You've all heard it whispered by some folk who say,
That Sir Richard Blackmore, he loves jokes to play,
And none know it better than one hapless squire,
Who one night was sent out for what Sir Richard required.
He sent the poor squire on an ill-informed quest,
Intoning it dire to play up the jest.
"You must bring three merkins before the sunrise,
all new and one beaded, your reward the surprise!"
Now the squire was flummoxed and bound to object,
For what was a merkin, he knew not from heck.
But Richard was stern and sent him along,
For if he had not I would not have this song.
So to the tavern the squire did go.
To sound out some fellows he thought might well know.
And oh that the squire had found some other resort!
For the boys at the bar gave him nothing but sport.
"Now I have a beard", the first heckler begun,
"And it first appeared when I was quite young
And when I meet a sweet lady who insists that she shave,
I'll be her merkin or go to my grave!"
And so the poor squire became quite annoyed,
For himthey taunted and with him they toyed,
Saying, "Remember your Chaucer, for that bard was quite clear:
it's what hath a maid if she hath not a beard!"
Another man bellows, "Please let me be next,
For can you not see this young squire is vexed?
Now I have seen merkins, they're useful, my son.
Just last night I used one to mop off my gun."
A professional lady to him then plied her trade.
She hoped in the bargain his hopes be remade.
"Come with me squire, and join me upstairs,
You'll find your desires 'mongst my chattels and wares."
"I'm not like most ladies advanced in my trade.
My merkins unused; they go not over my glade.
For if you but grasp it and give it a tug,
You'll find that I've naught but my natural rug."
She bent to a chest and out three merkins drew.
'Round one ran beading that glistened like dew.
Turned to the squire and gave them to him.
"I thank you dear lady for such lovely trim!"
"But tell me, dear lady, for I still don't know,
Where is the place that a merkin's to go?"
"A merkin's for places where the beard is cut thin.
It is but false whiskers, or closest in kin."
He stayed not to gossip but ran off in a dash,
And best, for in staying he'd have got quite a rash.
And arrived at his master's the squire was bold.
He modeled a merkin for all to behold!
Richard ruptured in laughing though he tried to avoid,
But the sight was so silly he thought he must void.
He'd seen no such sight in all of his years,
As his squire with a merkin hung low from his ears.
The squire at first did not know what was untoward.
But finally dawned what surprise he'd got in reward.
So remember my friends, for all that you're worth,
What lessons we learn in good Chaucer's mirth.
So away, I'll away, I leave now that Richard has again had the day!