Poetry April 2007

Will and Testament

More

Click here to read Linda Gregerson's essay on this poem.

Hear Linda Gregerson read lines 1–36.


A communication which the Author had to London, before she made her Will.

1   The time is come I must departe
2       from thee, ah, famous Citie:
3   I never yet, to rue my smart,
4       did finde that thou hadst pitie,
5   Wherefore small cause ther is, that I
6       should greeve from thee to go:
7   But many Women foolyshly,
8       lyke me, and other moe.
9   Doe such a fyxed fancy set,
10       on those which least desarve,
11   That long it is ere wit we get,
12       away from them to swarve,
13   But tyme with pittie oft wyl tel
14       to those that wil her try:
15   Whether it best be more to mell,
16       or vtterly defye.
17   And now hath time me put in mind,
18       of thy great cruelnes:
19   That never once a help wold finde,
20       to ease me in distres.
21   Thou never yet woldst credit geve
22       to boord me for a yeare:
23   Nor with Apparell me releve
24       except thou payed weare.
25   No, no, thou never didst me good,
26       nor ever wilt, I know:
27   Yet am I in no angry moode,
28       but wyll, or ere I goe,
29   In perfect love and charytie
30       my Testament here write:
31   And leave to thee such Treasurye,
32       as I in it recyte.
33   Now stand a side and geve me leave
34       to write my latest Wyll:
35   And see that none you do deceave,
36       of that I leave them tyl.

Hear Linda Gregerson read lines 37–140.

The maner of her Wyll, and what she left to London: and to all those in it: at her departing.

37   I whole in body, and in minde,
38       but very weake in Purse:
39   Doo make, and write my Testament
40       for feare it wyll be wurse.
41   And fyrst I wholy doo commend,
42       my Soule and Body eke:
43   To God the Father and the Son,
44       so long as I can speake.
45   And after speach: my Soule to hym,
46       and Body to the Grave:
47   Tyll time that all shall rise agayne,
48       their Judgement for to have.
49   And then I hope they both shal meete.
50       to dwell for aye in ioye:
51   Whereas I trust to see my Friends
52       releast, from all annoy.
53   Thus have you heard touching my soule,
54       and body what I meane:
55   I trust you all wyll witnes beare,
56       I have a stedfast brayne.

57   And now let mee dispose such things,
58       as I shal leave behinde:
59   That those which shall receave the same,
60       may know my wylling minde.
61   I firste of all to London leave
62       because I there was bred:
63   Braue buildyngs rare, of Churches store,
64       and Pauls to the head.
65   Betweene the same: fayre streats there bee,
66       and people goodly store:
67   Because their keeping craveth cost,
68       I yet wil leave him more.
69   First for their foode, I Butchers leave,
70       that every day shall kyll:
71   By Thames you shal have Brewers store,
72       and Bakers at your wyll.
73   And such as orders doo obserue,
74       and eat fish thrice a weeke:
75   I leave two Streets, full fraught therwith,
76       they neede not farre to seeke.
77   Watlyng Streete, and Canwyck streete,
78       I full of Wollen leave:
79   And Linnen store in Friday streete,
80       if they mee not deceave.
81   And those which are of callyng such,
82       that costlier they require:
83   I Mercers leave, with silke so rich,
84       as any would desyre.
85   In Cheape of them, they store shal finde
86       and likewise in that streete:
87   I Goldsmithes leave, with Iuels such,
88       as are for Ladies meete.
89   And Plate to furnysh Cubbards with,
90       full braue there shall you finde:
91   With Purle of Siluer and of Golde,
92       to satisfye your minde.
93   With Hoods, Bungraces, Hats or Caps,
94       such store are in that streete:
95   As if on ton side you should misse
96       the tother serues you feete.
97   For Nets of every kynd of sort,
98       I leave within the pawne:
99   French Ruffes, high Purles, Gorgets and Sleeves
100       of any kind of Lawne.
101   For Purse or Kniues, for Combe or Glasse,
102       or any needeful knacke
103   I by the Stoks have left a Boy,
104       wil aske you what you lack.
105   I Hose doo leave in Birchin Lane,
106       of any kynd of syse:
107   For Women stitchte, for men both Trunks
108       and those of Gascoyne gise.
109   Bootes, Shoes or Pantables good store,
110       Saint Martins hath for you:
111   In Cornwall, there I leave you Beds,
112       and all that longs thereto.
113   For Women shall you Taylors have,
114       by Bow, the chiefest dwel:
115   In every Lane you some shall finde,
116       can doo indifferent well.
117   And for the men, few Streetes or Lanes,
118       but Bodymakers bee:
119   And such as make the sweeping Cloakes,
120       with Gardes beneth the Knee.
121   Artyllery at Temple Bar,
122       and Dagges at Tower hyll:
123   Swords and Bucklers of the best,
124       are nye the Fleete vntyll.
125   Now when thy Folke are fed and clad
126       with such as I have namde:
127   For daynty mouthes, and stomacks weake
128       some Iunckets must be framde.
129   Wherfore I Poticaries leave,
130       with Banquets in their Shop:
131   Phisicians also for the sicke,
132       Diseases for to stop.
133   Some Roysters styll, must bide in thee,
134       and such as cut it out:
135   That with the guiltlesse quarel wyl,
136       to let their blood about.
137   For them I cunning Surgions leave,
138       some Playsters to apply.
139   That Ruffians may not styll be hangde,
140       nor quiet persons dye.

