❧ The Churle and the Byrde.

[depiction of man and bird]
PRoblemes of olde lykenesse and fygure
Which proued ben, fructuous of silence
And haue auctorites, grounded in scripture
By resemblaunce, of notable aparaunce
with moralities, concludynge on prudēce
Lyke as the byble reherseth by wrytynge
How trees somtyme chose them a kynge.
Fyrste in theyr choyse, they named Olyue
To rayne amonge them, iudicū doth expresse
But he hymsefle gan excuse blyue
That they myght nat forsake the fatnesse
Nor the fygge tre, her amorous swetnes
Nor the vyne tre, his holsome fresshe corage
which gyueth comforte, to all maner of age
And semblable poytes laureate
By darke parables full conuenient
Fayne that byrdes and beestes of estate
As royall Egles, and lyons by assent
Sent out writtes to holde a paralyment
And made the crye, breuely for to say
So [...] to haue lorde shyp, and some to obeye.
Egles in the ayre, hyest to take theyr flyght
Power of lyons, on the grounde is sene
Cedre amonge trees, hyghest in syght
The laurell of nature, is aye grene
Of floures all Flora, aye goddesse and quene
Thus in all thynges, there ben dyuersyti [...]s
Churle & byrde.
[Page]Some of estate, and some of lowe degrees.
Poytes wryte, wonderfull lykenesse
And vnder couert, kepe them selfe full close
They take beestes, and foules to wytnesse
Of whose sayenges, fables fyrst a rose
And here I cast on my purpose
Out of frenche, a tale to translate
which in a pamflete, I saw and redde but late
This tale, which I make mencyon
In grose reherseth playnly to declare
The great prouerbe, payed for the raunson
Of a lytell byrde, taken in a snare
wonderfull desyrous, to escape out of care
Of myn auctor folowynge the processe
So as it fell, in ordre I shall you expresse
Somtyme there dwelled in a small vylage
As myn anctor maketh mencyon
A churle, which had lust and corage
within hym selfe, by dyligent trauayle
To aray his garden, with notable aparayle
Of length and brede, in lyke square and longe
Hedged and dytched, to make it sure and stronge
All the alayes, were mayde playne with sande
The benches couered, which newe turues grene
with the swete yerbes, and condytes at hande
Than welled vp agaynst the sonne shynynge
[Page]Lyke vnto syluer, or any christall clere
The byrbyll wawes, in theyr vp boylynge
Rounde as byrrall, theyr beames out shyuynge.
In myddes of the garden, stode a fresshe laurere
Theron a byrde syngynge day and nyght
with shynīge fethers, bryghter than the golde wyr [...]
which with her songe, made heuy hertes lyght
that her to beholde, it was an heuenly syght
Now towarde euyn, and in the dawnynge
She dyd her payne moost amerously to synge
Esperous enforced her corage
towarde euyn, whan phebus went to the west
Amonge the braunches, to take her aduauntage
To synge her complaynte, and than to go to rest
And at the rysynge of the quene Alcest
to synge agayne, as it were her deu
Early on the morow, the day after to salue.
It was a very heuenly melody
Euen and morow to heare the byrdes songe
And the swete sugred ermony
with vncouth warbles and tunes draw alonge
That all the garden, of the noyse tonge
Tyll on the morowe, whan tytan dyd shyne clere
the byrde was trapped, and caught in a pantere
¶ The churle was glad, that he y byrde had take
Mery of chere, of loke and vysage
And in all hast, he cast for to make
[Page]Within his house, a lytell prety cage
And with her songe, to reioyse his corage
tyll at the last, the cely byrde a brayde
And soberly to the churle she sayd
I am take and stande vnder daungere
Holden strayte, that I may nat fle
A due my songe, my lusty notes clere
Now haue I loste my lyberte
Now am I thrall, that somtyme was fre
And trust me well, whyle I stande in distrisse
I can nat synge, nor make no gladnesse?
