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[From the ed. by Kele, n.d., collated with that by Kitson, n.d. (which in some copies is said to be printed by Weale,) and with Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568.]




Who is there, who?
Dame Margery;
Fa, re, my, my,
Wherefore and why, why?
For the soul of Philip Sparrow<3>
That was late slain at Carrow,<4>
Among the Nuns Black,<5>
For that sweet soul's sake,                                                                           10
And for all sparrows' souls
Set in our
Pater noster qui,
With an Ave Mari,
And with the corner of a Creed,
The more shall be your meed.

When I remember again
How my Philip was slain,
Never half the pain
Was between you twain,                                                                              20
Pyramus and Thisbe,
As then befell to me:
I wept and I wailed,
The tears down hailed;<
But nothing it availed
To call Philip again,
Whom Gib our cat,<7> hath slain.

Gib, I say, our cat
Worried her on that
Which I loved best:                                                                                      30
It cannot be exprest
My sorrowful heaviness,
But all without redress;
For within that
Half slumbering, in a swound
I fell down to the ground.

Unneth I cast mine eyes
Toward the cloudy skies:
But when I did behold
My sparrow dead and cold,                                                                         40
No creature but that
Have rued upon me,
To behold and see
What heaviness did me pang:
Wherewith my hands I wrang,
That my sinews cracked,
As though I had been racked,
So pained and so strained
That no life well-nigh remained.

I sighed and I sobbed,                                                                                 50
For that I was robbed
Of my sparrow's life.
O maiden, widow, and wife,
Of what estate ye be,
Of high or low degree,
Great sorrow then ye might see
And learn to weep at me!
Such pains did me fret
That mine heart did beat,
My visage pale and dead,                                                                           
Wan, and blue as lead;
The pangs of hateful death
Well-nigh had stopped my breath.

Heu, heu, me,
That I am woe for thee!
Dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi.<
Of God nothing else crave I
But Philip's soul to keep
From the marees deep
Of Acherontes'<9> well,                                                                             70
That is a flood of hell;
And from the great Pluto,
The prince of endless woe;
And from foul Alecto,
With visage black and
And from Medusa, that mare,
That like a fiend doth stare;
And from Megaera's adders
For ruffling of Philip's feathers,
And from her fiery sparklings                                                                      80
For burning of his wings;
And from the smokes sour
Of Proserpina's bower;
And from the dens dark
Where Cerberus doth bark,
Whom Theseus did affray,
Whom Hercules did
As famous poets say;
From that hell-hound
That lieth in chains bound,                                                                           90
With ghastly heads three;
To Jupiter pray we
That Philip preserved may be!
Amen, say ye with me!

Help now, sweet Jesus!
Levavi oculos meos in montes.<
Would God I had Zenophontes,<12>
Or Socrates the wise,
To show me their device                                                                              100
Moderately to take
This sorrow that I make
For Philip Sparrow's sake!
So fervently I shake,
I feel my body quake;
So urgently I am brought
Into careful thought.
Like Andromach, Hector's wife,
Was weary of her life,
When she had lost her joy,                                                                          
Noble Hector of Troy;
In like manner also
Increaseth my deadly woe,
For my sparrow is go.

It was so pretty a fool,
It would sit on a stool,
And learned after my school
For to keep his cut,
With Philip, keep your cut!<

It had a velvet cap,                                                                                      120
And would sit upon my lap,
And seek after small worms,
And sometime white bread-crumbs;
And many times and oft
Between my breasts soft<
It would lie and rest;
It was proper and prest.

Sometime he would gasp
When he saw a wasp;
A fly or a gnat,                                                                                             130
He would fly at that;
And prettily he would pant
When he saw an ant.
Lord, how he would pry
After the butterfly!
Lord, how he would hop
After the
And when I said, Phip, Phip!
Then he would leap and skip,
And take me, by the lip.                                                                              140
Alas, it will me
That Philip is gone me fro!

Sin iniquitates<15>
Alas, I was evil at ease!
De profundis clamavi,<16>
When I saw my sparrow die!

Now, after my dome,
Dame Sulpicia<17> at Rome,
Whose name registered was
For ever in tables of brass,                                                                           150
Because that she did pass
In poesy to indite
And eloquently to write,
Though she would
My sparrow to commend,
I trow she could not amend
Reporting the virtues all
Of my sparrow royal.

