From 'Phyllyp Sparowe'

lines 1-146

    Pla     ce     bo,1
        Who is there, who?
    Di     le     xi,,2
        Dame Margery;
    Fa, re, my, my.3
    Wherfore and why, why?
  For the sowle of Philip Sparowe,
That was late slayn at Carowe,
Among the Nones Blake,
For that swete soules sake,
And for all sparowes soules
Set in our bede rolles,
Pater noster qui,
With an Ave Mari,
And with the corner of a Crede,
The more shal be your mede.

    Whan I remembre agayn
How mi Philyp was slayn,
Never halfe the payne
Was betwene you twayne,
Pyramus and Thesbe,4
As than befell to me:
I wept and I wayled,
The tearys downe hayled;
But nothynge it avayled
To call Phylyp agayne,
Whom Gyb our cat hath slayne.
    Gyb, I saye, our cat,
Worrowyd her on that
Which I loved best:
It can not be exprest
My sorowfull hevynesse,
But all without redresse;
For within that stounde,
Halfe slumbrynge, in a sounde
I fell downe to the grounde.
    Unneth I kest myne eyes
Towarde the cloudy skyes;
But whan I dyd beholde
My sparow dead and colde,
No creatuer but that wolde
Have rewed upon me,
To behold and se
What hevynesse dyd me pange:
Wherewith my handes I wrange
That my senaws cracked
As though I had ben racked,
So payned and so strayned
That no lyfe well nye remayned.
    I syghed and I sobbed,
For that I was robbed
Of my sparowes lyfe.
O mayden, wydow, and wyfe,
Of what estate ye be,
Of hye or lowe degre,
Great sorowe than ye myght se,
And lerne to wepe at me!
Such paynes dyd me frete,
That myne hert dyd bete,
My vysage pale and dead,
Wanne, and blewe as lead:
The panges of hatefull death
Well nye had stopped my breath.

    Heu,     heu,     me,5
        That I am wo for the!
    Ad Dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi.6
        Of God nothynge els crave I
    But Phyllypes soule to kepe
From the marees deepe
Of Acherontes7 well,
That is a flode of hell;
And from the great Pluto,8
The prynce of endles wo;
And from foule Alecto,9
With vysage blacke and blo;
And from Medusa,10 that mare,
That lyke a fende doth stare;
And from Megeras11 edders,
For rufflynge of Phillips fethers,
And from her fyry sparklynges,
For burnynge of his wynges;
And from the smokes sowre
Of Proserpinas12 bowre;
And from the dennes darke,
Wher Cerberus13 doth barke,
Whom Theseus14 dyd afraye,
Whom Hercules15 dyd outraye,
As famous poetes say;
From that hell-hounde,
That lyeth in cheynes bounde,
With gastly hedes thre;
To Jupyter16 pray we
That Phyllyp preserved may be!
Amen, say ye with me!
    Do     mi     nus,17
        Helpe nowe, swete Jesus!
    Levavi oculos meos in montes: 18
        Wolde God I had Zenophontes,19
    Or Socrates the wyse,
To shew me their devyse
Moderatly to take
This sorow that I make
For Phyllip Sparowes sake!
So fervently I shake,
I fele my body quake,
So urgently I am brought
Into carefull thought.
    Like Andromach20, Hectors wyfe,
Was wery of her lyfe,
Whan she had lost her joye,
Noble Hector of Troye;
In lyke maner also
Encreaseth my dedly wo,
For my sparowe is go.
It was so prety a fole,
It wold syt on a stole,
And lerned after my scole
For to kepe his cut,
With, "Phyllyp, kepe your cut!"
    It had a velvet cap,
And wold syt upon my lap,
And seke after small wormes,
And somtyme white bred crommes;
And many tymes and ofte
Betwene my brestes softe
It wolde lye and rest;
It was propre and prest.
    Somtyme he wolde gaspe
Whan he sawe a waspe;
A fly, or a gnat,
He wolde flye at that;
And prytely he wold pant
Whan he saw an ant;
Lord, how he wolde pry
After the butterfly!
Lorde, how he wolde hop
After the gressop!
And whan I sayd, "Phyp, Phyp,"
Than he wold lepe and skyp,
And take me by the lyp.
Alas, it wyll me slo,
That Phillyp is gone me fro!
      Si   in   i   qui   ta   tes21
        Alas, I was evyll at ease!
      De   pro   fun   dis   cla   ma   vi,22
When I sawe my sparowe dye!
















































Pla   ce   bo: Ps. II4: 9 (Vulgate), the opening
antiphon of the Vespers of the Office for the
Dead. Back.
Di   le   xi: Ps II4: I (Vulgate), the opening
psalm of the Vespers of the Office for the
Dead. Back.
Fa, re, my, my: the musical terminatio for the
Pyramus and Thesbe: next-door neighbors
and lovers whose parents were opposed.
They spoke through cracks in the housewall
agreeing to meet in the woods. There Pyramus,
finding a bloody veil and thinking Thisbe slain,
killed himself. Thisbe, seeing his body, killed
herself. Back.
Heu, heu, me: second antiphon of the Vespers,
Ps. II9: 5. Back.
Ad Dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi: second
psalm of the Vespers, Ps. II9: I. Back.
Acherontes: one of the rivers of Hades. Back.
Pluto: Identical with Hades and Dis. Ruler of
the infernal regions. Back.
Alecto: Literally, she who rests not. One of
the Furies. She was sent by Juno to stir up
discord among the Trojans. Back.
Medusa: One of the Gorgons. Once a beautiful
maiden, a goddess punished her by changing
her hair into serpents and herself into a frightful
monster the sight of which turned all living
things into stone. Back.
Megeras edders: Megæra, one of the Furies.
The Furies' heads were wreathed with serpents
(edders=adders). Back.
Proserpine: (Gr. Persephone) One of the greater
goddesses; daughter of Ceres and wife of Pluto.
Queen of the infernal regions. Back.
Cerberus: watch dog at the entrance to Hades;
generally represented with three heads, a mane
of serpents' heads and a serpent's tail. Back.
Theseus: The chief hero of Attica; tried to carry
off Proserpine from Hades. Back.
Hercules: a mighty Greek hero, son of Jupiter,
who won immortality by accomplishing twelve
feats known as the Labors of Hercules. One of
the Labors was bringing Cerberus from the
lower world. Back.
Jupiter: Also called Jove and, in Greek Zeus.
The supreme deity of classical antiquity. Back.
Do   mi   nus: the third antiphon of the Vespers,
Ps. I20: 5 and 7. Back.
Levavi oculos meos in montes: the appropriate
psalm, Ps. I20: I. Back.
Zenophontes: i.e. Xenophon.
Andomache, wife of Hector, son of Priam, the
noblest chieftain of Troy. Hector was slain by
Achilles who dragged the dead body thrice
around the walls of Troy. Andromache would
have thrown herself from the walls of Troy
had she not fainted. Recovering, she bewailed
her fate, the fate of Troy and of her son. Back.
The fourth antiphon, Ps. I29: 3
Ps. I29: I

The text is from:
Skelton, John. Poems. Robert S. Kinsman, ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. 29-33.

Hypertext and Annotation by Anniina Jokinen.

Skelton, John. Poems. Robert S. Kinsman, ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. 143-144.

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch's Mythology.
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on April 6, 1997. Last updated March 14, 2007.