Strange farlies fathers told
Of fiends and hags of hell;
And how that Circes, when she would,
Could skill of sorcery well;
And how old thin-faced wives,
That roasted crabs by night,
Did tell of monsters in their lives
That now prove shadows light;
And told what Merlin spoke
Of world and times to come;
But all that fire doth make no smoke,
For in mine ear doth hum
Another kind of bee,
That sounds a tune most strange,
A trembling noise of words to me
That makes my countenance change.
Of old Hobgobling's guise,
That walked like ghost in sheets,
With maids that would not early rise
For fear of bugs and sprites.
Some say the fairies fair
Did dance on Bednall Green,
And fine familiars of the air
Did talk with men unseen.
And oft in moonshine nights,
When each thing draws to rest,
Was seen dumb shows and ugly sights
That fearèd every guest
Which lodgéd in the house;
And where good cheer was great,
Hodgepoke would come and drink carouse
And munch up all the meat.
But where foul sluts did dwell,
Who used to sit up late,
And would not scour the pewter well,
There came a merry mate
To kitchen or to hall,
Or place where sprites resort;
Then down went dish and platters all
To make the greater sport.
A further sport fell out
When they to spoil did fall;
Rude Robin Goodfellow, the lout,
Would skim the milk-bowls all,
And search the cream-pots too,
For which poor milk-maid weeps.
God wot what such mad guests will do
When people soundly sleeps!
These are but fables feigned,
Because true stories old
In doubtful days are more disdained
Than any tale is told.