For it would come and go,
And fly so to and fro;                                                                                  160
And on me it would leap
When I was asleep,
And his feathers shake,
Wherewith he would make
Me often for to wake,
And for to take him in
Upon my naked skin;
God wot, we thought no sin:
What though he crept so low?
It was no hurt, I
trow                                                                                   170
He did nothing,
But sit upon my knee:
Philip, though he were nice,
In him it was no vice;

Philip had leave to go
To peck my little toe;
Philip might be bold
And do what he wold;
Philip would seek and take
All the fleas black                                                                                        180
That he could there espy
With his wanton eye.

La, sol, fa, fa,
Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo!<
Alas, I would ride and go<19>
A thousand mile of ground!
If any such might be found
It were worth an hundred pound
Of King Croesus' gold,                                                                                190
Or of Attalus the old,
The rich prince of Pergame,<
Whoso list the story to see.
Cadmus, that his sister sought,
An he should be bought
For gold and fee,
He should over the sea,
To weet if he could bring
Any of the offspring,
Or any of the blood.                                                                                    200
But whoso understood
Of Medea's art,
I would I had a part
Of her crafty magic!
My sparrow then should be
With a charm or twain,
And play with me again.
But all this is in vain
Thus for to complain.

I took my sampler once                                                                                210
Of purpose, for the nonce,
To sew with stitches of silk
My sparrow white as milk,<
That by representation
Of his image and fashion
To me it might impart
Some pleasure and comfort
For my solace and sport:
But when I was sewing his beak,
Methought my sparrow did speak,                                                              220
And opened his pretty bill,
Saying, Maid, ye are in will
Again me for to kill,
Ye prick me in the head!
With that my needle waxed red,
Methought, of Philip's blood;
Mine hair right upstood,
I was in such a fray,
My speech was taken away.
I cast down that there was,                                                                          230
And said, Alas, alas,
How cometh this to pass?
My fingers, dead and cold,
Could not my sampler hold:
My needle and thread
I threw away for dread.
The best now that I may
Is for his soul to pray:
A porta inferi,<
Good Lord, have mercy                                                                               240
Upon my sparrow's soul,
Written in my

Audivi vocem,<23>
Japhet, Ham, and Shem,
Show me the right path
To the hills of Armony,<25>
Wherefore the birds yet cry<26>
Of your father's boat,
That was sometime afloat,                                                                           250
And now they lie and rot;
Let some poets write
Deucalion's flood it
But as verily as ye be
The natural sonnes three
Of Noah the patriarch,
That made that great ark,
Wherein he had apes and owls,
Beasts, birds, and fowls,
That if ye can find                                                                                       260
Any of my sparrow's kind
God send the soul good rest!
I would have yet a nest
As pretty and as
As my sparrow was.
But my sparrow did pass
All sparrows of the wood
That were since Noah's flood,
Was never none so good.
King Philip of Macedony                                                                            270
Had no such Philip as I,
No, no, sir, hardly.

That vengeance I ask and cry,
By way of exclamation,
On all the whole nation
Of cats wild and tame;
God send them sorrow and shame!
That cat specially
That slew so cruelly
My little pretty sparrow                                                                              
That I brought up at Carrow.

O cat of carlish kind,
The fiend was in thy mind
When thou my bird untwined!<27>
I would thou hadst been blind!
The leopards savage,
The lions in their rage
Might catch thee in their paws,
And gnaw thee in their jaws!
The serpents of Libany<28>                                                                        290
Might sting thee venomously!
The dragons with their tongues
Might poison thy liver and lungs!
manticores<29> of the mountains
Might feed them on thy brains!

Melanchates,<30> that hound
That plucked Actaeon to the ground,
Gave him his mortal wound,
Changed to a deer,
The story doth appear,                                                                                 300
Was changed to an hart:
So thou, foul cat that thou art,
The selfsame hound
Might thee confound,
That his own lord
Might bite asunder thy throat!

Of Ind the greedy gripes
Might tear out all thy tripes!
Of Arcady the bears
Might pluck away thine ears!                                                                       310
The wild wolf Lycaon<
Bite asunder thy backbone!
Of Etna the burning hill,
That day and night burneth still,
Set in thy tail a blaze,
That all the world may gaze
And wonder upon thee,
From Ocean the great sea
Unto the Isles of Orcady,
From Tilbury Ferry                                                                                       320
To the plain of Salisbury!
So traitorously my bird to kill
That never ought thee evil will!