And though my cage forged were of golde
And the pynacles, of byrrall and chrystall
I remembre a prouerbe of olde
who leseth his fredome he leseth all
For I had leauer, vpon a braunche small
Merely synge, amonge the leaues grene
Than in a cage of syluer bryght and shyne
Sothe and pryson, haue none accordaunce
Trowest thou I wyle synge in pryson
Nay, for songe procedeth of ioy and plesaunce
And pryson causeth doth and distruction.
Redynge of letters maketh no mery sounde
Or who shulde be mery or iocounde
Agaynst his wyll that lyeth in chaynes bounde
What auayleth a Lyon to be a kynge
[Page]To be shyt vp in a towre of stone
Or an Egle vnder streyte kepynge
Calle [...] kynge of foules euery [...]hone
Fye on lordshyp, whan lyberte is gone
Answere hereto, and let it not astarte
who syngeth merely, y syngeth not at the her [...]e
But and thou wylt reioyce of my syngynge
Suffre me to go fre from all daunger
And euery day in the greue mornynge
I wyll repayre vnto the la [...]rere
And merely synge with lusty note clere
Vnder the chamber, or a fore thyne hall
Euery season, whan thou lyst me to call.
To be shyt vp and pynned vnder drede
Nothynge accordeth to my nature
Thoughe I were fedd with mylke & wastell brede
And swete curdes brought to my pasture
yet had I leuer to do my busy cure
Erly on the morow to scrapt in the wall
To fynde my dyner, amonge the wormes small.
The labourer is gladder at the plough [...]
Erly on morowe to fede hym with bacon
Than some man is, that hath treasour ynough [...]
And of all dei [...]ties plente and foyson
And no fredome with his possessyon
To go at large, but as a bere at a stake
To passe his bondes yf he leue take.
Take this answere for a shorte conclusyon
to synge in pryson thou shalte me nat [...] streyne
Tyll I haue fredome in wodes vp and downe
to flye at large, on boughe roughe and playne
And of reason thou shuldest not disdayne
Of my desyre, but laughe and haue good game
But he yt is a churle, wolde eche mā were the same
¶ well quod the churle, syth it wyll nat be
That I desyre as by thi talkynge
Maugry thi will, thou shalte chose one of thre
within a cage merely to synge
Or to the kechyn I shall thy body brynge
Plucke thy fethers, that ben bryght and clere
And after rost or bake the to my sopere
well quod the byrde, as to reason I say not nay
thouchynge my songe, a full answere thou hast
And whan my fethers ben plucked away
Yf I be roste and baken in past
On me thou shalte haue but a small repaste
But and yf thou wylte worke after my coūsayle
By me mayst thou haue great auayle
Yf thou wylte vnto my reason assent
And suffre me to go fre from pryson
without raunsom, or any other rent
I shall the gyue a notable guerdon
Thre great wysdome [...], accordynge to reason
More of value, take hede what I profer
[Page]Than all thy golde that is shyt in thy cofer
Trust me well, I wyll the nat disceyue
well quod the churle, tell on let se
Nay quod the byrde, thou must afore conceyue
who that shall teche of reason must go fre
It sytteth, a mayster to haue his lyberte
And at large to teche his lesson
Haue me not in suspecte I meane no treason
well quod the churle I holde me content
I trust thy promyse which thou makest me
The byrde flewe forth, the chorle was of assent
And toke her flyght, vnto the laurer tre
than thought she, now stand I fre
with no panters I cast nat a I my lyfe
Nor with lyme twygges, any more to stryue.
He is a fole that scaped is daungere
Broken his fetters, and fled out of pryson
To resorte, for the brent chylde dredeth fyre
Eche man beware of wysdome and reason
Of sugre strewed, whiche hydeth false poyson
There is no poyson venim so per [...]llꝰ of sharpenesse
As is, whan it hathe of tryacle a lykenesse
¶ Who dredeth no peryll, in peryll he shall fall
Smothe waters ben oftentymes depe
The quayle pype can most falsly call
tyll the quayle vnder the net doth crepe
A blerecyed fouler, trust not though he wepe
[Page]Eschewe his tombe, of wepynge take no hede
That symple byrdes can nype vy the hede.
