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Poem by John Skelton


Duke of Albany



Like a Coward Knight, ran away shamefully with an Hundred Thousand Tratling Scots and Faint-hearted Frenchmen, beside the Water of Tweed

Rejoice, England,
And understand
These tidings new,
Which be as true
As the gospel.
This duke so fell
Of Albany,
So cowardly,
With all his host
Of the Scottish coast,
For all their boast,
Fled like a beast;
Wherefore to jest
Is my delight
Of this coward knight,
And for to write
In the despite
Of the Scott─ùs rank
Of Huntly-bank,
Of Lothian
Of Loch Ryan,
And the ragged ray
Of Galloway.

Dunbar, Dundee,
Ye shall trow me,
False Scots are ye:
Your hearts sore fainted,
And so attainted,
Like cowards stark,
At the castle of Wark,
By the water of Tweed,
Ye had evil speed;
Like cankered curs
Ye lost your spurs,
For in that fray
Ye ran away,
With, hey, dog, hey!

For Sir William Lyle
Within short while,
That valiant knight,
Put you to flight;
By his valiance
Two thousand of France
There he put back,
To your great lack,
And utter shame
Of your Scottish name.
Your chief chieftain,
Void of all brain,
Duke of all Albany,
Then shamefully
He recoiled back,
To his great lack,
When he heard tell
That my Lord Admiral
Was coming down
To make him frown
And to make him lour,
With the noble power
Of my lord cardinal,
As an hoste royal,
After the ancient manner,
With Saint Cuthbert's banner,
And Saint William's also;
Your capitain ran to go,
To go, to go, to go,
And brake up all his host;
For all his crake and boast,
Like a coward knight
He fled and durst not fight,
He ran away by night.

But now must I
Your Duke ascry
Of Albany
With a word or twain
In sentence plain.
Ye duke so doughty,
So stern, so stouty,
In short sentence
Of your pretence
What is the ground,
Briefly and round
To me expound,
Or else will I
Evidently
Shew as it is:
For the cause is this,
How ye pretend
For to defend
The young Scottish king,
But ye mean a thing,
An ye could bring
The matter about,
To put his eyes out
And put him down,
And set his crown
On your own head
When he were dead.
Such treachery
And traitory
Is all your cast;
Thus ye have compassed
With the French─ù king
A false reckoning
To invade England,
As I understand.
But our king royall,
Whose name over all,
Noble Henry the Eight,
Shall cast a bait,
And set such a snare
That shall cast you in care,
Both King Francis and thee,
That knowen ye shall be
For the most recrayd
Coward─ùs afraid,
And falsest forsworn,
That ever were born.

O ye wretched Scots,
Ye puant pisspots,
It shall be your lots
To be knit up with knots
Of halters and rop─ùs
About your traitors' throat─ùs!
O Scots perjured,
Unhappy ured,
Ye may be assured
Your falsehood discured
It is and shall be
From the Scottish sea
Unto Gabione!
For ye be false each one,
False and false again,
Never true nor plain,
But fleer, flatter, and feign,
And ever to remain
In wretched beggary
And mangy misery,
In lousy loathsomeness
And scabbed surfiness,
And in abomination
Of all manner of nation, Ч
Nation most in hate,
Proud and poor of state!
Twit, Scot, go keep thy den,
Mell not with Englishmen;
Thou did nothing but bark
At the castle of Wark.
Twit, Scot, yet again ones
We shall break thy bones,
And hang you upon poles,
And burn you all to coals;
With, twit Scot, twit Scot, twit!
Walk, Scot, go beg a bit
Of bread at each man's heck!
The fiend, Scot, break thy neck!
Twit, Scot, again I say,
Twit, Scot of Galloway,
Twit, Scot, shake thee dog, hey!
Twit, Scot, thou ran away!

We set not a fly
By your Duke of Albany;
We set not a prane
By such a drunken drane;
We set not a mite
By such a coward knight,
Such a proud palliard,
Such a skirgalliard,
Such a stark coward,
Such a proud poltroon,
Such a foul coistrown,
Such a doughty dagswain!
Send him to France again,
To bring with him more brain
From King Francis of France:
God send them both mischance!

Ye Scots all the rabble,
Ye shall never be able
With us for to compare;
What though ye stamp and stare?
God send you sorrow and care!
With us whenever ye mell,
Yet we bear away the bell,
When ye cankered knaves
Must creep into your caves
Your head─ùs for to hide,
For ye dar─ù not abide.

