Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extracts from London Lickpenny
By John Lydgate (c. 1370–c. 1451)
TO London once my stepps I bent,
Where trouth in no wyse should be faynt,
To Westmynster-ward I forthwith went,
To a man of law to make complaynt;
I sayd, ‘for Marys love, that holy saynt!        5
Pity the poore that wold proceede’;
But for lack of mony I cold not spede.
[After visiting all the courts at Westminster one after another, and finding that everywhere want of cash is the one insuperable impediment, he passes eastward to the City.]

Then unto London I dyd me hye,
Of all the land it beareth the pryse:
‘Hot pescodes,’ one began to crye,        10
‘Strabery rype, and cherryes in the ryse’;
One bad me come nere and by some spyce,
Peper and safforne they gan me bede, 1
But for lack of mony I myght not spede.
Then to the Chepe I began me drawne,        15
Where mutch people I saw for to stand;
One ofred me velvet, sylke, and lawne,
An other he taketh me by the hande,
‘Here is Parys thred, the fynest in the land’;
I never was used to such thyngs indede,        20
And wanting mony, I might not spede.
Then went I forth by London stone,
Th[o]roughout all Canwyke streete;
Drapers mutch cloth me offred anone;
Then comes me one, cryed, ‘Hot shepes feete’;        25
One cryde ‘makerell,’ ‘ryshes 2 grene,’ an other gan greete; 3
On bad me by a hood to cover my head,
But for want of mony I myght not be sped.
Then I hyed me into Est-Chepe;
One cryes rybbs of befe, and many a pye:        30
Pewter pottes they clattered on a heape;
There was harpe, pype, and mynstralsye.
‘Yea, by cock! nay, by cock!’ some began crye;
Some songe of Jenken and Julyan for there mede;
But for lack of mony I myght not spede.        35
Then into Corn-Hyll anon I yode, 4
Where was mutch stolen gere amonge;
I saw where honge myne owne hoode,
That I had lost amonge the thronge;
To by my own hood I thought it wronge,        40
I knew it well as I dyd my crede,
But for lack of mony I could not spede.
The taverner tooke me by the sleve,
‘Sir,’ sayth he, ‘wyll you our wyne assay’?
I answered, ‘That can not mutch me greve:        45
A peny can do no more then it may’;
I drank a pynt, and for it did paye;
Yet sone a-hungerd from thence I yede,
And wantyng mony, I cold not spede.
Then hyed I me to Belyngsgate;        50
And one cryed, ‘Hoo! go we hence!’
I prayd a barge-man, for God’s sake,
That he wold spare me my expence.
‘Thou scapst not here,’ quod he, ‘under two pence;
I lyst not yet bestow my almes dede.’        55
Thus, lackyng mony, I could not spede.
Then I convayd me into Kent;
For of the law wold I meddle no more;
Because no man to me tooke entent,
I dyght me to do as I dyd before.        60
Now Jesus, that in Bethlem was bore,
Save London, and send trew lawyers there mede!
For who so wantes mony with them shall not spede.
Note 1. began to offer me. [back]
Note 2. rushes. [back]
Note 3. cry. [back]
Note 4. went. [back]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.