
With decades historious, which that he mingleth
With matters that amount the Romans in substance;
Ennius that wrote of martial war at length;
But blessed Bacchus, the potential god of strength,
Of clusters engrossed with his ruddy floats
These orators and poets refreshed their throats; 350

Aulus Gelius,<44.> that noble historiar;
Horace also with his new poetry;<45>
Master Terence, that famous comicar,
With Plautus, that wrote full many a comedy;
But blessed Bacchus was in their company,
Of clusters engrossed with his ruddy floats
These orators and poets refreshed their throats;

Seneca full soberly with his tragedies;
Boyce,<46> recomforted with his philosophy;
And Maximian, with his mad ditties, 360
How doting age would jape with young folly;<
But blessed Bacchus most reverent and holy,
Of clusters engrossed with his ruddy floats
These orators and poets refreshed their throats;

There came John Bochas with his volumes great;<48>
Quintus Curtius,<49> full craftily that wrate
Of Alexander; and Macrobius<50> that did treat
Of Scipio's dream what was the true probate;<51>
But blessed Bacchus that never man forgate,
Of clusters engrossed with his ruddy floats 370
These orators and poets refreshed their throats;

Poggeus also, that famous Florentine,
Mustered there among them with many a mad tale;<
With a friar of France men call Sir Gaguine,<53>
That frowned on me full angerly and pale;
But blessed Bacchus, that boot is of all bale,<54>
Of clusters engrossed with his ruddy floats
These orators and poets refreshed their throats;

Plutarch and Petrarch, two famous clerks;
Lucilius<55> and Valerius, Maximus by name;<56> 380
With Vicentius in Speculo, that wrote noble works;<
Propertius and Pisandros,<58> poets of noble fame;
But blessed Bacchus, that masteries oft doth frame,
Of clusters engrossed with his ruddy floats
These notable poets refreshed their throats;

And as I thus sadly among them avised,
I saw Gower, that first garnished our English rude,
And Master Chaucer, that nobly enterprised
How that our English might freshly be ennewed;
The monk of Bury then after them ensued, 390
Dan John Lydgate: these English poets three,<59>
As I imagined, repaired unto me,

Together in arms, as brethren, embraced;<60>
Their apparel far passing beyond that I can tell;
With diamonds and rubies their tabards were traced,
None so rich stones in Turkey to sell;
They wanted nothing but the laurel;<61>
And of their bounty they made me goodly cheer,
In manner and form as ye shall after hear.


Brother Skelton, your endeavourment 400
So have ye done, that meritoriously
Ye have deserved to have an employment
In our college above the starry sky,
Because that ye increase and amplify
bruited Britons of Brutus Albion,<62>
That well-nigh was lost when that we were gone.


Master Gower, I have nothing deserved
To have so laudable a commendation:
To you three this honour shall be reserved,
Arrecting unto your wise examination 410
How all that I do is under reformation,
For only the substance of that I intend,
Is glad to please, and loth to offend.


Counterweighing your busy diligence
Of that we began in the supplement,
Enforced are we you to recompense,
Of all our whole college by the agreement,
That we shall bring you personally present
Of noble Fame before the Queen's grace,
In whose court appointed is your place.

The Poet SKELTON answereth

O noble Chaucer, whose polished eloquence
Our English rude so freshely hath set out,
That bound are we with all due reverence,
With all our strength that we can bring about,
To owe to you our service, and more if we
But what should I say? Ye wot what I intend,
Which glad am to please, and loth to offend.


So am I prevented of my brethren twain
In rendering to you thanks meritory,
That well-nigh nothing there doth remain 430
Wherewith to give you my
But that I appoint you to be protonotory
Of Fame's court, by all our whole assent
Advanced by Pallas to laurel preferment.

The Poet SKELTON answereth

So have ye me far passing my merits extolled,
Master Lydgate, of your accustomable
Bounty, and so gloriously ye have enrolled
My name, I know well, beyond that I am able,
That but if my works thereto be agreeable,
I am else rebuked of that I intend, 440
Which glad am to please, and loth to offend.

So finally, when they had showed their devise,
Under the form as I said tofore,
I made it strange,<63> and drew back once or twice,
And ever they pressed on me more and more,
Till at the last they forced me so sore,
That with them I went where they would me bring,
Unto the pavilion where Pallas was sitting.

Dame Pallas commanded that they should me convey
Into the rich palace of the Queen of Fame; 450
There shall he hear what she will to him say
When he is called to answer to his name;
A cry anon forthwith she made proclaim,
All orators and poets should thither go before,
With all the press that there was, less and more.

Forthwith, I say, thus wandering in my thought,
How it was, or else within what hours,
I cannot tell you, but that I was brought
Into a palace with turrets and towers,
Engalleried goodly with halls and bowers,
So curiously, so craftily, so cunningly wrought
That all the world, I
trow, an it were sought,

Such another there could no man find;
Whereof partly I purpose to expound,
Whiles it remaineth fresh in my mind.
With turquoises and chrysolites enpaved was the ground;
Of beryl embossed were the pillars round;
Of elephants' teeth were the palace gates,
Enlozenged with many goodly plates

Of gold, entached with many a precious stone;<64> 470
An hundred steps mounting to the hall,
One of jasper, another of whales' bone;<
Of diamonds pointed was the rocky wall;
The carpets within and tapets of pall;<66>
The chambers hanged with cloths of Arras;<67>
Envaulted with rubies the vault was of this place.

Thus passed we forth walking unto the pretory,
Where the poets were embullioned with sapphires Indy blue,
Englazed glittering with many a clear story;
Jacinths and smaragds out of the floorth<68> they grew. 480
Unto this place all poets there did sue,
Wherein was set of Fame the noble Queen,
All other transcending, most richly

Under a glorious cloth of estate,
Fret all with orient pearls of garnet,
Encrowned as empress of all this worldly fate,
So royally, so richly, so passing ornate,
It was exceeding beyond the common rate.
This house environ was a mile about; 490
If xii were let in, xii hundred stood without.