Sir Duke of Albany,
Right inconveniently,
Ye rage and ye rave,
And your worship deprave.
Not like Duke Hamilcar,
With the Romans that made war,
Nor like his son Hanibal,
Nor like Duke Hastrubal
Of Carthage in Africa;
Yet somewhat ye be lik─ù
In some of their conditions,
And their false seditions,
And their dealing double,
And their wayward trouble:
But yet they were bold,
And manly manifold,
Their enemies to assail
In plain field and battail;
But ye and your host,
Full of brag and boast,
And full of waste wind,
How ye will bears bind,
And the devil down ding,
Yet ye dare do no thing
But leap away like frogs,
And hide you under logs,
Like pigs and like hogs,
And like mangy dogs!
What an army were ye?
Or what activity
Is in you, beggars, brawls,
Full of scabs and scawls,
Of vermin and of lice,
And of all manner vice?

Sir Duke, nay, Sir Duck,
Sir Drake of the Lake, Sir Duck
Of the Dunghill, for small luck
Ye have in feats of war;
Ye make nought but ye mar;
Ye are a false intruser,
And a false abuser,
And an untrue knight;
Thou hast too little might
Against England to fight.
Thou art a graceless wight
To put thyself to flight:
A vengeance and despite
On thee must needs alight,
That durst not bide the sight
Of my Lord Admiral,
Of chivalry the well,
Of knighthood the flower
In every martial shower,
The noble Earl of Surrey,
That put thee in such─ù fray;
Thou durst no field derain,
Nor no battle maintain
Against our strong captain,
But thou ran home again
For fear thou should be slain,
Like a Scottish ketering
That durst abide no reckoning;
Thy heart would not serve thee:
The fiend of hell might sterve thee!

No man hath heard
Of such a coward,
And such a mad image
Carried in a cage,
As it were a cottage!
Or of such a mawment
Carried in a tent.
In a tent! nay, nay,
But in a mountain gay,
Like a great hill
For a windmill,
Therein to couch─ù still,
That no man him kill;
As it were a goat
In a sheep-cote,
About him a park
Of a madd─ù wark,
Men call it a toil.
Therein, like a royl,
Sir Duncan, ye dared,
And thus ye prepared
Your carcass to keep
Like a silly sheep,
A sheep of Cotswold,
From rain and from cold,
And from raining of raps,
And such after claps.
Thus in your cowardly castle
Ye decked you to dwell!
Such a captain of horse,
It made no great force
If that ye had ta'en
Your last deadly bane
With a gun-stone,
To make you to groan.
But hide thee, Sir Topas,
Now into the castle of Bass,
And lurk there, like an ass,
With some Scottish lass
With dugs, dugs, dugs!
I shrew thy Scottish lugs,
Thy munypins, and thy crag,
For thou cannot but brag
Like a Scottish hag.
Adieu now, Sir Wrig-wrag,
Adieu, Sir Dalyrag!
Thy melling is but mocking;
Thou mayst give up thy cocking,
Give it up, and cry creke,
Like an hoddipeke!

Whereto should I mor─ù speak
Of such a farly freke,
Of such an horn─ù keke,
Of such a bold captain
That dare not turn again,
Nor durst not crack a word,
Nor durst not draw his sword
Against the Lion White,
But ran away quite?
He ran away by night,
In the owl─ù flight,
Like a coward knight
Adew, coward, adew,
False knight, and most untrue!
I render thee, false rebel,
To the flingande fiend of hell.

Hark yet, Sir Duke, a word,
In earnest or in bawd.
What, have ye, villain, forged,
And virulently disgorged,
As though ye would parbrake,
Your avaunts to make,
With word─ùs enbosed,
Ungraciously engrosed,
How ye will undertake
Our royal king to make
His own─ù realm to forsake?
Such lewd─ù language ye spake,
Sir Duncan, in the devil way,
Be well ware what ye say.
Ye say that he and ye, Ч
Which he and ye? let see:
Ye mean Francis, French king,
Should bring about this thing.
I say, thou lewd lurdain,
That neither of you twain
So hardy nor so bold
His countenance to behold!
If our most royal Harry
List with you to varry
Full soon ye should miscarry,
For ye durst not tarry
With him to strive a stound;
If he on you but frowned,
Not for a thousand pound,
Ye durst bide on the ground,
Ye would─ù run away round,
And cowardly turn your back─ùs,
For all your comely crack─ùs,
And, for fear par case
To look him in the face
Ye would defile the place,
And run your way apace.
Though I trim you this trace
With English somewhat base,
Yet, save voster grace ,
Thereby I shall purchace
No displeasant reward,
If ye well can regard
Your cankered cowardness
And your shameful doubleness

Are ye not frantic mad,
And wretchedly bestad,
To rail against his Grace
That shall bring you full base,
And set you in such─ù case
That between─ù you twain
There shall be drawen a train
That shall be to your pain?
To fly ye shall be fain,
And never turn again.

