The Bowge of Courte


In Autumpne, whan the sonne in vyrgyne
By radyante hete enryped hath our corne,
Whan Luna, full of mutabylyte,
As Emperes the dyademe hath worne
Of our pole artyke, smylynge halfe in scorne
At our foly and our unstedfastnesse,
The tyme whan Mars to werre hym dyde dres,

pole artyke: Arcturus of the Corona Borealis
I, callynge to mynde the great auctoryte
Of poetes olde, whyche full craftely
Under as coverte termes as coude be,
Can touche a troughte and cloke it subtylly
Wyth fresshe utteraunce full sentencyonsly,
Dyverse in style, some spared not vyce to wrythe,
Some of moralyte nobly dyde endyte,

Wherby I rede theyr renome and theyr fame
Maye never dye bute evermore endure.
I was sore moved to a force the same,
But Ignoraunce full soone dyde me dyscure
And shewed that in this arte I was not sure,
For to illumyne she sayde I was to dulle,
Avysynge me my penne awaye to pulle

And not to wrythe, for he so wyll atteyne,
Excedynge ferther than his connynge is,
His hede maye be harde, but feble is his brayne!
Yet have I knowen suche er this;
But of reproche surely he maye not mys
That clymmeth hyer than he may fotynge have;
What and he slyde downe, who shall hym save?

Thus up and down my mynde was drawen and cast
That I ne wyste what to do was beste;
Soo sore enwered that I was, at the laste,
Enforsed to slepe and for to take some reste,
And to lye downe as soone as I me dreste.
At Harwyche Porte, slumbrynge as I laye
In myne hostes house, called Powers Keye,

Me thoughte I sawe a shyppe, goodly of sayle,
Come saylyng forth into that haven brood,
Her takelynge ryche and of hye apparayle;
She kyste an anker and there she laye at rode.
Marchauntes her borded to see what she had lode.
Therein they founde Royall marchaundyse,
Fraghted with plesure of what ye coude devyse.

But than I thoughte I wolde not dwell behynde,
Amonge all other I put myselfe in prece.
Than there coude I none aquentaunce fynde;
There was moche noyse, anone one cryed, cese!
Sharpely commaundynge eche man holde hys pece.
Maysters, he sayde, the shyp that ye here see,
The Bowge of Courte it hyghte for certeynte;

The awnner thereof is lady of estate,
Whoos name to tell is Dame Saunce Pere.
Her marchaundyse is ryche and fortunate,
But who wyll have it muste paye therfore dere;
This royall chaffre that is shypped here
Is called favore-to-stonde-in-her-good-grace.
Than sholde ye see there pressynge in a pace

Of one and other that wolde this lady see,
Whiche sat behynde a traves of sylke fyne,
Of golde of tessew the fynest that myghte be,
In a trone whiche fer clerer dyde shyne
Than Phebus in his spere celestyne,
Whoos beaute, honoure, goodly porte,
I have to lytyll connynge to reporte.

But of eche thynge there as I take hede,
Among all other was wrytten in her trone
In golde letters, this worde, whiche I dyde rede:
Garder le fortune que est mauelz et bone.
And as I stode redynge this verse myselfe allone,
Her chyef gentylwoman, daunger by her name,
Gave me a taunte, and sayde I was to blame

To he so perte to prese so proudly uppe.
She sayde she trowed that I had eten sause;
She asked yf ever I dranke of saucys cuppe.
And I than softly answered to that clause,
That, so to saye, I had gyven her no cause.
Than asked she me, Syr, so God the spede,
What is thy name? and I sayde it was Drede.

What movyd the, quod she, hydder to come?
Forsoth, quod I, to bye some of youre ware.
And with that worde on me she gave a glome
With browes bente and gan on me to stare
Full daynnously, and fro me she dyde fare,
Levynge me stondynge as a mased man,
To whome there came another gentylwoman.

Desyre her name was, and so she me tolde,
Sayenge to me, Broder, be of good chere,
Abasshe you not, but hardely be bolde,
Avaunce your selfe to aproche and come nere.
What though our chaffer he never so dere,
Yet I avyse you to speke for ony drede;
Who spareth to speke, in fayth, he spareth to spede.

Maystres, quod I, I have none aquentaunce
That wyll for me be medyatoure and mene;
And this an other, I have but smale substaunce.
Pece, quod Desyre, ye speke not worth a bene!
Yf ye have not, in fayth, I wyll you lene
A precyous jewell, no rycher in this londe:
Bone aventure have here now in your honde.

Shyfte now therwith, let see, as ye can,
In Bowge of Courte chevysaunce to make;
For I dare saye that there
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John Skelton

John Skelton, also known as John Shelton, possibly born in Diss, Norfolk, was an English poet. more…

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"The Bowge of Courte" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 1 Jun 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/24111/the-bowge-of-courte>.

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