Tom O’ Bedlam’s Song

Posted on May 3, 2011

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Tom O’ Bedlam’s Song

From the hagg and hungrie goblin

That into raggs would rend ye,

And the spirit that stands by the naked man

In the Book of Moones – defend ye!

That of your five sound senses

You never be forsaken,

Nor wander from your selves with Tom

Abroad to beg your bacon.

(Chorus; sung after every verse)

While I doe sing “any foode, any feeding,

Feedinge, drinke or clothing,”

Come dame or maid, be not afraid,

Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Of thirty bare years have I

Twice twenty been enraged,

And of forty been three times fifteen

In durance soundly caged.

On the lordly lofts of Bedlam,

With stubble soft and dainty,

Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding-dong,

With wholesome hunger plenty.

With a thought I took for Maudlin

And a cruse of cockle pottage,

With a thing thus tall, skie blesse you all,

I befell into this dotage.

I slept not since the Conquest,

Till then I never waked,

Till the roguish boy of love where I lay

Me found and stript me naked.

When I short have shorne my sowre face

And swigged my horny barrel,

In an oaken inn I pound my skin

As a suit of gilt apparel.

The moon’s my constant Mistrisse,

And the lowly owl my morrowe,

The flaming Drake and the Nightcrow make

Me music to my sorrow.

The palsie plagues my pulses

When I prigg your pigs or pullen,

Your culvers take, or matchless make

Your Chanticleers, or sullen.

When I want provant, with Humfrie

I sup, and when benighted,

I repose in Powles with waking souls

Yet never am affrighted.

I know more than Apollo,

For oft, when he lies sleeping

I see the stars at bloody wars

In the wounded welkin weeping,

The moone embrace her shepherd

And the queen of Love her warrior,

While the first doth horne the star of morne,

And the next the heavenly Farrier.

The Gipsie Snap and Pedro

Are none of Tom’s companions.

The punk I skorne and the cut purse sworne

And the roaring boyes bravadoe.

The meek, the white, the gentle,

Me handle touch and spare not

But those that crosse Tom Rynosseros

Do what the panther dare not.

With a host of furious fancies

Whereof I am commander,

With a burning spear and a horse of air,

To the wilderness I wander.

By a knight of ghostes and shadowes

I summon’d am to tourney

Ten leagues beyond the wild world’s end.

Methinks it is no journey.