Was never bird in cage
More gentle of
In doing his homage
Unto his sovereign.
Alas, I say again,
Death hath departed us twain!
The false cat hath thee slain:                                                                        330
Farewell, Philip, adieu!
Our Lord, thy soul rescue!
Farewell, without restore,
Farewell, for evermore!

An it were a Jew,
It would make one rue,
To see my sorrow new.
These villainous false cats
Were made for mice and rats,
And not for birds small.                                                                               340
Alas, my face waxeth pale,
Telling this piteous tale,
How my bird so fair,
That was wont to repair,
And go in at my
And creep in at my gore
Of my gown before,<33>
Flickering with his wings!
Alas, my heart it stings,
Remembering pretty things!                                                                        350
Alas, mine heart it slayeth
My Philip's doleful death!
When I remember it,
How prettily it would sit,
Many times and oft,
Upon my finger aloft!
I played with him tittle-tattle,
And fed him with my spittle,
With his bill between my lips;
It was my pretty Phips!                                                                               
Many a pretty kiss
Had I of his sweet
And now the cause is thus,
That he is slain me fro,
To my great pain and woe.

Of fortune this the chance
Standeth on variance:
Oft time after pleasance,
Trouble and grievance;
No man can be sure                                                                                      370
Alway to have pleasure:
As well perceive ye may
How my disport and play
From me was taken away
By Gib, our cat savage,
That in a furious rage
Caught Philip by the head
And slew him there stark dead!

Kyrie, eleison,
Christe, eleison,
Kyrie, eleison!
For Philip Sparrow's soul,
Set in our
Let us now whisper
A Pater noster.

Lauda anima mea, Dominum!<35>
To weep with me look that ye come,
All manner of birds in your kind;<
See none be left behind.
To mourning look that ye fall                                                                      390
With dolorous songs funeral,
Some to sing, and some to say,
Some to weep, and some to pray,
Every birde in his lay.
The goldfinch, the wagtail;
The jangling<
37> jay to rail,
The flecked pie to chatter
Of this dolorous matter;
And robin redbreast,
He shall be the priest                                                                                    400
The requiem mass to sing,
Softly warbling,
With help of the reed sparrow,
And the chattering swallow,
This hearse for to hallow;
The lark with his long toe;
spink, and the martinet also;
The shoveller with his broad beak;
The dotterel<
38>, that foolish peak,
And also the mad coot,                                                                                410
With bald face to
The fieldfare and the
The crow and the kite;
The raven, called Rolfe,
His plain-song to sol-fa;
The partridge, the quail;
The plover with us to wail;
woodhack, that singeth chur
Hoarsely, as he had the
The lusty chanting nightingale;                                                                    420
The popinjay to tell her tale,
tooteth oft in a glass,
Shall read the Gospel at mass;
mavis with her whistle
Shall read there the Epistle.
But with a large and a long
To keep just plain-song,
Our chanters shall be the cuckoo,<
culver, the stockdoo.
With peewit the lapwing,<
40>                                                                    430
The Versicles shall sing.

The bittern with his bump,<41>
The crane with his trump,
The swan of Menander,<
The goose and the gander,
The duck and the drake,
Shall watch at this wake;<
The peacock so proud,
Because his voice is loud,
And hath a glorious tail,                                                                              440
He shall sing the
The owl, that is so foul,<
Must help us to howl;
The heron so gaunt,
And the cormorant,
With the pheasant,
And the gaggling
And the churlish chough;
The knot and the ruff;
The barnacle,<
46> the buzzard,                                                                   450
With the wild mallard;
divendop to sleep;
The water-hen to weep;
The puffin and the teal
Money they shall deal<
To poor folk at large,
That shall be their charge;
seamew and the titmouse;
The woodcock with the long nose;
The throstle with her warbling;                                                                    460
The starling with her brabbling;<
The rook, with the osprey
That putteth fishes to a fray;<
And the dainty curlew,
With the turtle most true.

At this Placebo
We may not well forgo
countering of the co:
The stork also,
That maketh his nest                                                                                    470
In chimneys to rest;
Within those walls
No broken galls
May there abide
Of cuckoldry side,<
Or else philosophy
Maketh a great lie.