Then to this lady and sovereign of this palace
pursuivants there pressed in with many a diverse tale;
Some were of Poyle, and some were of Thrace,
Of Limerick, of Lorain, of Spain, of Portingale,
From Naples, from Navern, and from Rouncevale,
Some from Flanders, some from the sea-coast,
Some from the mainland, some from the French host:

With, How doth the north? What tidings in the south?
The west is windy, the east is meetly well;
It is hard to tell of every man's mouth; 500
A slipper hold the tail is of an eel,
And he halteth often that hath a
kiby heel.
Some showed his safe-conduct, some showed his charter,
Some looked full smoothly, and had a false quarter;<69>

With, Sir, I pray you, a little tine stand back,<70>
And let me come in to deliver my letter;
Another told how ships went to wrack;
There were many words smaller and greater;
With, I as good as thou, I'faith and no better;
Some came to tell truth, some came to lie, 510
Some came to flatter, and some came to spy:

There were, I say, of all manner of sorts,
Of Dartmouth, of Plymouth, of Portsmouth also;
The burgesses and the bailiffs of the v. Ports,<
With, Now let me come! and, Now let me go;
And all time wandered I thus to and fro,
Till at the last these noble poets three
Unto me said, Lo, sir, now ye may see

Of this high court the daily business;
From you must we, but not long to tarry; 520
Lo, hither cometh a goodly mistress,
Occupation, Fame's
Which shall be to you a sovereign accessary,
With singular pleasures to drive away the time,
And we shall see you again ere it be prime.<72>

When they were passed and went forth on their way,
This gentlewoman, that called was by name
Occupation, in right goodly array,
Came toward me, and smiled half in game;
I saw her smile, and I then did the same; 530
With that on me she cast her goodly look;
Under her arm, methought, she had a book.


Like as the lark, upon the summer's day,
When Titan radiant burnisheth his beams bright,
Mounteth on high with her melodious lay,
Of the sunshine
engladed with the light,
So am I surprised with pleasure and delight
To see this hour now, that I may say
How ye are welcome to this court of array.

Of your acquaintance I was in times past, 540
Of studious doctrine when at the port salu<
Ye first arrived; when broken was your mast
Of worldly trust, then did I you rescue;
Your storm-driven ship I repaired new,
So well entackled, what wind that ever blow,
No stormy tempest your barge shall overthrow.

Welcome to me as heartily as heart can think,
Welcome to me with all my whole desire!
And for my sake spare neither pen nor ink;
Be well assured I shall aquite your hire, 550
Your name recounting beyond the land of Tyre,
From Sidony to the mount Olympian,
From Babel's Tower to the hills Caspian.


I thanked her much of her most noble offer,
Affiancing her mine whole assurance
For her pleasure to make a large proffer,
Imprinting her words in my remembrance,
To owe her my service with true perseverance.
Come on with me, she said, let us not stand;
And with that word she took me by the hand. 560

So passed we forth into the foresaid place,
With such communication as came to our mind.
And then she said, Whiles we have time and space
To walk where we list, let us somewhat find
To pass the time with, but let us waste no wind,
For idle janglers have but little brain;
Words be swords, and hard to call again.

Into a field she brought me wide and large,
Enwalled about with the stony flint,
enbattled, much costious of charge. 570
To walk on this wall she bade I should not stint.
Go softly, she said, the stones be full
She went before, and bade me take good hold:
I saw a thousand gates new and old,

Then questioned I her what those gates meant;
Whereto she answered, and briefly me told,
How from the east unto the occident,
And from the south unto the north so cold,
These gates, she said, which that ye behold,
Be issues and ports from all manner of nations; 580
And seriously she showed me their denominations.

They had writing, some Greeke, some Hebrew,
Some Roman letters, as I understood;
Some were old written, some were written new,
Some characters of Chaldee, some French was full good;
But one gate specially, where as I stood,
Had graven in it of chalcedony a capital A;
What gate call ye this? And she said, Anglia.

The building thereof was passing commendable;
Whereon stood a leopard, crowned with gold and stones,
Terrible of countenance and passing formidable,
As quickly touched<
74> as it were flesh and bones,
As ghastly that glares, and grimly that groans,
As fiercely frowning as he had been fighting,
And with his fore foot he shook forth this writing:

Formidanda nimis Jovis ultima fulmina tollis:
Unguibus ire parat loca singula livida curvis
Quam modo per Phoebes nummos raptura Celaeno;
Arma, lues, luctus, fel, vis, fraus, barbara tellus;
Mille modis erras odium tibi quaerere Martis:
Spreto spineto cedant saliunca roseto

Then I me leant, and looked over the wall.
Innumerable people pressed to every gate.
Shut were the gates; they might well knock and call,
And turn home again, for they came all too late.
I her demanded of them and their estate:
Forsooth, quod she, they be haskards<76> and ribalds,
Dicers, carders, tumblers with gamboldes.

Furtherers of love,<77> with bawdry aquainted,
Brainless blinkards that blow at the coal,<78> 610
False forgers of money, for coinage attainted,
Pope-holy hypocrites, as they were gold and whole,<
Pole-hatchets,<80> that prate will at every ale-pole,
Riot, reveller, railer, bribery, theft,
With other conditions that well might be left:

Some feign themselves fools, and would be called wise,
Some meddling spies, by craft to grope thy mind,
Some disdainous dawcocks that all men despise,
False flatterers that fawn thee, and curs of kind
That speak fair before thee and shrewdly behind; 620
Hither they come crowding to get them a name,
haled they be homeward with sorrow and shame.