And I that now such daungere am escaped
I wyll beware, and afore prouyde
That of no fouler I wyll no more betaked
From their lyme twygges, I wyll flee fer a syde
where paryll is, great paryll is to abyde
Come nere thou churle, herken to my speche
Of thre wysdomes that I wyll the teche
Gyue nat of wysdome to hasty credence
To euery tale of eche tydynge
But consydre of reason and prudence
Amonge many tales, is many a great lesynge
Hasty credence, hath caused great hynderynge
Reporte of tales & tydynges brought vp newe
Caused many a man, to beholde vntrewe
For o [...]e parte take this of my raunson
Lerne the seconde, grounded on scrypture
Desyre thou nat by no condycion
thynge, which is impossible to recure
worl [...]ly desyre stand [...] in auenture
As who desyreth, to clym hye on lofte
By sodeyne turne, he [...]alleth vnso [...]te
the thyrde is this beware both euyn and morowe
Forget it nat, [...]u [...] [...]r [...]e this of me
For treasour lost, make neuer to great sorowe
[Page]Which in no wyse, may recouered be
For who so taketh sorow, for loue of any degre
Reken his loue and after his payne
And of one sorowe, he maketh sorowes twayne
After this lesson, the byrde began a songe
Of her escape greatly reioysynge
And she remembred also the great wronge
Done by the churle, firste at her takinge
O [...] her afray, and her emprysoninge
Glad that she was out of drede
Sayd vnto hym, houerynge aboue his hede
Thou were quod she a naturall fole
To suffre me departe of lewdenesse
thou ought to complaynt and make dole
And in thy herte to haue great heuynesse
That thou lost so passynge great rychesse
which myght suffyce by value in rekenynge
To pay the raunson, of a myghty kynge
There is a stone which is called a Iaconn [...]
Of golde engendred in myn entraile
which of fyne golde, passeth a great ounce
Cytryne of colour lyke a granet of entayle
which maketh men vyctoryous in batayle
And who so euer bereth on him this stone
Is fully assured agaynst his mortall fone.
who that hath this stone in possessyon:
[Page]Shall suffre no pouertye ne no indygence
But of all treasour, haue plente and foyson
And euery man shall do him reuerence
And none enemy shall do to hym offence
But fro thy handes, now that I am gone
Playne yf thou wylt, for thy part is none
It causeth loue, and maketh men gracyous
And fauourable in euery mannes syght
It maketh acorde, bytwene men Enuyous
It cōforteth sorofull, it maketh heuy hertes lyght
Lyke to poyson in colour shyneth bryght
I am a fole to tell all at ones
Or to teche a churle, ye precious stones
Men shulde nat put a precyous margaryte
As rubyes saphyres, and other stones Inde
Emeraudes, nor rounde perles white
A [...]ore rude swyne that loue draffe of kynde
For a sowe delyteth as I fynde
More in foule draffe her pygges for to glade
Than in all the p [...]ry, that cometh of garnerd
Eche thynge draweth to his semblable
Fysshe in the see, beestes on the grounde
The ayre for foules is moost comendable
And to the ploughe man to tyl the lande
And a churle to haue a mucforke in hande
I lese my time, any more to tary
Or to teche a churle of the lapydary
That thou haddest, thou gettest no more a geyne
thy lyme twygges and thy panters I defye
To let me go, thou were foule ouersene
to lese thy rychesse, only of foly
I am nowe fre to synge and to fle
where that my lyste, he is a fole at all
that goeth at large, and maketh hymselfe a thrall
To here of wysdome thyne eares ben defe
Lyke to an asse, that lysteneth to an harpe
Thou mayst go pype, in a rue lefe
For better it is to synge on thornes sharpe
than in a cage, with a churle to carpe
For it was sayd of folkes longe a gone
that a churles byrde, is often wo be gone
The churle felt his hert atwayne
For very sorow, and a sonder ryue
Alas quod he, I may well wepe and playne
As a wretch neuer lyke to thryue
But to mourne in pouertye all my lyue
For of foly, and of wylfulnesse
I haue lost hoyly all my rychesse.
