The Tunning of Elenor Rumming

Original Text: 
John Skelton, Certayne bokes ... by mayster Skelton (London: R. Lant for H. Tab, [1545?]). STC 22598
2If that ye wyll
3A whyle be styll,
5That dwelt on a hyll:
7For she is somwhat sage
8And well worne in age;
9For her vysage
10It would aswage
11A mannes courage.
13Is nothynge clere,
14But ugly of chere,
15Droupy and drowsy,
16Scurvy and lowsy;
18Comely crynkled,
19Woundersly wrynkled,
20Lyke a rost pygges eare,
22Her lewde lyppes twayne,
23They slaver, men sayne,
24Lyke a ropy rayne,
26She is ugly fayre;
27Her nose somdele hoked,
29Never stoppynge,
30But ever droppynge;
31Her skynne lose and slacke,
32Grained lyke a sacke;
33With a croked backe.
36For they are blered;
37And she gray hered;
38Jawed lyke a jetty;
39A man would have pytty
41Fyngered and thumbed,
42Gently joynted,
43Gresed and annoynted
44Up to the knockles;
46Lyke as they were with buckels
47Togyther made fast:
48Her youth is farre past:
50Legged lyke a crane;
57It had ben hers, I wene,
58More then fourty yere;
59And so doth it apere,
60For the grene bare thredes
61Loke lyke sere wedes,
62Wyddered lyke hay,
63The woll worne away;
64And yet I dare saye
65She thynketh herselfe gaye
66Upon the holy daye,
67Whan she doth her aray,
69Stytched and pranked with pletes;
70Her kyrtel Brystow red,
71With clothes upon her hed
74After the Sarasyns gyse
77Upon her brayne pan,
79Capped about:
80When she goeth out
81Herselfe for to shewe,
82She dryveth downe the dewe
83Wyth a payre of heles
84As brode as two wheles;
86With her blanket hose
87Over the falowe;
88Her shone smered wyth talowe,
89Gresed upon dyrt
Primus passus
91And this comely dame,
92I understande, her name
93Is Elynour Rummynge,
95And as men say
101But to make up my tale,
104To travellars, to tynkers,
106And all good ale drynkers,
107That wyll nothynge spare,
108But drynke tyll they stare
109And brynge themselfe bare,
110With, "Now away the mare,
111And let us sley care,
112As wyse as an hare!"
113Come who so wyll
114To Elynour on the hyll,
115Wyth, "Fyll the cup, fyll,"
117Erly and late:
118Thyther cometh Kate,
119Cysly, and Sare,
120With theyr legges bare,
121And also theyr fete,
125Theyr smockes all to-ragged,
126Wyth titters and tatters,
127Brynge dysshes and platters,
128Wyth all theyr myght runnynge
129To Elynour Rummynge,
130To have of her tunnynge:
132And thus begynneth the game.
Tertius passus
244Instede of coyne and monny,
246And some a pot with honny,
247Some a salt, and some a spone,
248Some theyr hose, some theyr shone;
249Some ran a good trot
250With a skellet or a pot;
251Some fyll theyr pot full
253An huswyfe of trust,
255Suche a webbe can spyn,
256Her thryft is full thyn.
257Some go streyght thyder,
259They holde the hye waye,
260They care not what men say,
261Be that as be maye;
262Some, lothe to be espyde,
263Start in at the backe syde,
264Over the hedge and pale,
265And all for the good ale.
267Brynge wyth them malte or whete,
268And dame Elynour entrete
272Her lyppes are so drye,
273Without drynke she must dye;
274Therefore fyll it by and by,
275And have here a pecke of ry.
276Anone cometh another,
277As drye as the other,
278And wyth her doth brynge
279Mele, salte, or other thynge,
282As cometh to her lot.
283Som bryngeth her husbandes hood,
284Because the ale is good;
285Another brought her his cap
286To offer to the ale-tap,
287Wyth flaxe and wyth towe;
289Wyth, "Hey, and wyth, Howe,
290Syt we downe a-rowe,
291And drynke tyll we blowe,
292And pype tyrly tyrlowe!"