The ostrich, that will eat
An horseshoe so great,<
In the stead of meat,                                                                                    480
Such fervent heat
His stomach doth fret;
He cannot well fly,
Nor sing tunably,
Yet at a
He hath well assayed
To sol-fa above E-la.<
lorell, fa, fa;
Ne quando
Male cantando,
54>                                                                                    490
The best that we can,
To make him our bell-man,
And let him ring the bells;
He can do nothing else.<

Chanticleer, our cock,
Must tell what is of the clock
By the astrology
That he hath naturally<
Conceived and caught,
And was never taught                                                                                  500
By Albumasar<
The astronomer,
Nor by Ptolomy
Prince of astronomy,
Nor yet by Haly;<
And yet he croweth daily
And nightly the tides
That no man abides,
With Partlot his hen,<
Whom now and then                                                                                   510
He plucketh by the head
When he doth her tread.

The bird of Araby,
That potentially
May never die,
And yet there is none
But one alone;
A phoenix it is
This hearse that must bless
With aromatic gums                                                                                    
That cost great sums,
The way of
To make a fumigation,
Sweet of
And redolent of air,
This corse for to
With great reverence,
As patriarch or pope
In a black cope.
Whiles he
censeth the hearse,                                                                      530
He shall sing the verse,
Libera me,<
In de, la, sol, re,
Softly B molle<
For my sparrow's soul.
Pliny showeth all
In his Story Natural<
What he doth find
Of the phoenix kind;
Of whose incineration                                                                                  540
There riseth a new creation
Of the same fashion
Without alteration,
Saving that old age
Is turned into courage
Of fresh youth again;
This matter true and plain,
Plain matter indeed,
Who so
list to read.

But for the eagle doth fly                                                                            550
Highest in the sky,
He shall be the sedean,<
The choir to
As provost principal,
To teach them their Ordinal;
Also the noble falcon,<
With the gyrfalcon,<
tiercel gentle,<66>
They shall mourn soft and still
In their
amice<67> of gray;                                                                         560
The saker<
68> with them shall say
Dirige for Philip's soul;
The goshawk shall have a role
The choristers to control;
The lanners and the merlins<
Shall stand in their mourning-gowns;
The hobby<
70> and the musket<71>
The censers and the cross shall
The kestrel<
72> in all this work
Shall be holy water clerk.<
73>                                                                    570

And now the dark cloudy night
Chaseth away Phoebus bright,
Taking his course toward the west,
God send my sparrow's soul good rest!
Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine!<
Fa, fa, fa, mi, re, re,
A por ta in fe ri,
Fa, fa, fa, mi, mi.
Credo videre bona Domini,<

I pray God, Philip to heaven may fly!                                                         580
Domine, exaudi orationem meam!<
To heaven he shall, from heaven he came!
Do mi nus vo bis cum!
Of all good prayers God send him some!

Deus, cui proprium est misereri et parcere
On Philip's soul have pity!
For he was a pretty cock,
And came of a gentle stock,
And wrapt in a maiden's smock,<
78>                                                         590
And cherished full daintily,
Till cruel fate made him to die:
Alas, for doleful destiny!
But whereto should I
Longer mourn or cry?
To Jupiter I call,
Of heaven imperial,
That Philip may fly
Above the starry sky,
To tread the pretty wren,                                                                            
That is our Lady's hen:<
Amen, amen, amen!

Yet one thing is behind,
That now cometh to mind;
An epitaph I would have
For Philip's grave:
But for I am a maid,
Timorous, half afraid,
That never yet assayed
Of Helicon's well,                                                                                        610
Where the Muses dwell;
Though I can read and spell,
Recount, report, and tell
Of the Tales of Canterbury,
Some sad stories, some merry;
As Palamon and Arcet,
Duke Theseus, and Partelet;
And of the Wife of Bath,
That worketh much
When her tale is told                                                                                    620
Among housewives bold,
How she controlled
Her husbands as she
And them to despise
In the homeliest wise,
Bring other wives in thought
Their husbands to set at nought.
And though that read have I
Of Gawain<
80> and Sir Guy,<81>
And tell can a great piece                                                                            630
Of the Golden Fleece,
How Jason it won,<
Like a valiant man;
Of Arthur's Round Table,
With his knights commendable,
And Dame
Gaynour, his queen,
Was somewhat wanton, I ween;
How Sir Lancelot de Lake
Many a spear brake
For his lady's sake;                                                                                       640
Of Tristram, and King Mark,
And all the whole work
Of Belle Isolde his wife,
For whom was much strife;<
Some say she was light,
And made her husband knight
Of the common hall,
That cuckolds men call;
And of Sir Lybius,<
Named Dysconius;                                                                                       650
Of Quater Fylz Amund,
And how they were summoned
To Rome, to Charlemagne,
Upon a great pain,
And how they rode each one
On Bayard Mountalbon;
Men see him now and then
In the forest of Arden:<
What though I can frame
The stories by name                                                                                     660
Of Judas Maccabeus,<
And of Caesar Julius;<
And of the love between
Paris and Vienne;<
And of the duke Hannibal,<
That made the Romans all
Fordread and to quake:
How Scipion did wake
The city of Carthage,
Which by his unmerciful rage                                                                      670
He beat down to the ground.
And though I can expound
Of Hector of Troy,
That was all their joy,<
Whom Achilles slew,
Wherefore all Troy did rue;
And of the love so hot
That made Troilus to dote
Upon fair Cresseid,<
And what they wrote and said,                                                                   680
And of their wanton wills
Pandar bore the
From one to the other;
His master's love to further,
Sometime a precious thing,
ouch,<65> or else a ring;
From her to him again
Sometime a pretty chain,
Or a bracelet of her hair,
Prayed Troilus for to wear                                                                           690
That token for her sake;
How heartily he did it take,
And much thereof did make;
And all that was in vain,
For she did but feign;
The story telleth plain,
He could not obtain,
Though his father were a king,
Yet there was a thing
That made the
male to wring;<93>                                                              700

