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Editor Sees Stoolball in Verse on Bachelorhood
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"In al this world nis a murier lyf/Thanne is a yong man wythouten a wyf,/For he may lyven wythouten strif/In every place wher-so he go.
"In every place he is loved over alle/Among maydens grete and smale-/In daunsyng, in pipyngs, and rennyng at the balle,/In every place wher-so he go.
"They leten lighte by housebonde-men/Whan they at the balle renne;/They casten ther love to yonge men/In every place wher-so they go.
"Then seyn maydens, "Farewel, Jakke,/Thy love is pressed al in thy pak;/Thou berest thy love bihynde thy back,/In every place wher-so thou go."
Robert Stevick, ed., One Hundred Middle English Lyrics (U of Illinois Press, 1994), page 141. Posted to 19CBB on 11/14/2008 by Richard Hershberger. Richard reports that Stevick dates this poem—#81 of the 100 collected in this volume—to c. 1470. He interprets the lyric's 'running at the ball' as 'stool ball, probably,' but stow ball [resembling field hockey] seems apter. Richard also points out that "for the sake of precision, it should be noted that this volume is intended for student use and normalizes the spellings."
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