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This HTML e-text of John Skelton's "Colin Cloute" was created in October 2002 by Anniina Jokinen of Luminarium. The unaltered text is from an 1854 edition of Skelton's Poetical Works, edited by Dyce.
    Source text:
    Skelton, John. The Poetical Works of John Skelton. Vol II. Rev. Alexander Dyce, Ed.
    Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1854. 125-169.
This edition is made available to the public for nonprofit purposes only. It is not represented by the publisher as a scholarly edition in the peer-reviewed sense. Unique site content is copyright ©2002 Anniina Jokinen. This e-text may not be reproduced or published in any form without express written consent from the copyright holder. For corrections, comments, and queries, please email the publisher.

Colyn Cloute





    Quis consurget mecum adversus malignantes ?
aut quis stabit mecum adversus operantes iniqui-
tatem ?   Nemo, Domine !

W H A T can it auayle
To dryue forth a snayle,
Or to make a sayle
Of an herynges tayle ;
To ryme or to rayle,
To wryte or to indyte,
Eyther for delyte
Or elles for despyte ;
Or bokes to compyle
Of dyuers maner style,                                                  10
Vyce to reuyle
And synne to exyle ;
To teche or to preche,
As reason wyll reche ?
Say this, and say that,
His hed is so fat,
He wotteth neuer what
Nor wherof he speketh ;
He cryeth and he creketh,
He pryeth and he peketh,                                              20
He chydes and he chatters,
He prates and he patters,
He clytters and he clatters,
He medles and he smatters,
He gloses and he flatters ;
Or yf he speake playne,
Than he lacketh brayne,
He is but a fole ;
Let hym go to scole,
On a thre foted stole                                                      30
That he may downe syt,
For he lacketh wyt ;
And yf that he hyt
The nayle on the hede,
It standeth in no stede ;
The deuyll, they say, is dede,
The deuell is dede.
    It may well so be,
Or els they wolde se
Otherwyse, and fle                                                        40
From worldly vanyte,
And foule couetousnesse,
And other wretchednesse,
Fyckell falsenesse,
With vnstablenesse.
    And if ye stande in doubte
Who brought this ryme aboute,
My name is Colyn Cloute.
I purpose to shake oute                                                 50
All my connyng bagge,
Lyke a clerkely hagge ;
For though my ryme be ragged,
Tattered and iagged,
Rudely rayne beaten,
Rusty and moughte eaten,
If ye take well therwith,
It hath in it some pyth.
For, as farre as I can se,
It is wronge with eche degre :                                        60
For the temporalte
Accuseth the spiritualte ;
The spirituall agayne
Dothe grudge and complayne
Vpon the temporall men :
Thus eche of other blother
The tone agayng the tother :
Alas, they make me shoder !
For in hoder moder
The Churche is put in faute ;                                          70
The prelates ben so haut,
They say, and loke so hy,
As though they wolde fly
Aboue the sterry skye.
    Laye men say indede
How they take no hede
Theyr sely shepe to fede,
But plucke away and pull
The fleces of theyr wull,
Vnethes they leue a locke                                              80
Of wull amonges theyr flocke ;
And as for theyr connynge,
A glommynge and a mummynge,
And make therof a iape ;
They gaspe and they gape
All to haue promocyon,
There is theyr deuocyon,
With money, if it wyll hap,
To catche the forked cap :
Forsothe they are so lewd                                             90
To say so, all beshrewd !
    What trow ye they say more
Of the bysshoppes lore ?
How in matters they be rawe,
They lumber forth the lawe,
To herken Jacke and Gyll,
Whan they put vp a byll,
And iudge it as they wyll,
For other mennes skyll,
Expoundyng out theyr clauses,                                     100
And leue theyr owne causes :
In theyr prouynciall cure 
They make but lytell sure,
And meddels very lyght
In the Churches ryght ;
But ire and venire,
And solfa so alamyre,
That the premenyre
Is lyke to be set a fyre
In theyr iurisdictions                                                     110
Through temporall afflictions :
Men say they haue prescriptions
Agaynst spirituall contradictions,
Accomptynge them as fyctions.
    And whyles the heedes do this,
The remenaunt is amys
Of the clergy all,
Bothe great and small.
I wot neuer how they warke,
But thus the people barke ;#                                        120
And surely thus they say,
Bysshoppes, if they may,
Small houses wolde kepe,
But slumbre forth and slepe,
And assay to crepe
Within the noble walles
Of the kynges halles,
To fat theyr bodyes full,
Theyr soules lene and dull,
And haue full lytell care                                                 130
How euyll theyr shepe fare.
    The temporalyte say playne,
How bysshoppes dysdayne
Sermons for to make,
Or suche laboure to take ;
And for to say trouth,
A great parte is for slouth,
But the greattest parte
Is for they haue but small arte
And ryght sklender connyng                                         140
Within theyr heedes wonnyng.
But this reason they take
How they are able to make
With theyr golde and treasure
Clerkes out of measure,
And yet that is a pleasure.
