A Ballad To The Tune Of The Cut-Purse

Category: Poetry



Once on a time, as old stories rehearse,
A friar would need show his talent in Latin;
But was sorely put to 't in the midst of a verse,
Because he could find no word to come pat in;
Then all in the place
He left a void space,
And so went to bed in a desperate case:
When behold the next morning a wonderful riddle!
He found it was strangely fill'd up in the middle.
CHO. Let censuring critics then think what they list on't;
Who would not write verses with such an assistant?


This put me the friar into an amazement;
For he wisely consider'd it must be a sprite;
That he came through the keyhole, or in at the casement;
And it needs must be one that could both read and write;
Yet he did not know,
If it were friend or foe,
Or whether it came from above or below;
Howe'er, it was civil, in angel or elf,
For he ne'er could have fill'd it so well of himself.
CHO. Let censuring, & c.


Even so Master Doctor had puzzled his brains
In making a ballad, but was at a stand;
He had mixt little wit with a great deal of pains,
When he found a new help from invisible hand.
Then, good Doctor Swift
Pay thanks for the gift,
For you freely must own you were at a dead lift;
And, though some malicious young spirit did do't,
You may know by the hand it had no cloven foot.
CHO. Let censuring, & c.

Available translations:

English (Original)