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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Universal Shyp
By Sebastian Brant (1458–1521)
 
COME to, Companyons: ren: tyme it is to rowe:
  Our Carake fletis: 1 the se is large and wyde
And depe Inough: a pleasaunt wynde doth blowe.
  Prolonge no tyme, our Carake doth you byde,
  Our felawes tary for you on every syde.        5
Hast hyther, I say, ye folys 2 naturall,
Howe oft shall I you unto my Navy call?
 
Ye have one confort, ye shall nat be alone:
  Your company almoste is infynyte;
For nowe alyve ar men but fewe or none        10
  That of my shyp can red hym selfe out quyte. 3
  A fole in felawes hath pleasour and delyte.
Here can none want, for our proclamacion
Extendyth farre: and to many a straunge nacyon.
 
Both yonge and olde, pore man, and estate:        15
  The folysshe moder: hir doughter by hir syde,
Ren to our Navy, ferynge to come to[o] late.
  No maner of degre is in the worlde wyde,
  But that for all theyr statelynes and pryde
As many as from the way of wysdome tryp        20
  Shall have a rowme and place within my shyp.
 
My folysshe felawes therfore I you exort
  Hast to our Navy, for tyme it is to rowe:
Nowe must we leve eche sympyll 4 haven and porte,
  And sayle to that londe where folys abound and flow;        25
  For whether we aryve at London or Bristowe,
Or any other Haven within this our londe,
We folys ynowe 5 shall fynde alway at honde….
 
Our frayle bodyes wandreth in care and payne
  And lyke to botes troubled with tempest sore        30
From rocke to rocke cast in this se mundayne,
  Before our iyen beholde we ever more
  The deth of them that passed are before.
Alas mysfortune us causeth oft to rue
Whan to vayne thoughtis our bodyes we subdue.        35
 
We wander in more dout than mortall man can thynke,
  And oft by our foly and wylfull neglygence
Our shyp is in great peryll for to synke.
  So sore ar we overcharged with offence
  We see the daunger before our owne presence        40
Of straytis, rockis, and bankis of sonde full hye,
Yet we procede to wylfull jeopardye.
 
We dyvers Monsters within the se beholde
  Redy to abuse or to devour mankynde,
As Dolphyns, whallys, and wonders many folde,        45
  And oft the Marmaydes songe dullyth our mynde
  That to all goodnes we ar made dull and blynde;
The wolves of these oft do us moche care,
Yet we of them can never well beware….
 
About we wander in tempest and Tourment;        50
What place is sure, where Foles may remayne
And fyx theyr dwellynge sure and parmanent?
  None certainly: The cause thereof is playne.
  We wander in the se for pleasour, bydynge payne,
And though the haven of helth be in our syght        55
Alas we fle from it with all our myght.
 
Note 1. Floats. [back]
Note 2. Fools. [back]
Note 3. Quite rid himself of. [back]
Note 4. Single. [back]
Note 5. Enough. [back]
 
 
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