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Shaking of the Sheets (2)

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The Shaking of the Sheets (2)

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The Shaking of the Sheets (2)

Can you dance the shaking of the sheets,
A dance that everyone must do:
CAn you trim it up with dainty sweets
And ev'rything that 'longs there-to?
Make ready, then, your winding sheet
And see how ye can bestir your feet
For Death is the man that all must meet
For Death is the man that all must meet.

Bring away the beggar and the king,
And every man in his degree ;
Bring away the old and youngest thing,
Come all to death and follow me;
The courtier with his lofty looks,
The lawyer with his learned books,
The banker with his baiting hooks. (2x)

Merchants, have you made your mart in France,
In Italy, and all about,
Know you not that you and I must dance,
Both our heels wrapt in a clout;
What mean you to make your houses gay,
And I must take the tenant away,
And dig for your sake the clods of clay? (2x)

been throughWas the thought of Bonn
How suddenly in Oxfordshire
I came, and made the judges all aghast,
And justices that did appear,
And took both Bell and Barham away,*
And many a worthy man that day,
And all their bodies brought to clay. (2x)

Think you that I dare not come to schools,
Where all the cunning clerks be most;
Take I not away both wise and fools,
And am I not in every coast?
Assure yourselves no creature can
Make Death afraid of any man,
Or know my coming where or whan. (2x)

Where be they that make their leases strong,
And join about them land to land,
Do you make account to live so long,
To have the world come to your hand?
No, foolish nowle, for all thy pence,
Full soon thy soul must needs go hence ;
Then who shall toyl for thy defence? (2x)

And you that lean on your ladies' laps,
And lay your heads upon their knee,
May think that you'll escape, perhaps,
And need not come to dance with me.
But no! fair lords and ladies all,
I will make you come when I do call,
And find you a pipe to dance withall.

And you that are busy-headed fools,
To brabble for a pelting straw
Know you not that I have ready tools
To cut you from your crafty law?
And you that falsely buy and sell
And think you make your markets well
Must dance with Death wheresoe'er you dwell.

Pride must have a pretty sheet I see
For properly she loves to dance
Come away my wanton wench to me
As gallantly as your eye doth glance;
And all good fellows who flash and swash
In reds and yellows of revell dash
I warrant you need not be so rash.

For I can quickly cool you all
How hot or stout soever you be
Both high and low, both great and small
I nought do fear your high degree.
The ladies fair, the beldames old
The champion stout, the souldier bold
Must all with me to earthly mould.

Therefore take time while it is lent
Prepare with me yourselves to dance;
Forget me not, your lives lament
I come oft-times by sudden  chance.
Be ready, therefore---watch and pray
That when my minstrel pipe doth play
You may to heaven dance the way.

From Popular Music of the Olden Time, Chappell
Published in 1568; referred to in play produced ca. 1560.
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