With that I heard guns rush out at once,
Bounce, bounce, bounce! that all they out cried;
It made some limp-legged and bruised their bones;
Some were made peevish, porishly pink-eyed,
That ever more after by it they were espied;
And one was there, I wondered of his hap,
For a gun-stone, I say, had all to-jagged his cap,

Ragged and dagged, and cunningly cut, 630
The blast of the brimstone blew away his brain;
Mazed as a March-hare, he ran like a
And, sir, among all methought I saw twain,
The one was a tumbler, that afterwards again
Of a dicer, a devil way, grew a gentleman,
Pierce Prater the second, that quarrels began;

With a pellet of peevishness they had such a stroke,
That all the days of their life shall stick by their ribs:
Faugh, foisty bawdias! some smelled of the smoke;
I saw divers that were carried away thence in cribs, 640
Dazing after
dotterels, like drunkards that dribs;
These titivels with tampions were touched and tapped;
Much mischiefs, I hight you, among them there happed.

Sometime, as it seemeth, when the moon-light
By means of a grisly endarked cloud
Suddenly is eclipsed in the winter night,
In like manner of wise a mist did us shroud;
But well may ye think I was nothing proud
Of that aventure, which made me sore aghast.
In darkeness thus dwelt we, till at the last 650

The clouds gan to clear, the mist was rarified;
In an arbour I saw, brought where I was,
There birds on the briar sang on every side;
With alleys ensanded about in compass,<81>
The banks enturfed with singular solace,<82>
Enrailed with rosers, and vines engraped;
It was a new comfort of sorrows escaped.

In the midst a conduit, that curiously was cast,
With pipes of gold engushing out streams;
Of crystal the clearness these waters far past, 660
Enswimming with roaches, barbels, and breams,
Whose scales ensilvered against the sun-beams
Englistered, that joyous it was to behold.
Then furthermore about me my sight I

Where I saw growing a goodly laurel tree,
Enverdured with leaves continually green;
Above in the top a bird of Araby
Men call a phoenix; her wings between
She beat up a fire<83> with the spark full keen
With branches and boughs of the sweet olive,<84> 670
Whose flagrant flower<
85> was chief preservative

Against all infections with canker inflamed,<86>
Against all barratous bruisers of old,
It passed all balms that ever were named,
Or gums of Araby so dearly that be sold.
There blew in that garden a soft pipling cold
Enbreathing of Zephyrus with his pleasant wind;
All fruits and flowers grew there in their kind.

Dryads there danced upon that goodly soil,
With the nine Muses, Pierides by name;<87> 680
Phyllis and Testalis,<
88> their tresses with oil
Were newly enbibed; and round about the same
Green tree of laurel much solacious game
They made, with chapelts and garlands green;
And foremost of all dame Flora, the queen

Of summer, so formally she footed the dance;
There Cyntheus sat twinkling upon his harp-strings;<89>
And Iopas<90> his instrument did advance,
The poems and stories, ancient inbrings
Of Atlas' astrology, and many noble things, 690
Of wandering of the moon, the course of the sun,
Of men and of beasts, and whereof they begun,

What thing occasioned the showers of rain,
Of fire elementar in his supreme sphere,
And of that pole arctic which doth remain
Behind the tail of Ursa so clear;
Of Pleiades he preached with their drowsy
Emoistured with misling and aye dropping dry<91>,
And where the two Trions<92> a man should espy,

And of the winter days that hie them so fast, 700
And of the winter nights that tarry so long,
And of the summer days so long that do last,
And of their short nights; he brought in his song
How wrong was no right, and right was no wrong.
There was countering of carols in metre and verse
So many, that long it were to rehearse.


How say ye? is this after your appetite?
May this content you and your merry mind?
Here dwelleth pleasure, with lust and delight;
Continual comfort here ye may find,
Of wealth and solace no thing left behind;
All thing
convenable here is contrived,
Wherewith your spirits may be revived.

The Poet SKELTON answereth

Questionless no doubt of that ye say;
Jupiter himselfe this life might endure;
This joy exceedeth all worldly sport and play,
Paradise this place is of singular pleasure:
O well were him that hereof might be sure,
And here to inhabit and aye for to dwell!
But, goodly mistress, one thing ye me tell. 720


Of your demand show me the content,
What it is, and whereupon it stands;
And if there be in it anything meant,
Whereof the answer resteth in my hands,
It shall be loosed full soon out of the bands
Of scrupulous doubt; wherefore your mind discharge,
And of your will the plainness show at large.

The Poet SKELTON answereth

I thank you, goodly mistress, to me most benign,
That of your bounty so well have me assured;
But my request is not so great a thing,
That I
ne force what though it be discured;
I am not wounded but that I may be cured;
I am not laden of litherness with lumps,<93>
As dazed dotards that dream in their dumps.


Now what ye mean, I trow I conject;
God give you good year, ye make me to smile!
Now, by your faith, is not this th'effect
Of your question ye make all this while,
To understand who dwelleth in yon pile,
And what blunderer is yonder that played diddle diddle? 740
He findeth false measures out of his fond fiddle.