Hear Lynn McMahon read lines 141–248.


141   For Salt, Otemeale, Candles, Sope,
142       or what you els doo want:
143   In many places, Shops are full,
144       I left you nothing scant.
145   Yf they that keepe what I you leave,
146       aske Mony: when they sell it:
147   At Mint, there is such store, it is
148       vnpossible to tell it.
149   At Stiliarde store of Wines there bee,
150       your dulled mindes to glad:
151   And handsome men, that must not wed
152       except they leave their trade.
153   They oft shal seeke for proper Gyrles,
154       and some perhaps shall fynde:
155   (That neede compels, or lucre lures
156       to satisfye their mind.)
157   And neare the same, I houses leave,
158       for people to repayre:
159   To bathe themselues, so to preuent
160       infection of the ayre.
161   On Saturdayes I wish that those,
162       which all the weeke doo drug:
163   Shall thyther trudge, to trim them vp
164       on Sondayes to looke smug.
165   Yf any other thing be lackt
166       in thee, I wysh them looke:
167   For there it is: I little brought
168       but nothyng from thee tooke.
169   Now for the people in thee left,
170       I have done as I may:
171   And that the poore, when I am gone,
172       have cause for me to pray.
173   I wyll to prisons portions leave,
174       what though but very small:
175   Yet that they may remember me,
176       occasion be it shall:
177   And fyrst the Counter they shal have,
178       least they should go to wrack:
179   Some Coggers, and some honest men,
180       that Sergantes draw a back.
181   And such as Friends wyl not them bayle,
182       whose coyne is very thin:
183   For them I leave a certayne hole,
184       and little ease within.
185   The Newgate once a Monthe shal have
186       a sessions for his share:
187   Least being heapt, Infection might
188       procure a further care.
189   And at those sessions some shal skape,
190       with burning nere the Thumb:
191   And afterward to beg their fees,
192       tyll they have got the some.
193   And such whose deedes deserueth death,
194       and twelue have found the same:
195   They shall be drawne vp Holborne hill,
196       to come to further shame:
197   Well, yet to such I leave a Nag
198       shal soone their sorowes cease:
199   For he shal either breake their necks
200       or gallop from the preace.
201   The Fleete, not in their circuit is,
202       yet if I geve him nought:
203   It might procure his curse, ere I
204       unto the ground be brought.
205   Wherfore I leave some Papist olde
206       to vnder prop his roofe:
207   And to the poore within the same,
208       a Boxe for their behoofe.
209   What makes you standers by to smile.
210       and laugh so in your sleeve:
211   I thinke it is, because that I
212       to Ludgate nothing geve.
213   I am not now in case to lye,
214       here is no place of iest:
215   I dyd reserve, that for my selfe,
216       yf I my health possest.
217   And ever came in credit so
218       a debtor for to bee.
219   When dayes of paiment did approch,
220       I thither ment to flee.
221   To shroude my selfe amongst the rest,
222       that chuse to dye in debt:
223   Rather then any Creditor,
224       should money from them get.
225   Yet cause I feele my selfe so weake
226       that none mee credit dare:
227   I heere reuoke: and doo it leave,
228       some Banckrupts to his share.
229   To all the Bookebinders by Paulles
230       because I lyke their Arte:
231   They e'ry weeke shal mony have,
232       when they from Bookes departe.
233   Amongst them all, my Printer must,
234       have somwhat to his share:
235   I wyll my Friends these Bookes to bye
236       of him, with other ware.
237   For Maydens poore, I Widdoers ritch,
238       do leave, that oft shall dote:
239   And by that meanes shal mary them,
240       to set the Girles aflote.
241   And wealthy Widdowes wil I leave,
242       to help yong Gentylmen:
243   Which when you have, in any case
244       be courteous to them then:
245   And see their Plate and Iewells eake
246       may not be mard with rust.
247   Nor let their Bags too long be full,
248       for feare that they doo burst.

Hear Jane Miller read lines 249–324.