How be it some there be,
Almost two or thre,
Of that dygnyte,
Full worshypfull clerkes,                                               150
As appereth by theyr werkes,
Lyke Aaron and Ure,
The wolfe from the dore
To werryn and to kepe
From theyr goostly shepe,
And theyr spirituall lammes
Sequestred from rammes
And from the berded gotes
With theyr heery cotes ;
Set nought by golde ne grotes,                                      160
Theyr names if I durst tell.
    But they are loth to mell,
And loth to hang the bell
Aboute the cattes necke,
For drede to haue a checke ;
They ar fayne to play deuz decke,
They ar made for the becke.
How be it they are good men,
Moche herted lyke an hen :
Theyr lessons forgotten they haue                                 170
That Becket them gaue :
Thomas manum mittit ad fortia,
Spernit damna, spernit opprobria,
Nulla Thomam frangit injuria.
But nowe euery spirituall father,
Men say, they had rather
Spende moche of theyr share
Than to be combred with care :
Spende !  nay, nay, but spare ;
For let se who that dare                                               180
Sho the mockysshe mare ;
They make her wynche and keke,
But it is not worth a leke :
Boldnesse is to seke
The Churche for to defend.
Take me as I intende,
For lothe I am to offende
In this that I haue pende :
I tell you as men say ;
Amende whan ye may,                                                 190
For, usque ad montem Sare,#
Men say ye can not appare ;
For some say ye hunte in parkes,
And hauke on hobby larkes,
And other wanton warkes,
Whan the nyght darkes.
    What hath lay men to do
The gray gose for to sho ?
Lyke houndes of hell,
They crye and they yell,                                                200
Howe that ye sell
The grace of the Holy Gost :
Thus they make theyr bost
Through owte euery cost,
Howe some of you do eate
In Lenton season fleshe mete,
Fesauntes, partryche, and cranes ;
Men call you therfore prophanes ;
Ye pycke no shrympes nor pranes,
Saltfysshe, stocfysshe, nor heryng,                                210
It is not for your werynge ;
Nor in holy Lenton season
Ye wyll netheyr benes ne peason,
But ye loke to be let lose
To a pygge or to a gose,
Your gorge not endewed
Without a capon stewed,
Or a stewed cocke,
To knowe whate ys a clocke
Vnder her surfled smocke,                                           220
And her wanton wodicocke.
    And how whan ye gyue orders
In your prouinciall borders,
As at Sitientes,
Some are insufficientes,
Some parum sapientes
Some nihil intelligentes,
Some valde negligentes,
Some nullum sensum habentes,
But bestiall and vntaught ;                                             230
But whan thei haue ones caught
Dominus vobiscum by the hede,
Than renne they in euery stede,
God wot, with dronken nolles ;
Yet take they cure of soules,
And woteth neuer what thei rede,
Paternoster, Ave, nor Crede ;
Construe not worth a whystle
Nether Gospell nor Pystle ;
Theyr mattyns madly sayde,                                         240
Nothynge deuoutly prayde ;
Theyr lernynge is so small,
Theyr prymes and houres fall
And lepe out of theyr lyppes
Lyke sawdust or drye chyppes.
I speke not nowe of all,
But the moost parte in generall.
Of suche vagabundus
Speketh totus mundus ;
Howe some synge Lætabundus                                    250
At euery ale stake,
With, welcome hake and make !
By the brede that God brake,
I am sory for your sake.
I speke not of the good wyfe,
But of theyr apostles lyfe ;
Cum ipsis vel illis
Qui manent in villis
Est uxor vel ancilla,
Welcome Jacke and Gylla !                                          260
My prety Petronylla,
And you wyll be stylla,
You shall haue your wylla.
Of suche Paternoster pekes
All the worlde spekes.
    In you the faute is supposed,
For that they are not apposed
By iust examinacyon
In connyng and conuersacyon ;
They haue none instructyon                                          270
To make a true constructyon :
A preest without a letter,
Without his vertue be gretter,
Doutlesse were moche better
Vpon hym for to take
A mattocke or a rake.
Alas, for very shame !
Some can not declyne their name ;
Some can not scarsly rede,
And yet he wyll not drede                                             280
For to kepe a cure,
And in nothyng is sure ;
This Dominus vobiscum,
As wyse as Tom a thrum,
A chaplayne of trust
Layth all in the dust.
    Thus I, Colyn Cloute,
As I go aboute,
And wandrynge as I walke,
I here the people talke.                                                 290
Men say, for syluer and golde
Myters are bought and solde ;
There shall no clergy appose
A myter nor a crose,
But a full purse :
A strawe for Goddes curse !
What are they the worse ?
For a symonyake
Is but a hermoniake ;
And no more ye make                                                  300
Of symony, men say,
But a chyldes play.
