[Page 287]


In Chaucer's Stile.

1 Tway Mice, full Blythe and Amicable,
2 Batten beside Erle Robert's Table.
3 Lies there ne Trap their Necks to catch,
4 Ne old black Cat their Steps to watch.
5 Their Fill they eat of Fowl and Fish;
6 Feast-lyche as Heart of Mouse mote wish.
7 As Guests sat Jovial at the Board,
8 Forth leap'd our Mice: Eftsoons the Lord
9 Of Boling, whilome John the Saint,
10 Who maketh oft Propos full queint,
[Page 288]
11 Laugh'd jocund, and aloud He cry'd,
12 To Matthew seated on t'oth' side;
13 To Thee, lean Bard, it doth partain
14 To understand these Creatures Tweine.
15 Come frame Us now some clean Device,
16 Or playsant Rhime on yonder Mice:
17 They seem, God shield Me, Mat. and Charles.
18 Bad as Sir Topaz, or 'Squire Quarles
19 (Matthew did for the nonce reply)
20 At Emblem, or Device am I:
21 But could I Chaunt, or Rhyme, pardie,
22 Clear as Dan Chaucer, or as Thee;
23 Ne Verse from Me (so God me shrive)
24 On Mouse, or other Beast alive.
25 Certes, I have these many Days
26 Sent myne Poetic Herd to graze.
27 Ne Armed Knight ydrad in War
28 With Lyon fierce will I compare:
29 Ne Judge unjust, with furred Fox,
30 Harming in Secret Guise the Flocks:
31 Ne Priest unworth of Goddess Coat,
32 To Swine ydrunk, or filthy Stoat.
33 Elk Similè farwell for aye,
34 From Elephant, I trow, to Flea.
35 Reply'd the friendlike Peer, I weene,
36 Matthew is angred on the Spleen.
37 Ne so, quoth Mat. ne shall be e'er,
38 With Wit that falleth all so fair:
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39 Eftsoons, well weet Ye, mine Intent
40 Boweth to your Commaundement.
41 If by these Creatures Ye have seen,
42 Pourtrayed Charles and Matthew been;
43 Behoveth neet to wreck my Brain,
44 The rest in Order to explain.
45 That Cup-board, where the Mice disport,
46 I liken to St.
* Exchequer.
Stephen's Court:
47 Therein is Space enough, I trow,
48 For elke Comrade to come and goe:
49 And therein eke may Both be fed
50 With Shiver of the Wheaten Bread.
51 And when, as these mine Eyen survey,
52 They cease to skip, and squeak, and play;
53 Return they may to different Cells,
54 Auditing One, whilst t'other Tells.
55 Dear Robert, quoth the Saint, whose Mind
56 In Bounteous Deed no Mean can bind;
57 Now as I hope to grow devout,
58 I deem this Matter well made out.
59 Laugh I, whilst thus I serious Pray?
60 Let that be wrought which Mat. doth say:
61 Yea, quoth the ERLE; but not to Day.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): Erle ROBERT's MICE. In Chaucer's Stile.
Author: Matthew Prior
Genres: imitation

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Source edition

Prior, Matthew, 1664-1721. Poems on Several Occasions [English poems only]. London: Printed for JACOB TONSON at Shakespear's-Head over against Katharine-Street in the Strand, and JOHN BARBER upon Lambeth-Hill. MDCCXVIII., 1718, pp. 287-289. [42],506,[6]p.: ill.; 2°. (ESTC T075639) (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [H 6.8 Art.].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Matthew Prior