Interpolata, que industriosum postulat interpretem, satira in vatis adversarium.<94>

<95>Tressis agasonis<96> species prior, altera Davi:
Aucupium culicis, limis dum torquet ocellum,
Concipit, aligeras rapit, appetit, aspice, muscas!
Maia quaeque fovet, foyer aut quae Jupiter, aut quae
Frigida Saturnus, Sol, Mars, Venus, algida Luna,
Si tibi contingat verbo aut committere scripto,
Quam sibi max tacita sudant praecordia culpa!
Hinc ruit in flammas, stimulans hunc urget et illum,
Invocat ad rixas, vanos tamen excitat ignes,
Labra movens tacitus
99>, rumpantur ut ilia Codro.<100>

17. 4. 7. 2. 17. 5. 18.
18. 19. 1. 19. 8. 5. 12 <101>

His name for to know if that ye list,
Envious Rancour truly he hight:
Beware of him, I warn you; for an ye wist
How dangerous it were to stand in his light,
Ye would not deal with him, though that ye might,
For by his devilish drift and graceless provision
An whole realm he is able to set at division:

For when he speaketh fairest, then thinketh he most ill;
Full gloriously can he glose, thy mind for to feel; 760
He will set men a-fighting, and sit himself still,
And smirk, like a smithy cur, at sparks of steel;
He can never leave work whilst it is
To tell all his touches it were too great wonder;
The devil of hell and he be seldom asunder.

Thus talking we went both in at a postern gate;
Turning on the right hand, by a winding stair,
She brought me to a goodly chamber of estate,
Where the noble Countess of Surrey<102> in a chair
Sat honourably, to whom did repair 770
Of ladies a bevy with all due reverence:
Sit down, fair ladies, and do your diligence!

Come forth, gentlewomen, I pray you, she said;
I have contrived for you a goodly
And who can work best now shall be assayed;
A coronal of laurel with verdures light and dark
I have devised for Skelton, my clerk;
For to his service I have such regard
That of our bounty we will him reward:

For of all ladies he hath the library, 780
Their names recounting in the court of Fame;
Of all gentlewomen he hath the scrutiny,
In Fame's court reporting the same;
For yet of women he never said shame,
But if they were counterfeits, that women them call,
That list of their lewdness with him for to brawl.

With that the tapets and carpets<103> were laid,
Whereon these ladies softly might rest,
The sampler to sew on, the laces to embraid;
To weave in the stool<104> some were full prest; 790
With sleys, with tavells, with hiddles well dressed;<
The frame was brought forth with his weaving pin:
God give them good speed their work to begin!

Some to embroider put them in press,<106>
Well guiding their glowtonn<107> to keep straight their silk,
Some pirling<108> of gold their work to increase
With fingers small, and hands white as milk;
With, Reach me that skein of tuly<109>silk;
And, Wind me that bottom<110> of such an hue,
Green, red, tawny, white, black, purple, and blue. 800

Of broken works wrought many a goodly thing,
In casting, in turning, in flourishing of flowers,
With burrs rough and
buttons surfling,
In needle-work raising birds in bowers,
With virtue enbusied all times and hours;
And truly of their bounty thus were they bent
To work me this chaplet by good advisement.


Behold and see in your advertisement
How these ladies and gentlewomen all
For your pleasure do their endeavourment, 810
And for your sake how fast to work they fall:
To your remembrance wherefore ye must call
In goodly words pleasantly comprised,

That for them some goodly conceit be devised,

With proper captations of benevolence,<111>
Ornately polished after your faculty,
Sith ye must needs aforce it by pretence
Of your profession unto humanity,<112>
Commencing your process after their degree,
To each of them rendering thanks commendable, 820
With sentence fructuous and terms


Advancing myself some thank to deserve,
I me determined for to sharp my pen,
Devoutly arecting my prayer to Minerva,
She to vouchsafe me to inform and ken;
To Mercury also heartily prayed I then,
Me to support, to help, and to assist,
To guide and to govern my dreadful trembling fist.

As a mariner that amazed is in a stormy rage,
Hardly bested and driven is to hope 830
Of that the tempestuous wind will assuage,
In trust whereof comfort his heart doth grope,
From the anchor he cutteth the cable rope,
Commiteth all to God, and letteth his ship ride;
So I beseech Jesu now to be my guide.

To the right noble COUNTESS OF SURREY

After all duly ordered obeisance,
In humble wise as lowly as I may,
Unto you, madam, I make
My life enduring I shall both write and say,
Recount, report, rehearse without delay 840
The passing bounty of your noble estate,
Of honour and worship which hath the
former date;

Like to Argea by just resemblance,
The noble wife of Polimites king;<113>
Prudent Rebecca, of whom remembrance
The Bible maketh; with whose chaste living
Your noble demeanour is counterweighing,
Whose passing bounty, and right noble estate,
Of honour and worship it hath the former date.

The noble Pamphila, queen of the Greeks' land,<114> 850
Habiliments royal found out industriously;
Thamer also wrought with her goodly hand
Many devices passing curiously;<
Whom ye represent and exemplify,
Whose passing bounty, and right noble estate,
Of honour and worship it hath the former date.

As Dame Thamarys, which took the king of Perce,
Cyrus by name, as writeth the story;
Dame Agrippina also I may rehearse
Of gentle courage and perfite memory;<116> 860
So shall your name endure perpetually,
Whose passing bounty, and right noble estate,
Of honour and worship it hath the
former date.


To be your remembrancer, madam, I am bound,
Like to Aryna,<118> maidenly of port,
Of virtue and conning the well and perfect ground;
Whom dame Nature, as well I may report,
Hath freshly embeautied with many a goodly sort
Of womanly features, whose flourishing tender age
Is lusty to look on, pleasant, demure, and sage.

Good Creisseid, fairer than Polexene<119>, 870
For to
envive Pandarus' appetite;
Troilus, I trow, if that he had you seen,
In you he would have set his whole delight:
Of all your beauty I suffice not to write;
But, as I said, your flourishing tender age
Is lusty to look on, pleasant, demure, and sage.


My little lady I may not leave behind,
But do her service needs now I must;
Benign, courteous, of gentle heart and mind, 880
Whom Fortune and Fate plainly have
Long to enjoy pleasure, delight, and lust:<122>
The embudded blossoms of roses red of hue
With lilies white your beauty doth renew.

