"Goes To Grass"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Before the play gets well started, a citizen grocer and his naïve wife speak up to the actors to say that they want a different play from the one scheduled. What is more, they want their apprentice, Ralph, to take a part in it. Throughout the course of the play they interject their comments and interrupt the action. After Ralph is admitted to the cast, two plots develop: one has to do with Jasper, apprentice to the merchant Venturewell, and his love for Venturewell's daughter. Intertwined in this plot are the affairs of the Merrythought family. Old Merrythought, Jasper's father, who lives a happy life of eating, drinking, and singing, with no thought about how to provide these pleasures, is left alone by the departure of Mistress Merrythought, who is disgusted with her husband's improvidence. Ralph, taking to himself a squire and a dwarf, wanders the world as a knight errant, bent on righting wrongs and rescuing distressed damsels. Finally he abandons his role as a knight and appears as a May-lord, giving a long speech about his own antecedents and the glories of the spring. Among other features of that season, little fishes spawn, snails creep out of their shells, streams become warm, and steeds go out to pasture.

The lords and ladies now abroad, for their disport and play
Do kiss sometimes upon the grass, and sometimes in the hay;
Now butter with a leaf of sage is good to purge the blood;
Fly Venus and phlebotomy, for they are neither good;
Now little fish on tender stone begin to cast their bellies,
And sluggish snails, that erst were mewed, do creep out of their shellies;
The rumbling rivers now do warm, for little boys to paddle;
The sturdy steed now goes to grass, and up they hang his saddle;
The heavy hart, the bellowing buck, the rascal, and the pricket,
Are now among the yeoman's peas, and leave the fearful thicket;
And be like them, O, you, I say, of this same noble town,
And lift aloft your velvet heads, and slipping off your gown,
With bells on legs, and napkins clean unto your shoulders tied,
With scarfs and garters as you please, and "Hey for our town!" cried,
March out. . . .