    Ouer this, the foresayd laye
Reporte howe the Pope may
An holy anker call
Out of the stony wall,
And hym a bysshopp make,
If he on hym dare take
To kepe so harde a rule,
To ryde vpon a mule                                                    310
With golde all betrapped,
In purple and paule belapped ;
Some hatted and some capped,
Rychely and warme bewrapped,
God wot to theyr great paynes,
In rotchettes of fyne Raynes,
Whyte as morowes mylke ;
Theyr tabertes of fyne silke,
Theyr styrops of myxt gold begared ;
There may no cost be spared ;                                     320
Theyr moyles golde dothe eate,
Theyr neyghbours dye for meate.
    What care they though Gil sweate,
Or Jacke of the Noke ?
The pore people they yoke
With sommons and citacyons
And excommunycacyons,
About churches and market :
The bysshop on his carpet
At home full softe dothe syt.                                         330
This is a farly fyt,
To here the people iangle,
Howe warely they wrangle :
Alas, why do ye not handle
And them all to-mangle ?
Full falsely on you they lye,
And shamefully you ascrye,
And say as vntruely,
As the butterflye
A man myght saye in mocke                                         340
Ware the# wethercocke
Of the steple of Poules ;
And thus they hurte theyr soules
In sclaunderyng you for truthe :
Alas, it is great ruthe !
Some say ye syt in trones,
Lyke prynces aquilonis,
And shryne your rotten bones
With perles and precyous stones ;
But how the commons grones,                                      350
And the people mones
For prestes and for lones
Lent and neuer payd,
But from day to day delayde,
The commune welth decayde,
Men say ye are tonge tayde,
And therof speke nothynge
Byt dyssymulyng and glosyng.
Wherfore men be supposyng
The ye gyue shrewd counsell                                        360
Agaynst the commune well,
By poollynge and pyllage
In cytyes and vyllage,
By taxyng and tollage,
Ye make monkes to haue the culerage
For couerynge of an olde cottage,
That commytted is a collage
In the charter of dottage,
Tenure par seruyce de sottage,
And not par seruyce de socage,                                  370
After olde seygnyours,
And the lerning of Lytelton tenours :
Ye haue so ouerthwarted,
That good lawes are subuerted,
And good reason peruerted.
    Relygous men are fayne
For to tourne agayne
In secula seculorum,
And to forsake theyr corum,
And vagabundare per forum,                                     380
And take a fyne meritorum,
Contra regulam morum,
Aut blacke monachorum,
Aut canonicorum,
Aut Bernardinorum,
Aut crucifixorum,
And to synge from place to place,
Lyke apostataas.
    And the selfe same game
Begone ys now with shame                                          390
Amongest the sely nonnes :
My lady nowe she ronnes,
Dame Sybly our abbesse,
Dame Dorothe and lady Besse,
Dame Sare our pryoresse,
Out of theyr cloyster and quere
With an heuy chere,
Must cast vp theyr blacke vayles,
And set vp theyr fucke sayles,
To catche wynde with their ventales—                          400
What, Colyne, there thou shales !
Yet thus with yll hayles
The lay fee people rayles.
    And all the fawte they lay
On you, prelates, and say
Ye do them wrong and no ryght
To put them thus to flyght ;
No matyns at mydnyght,
Boke and chalys gone quyte ;
And plucke awaye the leedes                                       410
Evyn ouer theyr heedes,
And sell away theyr belles,
And all that they haue elles :
Thus the people telles,
Rayles lyke rebelles,
Redys shrewdly and spelles,
And with foundacyons melles,
And talkys lyke tytyuelles,
How ye brake the dedes wylles,
Turne monasteris into water milles,                               420
Of an abbay ye make a graunge ;
Your workes, they saye, are straunge ;
So that theyr founders soules
Haue lost theyr beade rolles,
The mony for theyr masses
Spent amonge wanton lasses ;
The Diriges are forgotten ;
Theyr founders lye theyr rotten,
But where theyr soules dwell,
Therwith I wyll not mell.                                               430
What coulde the Turke do more
With all his false lore,
Turke, Sarazyn, or Jew ?
I reporte me to you,
O mercyfull Jesu,
You supporte and rescue,
My style for to dyrecte,
It may take some effecte !
For I abhorre to wryte
Howe the lay fee dyspyte                                             440
You prelates, that of ryght
Shulde be lanternes of lyght.
Ye lyue, they say, in delyte,
Drowned in deliciis,
In gloria et divitiis,
In admirabili honore,
In gloria, et splendore
Fulgurantis hastæ,
Viventes parum caste :
Yet swete meate hath soure sauce,                               450
For after gloria, laus,
Chryst by cruelte
Was nayled vpon a tre ;
He payed a bytter pencyon
For mannes redemcyon,
He dranke eysell and gall
To redeme vs withall ;
But swete ypocras ye drynke,
With,  Let the cat wynke !
Iche wot what yche other thynk ;                                 460
Howe be it per assimile
Some men thynke that ye
Shall haue penalte
For your iniquyte.
Nota what I say,
And bere it well away ;
If it please not theologys,
It is good for astrologys ;
For Ptholome tolde me
The sonne somtyme to be                                            470
In Ariete,
Ascendent a degre,#
Whan Scorpion descendynge,
Was so then pretendynge
A fatall fall of one
That shuld syt on a trone,
And rule all thynges alone.