She made him to sing
The song of lover's lay;
Musing night and day,
Mourning all alone,
Comfort had he none,
For she was quite gone;
Thus in conclusion,
She brought him in
In earnest and in game
She was much to blame;                                                                              710
Disparaged is her fame,
And blemished is her name,
In manner half with shame;
Troilus also hath lost
On her much love and cost,
And now must kiss the post;<
Pandar, that went between,
Hath won nothing, I ween,
But light for summer green;
Yet for a special laud                                                                                   720
He is named Troilus' bawd;
Of that name he is sure
Whiles the world shall dure:

Though I remember the fable
Of Penelope most stable,
To her husband most true,
Yet long-time she
ne knew
Whether he were live or dead;
Her wit stood her in stead,
That she was true and just                                                                           730
For any bodily lust
To Ulysses her
And never would him forsake:

Of Marcus Marcellus
process I could tell us;
And of Antiochus,<
And of Josephus
De Antiquitatibus;<
And of Mardocheus,
And of great Ahasuerus,<
97>                                                                     740
And of Vesca<
98> his queen,
Whom he forsook with
And of Esther his other wife,
With whom he led a pleasant life;
Of King Alexander;<
And of King Evander;<
And of Porsena the great,
That made the Romans to sweat.:
Though I have enrolled
A thousand new and old                                                                             750
Of these historious tales,
To fill budgets and
With books that I have read,
Yet I am nothing
can but little skill
Of Ovid or Virgil,
Or of Plutarch,
Or Francis Petrarch,
Alcaeus or Sappho,
Or such others poets
mo,                                                                             760
As Linus and Homerus,
Euphorion and Theocritus,
Anacreon and Anion,
Sophocles and Philemon,
Pindarus and Simonides,
Philistion and Pherecydes;
These poets of ancientry,
They are too
diffuse for me:<101>

For, as I tofore have said,
I am but a young maid,                                                                                770
And cannot in effect
My style as yet direct
With English words elect:
Our natural tongue is rude,
And hard to be
With polished terms lusty;
Our language is so rusty,
So cankered, and so full
Of frowards, and so dull,
That if I would apply                                                                                   780
To write ornately,
I wot not where to find
Terms to serve my mind.

Gower's English is old,
And of no value told;
His matter is worth gold,
And worthy to be enrolled.

In Chaucer I am sped,
His Tales I have read:
His matter is delectable,                                                                              
Solacious, and commendable;
His English well allowed,
So as it is
For as it is employed,
There is no English void,
At those days much commended;
And now men would have amended
His English, whereat they bark,
And mar all they work.
Chaucer, that famous clerk,                                                                         800
His terms were not dark,
But pleasant, easy, and plain;
No word he wrote in vain.

Also John Lydgate
Writeth after an higher rate;<
It is
diffuse to find
The sentence of his mind,
Yet writeth he in his kind,
No man that can amend<
Those matters that he hath penned;                                                             810
Yet some men find a fault,
And say he writeth too

Wherefore hold me excused
If I have not well perused
Mine English half abused;
Though it be refused,
In worth<
105> I shall it take,
And fewer words make.

