John Lydgate (1370 - 1450 / Lidgate, Suffolk)
The London Lackpenny
To London once my steps I bent,
Where truth in no wise should be faint;
To Westminster-ward I forthwith went,
To a man of Law to make complaint.
I said, 'For Mary's love, that holy saint,
Pity the poor that would proceed!'
But for lack of money, I could not speed.
And, as I thrust the press among,
By froward chance my hood was gone;
Yet for all that I stayed not long
Till to the King's Bench I was come.
Before the Judge I kneeled anon
And prayed him for God's sake take heed.
But for lack of money, I might not speed.
Beneath them sat clerks a great rout,
Which fast did write by one assent;
There stood up one and cried about
'Richard, Robert, and John of Kent!'
I wist not well what this man meant,
He cried so thickly there indeed.
But he that lacked money might not speed.
To the Common Pleas I yode tho,
There sat one with a silken hood:
I 'gan him reverence for to do,
And told my case as well as I could;
How my goods were defrauded me by falsehood;
I got not a mum of his mouth for my meed,
And for lack of money I might not speed.
Unto the Rolls I gat me from thence,
Before the clerks of the Chancery;
Where many I found earning of pence;
But none at all once regarded me.
I gave them my plaint upon my knee;
They liked it well when they had it read;
But, lacking money, I could not be sped.
In Westminster Hall I found out one,
Which went in a long gown of ray;
I crouched and knelt before him; anon,
For Mary's love, for help I him pray.
'I wot not what thou mean'st', 'gan he say;
To get me thence he did me bid,
For lack of money I could not speed.
Within this Hall, neither rich nor yet poor
Would do for me aught although I should die;
Which seing, I gat me out of the door;
Where Flemings began on me for to cry,--
'Master, what will you copen or buy?
Fine felt hats, or spectacles to read?
Lay down your silver, and here you may speed.'
To Westminster Gate I presently went,
When the sun was at high prime;
Cooks to me they took good intent,
And proffered me bread, with ale and wine,
Ribs of beef, both fat and full fine;
A faire cloth they 'gan for to spread,
But, wanting money, I might not then speed.
Then unto London I did me hie,
Of all the land it beareth the prize;
'Hot peascodes!' one began to cry;
'Strawberries ripe!' and 'Cherries in the rise!'
One bade me come near and buy some spice;
Pepper and saffrone they 'gan me bede;
But, for lack of money, I might not speed.
Then to the Cheap I 'gan me drawn,
Where much people I saw for to stand;
One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn;
Another he taketh me by the hand,
'Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land';
I never was used to such things indeed;
And, wanting money, I might not speed.
Then went I forth by London stone,
Throughout all the Canwick Street;
Drapers much cloth me offered anon;
Then comes me one cried, 'Hot sheep's feet!'
One cried, 'Mackarel!' 'Rushes green!' another 'gan greet;
One bade me buy a hood to cover my head;
But for want of money I might not be sped.
Then I hied me into East Cheap:
One cries 'Ribs of beef and many a pie!'
Pewter pots they clattered on a heap;
There was harpe, pipe, and minstrelsy:
'Yea, by cock!' 'Nay, by cock!' some began cry;
Some sung of 'Jenkin and Julian' for their meed;
But, for lack of money, I might not speed.
Then into Cornhill anon I yode
Where there was much stolen gear among;
I saw where hung my owne hood,
That I had lost among the throng:
To buy my own hood I thought it wrong;
I knew it as well as I did my creed;
But, for lack of money, I could not speed.
The Taverner took me by the sleeve;
'Sir,' saith he, 'will you our wine assay?'
I answered, 'That cannot much me grieve;
A penny can do no more than it may.'
I drank a pint, and for it did pay;
Yet, sore a-hungered from thence I yede;
And, wanting money, I could not speed.
Then hied I me to Billings-gate,
And one cried, 'Ho! go we hence!'
I prayed a bargeman, for God's sake,
That he would spare me my expense.
'Thou 'scap'st not here,' quoth he, 'under twopence;
I list not yet bestow any almsdeed.'
Thus, lacking money, I could not speed.
Then I conveyed me into Kent;
For of the law would I meddle no more.
Because no man to me took intent,
I dight me to do as I did before.
Now Jesus that in Bethlehem was bore,
Save London and send true lawyers their meed!
For whoso wants money with them shall not speed.
Comments about this poem (The London Lackpenny by John Lydgate )
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