John Skelton

(1460 - 1529 / Norfolk, England)

Excerpt from Speke, Parrot


Parotte.
So many morall maters,* and so lytell vsyd ;
So myche newe makyng,* and so madd tyme spente ;
So myche translacion in to Englyshe confused ;
So myche nobyll prechyng, and so lytell amendment ;
So myche consultacion, almoste to none entente ;
So myche provision, and so lytell wytte at nede ;—
Syns Dewcalyons flodde there can no clerkes rede.

So lytyll dyscressyon, and so myche reasonyng ;
So myche hardy dardy, and so lytell manlynes ;
So prodigall expence, and so shamfull reconyng ;
So gorgyous garmentes, and so myche wrechydnese ;
So myche portlye pride, with pursys penyles
So myche spente before, and so myche vnpayd behynde ;—
Syns Dewcalyons flodde there can no clerkes fynde.

So myche forcastyng, and so farre an after dele ;
So myche poletyke pratyng, and so lytell stondythe* in stede ;
So lytell secretnese, and so myche grete councell ;
So manye bolde barons, there hertes as dull as lede ;
So many nobyll bodyes vndyr on dawys hedd ;*
So royall a kyng as reynythe vppon vs all ;—
Syns Dewcalions flodde was nevyr sene nor shall.

So many complayntes, and so smalle redresse ;
So myche callyng on, and so smalle takyng hede ;
So myche losse of merchaundyse, and so remedyles ;
So lytell care for the comyn weall, and so myche nede ;
So myche dow3tfull daunger,* and so lytell drede ;
So myche pride of prelattes, so cruell and so kene ;—
Syns Dewcalyons flodde, I trowe, was nevyr sene.

So many thevys hangyd, and thevys never the lesse ;
So myche prisonment ffor matyrs not worthe an hawe ;*
So myche papers weryng for ryghte a smalle exesse ;*
So myche pelory pajauntes* vndyr colower of good lawe ;
So myche towrnyng on the cooke stole* for euery guy gaw ;*
So myche mokkyshe makyng of statutes of array ;—
Syns Dewcalyons flodde was nevyr, I dar sey.

So braynles caluys hedes, so many shepis taylys ;
So bolde a braggyng bocher,* and flesshe sold so dere ;
So many plucte partryches, and so fatte quaylles ;
So mangye a mastyfe curre, the grete grey houndes pere ; *
So bygge a bulke of brow auntlers cabagyd that yere;*
So many swannes dede, and so small revell ;
Syns Dewcalyons flodde, I trow, no man can tell.

So many trusys takyn, and so lytyll perfyte trowthe ;
So myche bely joye, and so wastefull banketyng ;*
So pynchyng and sparyng, and so lytell profyte growthe ;
So many howgye* howsys byldyng, and so small howseholding ;
Suche statutes apon* diettes, suche pyllyng and pollyng ;*
So ys all thyng wrowghte wylfully withowte reson and skylle* ;—
Syns Dewcalyons flodde the world was never so yll.

So many vacabondes, so many beggers bolde ;
So myche decay of monesteries and of relygious places ;
So hote hatered agaynste the Chyrche, and cheryte so colde ;
So myche of my lordes grace, and in hym no grace ys ;
So many holow hartes, and so dowbyll faces ;
So myche sayntuary brekyng,* and preuylegidde barrydd ;—
Syns Dewcalyons flodde was nevyr sene nor lyerd.*

So myche raggyd ryghte of a rammes horne ;
So rygorous revelyng1 in a prelate specially ;
So bold and so braggyng, and was so baselye borne ;
So lordlye of hys lokes and so dysdayneslye ;*
So fatte a magott, bred of a flesshe flye ;
Was nevyr suche a ffylty gorgon,* nor suche an epycure,
Syn[s] Dewcalyons flodde, I make thé faste and sure.

So myche preuye wachyng in cold wynters nyghtes ;
So myche serchyng of loselles, and ys hymselfe so lewde ;*
So myche coniuracions for elvyshe myday sprettes ;*
So many bullys of' pardon puplysshyd* and shewyd ;
So myche crossyng and blyssyng, and hym all beshrewde ; *
Suche pollaxis and pyllers, suche mvlys trapte with gold ;—
Sens Dewcalyons flodde in no cronycle ys told.

Dixit, quod Parrot.
Crescet in immensum me vivo Psittacus iste ;
Hinc mea dicetur Skeltonidis inclyta fama.
Quod Skelton Lawryat,
Orator Regius.
34.]

Submitted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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