But, for my sparrow's sake,
Yet as a woman may,                                                                                   820
My wit I shall assay
An epitaph to write
In Latin plain and light,
Whereof the elegy
Followeth by and by:

Flos volucrum formose, vale!
Philippe, sub isto
Marmore iam recubas,
Qui mihi carus eras.
Semper erunt nitido
Radiantia sidera coelo;
Impressusque meo
Pectore semper eris.

Per me laurigerum
Britonum Skeltonida vatem
Haec cecinisse licet
Ficta sub imagine texta.
Cujus eras volucris,
Praestanti corpore virgo:
Candida Nais erat,
Formosior ista Joanna est;
Docta Corinna fuit,
Sed magis ista sapit.
Bien m'en souvient.


Beati immaculati in via,
O gloriosa femina!
Now mine whole imagination
And studious meditation
Is to take this commendation
In this consideration;                                                                                   850
And under patient toleration
Of that most goodly maid
That Placebo hath said,
And for her sparrow prayed
In lamentable wise,
Now will I enterprise,
Thorough the grace divine
Of the Muses nine,
Her beauty to commend,
If Arethusa will send<
109>                                                                         860
Me influence to indite,
And with my pen to write;
If Apollo will promise,
Melodiously it to devise,
His tunable harp strings
With harmony that sings
Of princes and of kings
And of all pleasant things,
Of lust and of delight,
Through his godly might;                                                                            
To whom be the laud ascribed
That my pen hath imbibed
With the aureate drops,
As verily my hope is,
Of Tagus, that golden flood,
That passeth all earthly good;
And as that flood doth pass
All floods that ever was
With his golden sands,
Whoso that understands                                                                             
Cosmography, and the streames
And the floods in strange
Right so she doth exceed
All other of whom we read,
Whose fame by me shall spread
Into Persia and Mede,
From Britons' Albion
To the Tower of Babylon.

I trust it is no shame,
And no man will me blame,                                                                         890
Though I register her name
In the court of Fame;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new<
In beauty and virtue;
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Retribue servo tuo, vivifica me!
Labia mea laudabunt te

But enforced am I
Openly to
And to make an outcry
Against odious Envy,<
That evermore will lie,
And say cursedly;
With his leather eye,
And cheeks dry;
With visage wan,                                                                                         910
As swart as tan;
His bones creak,
Lean as a rake;<
His gums rusty
Are full unlusty;
His heart withal
Bitter as gall;
His liver, his lung
With anger is wrung;
His serpent's tongue                                                                                     920
That many one hath stung;
He frowneth ever;
He laugheth never,
Even nor morrow,
But other men's sorrow
Causeth him to grin
And rejoice therein;
No sleep can him catch,
But ever doth watch,
He is so beat                                                                                                
With malice, and fret
With anger and ire,
His foul desire
Will suffer no sleep
In his head to creep;
His foul
All displeasant;
When others are glad,
Then is he sad;
Frantic and mad;                                                                                          940
His tongue never still
For to say ill,
Writhing and wringing,
Biting and stinging;
And thus this elf
Consumeth himself,
Himself doth
With pain and woe.
This false Envy
Sayeth that I                                                                                                950
Use great folly
For to indite,
And for to write,
And spend my time
In prose and rhyme,
For to express
The nobleness
Of my mistress,
That causeth me
Studious to be                                                                                             
To make a relation,
Of her commendation.
And there again
Envy doth complain,
And hath disdain;
But yet certain
I will be plain,
And my style dress
To this

Now Phoebus me ken                                                                                  970
To sharp my pen,
And lead my fist
As him best
That I may say
Honour alway
Of womankind!
Truth doth me bind
And loyalty
Ever to be
Their true
bedell,                                                                                          980
To write and tell
How women excel
In nobleness;
As my mistress,
Of whom I think
With pen and ink
For to compile
Some goodly style;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,                                                                      
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Legem pone mihi, domina, viam justificationum tuarum!
Quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fontes aquarum.

How shall I report
All the goodly sort
Of her features clear,                                                                                   1000
That hath none earthly peer?
Her favour of her face
Ennewed all with grace,
Comfort, pleasure, and solace.
Mine heart doth so embrace,
And so hath ravished me
Her to behold and see,
That in words plain
I cannot me refrain
To look on her again:                                                                                  
Alas, what should I feign?
It were a pleasant pain
With her
aye to remain.

