JOHN SKELTON
Intestinos de la Corte

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, 

   





5

vyrgyne: Virgo




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, 



10




troughte: truth


wrythe: write
endyte: compose

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 

15




20



a force: try
dyscure: disillusion

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?




25

he so: whoso 





and: if

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, 


30




35


ne wyste: knew not
enwered: wearied, tired


me dreste: was ready

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. 





40




kyste: cast; at rode: at harbor

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; 



45


prece: the press, the throng





hyghte: is called.

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 

50




55


Saunce Peer: without equal


chaffre: merchandise

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. 




60


traves: screen
golde of tessew: cloth of gold

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 


65




70




'Beware fortune which is bad and good'

daunger: disdain

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. 





75


'eaten sauce', i.e. become saucy

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. 



80



glome: gloomy look

daynnously: disdainfully

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. 

85




90






despite any fears
spede: succeed

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.




95




bene: bean
lene: lend


Good luck

Shyfte now therwith, let see, as ye can, 
In Bowge of Courte chevysaunce to make; 
For I dare saye that there nys erthly man 
But, and he can Bone aventure take, 
There can no favour nor frendshyp hym forsake. 
Bone aventure may brynge you in suche case 
That ye shall stonde in favoure and in grace. 


100




105


to do some business
nys: is no

But of one thynge I werne you er I goo: 
She that styreth the shyp, make her your frende. 
Maystres, quod I, I praye you tell me why soo, 
And how I maye that waye and meanes fynde. 
Forsothe, quod she, how ever blowe the wynde, 
Fortune gydeth and ruleth all oure shyppe. 
Whome she hateth shall over the see boorde skyp. 





110

Whome she loveth, of all plesyre is ryche 
Whyles she laugheth and hath luste for to playe, 
Whome she hateth she casteth in the dyche, 
For whan she fronneth, she thynketh to make a fray; 
She cheryssheth him, and hym she casseth awaye. 
Alas, quod I, how myghte I have her sure? 
In fayth, quod she, by bone aventure. 



115

Thus in a rowe of martchauntes a grete route 
Suwed to Fortune that she would be theyre frynde. 
They thronge in fast and flocked her aboute, 
And I with them prayed her to have in mynde. 
She promysed to us all she wolde be kynde; 
Of Bowge of Court she asketh what we wold have, 
And we asked favoure, and favour she us gave.

120




125

route: crowd


Thus endeth the prologue; and begynneth 
the Bowge of Courte brevely compyled.




DREDE

THE sayle is up, Fortune ruleth our helme, 
We wante no wynde to passe now over all; 
Favoure we have toughther than ony elme, 
That wyll abyde and never frome us fall. 
But under hony ofte tyme lyeth bytter gall, 
For as me thoughte in our shyppe I dyde see 
Full subtyll persones in nombre foure and thre.




130



toughther: tougher

The fyrste was Favell, full of flatery, 
Wyth fables false, that well coude fayne a tale; 
The seconde was Suspecte whiche that dayly 
Mysdempte eche man, with face deedly and pale; 
And Harvy Hafter, that well coude picke a male; 
With other foure of theyr affynyte: 
Dysdayne, Ryotte, Dyssymuler, Subtylte.


135




140

Favell: Flatterer cf. Piers Plowman


Mysdempte: misjudged
Hafter: deceiver; male: bag

Fortune theyr frende with whome oft she dyde daunce: 
They coude not faile, thei thought, they were so sure. 
And oftentymes I wolde myselfe avaunce 
With them to make solace and pleasure; 
But my dysporte they coude not well endure; 
They sayde they hated for to dele with Drede. 
Than Favell gan wyth fayre speche me to fede.





145



FAVELL

Noo thynge erthely that I wonder so sore 
As of your connynge that is so excellent; 
Deynte to have with us suche one in store, 
So vertuously that hath his dayes spente. 
Fortune to you gyftes of grace hath lente: 
Loo, what it is a man to have connynge! 
All erthly tresoure it is surmountynge. 



150



Deynte: dainty, delightful

Ye be an apte man, as ony can be founde, 
To dwell with us and serve my ladyes grace. 
Ye be to her, yea, worth a thousande pounde; 
I herde her speke of you within shorte space, 
Whan there were dyverse that sore dyde you manace. 
And though I say it I was myselfe your frende, 
For here be dyverse to you that be unkynde. 

155




160




a little while ago

But this one thynge ye maye be sure of me, 
For by that lorde that bought dere all mankynde, 
I can not flater, I muste be playne to the. 
And ye nede ought, man, shewe to me your mynde, 
For ye have me whome faythfull ye shall fynde; 
Whyles I have ought, by God, thou shalt not lacke, 
And yf nede be, a bolde worde I dare cracke. 





