To binde a bushe of thornes amongst sweete smelling floures,
May make the posie seeme the worse, and yet the fault is ours:
For throw away the thorne, and marke what will ensew?
The posie then will shew it selfe, sweete, faire, and freshe of hew.
A puttocke set on pearch, fast by a falcons side,
Will quickly shew it selfe a kight, as time hath often bide.
And in my musing minde, I feare to finde like fall,
As just reward to recompence my rash attempts withall.
Thou bidst, and I must bowe, thou wilt that I shall write,
Thou canst commaund my wery muse some verses to endite.
And yet perdie, thy booke is fraught with learned verse,
Such skill as in my musing minde I can none like reherse.
What followes then for me? but if I must needes write,
To set downe by the falcons side, my selfe a sillie kight.
And yet the sillie kight, well weyde in each degree,
May serve sometimes (as in his kinde) for mans commoditie.
The kight can weede the worme, from corne and costly seedes,
The kight can kill the mowldiwarpe, in pleasant meads yt breeds:
Out of the stately streetes, the kight can clense the filth,
As men can clense the worthlesse weedes, from fruteful fallowed filth.
And onely set aside the hennes poore progenie,
I cannot see who can accuse the kight for fellonie.
The falcon, she must feede on partritch, and on quayle,
On pigeon, plover, ducke & drake, hearne, lapwing, teale, & raile,
Hir hungrie throte devours both foode and deintie fare,
Whereby I take occasion, thus boldly to compare.
And as a sillie kight, (not falcon like that flie,
Nor yet presume to hover by mount Hellycon on hie)
I frendly yet presume, upon my frends request,
In barreine verse to shew my skill, then take it for the best.
And Douty Douglasse thou, that art of faulcons kinde,
Give willing eare yet to the kight, and beare his words in minde.
Serve thou first God thy Lord, and prayse him evermore,
Obey thy Prince and love thy make, by him set greatest store.
Thy Parents follow next, for honor and for awe,
Thy frends use alwaies faithfully, for so commands the lawe.
Thy seemely selfe at last, thou shalte likewise regard,
And of thy selfe this lesson learne, and take it as reward:
That looke how farre deserts, may seeme in thee to shine,
So farre thou maist set out thy selfe, without empeach or crime.
For this I dare avow, without selfe love (alight)
It can scarce be that vertue dwell, in any earthly wight.
But if in such selfe love, thou seeme to wade so farre,
As fall to foule presumption, and judge thy selfe a starre,
Beware betimes and thinke in our Etymologie,
Such faults are plainly called pryde, and in french Surcuydrye,
Lo thus can I pore kight, adventure for to teach
The falcon flie, and yet forewarne, she row not past hir reach.
Thus can I weede the worme, which seeketh to devoure
The seeds of vertue, which might grow within thee every houre.
Thus can I kill the mowle, which else would overthrow
The good foundacion of thy fame, with every litle blowe.
And thus can I convey, out of thy comely brest,
The sluttish heapes of peevish pride, which might defile the rest.
Perchance some falcons flie, which will not greatly grutch,
To learne thee first to love thy selfe, and then to love to mutch,
But I am none of those, I list not so to range,
I have mans meate enough at home, what need I then seeke change.
I am no peacocke I: my feathers be not gay,
And though they were, I see my feete such fonde affectes to stay,
I list not set to sale a thing so litle worth,
I rather could kepe close my creast, than seeke to set it forth.
Wherefore if in this verse, which thou commandst to flowe,
Thou chaunce to fall on construing, whereby some doubles may grow,
Yet grant this onely boone, peruse it twice or thrice,
Disgest it well ere thou condemne the depth of my devise.
And use it like the nut, first cracke the outward shell,
Then trie the kirnell by the tast, and it may please thee well.
Do not as barbers do, which wash beards curiously,
Then cut them off, then cast them out, in open streetes to lie.
Remember therewithall, my muze is tied in chaines,
The goonshot of calamitie hath battred all my braynes.
And though this verse scape out, take thou thereat no marke,
It is but like a hedlesse flie, that tumbleth in the darke.
It was thine owne request, remember so it was,
Wherefore if thou dislike the same, then licence it to passe
Into my brest againe, from whence it flew in hast,
Full like a kight which not deserves by falcons to be plast:
And like a stubbed thorne, which may not seeme to serve,
To stand with such sweete smelling floures, like praises to deserve.
Yet take this harmelesse thorne, to picke thy teeth withall,
A tooth picke serves some use perdie, although it be but small.
And when thy teeth therewith, be piked faire and cleane,
Then bend thy tong no worse to me, than mine to thee hath bene.