Colyn cloute

John Skelton 1460 (Norfolk) – 1529 (London)

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,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:16 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 4,154
Words 654
Stanzas 2
Stanza Lengths 3, 138

John Skelton

John Skelton (1460-1529), also known as John Shelton, possibly born in Diss, Norfolk, was an English poet. more…

All John Skelton poems | John Skelton Books

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