What, would Francis, our friar,
Be such a fals─ù liar,
So mad a cordilar,
So mad a murmurer?
Ye muse somewhat too far,
All out of joint ye jar.
God let you never thrive!
Ween ye, dawcocks, to drive
Our king out of his ream?
Ge heme, rank Scot, ge heme,
With fond Francis, French king:
Our master shall you bring,
I trust, to low estate,
And mate you with checkmate!

Your brain─ùs are idle;
It is time for you to bridle,
And pipe in a quibible;
For it is impossible
For you to bring about
Our king for to drive out
Of this his realm royal
And land imperial;
So noble a prince as he
In all activity
Of hardy martial act─ùs,
Fortunate in all his fact─ùs.

And now I will me 'dress
His valiance to express,
Though insufficient am I
His Grace to magnify
And laud equivalently
Howbeit, loyally,
After mine allegiance,
My pen I will advance
To extol his noble Grace,
Inspite of thy coward's face,
Inspite of King Francis,
Devoid of all noblesse,
Devoid of good corage,
Devoid of wisdom sage,
Mad, frantic, and savage;
Thus he doth disparage
His blood with fond dotage.
A prince to play the page
It is reckeless rage,
And a lunatic over-rage.
What though my style be rude?
With truth it is enewed.
Truth ought to be rescued,
Truth should not be subdued.

But now will I expound
What nobleness doth abound,
And what honour is found,
And what virtues be resident
In our royal regent,
Our peerless president,
Our king most excellent.

In martial prowess
Like unto Hercules;
In prudence and wisdom
Like unto Solomon;
In his goodly person
Like unto Absolon;
In loyalty and foy
Like to Hector of Troy;
And his glory to increase,
Like to Scipiades;
In royal majesty
Like unto Ptolemy,
Like to Duke Josu─ù,
And the valiant Machub─ù;
That if I would report
All the royal sort
Of his nobility,
His magnanimity,
His animosity,
His frugality,
His liberality,
His affability,
His humanity,
His stability,
His humility,
His benignity,
His royal dignity,
My learning is too small
For to recount them all.

What losels then are ye,
Like cowards as ye be,
To rail on his estate,
With word─ùs inordinate!
He rules his commonalty
With all benignity;
His noble baronage,
He putteth them in corage
To exploit─ù deeds of arms,
To the damage and harms
Of such as be his foes.
Wherever he rides or goes
His subjects he doth support,
Maintain them with comfort
Of his most princely port,
As all men can report.
Then ye be a knappish sort,
Et faitez a luy grand tort,
With your enbosed jaws
To rail on him like daws
The fiend scratch out your maws!
All his subjects and he
Most lovingly agree
With whole heart and true mind,
They find his Grace so kind;
Wherewith he doth them bind
At all hours to be ready
With him to live and die,
And to spend─ù their heart-blood,
Their bodies and their good,
With him in all distress,
Alway in readiness
To assist his noble Grace;
Inspite of thy coward's face,
Most false attainted traitor,
And fals─ù forsworn faitor
Avaunt, coward recrayed!
Thy pride shall be allayed;
With Sir Francis of France
We shall pipe you a dance,
Shall turn you to mischance!
I rede you, look about;
For ye shall be driven out
Of your land─ù in short space.
We will so follow in the chase
That ye shall have no grace
For to turn your face;
And thus, Saint George to borrow,
Ye shall have shame and sorrow.

LENVOY

Go, little quaire, quickly;
Shew them that shall you read
How that ye are likely
Over all the world to spread.
The false Scots for dread,
With the Duke of Albany,
Beside the water of Tweed
They fled full cowardly.
Though your English be rude,
Barren of eloquence,
Yet, briefly to conclude,
Grounded is your sentence
On truth, under defence
Of all true Englishmen,
This matter to credence
That I write with my pen.

SKELTON Laureate, Obsequious et Loyal.



John Skelton


John Skelton's other poems:
  1. A Lawde and Prayse
  2. Woefully Arrayed
  3. The Prelates
  4. The Book of Phillip Sparrow
  5. To the Second Person


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