Your teth whet on this bone
Amongest you euerychone,
And let Collyn Cloute haue none #                                480
Maner of cause to mone :
Lay salue to your owne sore,
For els, as I sayd before,
After gloria, laus,
May come a soure sauce ;
Sory therfore am I,
But trouth can neuer lye.
    With language thus poluted
Holy Churche is bruted
And shamfully confuted.                                               490
My penne nowe wyll I sharpe,
And wrest vp my harpe
With sharpe twynkyng trebelles,
Agaynst all suche rebelles
That laboure to confounde
And bryng the Churche to the grounde ;
As ye may dayly se
How the lay fee
Of one affynyte
Consent and agre                                                         500
Agaynst the Churche to be,
And the dygnyte
Of the bysshoppes see.
    And eyther ye be to bad,
Or els they ar mad
Of this to reporte :
But, vnder your supporte,
Tyll my dyenge day
I shall bothe wryte and say,
And ye shall do the same,                                             510
Howe they are to blame
You thus to dyffame :
For it maketh me sad
Howe that people are glad
The Churche to depraue ;
And some there are that raue,
Presumynge on theyr wyt,
Whan there is neuer a whyt,
To mayntayne argumentes
Agaynst the sacramentes.                                             520
    Some make epylogacyon
Of hyghe predestynacyon ;
And of resydeuacyon
They make interpretacyon
Of an aquarde facyon ;
And of the prescience
Of dyuyne essence ;
And what ipostacis
Of Christes manhode is.
Suche logyke men wyll chop,                                       530
And in theyr fury hop,
When the good ale sop
Dothe daunce in theyr fore top ;
Bothe women and men,
Suche ye may well knowe and ken,
That agaynst preesthode
Theyr malyce sprede abrode,
Raylynge haynously
And dysdaynously
Of preestly dygnytes,                                                   540
But theyr malygnytes.
    And some haue a smacke
Of Luthers sacke,
And a brennyng sparke
Of Luthers warke,
And are somewhat suspecte
In Luthers secte ;
And some of them barke,
Clatter and carpe
Of that heresy arte                                                       550
Called Wicleuista,
The deuelysshe dogmatista ;
And some be Hussyans,
And some be Arryans,
And some be Pollegians,
And make moche varyans
Bytwene the clergye
And the temporaltye,
Howe the Church# hath to mykel,
And they haue to lytell,                                                 560
And bryng in materialites
And qualyfyed qualytes ;
Of pluralytes,
Of tryalytes,
And of tot quottes,
They commune lyke sottes,
As commeth to theyr lottes ;
Of prebendaries and deanes,
Howe some of them gleanes
And gathereth vp the store                                           570
For to catche more and more ;
Of persons and vycaryes
They make many outcryes ;
They cannot kepe theyr wyues
From them for theyr lyues ;
And thus the loselles stryues,
And lewdely sayes by Christ
Agaynst the sely preest.
Alas, and well away,
What ayles them thus to say ?                                       580
They mought be better aduysed
Then to be so dysgysed :
But they haue enterprysed,
And shamfully surmysed,
Howe prelacy is solde and bought,
And come vp of nought ;
And where the prelates be
Come of lowe degre,
And set in maieste
And spirituall dyngnyte,                                                590
Farwell benygnyte,
Farwell symplicite,
Farwell humylyte,
Farwell good charyte !
    Ye are so puffed wyth pryde,
That no man may abyde
Your hygh and lordely lokes :
Ye cast vp then your bokes,
And vertue is forgotten ;
For then ye wyll be wroken                                         600
Of euery lyght quarell,
And call a lorde a iauell,
A knyght a knaue ye make ;
Ye bost, ye face, ye crake,
And vpon you ye take
To rule bothe kynge and kayser ;
And yf ye may haue layser,
Ye wyll brynge all to nought,
And that is all your thought :
For the lordes temporall,                                              610
Theyr rule is very small,
Almost nothyng at all.
Men saye howe ye appall
The noble blode royall :
In ernest and in game,
Ye are the lesse to blame,
For lordes of noble blode,
If they well vnderstode
How connyng myght them auaunce,
They wold pype you another daunce :                           620
But noble men borne
To lerne they haue scorne,
But hunt and blowe an horne,
Lepe ouer lakes and dykes,
Set nothyng by polytykes ;
Therfore ye kepe them bace,
And mocke them to theyr face :
This is a pyteous case,
To you that ouer the whele
Grete lordes must crouche and knele,                           630
And breke theyr hose at the kne,
As dayly men may se,
And to remembraunce call,
Fortune so turneth the ball
And ruleth so ouer all,
That honoure hath a great fall.
    Shall I tell you more ?  ye, shall.