293Some layde to pledge
294Theyr hatchet and theyr wedge,
297And some went so narrowe,
300Theyr nedell and theyr thymbell:
301Here was scant thryft
302Whan they made suche shyft
303Theyr thrust was so great,
304They asked never for mete,
305But drynke, styll drynke,
306"And let the cat wynke,
307Let us washe our gommes
308From the drye crommes!"
Septimus passus
607But some than sat ryght sad
608That nothynge had
609There of theyre awne,
611Suche were there menny
612That had not a penny,
613But, whan they should walke,
615To score on the balke,
616Or score on the tayle:
618For my fyngers ytche;
621Of Elynour Rummynge:
623Of this worthy fest!


1] No early MSS. are known. The earliest printed copy seems to be in an incomplete collection of Skelton's poems printed for Thomas Lant, which has been dated 1547. The poem must have been written before 1523, for it is mentioned by Skelton in a list of his works in his poem The Garland of Laurell, printed in that year. The Tunnyngconsists of a prologue and seven passus or cantos in which are described with coarse vigour the keeper of an ale house and her customers.
I chyll. For ich wyll (Southern dialect). Back to Line
4] gyll. Wench. Back to Line
6] gryll. Harsh, bad-tempered. Back to Line
12] lere. Face. Back to Line
17] bowsy. Boozy. Back to Line
21] here. Hair. Back to Line
25] glayre. Viscidity. Back to Line
28] camously croked. Flat and turned-up; snub. (French camus). Back to Line
34] gowndy. Gummy. Back to Line
35] unsowndy. Unsound. Back to Line
40] To see what gums, fingers, and thumbs she has. Back to Line
45] huckels. Hips. Back to Line
49] Flat-footed. Back to Line
51] jet. Strut. Back to Line
52] jollyvet. Pretty young thing. Hughes' emendation of Dyce's reading, jolly fet, which has not been explained (Poems of Skelton, ed. Hughes). Back to Line
53] flocket. Cloak. Back to Line
54] rocket. Mantle. Back to Line
55] With simper the cocket. Like a simpering coquette. Back to Line
56] huke. Cape. Back to Line
68] gytes. Dresses. Back to Line
72] some of led. Mass of lead weighing about 300 pounds. Back to Line
73] Wrythen. Twisted. Back to Line
75] whym wham. Fantastic trifle. Back to Line
76] trym tram. Trim ornament. Back to Line
78] Egyptian. Gypsy. Back to Line
85] gose. Goose. Back to Line
90] baudeth. Soils. Back to Line
94] wonnynge. Dwelling. Back to Line
96] Sothray. Surrey. Back to Line
97] stede. Place. Back to Line
98] Lederhede. Leatherhead (20 miles from London). Back to Line
99] tonnysh. Shaped like a tun or cask; or possibly drunken.
gyb. Cat. Back to Line
100] syb. Related. Back to Line
102] noppy. Nappy, foaming. Back to Line
103] port sale. Public sale. Back to Line
105] To sweaters, to toilers. Back to Line
116] And sit beside it constantly. Back to Line
122] Hardely. Certainly. Back to Line
123] dagged. Be-mired. Back to Line
124] to-jagged. The to is intensive. Back to Line
131] leneth them on. Giveth them of. Back to Line
245] conny. Cony, rabbit. Back to Line
252] Lemster. Leominster. Back to Line
254] athrust. Athirst. Back to Line
258] Miry or slippery. Back to Line
266] swete. Sweat. Back to Line
269] byrle. Pour out. Back to Line
270] gest. Guest. Back to Line
271] rode of rest. Rood of rest, meaning the cross. Back to Line
280] harvest gyrdle. Girdle used at the harvest feast. Back to Line
281] scot. Fee. Back to Line
288] sowre dowe. Sour dough for raising bread. Back to Line
295] hekell. Hackle, flax-comb. Back to Line
296] rocke. Distaff. Back to Line
298] wharrowe. Part of a spindle. Back to Line
299] rybskyn. Leather apron. Back to Line
610] Neither money nor pledge. Back to Line
614] They were glad to mark their indebtedness on a beam with chalk or cut it on a tally. Back to Line
617] yll hayle. Bad luck. Back to Line
619] mytche. Much. Back to Line
620] mummynge. A disguising. Hence any boisterous revelry. Back to Line
622] gest. Story. Back to Line
624] Quod. Quoth. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.61; RPO 1996-2000.