THE Jester shook his hood and bells, and leaped upon a chair,
The pages laughed, the women screamed, and tossed their scented hair;
The falcons whistleled, staghounds bayed, the lapdog barked without,
The scullion dropped the pitcher brown, the cook railed at the lout!
The steward, counting out his gold, let pouch and money fall,
And why? because the jester rose to say grace in the hall!
The page played with the heron’s plume, the steward with his chin,
The butler drummed upon the board, and laughed with might and main;
The grooms beat on their metal cans, and roared till they were red,
But still the Jester shut his eyes and rolled his witty head;
And when they grew a little still, read half a yard of text,
And, waving hand, struck on the desk, then frowned like one perplexed.
“Dear sinners all,” the fool began, “man’s life is but a jest,
A dream, a shadow, bubble, air, a vapor at the best,
In a thousand pounds of law I find not a single ounce of love;
A blind man killed the parson’s cow in shooting at the dove;
The fool that eats till he is sick must fast till he is welll;
The wooer who can flatter most will bear away the belle.
“Let no man haloo he is safe till he is through the wood;
He who will not when he may, must tarry when he should.
He who laughs at crooked men should need walk very straight;
O, he who once has won a name may lie abed till eight!
Make haste to purchase house and land, be very slow to wed;
True coral needs no painter’s brush, nor need be daubed with red.
“The friar, preaching, cursed the thief (the pudding in his sleeve).
To fish for sprats with golden hooks is foolish by your leave,—
To travel well,—an ass’s ears, ape’s face, hog’s mouth and ostrich legs.
He does not care a pin for theives who limps about and begs.
Be always first man at a feast and last man at a fray;
The short way round, in spite of all, is still the longest way.
When the hungry curate licks the knife there’s not much for the clerk;
When the pilot, turning pale and sick, looks up—the storm grows dark.”
The loud they laughed, the fat cook’s tears ran down into the pan:
The steward shook, and he was forced to drop the brimming can;
And then again the women screamed, and every staghound bayed,—
And why? because the motley fool so wise a sermon made.
(George Walter Thornbury)
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Based on Keywords: falcons, curate, bayed, daubed, scullion, theives, sprats, staghounds, lapdog, leave-, staghound
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