I am loth to tell all ;
But the communalte yow call
Ydolles of Babylon,                                                     640
De terra  Zabulon
De terra  Neptalym ;
For ye loue to go trym,
Brought vp of poore estate,
With pryde inordinate,
Sodaynly vpstarte
From the donge carte,
The mattocke and the shule,
To reygne and to rule ;
And haue no grace to thynke                                        650
Howe ye were wonte to drynke
Of a lether bottell
With a knauysshe stoppell,
Whan mamockes was your meate,
With moldy brede to eate ;
Ye cowde none other gete
To chewe and to gnawe,
To fyll therwith your mawe ;
Loggyng in fayre strawe,
Couchyng your drousy heddes                                     660
Somtyme in lousy beddes.
Alas, this is out of mynde !
Ye growe nowe out of kynde :
Many one ye haue vntwynde,
And made the commons blynde.
But qui se existimat stare,
Let hym well beware
Lest that his fote slyp,
And haue suche a tryp,
And falle in suche dekay,                                              670
That all the worlde may say,
Come downe, in the deuyll way !
    Yet, ouer all that,
Of bysshops they chat,
That though ye round your hear
An ynche aboue your ear,
And haue aures patentes
And parum intendentes,
And your tonsors be croppyd,
Your eares they be stopped ;                                       680
For maister Adulator,
And doctour Assentator,
And Blandior blandiris,
With Mentior mentiris,
They folowe your desyres,
And so they blere your eyes,
That ye can not espye
How the male dothe wrye.
    Alas, for Goddes wyll,
Why syt ye, prelates, styll,                                            690
And suffre all this yll ?
Ye bysshops of estates
Shulde open the brode gates
Of your spirituall charge,
And com forthe at large,
Lyke lanternes of lyght,
In the peoples syght,
In pullpettes awtentyke,
For the wele publyke
Of preesthode in this case ;                                          700
And alwayes to chase 
Suche maner of sysmatykes
And halfe heretykes,
That wolde intoxicate,
That wolde conquinate,
That wolde contaminate,
And that wolde vyolate,
And that wolde derogate,
And that wolde abrogate
The Churchis hygh estates,                                           710
After this maner rates,
The which shulde be
Both franke and free,
And haue theyr lyberte,
As of antiquyte
It was ratefyed,
And also gratifyed,
By holy synodalles
And bulles papalles,
As it is res certa                                                          720
Conteyned in Magna Charta.
    But maister Damyan,
Or some other man,
That clerkely is and can
Well scrypture expounde
And hys textes grounde,
His benefyce worthe ten pounde,
Or skante worth twenty marke,
And yet a noble clerke,
He must do this werke ;                                               730
As I knowe a parte,
Some maisters of arte,
Some doctours of lawe,
Some lernde in other sawe,
As in dyuynyte,
That hath no dygnyte
But the pore degre
Of the vnyuersyte ;
Or els frere Frederycke,
Or els frere Dominike,                                                  740
Or frere Hugulinus,
Or frere Augustinus,
Or frere Carmelus,
That gostly can heale vs ;
Or els yf we may
Get a frere graye,
Or els of the order
Vpon Grenewyche border,
Called Obseruance,
Or a frere of Fraunce ;                                                 750
Or else the poore Scot,
It must come to his lot
To shote forthe his shot ;
Or of Babuell besyde Bery,
To postell vpon a kyry,
That wolde it shulde be noted
Howe scripture shulde be coted,
And so clerkley promoted ;
And yet the frere doted.
    But men sey your awtoryte,                                      760
And your noble se,
And your dygnyte,
Shulde be imprynted better
Then all the freres letter ;
For if ye wolde take payne
To preche a worde or twayne,
Though it were neuer so playne,
With clauses two or thre,
So as they myght be
Compendyously conueyde,                                          770
These wordes shuld be more weyd,
And better perceyued,
And thankfullerlye receyued,
And better shulde remayne
Amonge the people playne,
That wold your wordes retayne
And reherce them agayne,
Than a thousand thousande other,
That blaber, barke, and blother,
And make a Walshmans hose                                      780
Of the texte and of the glose.
    For protestatyon made,
That I wyll not wade
Farther in this broke,
Nor farther for to loke
In deuysynge of this boke,
But answere that I may
For my selfe alway,
Eyther analogice
Or els categorice,                                                       790
So that in diuinite
Doctors that lerned be,
Nor bachelers of that faculte
That hath taken degre
In the vniversite,
Shall not be obiecte at by me.
    But doctour Bullatus,
Parum litteratus,
Dominus doctoratus
At the brode gatus,                                                      800
Doctour Daupatus,
And bacheler bacheleratus,
Dronken as a mouse,
At the ale house,
Taketh his pyllyon and his cap
At the good ale tap,
For lacke of good wyne ;
As wyse as Robyn swyne,
Vnder a notaryes sygne
Was made a dyuyne ;                                                   810
As wyse as Waltoms calfe,
Must preche, a Goddes halfe,
In the pulpyt solempnely ;
More mete in the pyllory,
For, by saynt Hyllary,
He can nothyng smatter
Of logyke nor scole matter,
Neyther syllogisare,
Nor enthymemare,
Nor knoweth his elenkes,                                             820
Nor his predicamens ;
And yet he wyll mell
To amend the gospell,
And wyll preche and tell
What they do in hell ;
And he dare not well neuen
What they do in heuen,
Nor how farre Temple barre is
From the seuen starrys.
