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Poem by John Skelton

The Prelates

My name is Colin Clout.
I purpose to shake out
All my cunning bag
Like a clerkly hag:
For, though my rhyme be ragged,
Tattered and jagged,
Rudely rain-beaten,
Rusty and moth-eaten,
If ye take well therewith
It hath in it some pith.
For, as far as I can see,
It is wrong with each degree.
The temporal
Accuseth the spiritual;
The spiritual again
Doth grudge and complain
Upon the temporal men.
Thus each raiseth a pother,
One against the other.
Alas, they make me shudder!
For (do not say it loud!)
The prelates are so proud,
They say, and look so high
As though they would fly
Above the starry sky.

Laymen say indeed
How they take no heed
Their silly sheep to feed,
But pluck away and pull
The fleeces of their wool;
Scarcely they leave a lock
Of wool among their flock.
And as for their cunning,
A-humming and mumming,
They make of it a jape.
They gasp and they gape
All to have promotionЧ
That is their whole devotion!

John Skelton

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

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