TwAY Mice, full blythe and amicable,
Batten beside Erle Robert’s table.
Lies there ne trap their necks to catch,
Ne old black cat their steps to watch,
Their fill they eat of fowl and fish;
Feast lyche as heart of mouse mote wish.
As guests sat jovial at the board,
Forth leap'd our mice: effsoons the lord
Of Boling, whilome John the Saint,
Who maketh oft propos full queint,
Laugh’d jocund, and aloud he cried.
To Matthew seated on to oth’ side;
To thee, lean bard, it doth partain
To understand these creatures tweine.
Come frame us now some clean device,
Or playsant rhime on yonder mice:
They seem, God shield me, Mat. and Charles."
Bad as Sir Topaz, or squire Quarles,'
(Matthew did for the nonce reply)
At emblem, or device am I:
Put could I chaunt, or rhyme, pardie,
Clear as Dan Chaucer, or as thee,
Ne verse from me (so God me shrive)
On mouse, or other beast alive.
Certes, I have these many days
Sent myne poetic herd to graze.
Ne armed knight ydrad in war
With lyon fierce will I compare:
Ne judge unjust, with furred fox,
Harming in secret guise the flocks:
Ne priest unworth of goddess coat,
To swine ydrunk, or filthy stoat.
Elk similé farewell for aye,
From elephant, I trow, to flea.
Reply'd the friendlike peer, I weene,
Matthew is angred on the spleen.
Ne so, quoth Mat. ne shall be e'er,
With wit that falleth all so fair:
Eftsoons, well weet ye, mine intent
Boweth to your commaundement.
If by these creatures ye have seen,
Pourtrayed Charles and Matthew been,
Behoveth neet to wreck my brain,
The rest in order to explain.
That cup-board, where the mice disport,
I liken to St. Stephen's Court:”