    Nowe wyll I go                                                        830
And tell of other mo,
Semper protestando
De non impugnando
The foure ordores of fryers,
Though some of them be lyers ;
As Lymyters at large
Wyll charge and dyscharge ;
As many a frere, God wote,
Preches for his grote,
Flatterynge for a newe cote                                          840
And for to haue his fees ;
Some to gather chese ;
Loth they are to lese
Eyther corne or malte ;
Somtyme meale and salte,
Somtyme a bacon flycke,
That is thre fyngers thycke
Of larde and of greace,
Theyr couent to encreace.
    I put you out of doute,                                              850
This can not be rought aboutw
But they theyr tonges fyle, And make a plesaunt style
To Margery and to Maude,
Howe they haue no fraude ;
And somtyme they prouoke
Bothe Gyll and Jacke at Noke
Their dewtyes to withdrawe,
That they ought by the lawe
Theyr curates to content                                               860
In open tyme and in Lent :
God wot, they take great payne
To flatter and to fayne ;
But it is an olde sayd sawe,
That nede hath no lawe.
Some walke aboute in melottes,
In gray russet and heery cotes ;
Some wyl neyther golde ne grotes ;
Some plucke a partrych in remotes,
And by the barres of her tayle                                      870
Wyll knowe a rauen from a rayle,
A quayle, the raile, and the olde rauen
Sed libera nos a malo !  Amen.
And by Dudum, theyr Clementine,
Agaynst curates they repyne ;
And say propreli they ar sacerdotes,
To shryue, assoyle, and reles
Dame Margeries soule out of hell :
But when the freare fell in the well,
He coud not syng himselfe therout                                880
But by the helpe of Christyan Clout.
Another Clementyne also,#
How frere Fabian, with other mo,
Exivit de Paradiso ;
Whan they agayn theder shal come,
De hoc petimus consilium :
And through all the world they go
With Dirige and Placebo.
    But nowe my mynd ye vnderstand,
For they must take in hande                                          890
To prech, and to withstande
Al maner of abiectioons ;
For bysshops haue protections,
They say, to do corrections,
But they haue no affections
To take the sayd dyrections ;
In such maner of cases,
Men say, they bere no faces
To occupye suche places,
To sowe the sede of graces :                                         900
Theyr hertes are so faynted,
And they be so attaynted
With coueytous and ambycyon,
And other superstycyon,
That they be deef and dum,
And play scylens and glum,
Can say nothynge but mum.
    They occupye them so
With syngyng Placebo,
They wyll no farther go :                                               910
They had leuer to please,
And take their worldly ease,
Than to take on hande
Worsshepfully to withstande
Such temporall warre and bate,
As nowe is made of late
Agaynst holy Church estate,
Or to mayntayne good quarelles.
The lay men call them barrelles
Full of glotony                                                              920
And of hypocrysy,
That counterfaytes and payntes
As they were very sayntes :
In matters that them lyke
They shewe them polytyke,
Pretendyng grauyte
And sygnyoryte,
With all solempnyte,
For theyr indempnyte ;
For they wyll haue no losse                                          930
Of a peny nor of a crosse
Of theyr predyall landes,
That cometh to theyr handes,
And as farre as they dare set,
All is fysshe that cometh to net :
Buyldyng royally
Theyr mancyons curyously,
With turrettes and with toures,
With halles and with boures,
Stretchynge to the starres,                                            940
With glasse wyndowes and barres ;
Hangynge aboute the walles
Clothes of golde and palles,
Arras of ryche aray,
Fresshe as flours in May ;
Wyth dame Dyana naked ;
Howe lusty Venus quaked,
And howe Cupyde shaked
His darte, and bent his bowe
For to shote a crowe                                                   950
At her tyrly tyrlowe ;
And howe Parys of Troy
Daunced a lege de moy,
Made lusty sporte and ioy
With dame Helyn the quene ;
With suche storyes bydene
Their chambres well besene ;
With triumphes of Cesar,
And of Pompeyus war,
Of renowne and of fame                                              960
By them to get a name :
Nowe all the worlde stares,
How they ryde in goodly chares,
Conueyed by olyphantes,
With lauryat garlantes,
And by vnycornes
With their semely hornes ;
Vpon these beestes rydynge,
Naked boyes strydynge,
With wanton wenches winkyng.                                   970
Nowe truly, to my thynkynge,
That is a speculacyon
And a mete meditacyon
For prelates of estate,
Their courage to abate
From worldly wantonnesse,
Theyr chambres thus to dresse
With suche parfetnesse
And all suche holynesse ;
How be it they let downe fall                                        980
Their churches cathedrall.