165


dere: dearly, at great cost

Nay, naye, be sure, whyles I am on your syde 
Ye maye not fall, truste me, ye maye not fayle. 
Ye stonde in favoure and Fortune is your gyde, 
And as she wyll so shall our grete shyppe sayle. 
Thyse lewde cok wattes shall nevermore prevayle 
Ageynste you hardely; therefore be not afrayde, 
Farewell tyll soone, but no worde that I sayde.


170




175





cok wattes: cuckolds



DREDE

Than thanked I hym for his grete gentylnes, 
But as me thoughte he ware on hym a cloke 
That lyned was with doubtfuIl doublenes. 
Me thoughte of wordes that he had full a poke, 
His stomak stuffed ofte tymes dyde reboke. 
Suspycyon, me thoughte, mette hym at a brayde, 
And I drewe nere to herke what they two sayde. 





180




poke: bag
reboke: belch
brayde: chat

In fayth, quod Suspecte, spake Drede no worde of me? 
Why, what than? wylte thou lete men to speke? 
He sayth he can not well accorde with the. 
Twyst, quod Suspecte, goo playe, hym I ne reke! 
By Cryste, quod Favell, Drede is soleyne freke. 
What, lete us holde him up, man, for a whyle. 
Ye, soo, quod Suspecte, he maye us bothe begyle. 



185


lete: stop


reke: care about
soleyne freke: sullen person.

And whan he came walkynge soberly, 
Wyth 'Whom' and 'Ha' and with a croked loke, 
Me thoughte his hede was full of gelousy, 
His eyen rollynge, his hondes faste they quoke; 
And to mewarde the strayte waye he toke. 
God spede, broder, to me quod he than,
And thus to talke with me he began:

190




195




SUSPYCYON

Ye remembre the gentylman ryghte nowe 
That commaunde with you, me thought, a praty space? 
Beware of him, for I make God avowe, 
He wyll begyle you and speke fayre to your face. 
Ye never dwelte in suche an other place, 
For here is none that dare well other truste; 
But I wolde telle you a thynge, and I durste.




200


commaunde: conversed;

Spake he, a fayth, no worde to you of me? 
I wote and he dyde ye wolde me telle. 
I have a favoure to you, wherof it be 
That I muste shewe you moche of my counselle; 
But I wonder what the devyll of helle 
He sayde of me, whan he with you dyde talke; 
By myne avyse use not with him to walke.


205




210

a fayth: in truth
wote and: wonder if

The soveraynst thynge that ony man maye have 
Is lytyll to saye and moche to here and see; 
For but I trusted you so God me save, 
I wolde noo thynge so playne be. 
To you oonly, me thynke, I durste shryve me, 
For now am I plenarely dysposed 
To shewe you thynges that may not be disclosed.





215





shryve: confess
plenarely: fully



DREDE

Than I assured hym my fydelyte, 
His counseyle secrete never to dyscure, 
Yf he coude fynde in herte to truste me. 
Els I prayed hym with all my besy cure 
To kepe it hymselfe, for than he myghte be sure 
That noo man erthly coude hym bewreye. 
Whyles of his mynde it were lockte with the keye.



220


dyscure: disclose


cure: care

bewreye: betray.

By God, quod he, this and thus it is, 
And of his mynde he shewed me all and some. 
Fare well, quod he, we wyll talke more of this. 
Soo he departed there he wolde be come. 
I dare not speke, I promysed to be dome. 
But as I stode musynge in my mynde, 
Harvy Hafter came lepynge, lyghte as lynde.

225




230





dome: dumb, mute

lynde: linden

Upon his breste he bare a versynge boxe; 
His throte was clere and lustely coude fayne; 
Me thoughte his gowne was all furred wyth foxe; 
And ever he sange, Sythe I am no thynge playne. 
To kepe him frome pykynge, it was a grete payne; 
He gased on me with his gotyshe berde; 
Whan I loked on hym, my purse was half aferde.




235

versyng: dice




pykynge: picking a pocket



HERVY HAFTER

Syr, God you save, why loke you so sadde? 
VVhat thynge is that I maye do for you? 
A wonder thynge that ye waxe not madde. 
For and I studye sholde as ye doo nowe, 
My wytte wolde waste, I make God avowe. 
Tell me your mynde, me thynke ye make a verse, 
I coude it skan and ye wolde it reherse.


