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JOHN SKELTON


Anon. French. The Love Letter / Procuress. Late 16th-c. Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Anonymous. The Love Letter. Late 16thC.
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

Poems from 'Agaynste a Comely Coystrowne' and 'Dyuers Balettys and Dyties Solacyous'
By John Skelton

THE auncient acquaintance, madam, betwen vs twayn,
    The famylyaryte, the formal dalyaunce,
Causyth me that I can not myself refrayne
    But that I must wryte for my plesaunt pastaunce :
    Remembryng your passying goodly countenaunce,
Your goodly port, your bewteous visage,
Ye may be countyd comfort of all corage.

Of all your feturs fauorable to make tru discripcion,
    I am insuffycyent to make such enterpryse ;
For thus dare I say, without [con]tradiccyon,
    That dame Menolope was neuer half so wyse :
    Yet so it is that a rumer begynneth for to ryse,
How in good horsmen ye set your hole delyght,
And haue forgoten your old trew louyng knyght.

Wyth bound and rebound, bounsyngly take vp
    Hys jentyll curtoyl, and set nowght by small naggys !
Spur vp at the hynder gyrth, with Gup, morell, gup !
    With, Jayst ye, jenet of Spayne, for your tayll waggys !
    Ye cast all your corage vppon such courtly haggys.
Haue in sergeaunt ferrour, myne horse behynd is bare ;
He rydeth well the horse, but he rydeth better the mare.

Ware, ware, the mare wynsyth wyth her wanton hele !
    She kykyth with her kalkyns and keylyth with a clench ;
She goyth wyde behynde, and hewyth neuer a dele :
    Ware gallyng in the widders, ware of that wrenche !
    It is perlous for a horseman to dyg in the trenche.
Thus greuyth your husband, that ryght jentyll knyght,
And so with youre seruantys he fersly doth fyght.

So fersly he fytyth, his mynde is so fell,
    That he dryuyth them doune with dyntes on ther day wach ;
He bresyth theyr braynpannys and makyth them to swell,
    Theyre browys all to-brokyn, such clappys they cach ;
    Whose jalawsy malycyous makyth them to lepe the hach ;
By theyr conusaunce knowing how they serue a wily py :
Ask all your neybours whether that I ly.

It can be no counsell that is cryed at the cros :
    For youre jentyll husband sorowfull am I ;
How be it, he is not furst hath had a los :
    Aduertysyng you, madame, to warke more secretly,
    Let not all the world make an owtcry ;
Play fayre play, madame, and loke ye play clene,
Or ells with gret shame your game wylbe sene.

Qd Skelton, laureat.                      





Source:
Skelton, John. The Poetical Works of John Skelton. Vol. I.
Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1866. 28-30.






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