Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tom a Bedlam's song, anonymous lyric

Tom a Bedlam

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye,
The spirit that stands by the naked man
In the book of moons defend ye,
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from yourselves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon,
             While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
             Feeding, drink, or clothing;
             Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
             Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enraged,
And of forty been three times fifteen
In durance soundly caged
On the lordly lofts of Bedlam
With stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding dong
With wholesome hunger plenty,
             And now I sing, etc.

With a thought I took for Maudlin
And a cruse of cockle pottage,
With a thing thus tall, sky bless you all,
I befell into this dotage.
I slept not since the Conquest,
Till then I never waked,
Till the roguish boy of love where I lay
Me found and strip’t me naked.
             And now I sing, etc.

When I short have shorn my sow’s face
And swigged my horny barrel,
In an oaken inn I pound my skin
As a suit of gilt apparrel;
The moon’s my constant mistress
And the lovely owl my marrow;
The flaming drake and the night crow make
Me music to my sorrow.
             While I do sing, etc.

The palsy plagues my pulses
When I prig your pigs or pullen,
Your culvers take, or matchless make
Your chanticleer or sullen.
When I want provant with Humphrey I sup,
And when I am benighted,
I walk in Paul’s with wandering souls,
Yet never am affrighted.
             But I do sing, etc.

I know more than Apollo,
For oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at bloody wars
In the wounded welkin weeping;
The moon embrace her shepherd,
And the queen of love her warrior,
While the first doth horn the star of morn,
And the next the heavenly farrier.
             While I do sing, etc.

The gypsies, Snap and Pedro,
Are none of Tom’s comradoes,
The punk I scorn and the cutpurse sworn,
And the roaring boy’s bravadoes.
The meek, the white, the gentle
Me handle, touch, and spare not;
But those that cross Tom Rynosseross
Do what the panther dare not.
             Although I sing, etc.

With an host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to a tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end:
Methinks it is no journey.
             Yet will I sing, etc.

Source of the text - Norton Anthology of English Literature,, accessed Oct. 26, 2018.

TJB: Vagabond ode. Truly happy, truly free, the beggar sings himself, unapologetic, fierce, and with alliterated, accentual, mad limerick energy.

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