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
Extract from Colyn Cloute
By John Skelton (1460?–1529)
As I go about
And wandryng as I walke
I heare the people talke;
Men say for syluer and golde        5
Miters are bought and sold;
There shall no clergy appose
A myter nor a crosse
But a full purse.
  A straw for Goddes curse!        10
What are they the worse?
For a simoniake,
Is but a hermoniake, 1
And no more ye make
Of symony men say        15
But a childes play.
  Over this, the forsayd laye
Report how the pope maye
A holy anker 2 call
Out of the stony wall,        20
And hym a bysshopp make
If he on him dare take
To kepe so hard a rule,
To ryde vpon a mule
Wyth golde all betrapped,        25
In purple and paule belapped.
Some hatted and some capped,
  Rychely be wrapped,
God wot to theyr great paynes,
In rochettes of fine raynes; 3        30
Whyte as morowes 4 mylke,
Their tabertes of fine silke,
Their stirops of mixt golde begared, 5
There may no cost be spared.
Their moyles 6 golde doth eate,        35
Theyr neighbours dye for meat.
  What care they though Gill sweat,
Or Jacke of the Noke?
The pore people they yoke
With sommons and citacions        40
And excommunications
Aboute churches and market;
The bysshop on his carpet
At home full soft doth syt,
This is a feareful fyt,        45
To heare the people iangle!
How warely they wrangle,
Alas why do ye not handle,
And them all mangle?
Full falsly on you they lye        50
And shamefully you ascry, 7
And say as untruly,
As the butterfly
A man might say in mocke
Ware 8 the wethercocke        55
Of the steple of Poules, 9
And thus they hurt their soules
In sclaunderyng you for truth,
Alas it is great ruthe!
Some say ye sit in trones        60
Like prynces aquilonis,
And shryne your rotten bones
With pearles and precious stones,
But now the commons grones
And the people mones        65
For preestes 10 and for lones
Lent and neuer payde,
But from day to day delaid,
The commune welth decayd.
Men say ye are tunge tayde, 11        70
And therof speake nothing
But dissimuling and glosing.
Wherfore men be supposing
That ye geue shrewd 12 counsel
Against the commune wel,        75
By pollyng 13 and pillage
In cities and village,
By taxyng and tollage,
Ye have monks to have the culerage
For coueryng of an old cottage,        80
That committed is a collage,
In the charter of dottage,
Tenure par service de sottage,
And not par service de socage,
After old segnyours        85
And the learning of Litleton tenours,
Ye haue so ouerthwarted
That good lawes are subuerted,
And good reason peruerted.
Note 1. A word unexplained by Dyce. Mr. Skeat suggests that harmoniac = promoter of harmony; a man who makes things pleasant all round. [back]
Note 2. anchorite. [back]
Note 3. linen made at Rennes in Brittany. [back]
Note 4. morning. [back]
Note 5. adorned. [back]
Note 6. mules. [back]
Note 7. call out against. [back]
Note 8. were. [back]
Note 9. Like so many Lucifers. [back]
Note 10. advances. [back]
Note 11. tied. [back]
Note 12. evil. [back]
Note 13. plundering. [back]

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