240




245




and: if

But to the poynte shortely to procede, 
Where hathe your dwellynge ben, er ye cam here? 
For as I trowe, I have sene you in dede 
Er this, whan that ye made me royall chere. 
Holde up the helme, loke up and lete God stere: 
I wolde be mery that wynde that ever blowe, 
Heve and how, rombelow, Row the bote, Norman, rowe!





250






whichever wind blew

Prynces of youghte can ye synge by rote? 
Or Shall I sayle wyth you a felashyp assaye? 
For on the booke I can not synge a note, 
Wolde to God it wolde please you some daye 
A balade boke before me for to laye, 
And leme me to synge Re my fa sol! 
And whan I fayle bobbe me on the noll.



255

by rote: by heart
a felashyp: together
on the booke: from sheet music.



hit me on the head

Loo, what is to you a pleasure grete 
To have that connynge and wayes that ye have; 
By Goddis soule, I wonder how ye gete 
Soo greate pleasyre or who to you it gave. 
Syr, pardone me, I am an homely knave 
To be with you thus perte and thus bolde; 
But ye be welcome to our housholde.

260




265


And I dare saye there is no man hereinne 
But wolde be glad of your company: 
I wyste never man that so soone coude wynne 
The favoure that ye have with my lady. 
I praye to God that it maye never dy; 
It is your fortune for to have that grace, 
As I be saved, it is a wonder case.




270



wyste: knew

For as for me, I served here many a daye, 
And yet unneth I can have my lyvyngeó 
But I requyre you no worde that I saye. 
For, and I knowe ony erthly thynge 
That is agayne you, ye shall have wetynge; 
And ye be welcome, syr, so God me save, 
I hope here after a frende of you to have.


275




280


unneth: barely
repeat not a word

and: if
agayne: against ;wetynge: wisdom of it



DREDE

Wyth that, as he departed soo fro me, 
Anone ther mette with him, as me thoughte, 
A man, but wonderly besene was he: 
He loked hawte, he sette eche man at noughte, 
His gawdy garment with scornnys was all wrought; 
With Indygnacyon lyned was his hode; 
He frowned as he wolde swere by Cockes blode.





285




hawte: hayghty, proud
scornnys: scorns


Cockes: God's

He bote the lyppe, he loked passynge coye, 
His face was belymmed as byes had him stounge; 
It was no tyme with him to jape nor toye. 
Envye hathe wasted his lyver and his lounge, 
Hatred by the herte so had hym wrounge 
That he loked pale as asshes to my syghte; 
Dysdayne, I wene, this comerous carkes hyghte.



290

bote: bit
belymmed: mottled





comerous: cumbersome
hyghte: was called

To Hervy Hafter than he spake of me, 
And I drewe nere to harke what they two sayde. 
Now, quod Dysdayne, as I shall saved be, 
I have grete scorne and am ryghte evyll apayed. 
Than, quod Hervy, why arte thou so dysmayde? 
By Cryste, quod he, for it is shame to saye, 
To see Johan Dawes that came but yesterdaye

295




300

Johan Dawes: "John Doe"

How he is now taken in conceyte, 
This Doctour Dawcocke, Drede, I wene he hyghte. 
By Goddis bones, but yf we have som sleyte, 
It is lyke he wyll stonde in our lyghte. 
By God, quod Hervy, and it so happen myghte. 
Lete us therfore shortely at a worde 
Fynde some mene to caste him over the borde.




305

conceyte: fancy, favour


sleyte: sleight, trick

By him that me boughte, than quod Dysdayne, 
I wonder sore he is in suche cenceyte. 
Turde, quod Hafter, I wyll the nothynge fayne, 
There muste for hym be layde some prety beyte. 
We tweyne, I trowe, be not withoute dysceyte: 
Fyrste pycke a quarell and fall oute with hym then, 
And soo outface hym with a carde of ten.


310




315

i.e., by Christ







carde of ten: bluff

Forthwith he made on me a prowde assawte, 
With scornfull loke meuyd all in moode. 
He wente aboute to take me in a fawte; 
He frounde, he stared, he stampped where he stoode. 
I loked on hym, I wende he had be woode. 
He set the arme proudly under the syde, 
And in this wyse he gan with me to chyde.





320


moved in anger



wende. . .woode: thought he must be mad



DISDAYNE

Remembrest thou what thou sayd yesternyght? 
Wylt thou abyde by the wordes agayne? 
By God, I have of the now grete dyspyte; 
I shall the angre ones in every vayne. 
It is greate scorne to see suche an hayne 
As thou arte, one that cam but yesterdaye, 
With us olde servauntes such maysters to playe.



325





hayne: wretch


maysters: master's airs.