Compare you I may to Cydippes, the maid,
That of Acontius, when she found the bill<123>
In her bosom, lord, how she was afraid!
The ruddy shamefacedness in her visage fill,
Which manner of abashment became her not ill.
Right so, madam, the roses red of hue 890
With lilies white your beauty doth renew.

To my Lady ANNE DAKERS of the South<124>

Zeuxes that empictured fair Elene the queen,
You to devise his craft were to seek;<125>
And if Apelles your countenance had seen,
Of portraiture which was the famous Greek,
He could not devise the least point of your cheek;
Princess of youth, and flower of goodly port,
Virtue, conning, solace, pleasure, comfort.

Paregal in honour unto Penelope,
That for her truth is in remembrance had; 900
Fair Diianira surmounting in beauty;
Demure Diana womanly and
Whose lusty looks make heavy hearts glad!
Princess of youth, and flower of goodly port,
Virtue, conning, solace, pleasure, comfort.


With marjoram gentle,
The flower of goodlihead,
Embroidered the mantle
Is of your maidenhead.

Plainly I cannot glose; 910
Ye be, as I divine,
The pretty primrose,
The goodly columbine.
With marjoram gentle,
The flower of
Embroidered the mantle
Is of your maidenhead.

Benign, courteous, and meek,
With words well devised;
In you, who list to seek, 920
Be virtues well comprised.
With marjoram gentle,
The flower of
Embroidered the mantle
Is of your maidenhead.


I you assure,
Full well I know
My busy cure
To you I owe;
Humbly and low 930
Commending me
To your bounty.

As Machareus
Fair Canace,<
So I, ywis,
Endeavour me
Your name to see
It be enrolled,
Written with gold.

Phaedra ye may 940
Well represent;
And diligent,
No time misspent;
Wherefore delight
I have to write

Of Margarite,
Pearl orient,<129>
Lode-star of light,
Much relucent; 950
Madam regent
I may you call
Of virtues all


What though my pen wax faint,
And hath small lust to paint?
Yet shall there no restraint
Cause me to cease,
Among this press,
For to increase
Your goodly name. 960

I will myself apply,
Trust me, intentively,
You for to
And so observe
That ye ne swerve
For to deserve
Immortal fame.

Sith Mistress Jane Hasset
Small flowers helped to set
In my goodly chaplet, 970
Therefore I render of her the memory
Unto the legend of far Laodami.<


By Saint Mary, my lady,
Your mammy and your daddy
Brought forth a goodly baby!

My maiden Isabel,
Reflairing rosabel.
The fragrant chamomile;

The ruddy rosary,
The sovereign rosemary, 980
The pretty strawberry;

The columbine, the nept,
The gillyflower well set,
The proper violet;

Ennewed your colour
Is like the daisy flower
After the April shower;

Star of the morrow gray,
The blossom on the spray, 990
The freshest flower of May;

Maidenly demure,
Of womanhood the lure;
Wherefore I make you sure,

It were an heavenly health,
It were an endless wealth,
A life for God himself,
To hear this nightingale

Among the birds small
Warbling in the vale,
Dug, dug,
Jug, jug,
Good year and good luck,
With chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck!


Merry Margaret,
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon<
Or hawk of the tower;<133>

With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness, 1010
So joyously,
So maidenly,
So womanly
In every thing,
Far, far passing
That I can indite,
Or suffice to write
Of Merry Margaret
As midsummer flower, 1020
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower;

As patient and still
And as full of good will
As fair Isaphill,<
Sweet pomander,<135>
Good cassander,<136>
Steadfast of thought,
Well made, well wrought; 1030
Far may be sought
Ere that ye can find
So courteous, so kind
As Merry Margaret,
This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.


Though ye were hard-hearted,
And I with you thwarted
With words that smarted,
Yet now doubtless ye give me cause
To write of you this goodly clause,
Mistress Gertrude,
With womanhood endued,
With virtue well renewed.

I will that ye shall be
In all benignity
Like to dame Pasiphae;<
For now doubtless ye give me cause
To write of you this goodly clause, 1050
With womanhood endued,
With virtue well renewed.

Partly by your counsel,
Garnished with laurel
Was my fresh coronal;
Wherefore doubtless ye give me cause
To write of you this goodly clause,
Mistress Gertrude,
With womanhood endued,
With virtue well renewed.


But if I should aquite your kindness,
Else say ye might
That in me were great blindness,
I for to be so mindless,
And could not write
Of Isabel Knight.

It is not my custom nor my guise
To leave behind
Her that is both womanly and wise, 1070
And specially which glad was to devise
The means to find
To please my mind,

In helping to work my laurel green
With silk and gold:
Galathea, the maid well
Was never half so fair, as I ween,
Which was extoll'd
A thousandfold

By Maro, the Mantuan prudent,<138> 1080
Who list to read;
an I had leisure competent,
I could shew you such a precedent
In very deed
How ye exceed.


Withdraw your hand, the time passes fast;
Set on your head this laurel which is wrought;
Hear you not Aeolus for you bloweth a blast?
I dare well say that ye and I be sought.
Make no delay, for now ye must be brought 1090
Before my lady's grace, the Queen of Fame,
Where ye must briefly answer to your name.


Casting my sight the chamber about,
To see how duly each thing in order was,
Toward the door, as we were coming out,
I saw Master Newton sit with his compass,
His plummet, his pencil, his spectacles of glass,
Devising in picture, by his industrious wit,
Of my laurel the process every whit.