Her eyen grey and steep
Causeth mine heart to leap;
With her brows bent<
She may well represent
Fair Lucres, as I
Or else fair Polexene,<
Or else Calliope,                                                                                           1020
Or else Penelope;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo!
Servus tuus sum ego.
118>                                                                         1030

The Indy sapphire blue
Her veins doth
The orient pearl so clear,
The whiteness of her
Her lusty ruby
Resemble the rose buds;
Her lips soft and merry
Enbloomed like the cherry,
It were an heavenly bliss
Her sugared mouth to kiss.                                                                          1040

Her beauty to augment,
Dame Nature hath her lent
A wart upon her cheek,
Whoso list to seek
In her visage a scar,
That seemeth from afar
Like to the radiant star,
All with favour
So properly it is set:
She is the violet,                                                                                           1050
The daisy delectable,
The columbine commendable,
The jelofer amiable;<
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
111>                                                                             1060
Bonitatem fecisti cum servo tuo, domina,
Et ex praecordiis sonant praeconia!

And when I perceived
Her wart and conceived,
It cannot be denied
But it was well conveyed,
And set so womanly,
And nothing wantonly,
But right conveniently,
And full congruently,                                                                                  1070
As Nature could devise,
In most goodly wise;
list behold,
It maketh lovers bold
To her to sue for grace,
Her favour to purchase;
The scar<
122> upon her chin,
123> on her fair skin,
Whiter than the swan,
It would make any man                                                                               1080
To forget deadly sin<
Her favour to win;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Defecit in salutatione tua anima mea;
Quid petis filio, mater dulcissima? babae!

Soft, and make no din,
For now I will begin
To have in remembrance
Her goodly dalliance,
And her goodly
So sad and so demure,
Behaving her so sure,
With words of pleasure
She would make to the lure<
126>                                                               1100
And any man convert
To give her his whole heart.
She made me sore amazed
Upon her when I gazed,
Methought mine heart was
eyen were so dazed;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new                                                                      1110
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Quomodo dilexi legem tuam, domina!
Recedant vetera, nova sint omnia.

And to amend her tale,
When she list to avail,<
And with her fingers small,
And hands soft as silk,
Whiter than the milk,                                                                                   1120
That are so quickly veined,<
Wherewith my hand she strained,
Lord, how I was pained!
Unneth I me refrained,
How she me had reclaimed,<
And me to her retained,
Embracing therewithall
Her goodly middle small
With sides long and strait:
To tell you what conceit                                                                              1130
I had then in a trice,
The matter were too nice,
And yet there was no vice,
Nor yet no villany,
But only fantasy;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:                                                                                   
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Iniquos odio habui!
Non calumnientur me superbi.

But whereto should I note
How often did I
Upon her pretty foot?
It rased mine heart-root
To see her tread the ground
With heels short and round.                                                                         1150
She is plainly express
Egeria, the goddess,
And like to her image,
Emportured with courage,
A lover's pilgrimage;<
There is no beast savage,
Ne no tiger so wood,
But she would change his mood,
Such relucent grace
Is formed in her face;                                                                                   1160
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Mirabilia testimonia tua!
Sicut novellae plantationes in juventute sua.

So goodly as she dresses,                                                                             1170
So properly she presses
The bright golden tresses
Of her hair so fine,
Like Phoebus' beams shine.
Whereto should I disclose
The gartering of her hose?<
It is for to suppose
How that she can wear
Gorgeously her gear;
Her fresh habiliments                                                                                   1180
With other implements
To serve for all intents,
Like Dame Flora, queen
Of lusty summer green;
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,                                                                                  
O gloriosa femina,
Clamavi in toto corde, exaudi me!
Misericordia tua magna est super me.

Her kirtle<136> so goodly laced,
And under that is braced
Such pleasures that I may
Neither write nor say;
Yet though I write with ink,
No man can
let me think,
For thought hath liberty,                                                                              1200
Thought is frank and free;
To think a merry thought
It cost me little nor naught.
Would God mine homely style
Were polished with the file
Of Cicero's eloquence,
To praise her excellence!
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,                                                                                
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina,
Principes persecuti sunt me gratis!
Omnibus consideratis,
Paradisus voluptatis
Haec virgo est dulcissima.

My pen it is unable,
My hand it is unstable,                                                                                 1220
My reason rude and dull
To praise her at the full;
Goodly Mistress Jane,
Sober, demure Diane;
Jane this mistress
The lode-star of delight,
Dame Venus of all pleasure,
The well of worldly treasure;
She doth exceed and pass
In prudence Dame Pallas;                                                                            1230
For this most goodly flower,
This blossom of fresh colour,
So Jupiter me succour,
She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue:
Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina!

