Swapping Shirts with Shakespeare

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 See the humble peasant and honest tiller of the soil
Wander penniless in search of fields to plough,
Turfed out by sheep and landlord’s all enclosing greed;
See the lowly soldiers put out to seed by their knights,
Their livery no longer a rule writ large,
Instead, a symbol of redundancy.
See the rumpscuttles and runagates,
The Chapman at his hogshead,
The cursitor, the doxy and the coneycatcher,
The Egyptian and the high-pad and the palliard,
The clapperdudgeon and the prigger of prancers,
The rakehells and the Romanies,
The rufflers and the scryers,
The stales and the stews and the pedlars,
The swadder and the swigman,
The trugs and the whipjacks,
The vagabonds and vagrants,
The piss-prophets attending to their pools;
See these teeming armies of n’er do wells,
Now fortified by the footfalls of the footballers
Cast off by their football clubs.
Oh Cardinal Bosman!
Did thou notst foresee the consequences of thy judgement?
The small-sized clubs do now most carefully count their wage bills,
And the lanes of Merrie England are filled to the brim
With melancholic agents and itinerant kickers of the ball,
Laid off by their erstwhile employers.
Forsooth, there can be no peace in this Kingdom
Til the lowest midfield scuttler is equal to the Beckham;
We level up and level down,
And will share both rags and captain’s crown.


I am up to speed with 19th. century criminal cant but this Elizabethan language is amazing. See “The Elizabethan Underworld” by Gamini Salgado.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/swapping-shirts-with-shakespeare/