Forthwith upon this, as it were in a thought, 1100
Gower, Chaucer, Lydgate, these three
Before remembered, me courteously brought
Into that place whereas they left me,
Where all the said poets sat in their degree.
But when they saw my laurel, richly wrought,
All other beside were counterfeit they thought

In comparison of that which I wear:
Some praised the pearl, some the stones bright;
Well was him that thereupon might stare:
Of this work they had so great delight,
The silk, the gold, the flowers fresh to sight,
They said my laurel was the goodliest
That ever they saw, and wrought it was the best.

In her estate<139> there sat the noble Queen
Of Fame: perceiving how that I was come,
She wondered, methought, at my laurel green;
She looked haughty, and gave on me a glum:
There was among them no word then but mum,<140>
For each man hearkened what she would to me say;
Whereof in substance I brought this away. 1120


My friend, sith ye are before us here present
To answer unto this noble audience,
Of that shall be reasoned ye must be content;
And, for as much as by the high pretence
That ye have now thorough pre-eminence
Of laureate triumph, your place is here reserved,
We will understand how ye have it deserved.


Right high and mighty princess of estate,
In famous glory all other transcending,
Of your bounty the accustomable rate 1130
Hath been full often and yet is intending
To all that to reason is
But if hastive credence, by maintenance of might
Fortune to stand between you and the light:

But such evidence I think for to induce,
As so largely to lay for mine indemnity,
That I trust to make mine excuse
Of what charge soever ye lay against me;
For of my books part ye shall see,
Which in your records, I know well, be enrolled, 1140
And so Occupation, your registrar, me told.

Forthwith she commanded I should take my place;
Calliope pointed me where I should sit:
With that, Occupation pressed in apace;
Be merry, she said, be not afeard a whit,
Your discharge here under mine arm is it.
So then commanded she was upon this
To show her book; and she said, Here it is.


Your book of remembrance we will now that ye read;
If any records in number can be found
What Skelton hath compiled and written indeed
Rehearsing by order, and what is the ground,
Let see now for him how ye can expound;
For in our court, ye wot well, his name cannot rise
But if he write oftener than once or twice.


With that of the book loosened were the clasps:
The margin was illumined all with golden rails
And byse<141>, empictured with gressops and wasps,
With butterflies and fresh peacock tails,
Enflowered with flowers and slimy snails; 1160
Envived pictures well touched and quickly;<142>
It would have made a man whole that had been right sickly,

To behold how it was garnished and bound,<143>
Encovered over with gold of tissue fine;
The clasps and bullions were worth a thousand pound;<144>
With balasses<145> and carbuncles the borders did shine;
With aurum musicum<146> every other line
Was written: And so she did her speed,
Occupation, immediately to read.

OCCUPATION readeth and expoundeth some part of Skelton's books and ballads with ditties of pleasure, inasmuch as it were too long a process to rehearse all by name that he hath compiled, etc.

Of your orator and poet laureate<147> 1170
Of England, his works here they begin:
In primis<
148> the Book of Honourous Estate;<149>
Item, the Book how men shoulde flee sin;
Item, Royal Demeanance worship to win;
Item, the Book to speak well or be still;
Item, to learn you to die when ye will;<150>

Of Virtue also the sovereign interlude;<151>
The Book of the Rosier; Prince Arthur's Creation;<152>
The False Faith that now goeth, which daily is renewed;
Item, his Dialogues of Imagination; 1180
Item, Antomedon <
153> of Love's Meditation;
Item, New Grammar in English compiled;
Item, Bowge of Court<154>, where Dread was beguiled;

His comedy, Achademios called by name;<155>
Of Tully's Familiars the translation;<156>
Item, Good Advisement, that brainless doth blame;
The Recule against Gaguin of the French nation;<157>
Item, the Popinjay, that hath in commendation
Ladies and gentlewomen such as deserved,
And such as be counterfeits they be reserved;<158> 1190

And of Sovereignty a noble pamphlet;<159>
And of Magnificence<160> a notable matter,
How Counterfeit Countenance of the new jet
With Crafty Conveyance doth smatter and flatter,
And Cloaked Collusion is brought in to clatter
With Courtly Abusion; who printeth it well in mind
Much doubleness of the world therein he may find;

Of Mannerly Mistress Margery Milk and Ale,<161>
To her he wrote many matters of mirth;
Yet, though I say it, thereby lieth a tale, 1200
For Margery
winched, and brake her hinder-girth;
Lor, how she made much of her gentle birth!
With, Gingerly, go gingerly! her tail was made of hay;
Go she never so gingerly, her honesty is gone away;

Hard to make ought of that is naked nought;<162>
This fustian mistress and this giggish gase,
Wonder is to write what wrenches she wrought,
To face out her folly with a midsummer maze;
With pitch she patched her pitcher should not craze;<163>
It may well rhyme, but shrewdly it doth accord,<164> 1210
To pick out honesty of such a potsherd:

Patet per versus.<165>

Hinc puer hic natus: vir conjugis hinc spoliatus
Jure thori; est foetus Deli de sanguine cretus;
Hinc magis extollo, quad erit puer alter Apollo;
Si quaeris qualis? meretrix castissima talis;
Et relis, et ralis et reliqualis.