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine!<74>
With this psalm, Domine, probasti me,<
Shall sail over the sea,                                                                                  1240
With Tibi, Domine, commendamus,<
On pilgrimage to Saint James,
For shrimps, and for prawns,
And for stalking cranes;
And where my pen hath offended,
I pray you it may be amended
By discreet consideration
Of your wise reformation;
I have not offended, I trust,
If it be sadly discussed.                                                                               1250
It were no gentle guise
This treatise to despise
Because I have written and said
Honour of this fair maid;
Wherefore should I be blamed,
That I Jane have named,
And famously proclaimed?
She is worthy to be enrolled
With letters of gold.
Car elle vaut.<
140>                                                                                     1260

Per me laurigerum Britonum Skeltonida vatem.<141>

Laudibus eximiis merito haec redimita puella est:
Formosam cecini, qua non formosior nulla est;
Formosam potius quam commendaret Homerus.
Sic juvat interdum rigidos recreare labores,
Nec minus hoc titulo tersa. Minerva mea est.
Rien que plaisir.

Thus endeth the Book of Philip Sparrow, and here followeth an addition made by Master Skelton.


The guise nowadays
Of some jangling jays
Is to discommend                                                                                        1270
That they cannot amend,
Though they would spend
All the wits they have.

What ails them to deprave<144>
Philip Sparrow's grave?
His Dirige, her Commendation
Can be no derogation,
But mirth and consolation
Made by protestation,
No man to miscontent                                                                                  1280
With Philip's interment.

Alas, that goodly maid,
Why should she be afraid?
Why should she take shame
That her goodly name,
Honourably reported,
Should be set and sorted,
To be matriculate
With ladies of estate?

I conjure thee, Philip Sparrow,                                                                    1290
By Hercules that hell did harrow,<
And with a venomous arrow
Slew of the Epidaures<
One of the Centaures,
Or Onocentaures,<
Or Hippocentaures;<
By whose might and main
An hart was slain
With horns twain
Of glittering gold;                                                                                        1300
And the apples of gold
Of Hesperides withhold,
And with a dragon kept
That nevermore slept,
By martial strength
He won at length;
And slew Geryon
With three bodies in one;
With mighty courage
Adaunted the rage                                                                                      
Of a lion savage;
Of Diomedes' stable
He brought out a rabble
coursers and rounces
With leaps and bounces;
And with mighty lugging,
Wrestling and tugging,
He plucked the bull
By the horned skull,
And offered to Cornucopia;<
149>                                                              1320
And so forth per cetera.

Also by Hecate's bower,
In Pluto's ghastly tower;

By the ugly Eumenides,
That never have rest nor ease;

By the venomous serpent,
That in hell is never
In Lerna the Greek's fen,
That was engendered then;

By Chimera's flames,
And all the deadly names
Of infernal
Where souls fry and roasty;

By the Stygian flood,
And the streams
Of Cocytus' bottomless well;

By the ferryman of hell,
Charon with his beard hoar,
That roweth with a rude oar
And with his
frownsed foretop                                                                   1340
Guideth his boat with a prop:

I conjure Philip, and call
In the name of King Saul;
Primo Regum<
151> express,
He bade the Pythoness<
To witchcraft her to dress,
And by her
And damnable illusions
Of marvellous conclusions,
And by her superstitions,                                                                             1350
And wonderful conditions,<
She raised up in that stead
Samuel that was dead;
But whether it were so,
He were idem in numero,<
The self-same Samuel,
Howbeit to Saul he did tell
The Philistines should him
And the next day he should die,
I will myself discharge                                                                                 1360
To lettered men at large:

But, Philip, I conjure thee
Now by these names three,
Diana in the woods green,
Luna that so bright doth shine,
Proserpina in hell,
That thou shortly tell,
And show now unto me
What the cause may be
Of this perplexity!                                                                                       

Inferias, Philippe, tuas Scroupe pulchra Joanna
Instanter petiit: cur nostri carminis illam
Nunc pudet? est sero; minor est infamia vero.

Then such as have disdained
And of this work complained,
I pray God they be pained
No worse than is contained
In verses two or three
That follow as ye may see.

Luride, cur, livor, volucris pia funera damnas?                                           1380
Talia te rapiant rapiunt quae fata volucrem!
Est tamen invidia mors tibi continua.

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