¶ I was a lorde I cryed out on fortune
And had great treasour late in my kepynge
which myght haue made me longe to contynue
with that stone to haue lyued lyke a kynge
Or yf that I had set it in a rynge
Borne it vpon me, I haue good ynoughe
Me neded no more, to haue gene to the ploughe
whan the byrde harde the churle thus mourne
And how that he was heuy of his chere
She toke her flyght, and gan agayne returne
towarde hym and sayd as ye shall here
¶ O thou dull churle wysdom for to lere
that I the taught, all is lefte behynde
Raced away and clene out of thy mynde
Taught I the nat this wysdome in sentence
To euery tale brought vp of newe
Nat to hastely to gyue credence
Vnto the tyme, thou know that it be true
All is nat golde, that sheweth goldysshe hewe
Nor stones all, by nature as I fynde
Be nat saphyres, that shewe colours ynde.
In this doctryne I haue lost my labour
To teche the such prouerbes of substaunce
Here mayst thouse, thy lewde blynde errour
For all my body peysed in a balaunce
weyeth nat an ounse, rude is thy remmebraunce
I to haue more peyse closed in myne entrayle
Than all my body, set to the contertayle
All my body weyeth not an vnce
How myght I than haue in me a stone
That peyseth more than doth a great Iacoūce
thy brayne is dull, thy wyt is almoste gone
Of thre wysdomes thou hast forgotten one
For thou shuldest not after my sentence
[Page]To euery tale, gyue to hasty credente.
I bade also beware, both euyn and morowe
For thynge lost, by soden auenture
thou sholdest not make to moche sorowe
whan thou seest, thou mayst it nat recure
And there thou faylest that thou dost thy busy cure
In thy snare to catche me agayne
Thou art a fole, thy labour is in vayne.
In the thyrde, thou dost also raue
For I bade, thou sholdest in no wyse
Couete thynge, which thou mayst nat haue
In whiche thou hast forgotten myn empryse
Thus I may say, playnly to deuyse
that thou hast of madnesse forgotten all thre
Notable wysdomes, that I taught the
It were foly, more with the to carpe
Or preche of wysdome more or lasse
I holde hym mad, that bryngeth forthe an harpe
Theron to teche a rude dull asse
And madder is he, that syngeth to a fole a masse
And he is most mad, that doth his busyness:
To teche a churle, termes of gentylnesse.
And semblably, in Aprill and in May
when gentyll byrdes make most melody
The cuckow syngeth but on laye
Of other tunes she hath no fantasy
[Page]Thus euery thynge, as bokes specifye
As foules and bestes of euery age.
From whens they came they take talage
The Vintener treateth of his holsome wynes
Of gentyll frutes bostteth the Gardener
The Fissher casteth his hokes and his lyens
to catche fysshe, in euery fresshe ryuer
Of tylthe of lande, treateth the Labourer
the Gentylman, treateth of gentrye
And the Churle delyteth him all in rybandry.
All one to thee, a Fa [...]kon as a Kyfe
As good an Owle as a Popingay
A donghyll ducke, as daynty as a Snyte
Who serueth a churle, hath many a carefull daye
A due syr Churle, fare well I flye my way
For I cast me neuer hensforth in my likynge
A fore a churle, any more to synge.
Ye folke that shall this fable se or rede
Newe forged tales I counseyle you to fle
For losse of gooddes, take neuer to great hede
Nor be nat sory for none aduersyte
Nor couete thinge, that may not recouered be
And remembre where euer ye gone
That a churles byrde, is euer wo begonne
¶ Vnto my purpose, this proued is fully ryue
Rede and reporte by olde remembraunce
That a churles byrde and a knaues wyse
[Page]Haue oftentymes, great sorow and myschaunce
And who that hath fredome, hath all suffysaunce
For better is fredome, with lytel in gladnesse
Than to be thrall, with all worldly rychesse
To lytell queyer, and recommende me
Vnto my mayster, with humble affection
Besechynge hym lowly of mercy and pyte
Of this rude makynge, to take compassyon
And as touchynge the translacion
Out of frenche, how it englisshed be
All thynge is sayd vnder correction
with supportacyon, of your benygnite.
FINIS.

¶ Imprented at London in Lothburi ouer against Sainct Margarytes church by me Wyliam Copland.

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