A good herring of these old tales;
Find no more such from Wanfleet to Wales.
Et reliquae omelia de diversis tractatibus.<167>

Of my lady's grace at the contemplation,
Out of French into English prose, 1220
Of Man's Life the Peregrination,
He did translate, interpret, and disclose;<
The Treatise of Triumphs of the Red Rose,<169>
Wherein many stories are briefly contained
That unremembered long time remained:

The Duke of York's creancer when Skelton was,
Now Henry the viij, King of England,
A treatise he devised and brought it to pass,
Called Speculum Principis, to bear in his hand,<170.>
Therein to read, and to understand 1230
All the demeanour of princely estate,
To be our King, of God preordinate;

Also the Tunning of Elinour Rumming,<171>
With Colyn Cloute,<172> John Ive, with Ioforth, Jack;<173>
To make such trifles it asketh some conning,
In honest mirth pardie requireth no lack;
The white appeareth the better for the black,
After conveyance<174> as the world goes,
It is no folly to use the Welshman's hose;<175>

The umbles of venison, the bottle of wine, 1240
To fair Mistress Anne that should have be sent,<
He wrote thereof many a pretty line,
Where it became, and whither it went,
And how that it was wantonly spent;
The Ballad also of the Mustard Tart
Such problems to paint it longeth to his art;

Of one Adam all a knave, late dead and gone,<177>
Dormiat in pace,<178> like a dormouse!
He wrote an Epitaph for his grave-stone,
With words devout and sentence aigre-douce, 1250
For he was ever against God's house,
All his delight was to brawl and to bark
Against Holy Church, the priest, and the clerk;

Of Philip Sparrow the lamentable fate,<179>
The doleful destiny, and the careful chance,
Devised by Skelton after the funeral rate;
Yet some there be therewith that take grievance,
And grudge thereat with frowning countenance;
But what of that? hard it is to please all men;<180> 1260
list amend it, let him set to his pen;


The grunting and the groigning of the groaning swine;<182>
Also the Mourning of the Maple Root;<183>
How the green coverlet suffered great pine,
When the fly-net was set for to catch a coot,
Struck one with a bird-bolt to the heart-root; 1380
Also a devout Prayer to Moses' horns,<
Metrified merrily, meddled with scorns;

Of pageants that were played in Joyous Garde;<185>
He wrote of a Muse through a mud wall;
How a doe came tripping in at the rearward,
But, lord, how the parker was wroth withal!
And of Castle Angel the fenestral,<186>
Glittering and glistering and gloriously glazed,
It made some men's eyen dazzled and dazed;

The Repeat of the Recule of Rosamond's bower,<187> 1390
Of his pleasant pain there and his glad distress
In planting and plucking a proper gillyflower flower;
But how it was, some were too reckless,
Notwithstanding it is remediless;
What might she say? what might he do thereto?
Though Jack said nay, yet Mock there lost her shoe;<

How then like a man he won the barbican<189>
With a saute of solace at the long last;
The colour deadly, swart, blo, and wan
Of Exion, her lambs dead and past,<190> 1400
The cheek and the neck but a short cast;
In Fortune's favour ever to endure,
No man living, he sayeth, can be sure;

How dame Minerva first found the olive tree,<191> she read
And planted it where never before was none;
An hind enhurt, hit by casualty,
not bled
Recovered when the forester was gone;
and sped
The harts of the herd began for to groan,
and fled
The hounds began to
yearn and to quest;<192> and dread
With little business standeth much rest;<
193> in bed 1410

His Epitomes of the miller and his jolly make;<194>
How her blee was bright as blossom on the spray,
A wanton wench and well could bake a cake;
The miller was loth to be out of the way,
But yet for all that, be as be may,
Whether he rode to Swaffham or to Soham,
The miller durst not leave his wife at home;

With, Woefully Arrayed, and shamefully betrayed;<195>
Of his making devout meditations;
Vexilla regis<196> he devised to be displayed; 1420
With Sacris solemniis,<
197> and other contemplations,
That in them comprised considerations;
Thus passeth he the time both night and day,
Sometime with sadness, sometime with play;

Though Galen and Dioscorides,<198>
With Ipocras and Master Avycen,<1199>
By their physic doth many a man ease,
And though Albumasar<200> can thee inform and ken<201>
What constellations are good or bad for men,
Yet when the rain raineth and the goose winketh, 1430
wotteth the gosling what the goose thinketh;

He is not wise against the stream that striveth;<202>
Dun is in the mire<203>, dame, reach me my spur;
Needs must he run that the devil driveth;
When the steed is stolen, spar the stable-door;
A gentle hound should never play the cur;
It is soon espied where the thorn pricketh;
And well wotteth that cat whose beard she licketh;

With Marion clarion, sol, lucerne,<204>
Grand juir,<205> of this French proverb old, 1440
How men were wont for to discern
By Candlemas Day what weather should hold;
But Marion clarion was caught with a cold cold (anglice a cuckold,
And all overcast with clouds unkind,
This goodly flower with storms was

This gillyflower gentle, this rose, this lily flower,<206>
This primrose peerless, this proper violet,
This columbine clear and freshest of colour,
This delicate daisy, this strawberry prettily set,
With froward frosts, alas, was all to-fret! 1450
But who may have a more ungracious life
Than a child's bird and a knave's wife?<

Think what ye will<208>
Of this wanton bill;
By Mary Gipsy,<209>
Quad scripsi, scripsi:<210>
Uxor tua, sicut vitis,
Habetis in custodiam,
Custodite sicut scitis,
Secundum Lucam, etc.
<211> 1460

Of the Bonhams of Ashridge beside Berkhamstead,
That goodly place to Skelton most kind,
Where the
sank royal is, Christ's blood so red,<212>
Whereupon he metrified after his mind;
A pleasanter place than Ashridge is, hard were to find,
As Skelton rehearseth, with words few and plain,
In his distichon made on verses twain;

Fraxinus in clivo frondetque viret sine rivo,
Non est sub divo similis sine flumine vivo;

The Nation of Fools he left not behind;<214> 1470
Item, Apollo that whirled up his chair,<
That made some to snurr and snuff in the wind;
It made them to skip, to stamp, and to stare,
Which, if they be happy, have cause to beware
In rhyming and railing with him for to mell,
For dread that he learn them their A,B,C, to spell.


With that I stood up, half suddenly afraid;
Supplying to Fame, I besought her grace,
And that it would please her, full tenderly I prayed,
Out of her books Apollo to rase. 1480
Nay, sir, she said, whatso in this place
Of our noble courte is once spoken out,<
It must needs after run all the world about.