I tell the I am of countenaunce; 
What weneste I were? I trowe thou knowe not me. 
By Goddis woundes but for dysplesaunce 
Of my querell soone wolde I venged be. 
But, no force, I shall ones mete with the; 
Come whan it wyll, oppose the I shall, 
Whatsomever aventure therof fall.

330




335

of countenaunce: noteworthy

Trowest thou, drevyll, I saye, thou gawdy knave, 
That I have deynte to see the cherysshed thus? 
By Goddis syde, my sworde thy berde shall shave! 
Well, ones thou shalte be chermed, I wus. 
Naye, strawe for tales, thou shalte not rule us, 
We be thy betters and so thou shalte us take, 
Or we shall the oute of thy clothes shake!




340

drevyll: drudge
deynte: delight


I wus: for sure.
strawe for: to hell with



DREDE

Wyth that came Ryotte russhynge all at ones, 
A rusty gallande, to ragged and to rente, 
And on the borde he whyrled a payre of bones; 
Quater treye dews, he clatered as he wente: 
Now have at all, by Saynte Thomas of Kente. 
And ever he threwe, and kyst I wote nere what, 
His here was growen thorowe oute his hat.


345




350




four, three, deuce


cast I never knew what

Thenne I behelde how he dysgysed was, 
His hede was hevy for watchynge overnyghte, 
His eyen blereed, his face shone lyke a glas, 
His gowne so shorte that it ne cover myghte 
His rumpe, he wente so all for somer lyghte; 
His hose was garded wyth a lyste of grene, 
Yet at the knee they were broken, I wene.





355





somer lyghte: dressed for summer. lyste: strip

His cote was checked with patches rede and blewe, 
Of Kyrkeby Kendall was his shorte demye; 
And ay he sange, In fayth, Decon, thou crewe. 
His elbowe bare, he ware his gere so nye, 
His nose a.droppynge, his lyppes were full drye, 
And by his syde his whynarde and his pouche, 
The Devyll myghte daunce therin for ony crowche.



360


Cheap wool cloth


nye: worn down to the skin

whynarde: dagger
crowche: coin with a cross

Counter he coude (O lux) upon a potte, 
An eestryche fedder of a capons tayle 
He set up fresshely upon his hat alofte; 
What, revell route, quod he, and gan to rayle 
How ofte he hadde hit Jenet on the tayle, 
Of Felyce fetewse and lytell prety Cate, 
How ofte he knocked at her klycked gate.

365




370


Counter: accompany himself
eestryche: ostrich



Jenet: a horse
fetewse: ample
klycked: locked.


What sholde I tell more of his rebaudrye? 
I was ashamed so to here hym prate, 
He had no pleasure but in harlotrye. 
Ay, quod he, in the devylles date, 
What arte thou? I sawe the nowe but late. 
Forsothe, quod I, in this courte I dwell nowe. 
Welcome, quod Ryote, I make God avowe.





375





date: name.



RYOTE

And, syr, in fayth, why comste not us amonge 
To make the mery, as other felowes done? 
Thou muste swere and stare, man, aldaye longe, 
And wake all nyghte and slepe tyll it be none; 
Thou mayste not studye or muse on the mone. 
This worlde is nothynge but ete, drynke and slepe, 
And thus with us good company to kepe.


380




385

Plucke up thyne herte upon a mery pyne, 
And lete us laugh a placke or tweyne at nale; 
What the devyll, man, myrthe was never one. 
What, loo, man, see here of dyce a bale; 
A brydelynge caste for that is in thy male! 
Now have at all that lyeth upon the burde, 
Fye on this dyce, they be not worth a turde!





390


placke: draught; nale: alehouse
one: alone
bale: a set (3)
brydelyng: final; male: bag

Have at the hasarde or at the dosen browne, 
Or els I pas a peny to a pounde; 
Now wolde to God thou wolde leye money downe! 
Lorde, how that I wolde caste it full rounde! 
Ay, in my pouche a buckell I have founde, 
The armes of Calyce, I have no coyne nor crosse, 
I am not happy, I renne ay on the losse!



395


pas: give you odds




armes of Calyce: an oath; coins from Calais.
ay: always.

Now renne muste I to the stewys syde, 
To wete yf Malkyn, my lemman, have gete oughte: 
I lete her to hyre that men maye on her ryde, 
Her harnes easy ferre and nere is soughte. 
By Goddis sydes, syns I her thyder broughte, 
She hath gote me more money with her tayle 
Than hath some shyppe that into Bordews sayle.

400




405

stewys: brothel
wete: find out; 
lemman: sweetheart

harnes: i.e. private parts



Bordews: Bordeaux