Of the Courtier's Life

Myne owne John Poynz, sins ye delight to know
The cause why that homeward I me drawe,
And fle the presse of courtes wher soo they goo,
Rather then to lyve thrall, under the awe
Of lordly lokes, wrappid within my cloke,
To will and lust learning to set a lawe;
It is not for becawse I skorne or moke
The powar of them, to whome fortune hath lent
Change over us, of Right, to strike the stroke:
But true it is that I have allwais ment
Lesse to estime them then the common sort,
Of outward thinges that juge in their intent,
Withowt regarde what dothe inwarde resort.
I grawnt sumtime that of glorye the fyar
Dothe touche my hart: me lyst not to report
Blame by honour and honour to desyar.
But how may I this honour now atayne
That cannot dy the coloure blak a lyer?

My Poynz, I cannot frame me tune to fayne,
To cloke the trothe for praisse withowt desart,
Of them that lyst all vice for to retayne.
I cannot honour them that settes their part
With Venus and Baccus all theire lyf long;
Nor holld my pece of them allthoo I smart.
I cannot crowche nor knelle to do so grete a wrong,
To worship them, lyke gode on erthe alone,
That ar as wollffes thes sely lambes among.
I cannot with my wordes complayne and mone,
And suffer nought; nor smart wythout complaynt,
Nor torne the worde that from my mouthe is gone.

I cannot speke and loke lyke a saynct,
Use wiles for witt and make deceyt a pleasure,
And call crafft counsell, for proffet styll to paint.
I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer
With innocent blode to fede my sellff fat,
And doo most hurt where most hellp I offer.
I am not he that can alow the state
Off highe Cesar and dam Cato to dye,
That with his dethe dyd skape owt off the gate
From Cesares handes (if Lyve do not lye)
And wolld not lyve whar lyberty was lost:
So did his hert the commonn wele aplye.
I am not he suche eloquence to boste,
To make the crow singing as the swane,
Nor call the lyon of cowarde bestes the moste
That cannot take a mows as the cat can:
And he that dithe for hunger of the golld
Call him Alessaundre; and say that Pan
Passithe Apollo in muske manyfolld;
Praysse Syr Thopas for a nobyll talle,
And skorne the story that the knyght tolld.
Praise him for counceill that is droncke of ale;
Grynee when he laugheth that bereth all the swaye,
Frowne when he frowneth and grone when he is pale;
On othres lust to hang boeth nyght and daye:
None of these pyntes would ever frame in me;
My wit is nought--I cannot lerne the waye.
And much the lesse of thinges that greater be,
That asken helpe of colours of devise
To joyne the mene with eche extremitie,
With the neryst vertue to cloke always the vise:
And as to pourpose like wise it shall fall,
To presse the vertue that it may not rise;
As dronkenes good felloweshippe to call;
The frendly ffoo with his dowble face
Say he is gentill and courtois therewithall;
And say that Favell hath a goodly grace
In eloquence; and crueltie to name
Zele of justice and chaunge in tyme and place;
And he that suffreth offence withoute blame
Call him pitefull; and him true and playn
That raileth rekles to every mans shame.
Say he is rude that cannot lye and fayn;
The letcher a lover; and tirannye
To be the right of a prynces reigne.
I cannot, I. No, no, it will not be.
This is the cause that I could never yet
Hang on their slevis that way as thou maist se
A chippe of chaunce more then a pownde of witt.
This maketh me at home to hounte and to hawke
And in fowle weder at my booke to sitt.
In frost and snowe then with my bow to stawke,
No man doeth marke where so I ride or goo;
In lusty lees at libertie I walke,
And of these newes I fele nor wele nor woo,
Sauf that a clogg doeth hang yet at my hele:
No force for that for it is ordered so,
That I may lepe boeth hedge and dike full well.
I ame not now in Ffraunce to judge the wyne,
With saffry sauce the delicates to fele;
Nor yet in Spaigne where oon must him inclyne
Rather then to be, owtewerdly to seme.
I meddill not with wittes that be so fyne,
No Fflaunders chiere letteth not my sight to deme
Of black and white, nor taketh my wit awaye
With bestylnes, they beeste do so esteme;

Nor I ame not where Christe is geven in pray
For mony, poison and traison at Rome,
A commune practise used nyght and daie:
But here I ame in Kent and Christendome
Emong the muses where I rede and ryme;
Where if thou list, my Poynz, for to come,
Thou shalt be judge how I do spend my tyme.
Author of original: 
Luigi Alamanni
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