Anonymous Olde English

King Edward Iv. And The Tanner Of Tamworth - Poem by Anonymous Olde English

In summer time, when leaves grow greene,
And blossoms bedecke the tree,
King Edward wolde a hunting ryde,
Some pastime for to see.

With hawke and hounde he made him bowne,
With horne, and eke with bowe;
To Drayon Basset he tooke his waye,
With all his lordes a rowe.

And he had ridden ore dale and downe
By eight of clocke in the day,
When he was ware of a bold tanner,
Come ryding along the waye.

A fayre russet coat the tanner had on,
Fast buttoned under his chin,
And under him a good cow-hide,
And a mare of four shilling.

'Nowe stand you still, my good lordes all,
Under the grene wood spraye;
And I will wend to yonder fellowe,
To weet what he will saye.

'God speede, God speede thee,' said our king,
'Thou art welcome, sir,' sayd hee.
'The readyest waye to Drayton Basset
I praye thee to shewe to mee.'

'To Drayton Basset woldst thou goe,
Fro the place where thou dost stand?
The next payre of gallowes thou comest unto,
Turne in upon thy right hand.'

'That is an unreadye waye,' sayd our king,
'Thou doest but jest I see;
Nowe shewe me out the nearest waye,
And I pray thee wend with mee.'

'Awaye with a vengeance!' quoth the tanner:
'I hold thee out of thy witt:
All day have I rydden on Brocke, my mare,
And I am fasting yett.'

'Go with me downe to Drayton Basset,
No daynties we will spare;
All daye shalt thou eate and drinke of the best,
And I will paye thy fare.'

'Gramercye for nothing,' the tanner replyde,
'Thou payest no fare of mine:
I trowe I've more nobles in my purse,
Than thou hast pence in thine.'

'God give thee joy of them,' sayd the king,
'And send them well to priefe;'
The tanner wolde fame have beene away,
For he weende he had beene a thiefe.

'What art thou,' he sayde, 'thou fine fellowe?
Of thee I am in great feare;
For the cloathes thou wearest upon thy backe
Might beseeme a lord to weare.'

'I never stole them,' quoth our king,
'I tell you, sir, by the roode.'
'Then thou playest, as many an unthrift doth,
And standest in midds of thy goode.'

'What tydinges heare you,' sayd the kynge,
'As you ryde farre and neare?'
'I heare no tydinges, sir, by the masse,
But that cowe-hides are deare.'

'Cowe-hides! cowe-hides! what things are those?
I marvell what they bee?'
'What, art thou a foole?' the tanner reply'd;
'I carry one under mee.'

'What craftsman art thou,' sayd the king;
'I praye thee tell me trowe.'
'I am a barker, sir, by my trade;
Nowe tell me what art thou?'

'I am a poore courtier, sir,' quoth he,
'That am forth of service worne;
And faine I wolde thy prentise bee,
Thy cunninge for the learne.'

'Marrye heaven forfend,' the tanner replyde,
'That thou my prentise were;
Thou woldst spend more good than I shold winne
By fortye shilling a yere.'

'Yet one thinge wold I,' sayd our king,
'If thou wilt not seeme strange;
Thoughe my horse be better than thy mare,
Yet with thee I faine wold change.'

'Why if with me thou faine wilt change,
As change full well maye wee,
By the faith of my bodye, thou proude fellowe,
I will have some boot of thee.'

'That were against reason,' sayd the king,
'I sweare, so mote I thee;
My horse is better than thy mare,
And that thou well mayst see.'

'Yea, sir, but Brocke is gentle and mild,
And softly she will fare;
Thy horse is unrulye and wild, I wiss,
Aye skipping here and theare.'

'What boote wilt thou have?' our king reply'd;
'Now tell me in this stound.'
'Noe pence, nor half pence, by my faye,
But a noble in gold so round.'

'Here's twentye groates of white moneye,
Sith thou will have it mee.'
'I would have sworne now,' quoth the tanner,
'Thou hadst not had one pennie.

'But since we too have made a change,
A change we must abide;
Although thou hast gotten Brocke, my mare,
Thou gettest not my cowe-hide.'

'I will not have it,' sayd the kynge,
'I sweare, so mought I thee;
Thy foule cowe-hide I wolde not beare,
If thou woldst give it to mee.'

The tanner hee tooke his good cowe-hide,
That of the cow was hilt,
And threwe it upon the king's sadelle,
That was soe fayrelye gilte.

'Now help me up, thou fine fellowe,
'Tis time that I were gone:
When I come home to Gyllian, my wife,
Sheel say I am gentilmon.'

The king he tooke him up by the legge
The tanner a f** lett fall;
'Nowe marrye, goode fellowe,' sayd the kyng,
'Thy courtesye is but small.'

When the tanner he was in the kinges sadelle,
And his foote in the stirrup was,
He marvelled greatlye in his minde,
Whether it were golde or brass.

But when his steede saw the cows toile wagge,
And eke the blacke cowe-horne,
He stamped, and stared, and awaye he ranne,
As the devill had him borne.

The tanner he pulld, the tanner he sweat,
And held by the pummil fast;
At length the tanner came tumbling downe,
His necke he had well-nye brast.

'Take thy horse again with a vengeance,' he sayd,
'With mee he shall not byde.'
'My horse wolde have borne thee well enoughe,
But he knewe not of thy cowe-hide.

'Yet if againe thou faine woldst change,
As change full well may wee,
By the faith of my bodye, thou jolly tanner,
I will have some boote of thee.'

'What boote wilt thou have,' the tanner replyd,
'Nowe tell me in this stounde?'
'No pence nor half-pence, sir, by my faye,
But I will have twentye pound.'

'Here's twentye groates out of my purse,
And twentye I have of thine;
And I have one more, which we will spend
Together at the wine.'

The king set a bugle-horne to his mouthe,
And blewe both loude and shrille;
And soone came lords, and soone came knights,
Fast ryding over the hille.

'Nowe, out alas!' the tanner he cryde,
'That ever I sawe this daye!
Thou art a strong thiefe; yon come thy fellowes
Will beare my cowe-hide away.'

'They are no thieves,' the king replyde,
'I sweare, soe mote I thee;
But they are the lords of the north countrey,
Here come to hunt with mee.'

And soone before our king they came,
And knelt downe on the grounde;
Then might the tanner have beene awaye,
He had lever than twentye pounde.

'A coller, a coller, here,' sayd the king,
'A coller,' he loud gan crye;
Then woulde he lever then twentye pound,
He had not beene so nighe.

'A coller, a coller!' the tanner he sayd,
'I trowe it will breed sorrowe;
After a coller commeth a halter;
I trowe I shall be hang'd to-morrowe.'

'Be not afraid, tanner,' said our king;
'I tell thee, so mought I thee,
Lo here I make thee the best esquire
That is in the north countrie.'

'For Plumpton-Parke I will give thee,
With tenements faire beside,-
'Tis worth three hundred markes by the yeare,-
To maintaine thy good cowe-hide.'

'Gramercye, my liege,' the tanner replyde;
'For the favour thou hast me showne,
If ever thou comest to merry Tamworth,
Neates leather shall clout thy shoen.'

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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