Now Glutton heads for confession 350
And moves towards the Church, his mea culpa to say.
Fasting on a Friday he made forth his way
By the house of Betty Brewer, who bid him good morning
And where was he going that brew-wife asked.
"To Holy Church," he said "to hear mass, 355
And then sit and be shriven and sin no more."
"I have good ale, Glutton, old buddy, want to give it a try?"
"Do you have," he asked, "any hot spices?"
"I have pepper, peony, and a pound of garlic,
A farthing-worth of fennel seed, for fasting days I bought it." 360
Then in goes Glutton and great oaths after.
Cissy the shoemaker sat on the bench,
Wat the game warden and his drunken wife,
Tim the tinker and two of his workmen,
Hick the hackney-man and Hugh the needler, 365
Clarice of Cock's Lane and the clerk of the church,
Sir Piers of Pridie and Purnel of Flanders,
A hayward, a hermit, the hangman of Tyburn,
Daw the ditchdigger and a dozen rascals
In the form of porters and pickpockets and bald tooth-pullers 370
A fiddler, a rat-catcher, a street-sweeper and his helper,
A rope-maker, a road-runner, and Rose the dish-seller,
Godfrey the garlic-man and Griffith the Welshman,
And a heap of secondhand salesmen, early in the morning
Stood Glutton with glad cheers to his first round of ale. 375
Clement the cobbler took off his cloak
And put it up for a game of New Fair.
Hick the hackney-man saw with his hood
And asked Bart the butcher to be on his side.
Tradesmen were chosen to appraise this bargain, 380
That whoso had the hood should not have the cloak,
And that the better thing, according to the arbiters, compensate the worse.
They got up quickly and whispered together
And appraised these items apart in private,
And there was a load of swearing, for one had to get the worse. 385
They could not in conscience truthfully accord
Till Robin the rope-maker they asked to arise
And named him umpire so that all arguing would stop.
Hick the hostler got the cloak
On condition that Clement should fill the cup 390
And have Hick the hostler's hood and rest content;
And whoever took it back first had to get right up
And greet Sir Glutton with a gallon of ale.
There was laughing and louring and "please pass the cup!"
Bargaining and drinking they kept starting up 395
And sat so till evensong, and sang from time to time,
Until Glutton had gobbled down a gallon and a gill.
His guts began to rumble like two greedy sows;
He pissed half a gallon in the time of a pater noster,
He blew his round bugle at his backbone's bottom, 400
So that all who heard that horn had to hold their noses
And wished it had been well plugged with a wisp of briars.
He could neither step nor stand unless he held a staff,
And then he moved like a minstrel's performing dog,
Sometimes sideways and sometimes backwards, 405
Like some one laying lines in order to trap birds.
And when he reached the door, then his eyes dimmed,
And he stumbled on the threshold and fell to the ground,
And Clement the cobbler grabbed him by the waist
And in order to lift him up set him on his knees. 410
But Glutton was a huge boor and troubled in the lifting
And barfed up a mess into Clement's lap;
There is no hound so hungry in Hertfordshire
That he'd dare lap up that leaving, so unlovely it smacked.
With all the woe in this world his wife and his daughter 415
Bore him to his bed and put him in it,
And after all this excess he had a bout of sloth;
He slept through Saturday and Sunday till sundown.
Then he awoke pale and wan and wanted a drink;
The first thing he said was "Who's got the bowl?" 420
His wife and his conscience reproached him for his sin;
He became ashamed, that scoundrel, and made quick confession
To Repentance like this: "Have pity on me," he said,
"Lord who are aloft and shape all that lives!
To you God, I, Glutton, acknowledge my guilt 425
Of how I've trespassed with tongue, how often I can't tell,
Sworn 'God's soul and his sides!' and 'So help me God, Almighty!'
There was no need for it so many times falsely;
And overate at supper and sometime at noon
More than my system could naturally handle, 430
And like a dog that eats grass I began to throw up
And wasted what I might have saved—I can't speak for my shame
Of the depravity of my foul mouth and maw—
And on fasting days before noon I fed myself ale
Beyond all reason, among dirty jokesters, their dirty jokes to hear. 435
For this, good God, grant me forgiveness
For my worthless living during my entire lifetime.
For I swear by the true God, despite any hunger or thirst,
Never shall on a Friday a piece of fish digest in my stomach
Till my aunt Abstinence has given me leave— 440
And yet I've hated her all my lifetime."