Craig Kurtz, two poems

Prologue to The Comedy of Errors


Who wants a lackey that is smart,

he’ll short-change you right from the start;

you send him erranding, and he’d

steal all the best scenes, guaranteed;

what if he was crafty Jodlet

who got to woo Don John’s coquette?;1

consider Warner, the servant,

who got rich, as well Millisent;2

with such a rogue as Jeremy,

Truewit was a non-entity;3

this will not do; a lackey must

be dull enough to merit trust;

if he’s too clever, faith, he will

command the top place on the bill.


Who wants a master that is smart,

you’ll off to Tyburn in a cart;

the Pit may like someone noble,

but they’re too brisk with the cudgel;

ye gallants prefer heroes deft

as they prevent their servants’ theft;

ye swells may chouse dames to make nice,

but view askance my galliardise; 4

a master who possesses brains

outwits his Bubble, just like Staines;5

forsooth, there’s knav’ry in all trades,

but gents pluck the best escapades;6

it’s beggarly, a lackey’s lot,

a smart master cannot be taught.

1. William Davenant, The Man’s The Master.