249   To e'ry Gate vnder the walles,
250       that compas thee about:
251   I Fruit wives leave to entertayne
252       such as come in and out.
253   To Smithfeelde I must something leave
254       my Parents there did dwell:
255   So carelesse for to be of it,
256       none wolde accompt it well.
257   Wherfore it thrice a weeke shall have,
258       of Horse and neat good store,
259   And in his Spitle, blynd and lame,
260       to dwell for evermore.
261   And Bedlem must not be forgot,
262       for that was oft my walke:
263   I people there too many leave,
264       that out of tune doo talke.
265   At Bridewel there shal Bedelles be,
266       and Matrones that shal styll
267   See Chalke wel chopt, and spinning plyde,
268       and turning of the Mill.
269   For such as cannot quiet bee,
270       but striue for House or Land:
271   At Th' innes of Court, I Lawyers leave
272       to take their cause in hand.
273   And also leave I at ech Inne
274       of Court, or Chauncerye:
275   Of Gentylmen, a youthfull roote,
276       full of Actiuytie:
277   For whom I store of Bookes have left,
278       at each Bookebinders stall:
279   And parte of all that London hath
280       to furnish them withall.
281   And when they are with study cloyd:
282       to recreate theyr minde:
283   Of Tennis Courts, of dauncing Scooles,
284       and fence they store shal finde.
285   And every Sonday at the least,
286       I leave to make them sport.
287   In diuers places Players, that
288       of wonders shall reporte.
289   Now London have I (for thy sake)
290       within thee, and without:
291   As coms into my memory,
292       dispearsed round about
293   Such needfull thinges, as they should have
294       heere left now unto thee:
295   When I am gon, with consience,
296       let them dispearced bee.
297   And though I nothing named have,
298       to bury mee withall:
299   Consider that aboue the ground,
300       annoyance bee I shall.
301   And let me have a shrowding Sheete
302       to couer mee from shame:
303   And in obliuyon bury mee
304       and never more mee name.
305   Ringings nor other Ceremonies,
306       vse you not for cost:
307   Nor at my buriall, make no feast,
308       your mony were but lost.
309   Reioyce in God that I am gon,
310       out of this vale so vile.
311   And that of ech thing, left such store,
312       as may your wants exile.
313   I make thee sole executor, because
314       I lou'de thee best.
315   And thee I put in trust, to geve
316       the goodes unto the rest.
317   Because thou shalt a helper neede,
318       In this so great a chardge,
319   I wysh good Fortune, be thy guide, least
320       thou shouldst run at lardge.
321   The happy dayes and quiet times,
322       they both her Seruants bee.
323   Which well wyll serue to fetch and bring,
324       such things as neede to thee.

Hear Linda Gregerson read lines 324–364.


325   Wherfore (good London) not refuse,
326       for helper her to take:
327   Thus being weake and wery both
328       an end heere wyll I make.
329   To all that aske what end I made,
330       and how I went away:
331   Thou answer maist like those which heere,
332       no longer tary may.
333   And unto all that wysh mee well,
334       or rue that I am gon:
335   Doo me comend, and bid them cease
336       my absence for to mone.
337   And tell them further, if they wolde,
338       my presence styll have had:
339   They should have sought to mend my luck;
340       which ever was too bad.
341   So fare thou well a thousand times,
342       God sheelde thee from thy foe:
343   And styll make thee victorious,
344       of those that seeke thy woe.
345   And (though I am perswade) that I
346       shall never more thee see:
347   Yet to the last, I shal not cease
348       to wish much good to thee.
349   This, xx. of October I,
350       in ANNO DOMINI:
351   A Thousand: v. hundred seuenty three
352       as Alminacks descry.
353   Did write this Wyll with mine owne hand
354       and it to London gaue:
355   In witnes of the standers by,
356       whose names yf you wyll have.
357   Paper, Pen and Standish were:
358       at that same present by:
359   With Time, who promised to reveale,
360       so fast as she could hye
361   The same: least of my nearer kyn,
362       for any thing should vary:
363   So finally I make an end
364       no longer can I tary.

Linda Gregerson’s new collection of poems, Magnetic North, will be published this spring. She teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan. A version of this essay appears in the anthology Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry, edited by David Baker and Ann Townsend.

Lynne McMahon is the author of four collections of poetry, including Sentimental Standards (2004) and The House of Entertaining Science (1999). She is the editor of the Longman Anthology of Poetry (2006) and a professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jane Miller’s most recent collection of poems is the book-length sequence, A Palace of Pearls (2005), winner of the Audre Lorde Prize in Poetry. Her other works include Memory at These Speeds: New and Selected Poems (1996) and Working Time: Essays on Poetry, Culture, and Travel (1992). She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In