QUEEN: You have heard it told, ‘a home without a mother is a present desert!’ Why, was that not stell?
CLODPOLL: Why, then am I a deserter, my mother deserteress; for she deserted me to my father, a bobcat kitten by the jaws of a coyote hung, before she had had me.
QUEEN: Your father, coyote?
CLODPOLL: Kitten I; for so sudden pounced he on me, spying the dam wander’d off!
QUEEN: Hoddypeaking, whippet?!
CLODPOLL: I could gleek you a word or two with fitter timing, madam, if your gnomon pointed me straight!
QUEEN: Loved your sire thee not greatly that didst attempt to veil mother’s absence from thy eye of infanthood, both beseeming?
CLODPOLL: Think it belike you mistake, dread queen, my meaning in this; or him in the taking of me! For more stomach than hath raccoon for acorns and squids my father hath, with head more bulby than the tuberose, to devour me withal; with gangrene yellow to the eye like a fever; and very in his carrefour like a neaptide; that, here stand I, as the staid sun shines bare, the cesspool of his nefarities – a fool beyond the times!
QUEEN: Thou needs must thy birth-oath abnegate, to splice with the wise, sirrah!
CLODPOLL: Oft many a time, my pater would me take in hand, but six or seven, with me wag far from home to a tavern to show his friends me, as would heliotropes turn up to outstare the sun, and with the nefast, bibitory swine of hogs in their yellow-green humour, as like the distaff wing of orioles, me commend to a brannigan, barrel-bottom; that early I fang’d betise of wine that I did not of my father’s mien!
QUEEN: What of his mien?
CLODPOLL: Lo, thence streams forth a great vast river of fooleries which, breaking of the banks, takes half the world in maw, and sequels the primary flood; that, angle how much greed angle, a million creels the least, angles he not the last trout ere he catch a sickness on fish! A philosopher may look at his face and learn the next curve to foolery; for why, you know, profundity and idiocy keep but an axis betwixt, and kiss at the crossing to cross not; whilst native peabrains newer roads learn, glancing!
QUEEN: Such a man, to be hight a man, by such work he makes of a man! Yet strange methinks it in the world, that a man at court may jest and at field fight both upon the point of a life, in both excellent, brockery as soldiery.
CLODPOLL: Marry, ‘pon my sword, more defier I am than any swashbuckler of field; for now spy I a mouse from forth the mousehole and straight malkin it to very precipice of his respiration, though, in like respect, marking the chevreuil where he double across the wood, fall I to the ground as dead, of the sudden, heart-fallen, if he hath the panther by the teeth! But to leave that the while, be what be, colourful praise, metrows, too much ornament is to hem a servant’s livery withal; sans frilling, sans the furbelowing, sans fandangling, sans purfling, sans hawt but plain time to work in, and straight be gone!
QUEEN: The road you put me in mind of, when you speak of going. For desperately, remark me, I dream of other worlds than this as slaves deliverance dream, in such sleepings sleep I I slipp’d out of the world head-front, as leaf from forth an axil, or flower from the bract, full quite a great queen! – for look you, doth gentle blood bleed beneath the barbous Crown; oppress’d spirit-bottom with state and ancientry! The emptier life burdensomer; as leaves soon the bearer wayworn and gasping!
CLODPOLL: Why, that’s flat! All yokelry mote think it as like as royalty pick cotton! To-dusk, my lady, to shear the field you and I steal , which sharing steals a moiety of this rack twixt court and farm to burden farming withal that return’d shorn ourselves with shearing; the Crown, wooded with wonder, mispriseth thee and tak’st for a drudging hilding, a malkin deject, more poor-pick’d than the scarecrow, more scarecrown than blue-pip’d queen turn’d from earing earthed womb; wherefrom releaseth of the royal scourge! For now your ermine-white hand is hard as the devil’s will; to say soft as you are a lady-queen, more irregular grown and rough-hewn than a tooth in hagfish’s head; that thou, like scurved like the goosefoot, dropp’st plates by the footfall; and thy free blood but now appent in the pipes, like an icicle, winter’d! This, methinks, will kelp the ransom! Say you?
QUEEN: I pluck thee a blackguard at the ear of this business, porpoise!
CLODPOLL: Marry, ‘tis like! But to be mulish against the grain, I subscribe half the field; then to better good merchanders, t’other; and thus to you the whole field; stell thee there, that, away the while and refunded, why, I find thee earthed in the sod of it, flopping o’erwhelmed under the kindness!
QUEEN: Ha, that all of Greece leave thee a flank of the blood-feeding field to garrison, as the Banyan its patch with multiplying, whensome’er Warfare’s warning tongue clangs her near; and that thou so solidly keep’st that side Greece from penetration rude! – by thy sheer valour multiplied; and then return such desperate patch, to occupy the grey humour of the court, and ‘gin green grave grey ‘gain! I’ll quote any fool about as shoots sharper wit from beneath trenches of experience, banqueted than men born on hard ground, or of parch’d soil sprouted.
CLODPOLL: Your husband the king loves me for such a soldier, for full oft hadst he beheld me fight; a thing of awe calls he it; yourself, great queen, might love me for such a fobber, hadst thou been to see my might in it, I mean, the fobbery of it. A sea-monster perceived, delight in flesh; as like is your whale meat stall’d up; who has it!
