The School Bag

from Philip Sparrow

John Skelton

    Of fortune this the chaunce
Standeth on variaunce:
Oft time after pleasaunce,
Trouble and grievaunce.
No man can be sure
Alway to have pleasure:
As well perceive ye mage
How my disport and play
From me was taken away
By Gib, our cat savage,
That in a furious rage
Caught Philip by the head
And slew him there stark dead!
     Kyrie, eleison,                                   Lord, have mercy
     Christe, eleison,
     Kyrie, eleison!
For Philip Sparrowe’s soule,
Set in our bederolle,                                prayer-roll
Let us now whisper
     A Paternoster
     Lauda, anima mea, Dominum!          Praise the lord, O my soul
To wepe with me loke that ye come
All manner of birdes in your kind;
See none be left behinde.
To morninge loke that ye fall                 mourning
With dolorous songes funerall,
Some to singe, and some to say,
Some to wepe, and some to pray,
Every birde in his laye.                          tune
The goldfinche, the wagtaile;
The janglinge jaye to raile,                     magpie
The flecked pie to chatter
Of this dolorous matter;
And robin redbreast,
He shall be the preest
The requiem masse to singe,
Softly warbelinge,
With helpe of the red sparrow,               reed sparrow
And the chatteringe swallow,
This herse for to halow;
The larke with his longe to;                   toe
The spinke, and the martinet also;          finch
The shovelar with his brode bek;           shoveller duck
The dotterel, that folishe pek,                dolt
And also the mad coote,
With balde face to toote;                        peer at
The feldefare and the snite;                    snipe
The crowe and the kite;
The ravin, called Rolfe,
His plaine songe to solfe;                       sing
The partriche, the quaile;
The plover with us to waile;
The woodhacke, that singeth ‘chur’       woodpecker
Horsly, as he had the mur;                      catarrh
The lusty chaunting nightingale;
The popinjay to tell her tale,                    parrot
That toteth oft in a glass,                         peers
Shal rede the Gospell at masse;
The mavis with her whistle                    missel-thrush
Shall rede there the pistell.                     epistle
But with a large and a longe
To kepe just plaine songe,
Our chaunters shalbe the cuckoue,         cuckoo
The culver, the stokedowue,                   stockdove
With ‘putwit’ the lapwing,
The versicles shall sing.
    The bittern with his ‘bumpe’,             bittern
The crane with his trumpe,                     trumpet
The swan of Menander,
The gose and the gander,
The ducke and the drake,
Shall watche at this wake;
The pecocke so proude,
Because his voice is loude,
And hath a glorious taile,
He shall sing the graile;                          Gradual
The owle, that is so foule,
Must helpe us to howle;
The heron so gaunte,
And the cormoraunte,
With the fesaunt,
And the gaglinge gaunte,                            gabbling gannet
And the churlisshe chough;
The route and the rough;                             a type of goose/sandpiper
The barnacle, the bussarde,
With the wilde mallarde;
The divendop to slepe;                                dabchick
The water hen to wepe;
The puffin and the tele
Money they shall dele                                 distribute
To poore folke at large,
That shall be their charge;
The semewe and the titmouse;                    seagull
The wodcocke with the longe nose;
The throstle with her warbling;                   throstle
The starling with her brabling;
The roke, with the ospraye                          rook
That putteth fisshes to a fraye;                    fright
And the denty curlewe,                               dainty
With the turtill most trew.
    At thisPlacebo                                         i.e. state of liturgy
We may not well forgo
The countringe of the coe;                          accompaniment-singing/jackdaw
The storke also,
That maketh his nest
In chimneys to rest;
Within those walles
No broken galles                                         blisters
May there abide
Of cukoldry side,                                         i.e. pertaining to cuckoldry
Or els philosophy
Maketh a great lie.
    The estrich, that will eate                        ostrich
An horshowe so great,                                 horseshoe
In the stede of meate,
Such fervent heat
His stomacke doth freat;                              gnaw
He cannot well fly,
Nor singe tunably,
Yet at a braide                                              Yet for a whim
He hath well assaide
To solfe above ela.                                       to sing above high C
Fa, lorell, fa, fa!                                           loafer
Ne quando                                                   lest whenever
Male cantando,                                           by singing badly 
The best that we can,
To make him our belman,
And let him ring the bellis.
He can do nothing ellis.
    Chaunteclere, our coke,
Must tell what is of the clocke
By the astrology
That he hath naturally
Conceived and cought,
And was never tought
By Albumazer
The astronomer,
Nor by Ptholomy
Prince of astronomy,
Nor yet by Haly;
And yet he croweth daily
And nightly the tides                                   times
That no man abides,
With Partlot his hen,
Whom now and then
Hee plucketh by the hede
When he doth her trede.
    The birde of Araby,
That potencially
May never die,
And yet there is none
But one alone;
A phenex it is
This herse that must blis                              bless
With armaticke gummes
That cost great summes,
The way of thurification
To make a fumigation,
Swete of reflare,                                          odor
And redolent of eire,                                   smell
This corse for to sence                                the corpse to cence                            
With great reverence,
As patriarke or pope
In a blacke cope.
Whiles he senseth the herse,                     cences
He shall singe the verse,
 Libera me,                                               deliver me
In de la, sol, re,
Softly bemole                                           i.e. sing the flat part
For my sparowe’s soule.
Plinny sheweth all
In his story naturall
What he doth finde
Of the phenix kinde;
Of whose incineracion
There riseth a new creacion
Of the same facion                                   fashion
Without alteracion,
Saving that olde age
Is turned into corage                                 heartiness
Of fresshe youth againe;
This matter trew and plaine,
Plaine matter indede,
Who so list to rede.
    But for the egle doth fly
Heyest in the skye,
He shall be the sedeane,                           sub dean
The quere to demeane,                             to manage the choir
As provost principall,
To teach them their ordinall;                    service book
Also the noble faucon,                             falcon
With the gerfaucon,
The tarsel gentill,                                     tercel
They shall mourne soft and still              mourn
In their amisse of gray;                            fur-lined hood
The sacre with them shall say                  a type of falcon
Dirige for Phillippe’s soule;                     i.e. stage of liturgy
The goshauke shall have a role
The queresters to controll;                       choristers
The lanners and the marlions                   types of falcons
Shall stand in their morning-gownes;      mourning
The hobby and the muskette                    type of falcon/sparrow hawk
The sensers and the crosse shall fet;        censers/fetch
The kestrell in all this wake                     work
Shall be holy water clarke.                       clerk
    And now the darke cloudy night
Chaseth away Phebus bright,
Taking his course toward the west,
God sende my sparoes sole good rest!     sparrows
 Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine!    Give them eternal rest O Lord
Fa, fa, fa, mi, re, re,
A por-ta in-fe-ri,                                        by the lower gate
Fa, fa, fa, mi, mi.
     Credo videre bona Domini,                 I believe I am seeing the blessing of the Lord
I pray God Phillip to heven may fly!       c. 1505