    Squyre, knyght, and lorde,
Thus the Churche remorde ;
With all temporall people
They rune agaynst the steple,
Thus talkynge and tellyng
How some of you are mellyng ;
Yet softe and fayre for swellyng,
Beware of a quenes yellyng.
It is a besy thyng                                                          990
For one man to rule a kyng
Alone and make rekenyng,
To gouerne ouer all
And rule a realme royall
By one mannes verrey wyt ;
Fortune may chaunce to flyt,
And whan he weneth to syt,
Yet may he mysse the quysshon :
For I rede a preposycyon,
Cum regibus amicare,                                                1000
Et omnibus dominari,
Et supra te pravare ;
Wherfore he hathe good vre
That can hymselfe assure
Howe fortune wyll endure.
For the communalte dothe reporte
That they haue great wonder
That ye kepe them so vnder ;
Yet they meruayle so moche lesse,                              1010
For ye play so at the chesse,
As they suppose and gesse,
That some of you but late
Hath played so checkemate
With lordes of great estate,
After suche a rate,
That they shall mell nor make,
Nor vpon them take,
For kynge nor kayser sake,
But at the playsure of one                                           1020
That ruleth the roste alone.
    Helas, I say, Helas !
Howe may this come to passe,
That a man shall here a masse,
And not so hardy on his hede,
To loke on God in forme of brede,
But that the parysshe clerke
There vpon must herke,
And graunt hym at his askyng
For to se the sacryng ?                                               1030
    And howe may this accorde,
No man to our souerayne lorde
So hardy to make sute,
Nor yet to execute
His commaundement,
Without the assent
Of our presydent,
Nor to expresse to his person,
Without your consentatyon
Graunt hym his lycence                                               1040
To preas to his presence,
Nor to speke to hym secretly,
Openly nor preuyly,
Without his presydent be by,
Or els his substytute
Whom he wyll depute ?
Neyther erle ne duke
Permytted ?  by saynt Luke,
And by swete saynt Marke,
This is a wonderous warke !                                       1050
That the people talke this,
Somewhat there is amysse :
The deuil cannot stop their mouthes,
But they wyl talke of such vncouthes,
All that euer they ken
Agaynst all spirituall men.
    Whether it be wrong or ryght,
Or els for dyspyght,
Or howe euer it hap,
Theyr tonges thus do clap,                                          1060
And through suche detractyon
They put you to your actyon ;
And whether they say trewly
As they may abyde therby,
Or els that they do lye,
Ye knowe better then I.
But nowe debetis scire,
And groundly audire,
In your convenire,
Of this premenire,                                                        1070
Or els in the myre
They saye they wyll you cast ;
Therfore stande sure and fast.
    Stande sure, and take good fotyng,
And let be all your motyng,
Your gasyng and your totyng,
And your parcyall promotyng
Of those that stande in your grace ;
But olde seruantes ye chase,
And put them out of theyr place.                                 1080
Make ye no murmuracyon,
Though I wryte after this facion ;
Though I, Colin Cloute,
Among the hole route
Of you that clerkes be,
Take nowe vpon me
Thus copyously to wryte,
I do it for no despyte.
Wherfore take no dysdayne
At my style rude and playne ;                                       1090
For I rebuke no man
That vertuous is : why than
Wreke ye your anger on me ?
For those that vertuous be
Haue no cause to say
That I speke out of the way.
    Of no good bysshop speke I,
Nor good preest I escrye,
Good frere, nor good chanon,
Good nonne, nor good canon,                                     1100
Good monke, nor good clercke,
Nor yette of no good werke :
But my recountyng is
Of them that do amys,
In speking and rebellyng,
In hynderyng and dysauaylyng
Holy Churche, our mother,
One agaynst another ;
To vse suche despytyng
Is all my hole wrytyng ;                                               1110
To hynder no man,
As nere I can,
For no man haue I named :
Wherfore sholde I be blamed ?
Ye ought to be ashamed,
Agaynst me to be gramed,
And can tell no cause why,
But that I wryte trewly.
    Then yf any there be
Of hygh or lowe degre                                                1120
Of the spiritualte,
Or of the temporalte
That dothe thynke or wene
That his conscyence be not clene,
And feleth hymselfe sycke,
Or touched on the quycke,
Suche grace God them sende
Themselfe to amende,
For I wyll not pretende
Any man to offende.                                                   1130
    Wherfore, as thynketh me,
Great ydeottes they be,
And lytell grace they haue,
This treatyse to depraue ;
Nor wyll here no prechyng,
Nor no vertuous techyng,
Nor wyll haue no resytyng
Of any vertuous wrytyng ;
Wyll knowe none intellygence
To refourme theyr neglygence,                                    1140
But lyue styll out of of facyon,
To theyr owne dampnacyon.
To do shame they haue no shame,
But they wold no man shulde them blame :
They haue an euyl name,
But yet they wyll occupy the same.
    With them the worde of God
Is counted for no rod ;
They counte it for a raylyng,
That nothyng is auaylyng ;                                           1150
The prechers with euyll hayling :
Shall they daunt vs prelates,
That be theyr prymates ?