QUEEN: Not you for this planetary roundel, nor one limb for this mighty kingdom; but here a lapwing of motley feathering, bawcock brabbling bibelots, to warm myself and the king, our awning to parry poisonous pearls of melancholy; buckler pointy of upheavals; or my parrot-teacher to lay the tongue out with accent; or swinekeeper, to glutton them; and the aft and fore of these behovings my burier, whom I send before to make room; conjecturous you do it cleaner than weaverbirds spin at nestry, scarce about the dispatch a nine-tongue and a finger; that I rattle-free sleep from all the peeping world!
CLODPOLL: Why, as I love you so, I may be true to this as that, not feed your flying fox fatal pokeweeds! On good and vile in little ones a mother not a whit of wit hath, unless she hath two, one Zeus, another Hades, and give suck heaven and hell under a roof! To try their virtues, try we things against counters; as well you have heard an old grandam try stones against meat and made soup with them.
QUEEN: In heaven, I hope.
CLODPOLL: Earth here, sooth. Why, she took up two stones in the woods and, setting them against each other, like red-eyed aspectants in the gaze, make spark and did start an abrupt fire to the twigs, which burning sequently brothed the meat the grandson pluck’d down at hunt!
(Enter King Myles)
KING: Ho! What dost thou by my queen, carbuncled quidditor, that lurksome prowleth about my court?!
CLODPOLL: Know not, thunderous my king, jaguar will have meat, if my queen allow it a poor subject – though it be but gurgeons, from the flour of its nutrient clean bolted? A paltry thing, yet a something, the which, if it lures no thanks in boon, gillnets it in taste!
QUEEN: The Lion hath the hearse of jaws; wilt have it, needs thou have at it!
CLODPOLL: ‘Tis given, cooperation snatch’d the porcupine off the painted cat! In mind this present I’ll bename a mob of hoodlums more can wrest this meat off the Lion, though he totes it in his maw!
KING: Why, I too, rodomont, may disconjoin this orby wanderstar, this your earth, from jointure, cure it in sun, the exocarp decorticate layer-bottom, and milk dry the juice of it; or still command the fleeing undertow return prostrate before the elder shore, all at an eye, like falconer hawk to the lure; – but will they, when I do – although I sovereign king am?!
QUEEN: We’ll find you wife to lose this fooling by!
CLODPOLL: I had rather I were goodman to a gravestone, and besired of a worm!
KING: You had rather dead be took than not fool; as life dash-brain’d as not codheaded?
CLODPOLL: Upon malagrugous Content’s back the poorest of tailoring doth fit! Between a clodpate bald and a dialectician, in respect of sound disputation, it is all in taste, warrant you. I’ll pick mazzard, though you gather mushrooms; and trow truant grilses old stray’d to sea, go thou unwinging heaven of kites and other sky-fowls! A man oft will need study to find his own pace as keep the troad, or he walk all the day! – he will, he nil! The botcher is king that mend, king botcher that botch the staff! Heaven mend you!
QUEEN: Marry, the head is a rough-resolved horse will sunter where he, not the rider means; thus may be said the steed, please you, to ride the rider! Can a man thus, while his head be out, dodge his own head?
CLODPOLL: Why, that may he, as a curate duck him in an alehouse that his head bear eyes not to mark he infidel! Our orb the earth is cramm’d with men know not what they are; as you not you, he he, no I I – till that we step aside in our shadow right wherefrom we of our substance take survey!
KING: The fool’s fluvial tongue yet gurgles o’er stones and pebbles!
QUEEN: How do you that, in the shadow, fool?
CLODPOLL: Why, learn of me, take pyrexia, seem white as death-cloth, endear dying it’ll come, that the world might look and say, the dread sovereign look but a shadow! – as a thunder whittled to a whimper, or lightning puff’d out in gauzy wasp! When go you call forth ‘how it is’, here is how it is!
KING: A fine soldier, yet the fool! – carries lives on skill deftly as on sword, saving the number he slayest! – would often bawcockle till the foe he not spares breaks in a guffaw, then, swoosh! has done with him in a teeth-to-teeth! And himself, the gleek, returns no butt!
QUEEN: The powers prescient, to save one fool, will have his hurt in flight, though he fly after it, and clean out of collar! Dwell’st amongst us such cometary best-loves!
CLODPOLL: I brag not today, but I am behind my sun well turn’d out, metrows, two millennia or so; a present pock’d pariah wrench’d out of the times!
KING: Very courtly laid, as princely dawn would hide his head to blind the Orient, or scentful nosegay knot the flavour from the wind. Yet I think you will, if not to wive, then to soldiering, leave last this clownage!
QUEEN: So I fear, the native beginnings of prominence (I fear me that syllogism ingrain’d!) oftest are pox’d by strange convulsions; and fetal greatness is accoucheused by a sneer!
CLODPOLL: The vultures pick at my meat at the field, when you find me grave at the court! I do not gleek for that I am quick, Zeus light you, Psyche enswathe you; I but mock the world for that I was sent; know nothing of the plot!
QUEEN: Leave us two, since you be such a one! Sovereignty, sporting all the day, will soon dance into subjection by fools; and nothing but wailing sings him out again! – yet often bootless all!
CLODPOLL: It is out of courts! The eschorusses are a very rascaldom! – Tartarusian parliament of dark-boding, night-croaking, roof-hanging things! True hit, royal wit! Monarchy need mourn some instance wherein pray the fool be away, for fear he turn the air, mar mourning, and second kill the carcase. I’ll be gone straight!