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Poem by Martin Parker

John and Joan, or, A Mad Couple Well Met

You nine Castalian sisters 
	That keep Parnassus hill, 
		Come down to me, 
		And let me bee 
	Inspired with your skill; 
That well I may demonstrate, 
	A piece of household stuffe: 
		You that are wed 
		Mark what is sedd, 
	Beware of taking snuffe.

A mad phantastic couple, 
	A young man and a lasse, 
		With their, content, 
		And friends consent, 
	Resolvd their tunes to passe 
As man and wife together, 
	And, so they marryd were; 
		Of this mad match 
		I made this catch, 
	Which you may please to hear. 

They both had imperfections,
	Which might have caused strife
		The map would sweare
		And domineere,
	So, also, would his wife.
If John went to one alehouse,
	Joan ran into the next:
		Betwixt them both
		They made an oath,
	That neither would be vext.

Whatever did the goodman
	His wife would doe the like,
		If he was pleasd,
		She was appeasd,
	If he would kick, sheed strike.
If queane or slut he cald her,
	She calld him rogue and knave;
		If he would fight,
		Sheed scratch and bite.
	He could no victory have.

If John his dog had beaten,
	Then Joan would beat her cat.
		If John, in scorne,
		His band would burn,
	Joan would have burnt her hat.
If John would break a pipkin,
	Then Joan would break a pot;
		Thus he and she
		Did both agree
	To waste all that they got.

If John would eate no victuals,
	Then Joan would be as crosse,
		They would not eat,
		But sayd their meat,
	In that there was no losse.
If John were bent to feasting,
	Then Joan was of his mind;
		In right or wrong
		Both sung one song,
	As Fortune them assignd.

In taverne or in alehouse
	If John and Joane did meet,
		Who eer was by
		In company
	Might tast their humors sweet:
Whatever John had cald for,
	Joan would not be out-dard,
		Those that lackd drink
		Through want of chink,
	For them the better fard.

Thus would they both sit drinking,
	As long as coine did last;
		Nay more than this,
		Ere they would misse,
	Good liquor for their taste,
John would have dammd his doublet,
	His cloak or any thing,
		And Joan would pawne
		Her coife of lawne,
	Her bodkin or her ring.

If John were drank and reeled,
	Then Joan would fall i th fire,
		If John fell downe
		I th midst o th towne,
	Beewraid in dirt and mire,
Joan, like a kind copartner,
	Scornd to stand on her feet,
		But down sheed fall
		Before them all,
	And role about the street.

If John had cald his host knave,
	Joan cald her hostess wh;
		For such-like crimes
		They, oftentimes,
	Were both thrust out of dare.
If John abusd the constable,
	Joan would have beat the watch;
		Thus man and wife,
		In peace or strife,
	Each other sought to match.

But, mark, now, how it chanced:
	After a year or more,
		This couple mad
		All wasted had,
	And were grown very poore:
John could no more, get liquor,
	Nor Joan could purchase drink;
		Then both the man
		And wife began
	Upon their states to thinke.

Thus beat with their own wepons,
	John, thus, to Joan did say,
		Sweet-heart, I see,
		We two agree,
	The cleane contrary way;
Henceforth lets doe in goodnesse,
	As we have done in ill,
		Ile do my best,
		Doe thou the rest:
	A match, quoth Joan, I will.

So leaving those mad humors
	Which them before possest,
		Both man and wife
		Doe lead a life
	In plenty, peace and rest:
Now, John and Joan both, jointly,
	Doe set hands to the plough:
		Let all do soe,
		In weale or woe,
	And tbeyl do well enough.

Martin Parker

Martin Parker's other poems:
  1. Sailors for My Money
  2. A True Tale of Robin Hood
  3. When the King Enjoys His Own Again
  4. Times Alteration

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