God wot, these words made me full sad;
And when that I saw it would no better be,
But that my petition would not be had,
What should I do but take it in gree?
For, by Jupiter and his high majesty,<217>
I did what I could to scrape out the scrolls,
Apollo to rase out of her Ragman Rolls.<218> 1490

Now hereof it irketh me longer to write;<219>
To Occupation I will again resort,
Which read on still, as it came to her sight,
Rendering my devices I made in disport
Of the Maiden of Kent called Comfort,<219>
Of Lovers' testaments and of their wanton wiles,
And how Iollas loved goodly Phyllis; <220>

Diodorus Siculus of my translation
Out of fresh Latin into our English plain,<221>
Recounting commodities of many a strange nation;<222> 1500
Who readeth it once would read it again;
Six volumes
engrossed together it doth contain.
But when of the laurel she made rehearsal,
All orators and poets, with other great and small,

A thousand thousand, I trow, to my dome,<223>
Triumpha, triumpha! they cried all about;
Of trumpets and clarions the noise went to Rome;<224>
The starry heaven, methought, shook with the shout;
The ground groaned and trembled, the noise was so stout:
The Queen of Fame commanded shut fast the book; 1510
And therewith suddenly out of my dream I woke.

My mind of the great din was somedeal amazed,
I wiped mine
eyen for to make them clear;
Then to the heaven spherical upward I gazed,
Where I saw Janus, with his double cheer,
Making his almanac for the new year;
He turned his tirikkis, his volvelle ran fast:<225>
Good luck this new year! the old year is past.

Mens tibi sit consulta, petis? sic consule menti;
Aemula sit Jani, retro speculetur et ante
.<226> 1520

Skeltonis alloquitur librum suum.<227>

Ite, Britannorum lux O radiosa, Britannum
Carmina nostra pium vestrum celebrate Catullum!
Dicite, Skeltonis vester Adonis erat;
Dicite, Skeltonis vester Homerus erat.
Barbara cum Latio pariter iam currite versu;
Et licet est verbo pars maxima texta Britanno,
Non magis incompta nostra Thalia patet,
Est magis inculta nec mea Calliope.
Nec vos poeniteat livoris tela subire,
Nec vos poeniteat rabiem tolerare caninam,
Nam Macro dissimiles non tulit ille minas,
Immunis nec enim Musa Nasonis erat


Go, little quaire,
Demean you fair;
Take no despair,
Though I you wrate
After this rate
In English letter;
So much the better
Welcome shall ye 1540
To some men be:
For Latin
Be good for clerks;
Yet now and then
Some Latin men
May haply look
Upon your book,
And so proceed
In you to read,
That so indeed
Your fame may spread 1550
In length and breadth.
But then I dread
Ye shall have need
You for to speed
harness bright,
By force of might,
Again envy
And obloquy:
And wot ye why? 1560
Not for to fight
Against despite,
Nor to
Battle again
Scornful disdain,
Nor for to chide,
Nor for to hide
You cowardly;
But courteously
That I have penned 1570
For to defend,
Under the banner
Of all good manner,
Under protection
Of sad correction,
With toleration
And supportation
Of reformation,
If they can spy
Any word defaced<
That might be rased,
Else ye shall pray
Them that ye may
Continue still
With their good will.

Ad serenissimam Majestatem Regiam, pariter cum Domino
Cardinali, Legato a latere honorificatissimo, etc
. <230>


Perge, liber, celebrem pronus regem venerare
Henricum octavum, resonans sua praemia laudis.
Cardineum dominum pariter venerando salutes,
Legatum a latere, et fiat memor ipse precare
Prebendae, quam promisit mihi credere quondam,
Meque suum referas pignus sperare salutis
Inter spemque metum.

'Tween hope and dread
My life I lead,
But of my speed
Small sickerness:
Howbeit I rede 1600
Both word and deed
Should be agreed
In nobleness:
Or else, etc.


Fraxinus in silvis, altis in montibus ornus,
Populus in fluviis, abies, patulissima fagus,
Lenta salix, platanus, pinguis ficulnea ficus,
Glandifera et quercus, pirus, esculus, ardua pinus,
Balsamus exudans, oleaster, oliva Minervae,

Juniperus, buxus, lentiscus cuspide lenta,
Botrigera et domino vitis gratissima Baccho,
Rex et sterilis labrusca perosa colonis,
Mollibus exudans fragrantia thura Sabaeis

Thus, redolens Arabis pariter notissima myrrha,
Et vos, O coryli fragiles, humilesque myricae,
Et vos, O cedri redolentes, vos quoque myrti,
Arboris omne genus viridi concedite lauro!
Prennees en gre
The Laurelle.


Justice est morte,
Et Veryte sommeille;
Droit et Raison
Sont alez aux pardons:
Lez deux premiers
Nul ne les resuelle;
Et lez derniers
Sount corrumpus par dons.


Abstulit atra dies Astraeam; cana Fides sed
Somno pressa jacet; Jus iter arripuit,
Et secum Ratio proficiscens limite longo:
Nemo duas primas evigilare parat;
Atque duo postrema absunt, et munera tantum
Impediunt, nequeunt quod remeare domum.


Justice now is dead;
Truth with a drowsy head,
As heavy as the lead,
Is lain down to sleep,
And taketh no keep:
And Right is over the fallows
Gone to seek hallows,<234>
With Reason together,
No man can tell whither:
No man will undertake 10
The first twain to wake;
And the twain last
Be withhold so fast
With money, as men
They cannot come again.

A grant tort,
Foy dort.

Here endeth a right delectable treatise upon a goodly Garland or Chaplet of Laurel, devised by Master Skelton, Poet Laureate.

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