Not so hardy on theyr pates !
Herke, howe the losell prates,
With a wyde wesaunt !
Auaunt, syr Guy of Gaunt !
Auaunt, lewde preest, auaunt !
Auaunt, syr doctour Deuyas !
Prate of thy matyns and thy masse,                             1160
And let our maters passe :
Howe darest thou, daucocke, mell ?
Howe darest thou, losell,
Allygate the gospell
Agaynst vs of the counsell ?
Auaunt to the deuyll of hell !
Take hym, wardeyne of the Flete,
Set hym fast by the fete !
I say, lyeutenaunt of the Toure,
Make this lurdeyne for to loure ;                                  1170
Lodge hym in Lytell Ease,
Fede hym with beanes and pease !
The Kynges Benche or Marshalsy,
Haue hym thyder by and by !
The vyllayne precheth openly,
And declareth our vyllany ;
And of our fre symplenesse
He sayes that we are rechelesse,
And full of wylfulnesse,
Shameles and mercylesse,                                           1180
Incorrigible and insaciate ;
And after this rate
Agaynst vs dothe prate.
    At Poules Crosse or els where,
Openly at Westmynstere,
And Saynt Mary Spyttell,
They set not by vs a whystell :
At the Austen fryers
They count vs for lyers :
And at Saynt Thomas of Akers                                   1190
They carpe vs lyke crakers,
Howe we wyll rule al at wyll
Without good reason or skyll ;
And say how that we be
Full of parcyalyte ;
And howe at a pronge
We tourne ryght into wronge,
Delay causes so longe
That ryght no man can fonge ;
They say many matters be born                                   1200
By the ryght of a rambes horne.
Is not this a samfull scorne,
To be teared thus and torne.
    How may we thys indure ?
Wherfore we make you sure,
Ye prechers shall be yawde ;
And some shall be sawde,
As noble Isaias,
The holy prophet, was ;
And some of you shall dye,                                         1210
Lyke holy Jeremy ;
Some hanged, some slayne,
Some beaten to the brayne ;
And we wyll rule and rayne,
And our matters mayntayne
Who dare say there agayne,
Or who dare dysdayne
At our pleasure and wyll :
For, be it good or be it yll,
As it is, it shall be styll,                                                1220
For all master doctour of Cyuyll,
Or of Diuine, or doctour Dryuyll,
Let hym cough, rough, or sneuyll ;
Renne God, renne deuyll,
Renne who may renne best,
And let take all the rest !
We set not a nut shell
The way to heuen or to hell.
    Lo, this is the gyse now a dayes !
It is to drede, men sayes,                                            1230
Lest they be Saduces,
As they be sayd sayne
Whiche determyned playne
We shulde not ryse agayne
At dredefull domis day ;
And so it semeth they play,
Whiche hate to be corrected
Whan they be infected,
Nor wyll suffre this boke
By hoke ne by croke                                                  1240
Prynted for to be,
For that no man shulde se
Nor rede in any scrolles
Of theyr dronken nolles,
Nor of theyr noddy polles,
Nor of theyr sely soules,
Nor of some wytles pates
Of dyuers great estates,
As well as other men.
    Now to withdrawe my pen,                                     1250
And now a whyle to rest,
Me semeth it for the best.
    The forecastell of my shyp
Shall glyde, and smothely slyp
Out of the wawes wod
Of the stormy flod ;
Shote anker, and lye at rode,
And sayle not farre abrode,
Tyll the cost be clere,
And the lode starre appere :                                        1260
My shyp nowe wyll I stere
Towarde the porte salu
Of our Sauyour Jesu,
Suche grace that he vs sende,
To rectyfye and amende
Thynges that are amys,
Whan that his pleasure is.
                Amen !
In opere imperfecto,
In opere semper perfecto,
Et in opere plusquam perfecto !                                 1270
Colinus Cloutus, quanquam mea carmina multis
Sordescunt stultis, sed puevinate sunt rare cultis,
Pue vinatis altisem divino flamine flatis.
Unde meâ refert tanto minus, invida quamvis
Lingua nocere parat, quia, quanquam rustica canto,
Undique cantabor tamen et celebrabor ubique,
Inclita dum maneat gens Anglica.  Laurus honoris,
Quondam regnorum regina et gloria regum,
Heu, modo marcescit, tabescit, languida torpet !
Ah pudet, ah miseret !  vetor hic ego pandere plura
Pro gemitu et lacrimis :  præstet peto præmia pæna.**

  [Dyce's notes]
    *   From  the  ed.  by   Kele,  n. d.,   collated   with  the  ed.  by
Kytson,  n. d.,  with  Marshe's  ed.  of   Skelton's   Workes,  1568,
and with a MS. in the Harleian Collection, 2252. fol. 147.

    ** These verses, not in eds., follow the poem of Colyn Cloute
in  the  Harleian  MS.    The corruptions in the second  and  third
lines  (distinguished  by   Roman  letter)  have  baffled  the  inge-
nuity of the several scholars to whom I submitted them.

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