Thomas Churchyard- A Praise of the Bovve, 1583

This poem appears in The Avncient Order, Societie, and Vnitie Laudable, of Prince Arthure, and his Knightly Armory of the Round Table. With a Threefold Assertion frendly in fauour and furtherance of English Archery at this day, translated and editted by R. R., 1583.

A Praise of the Bovve and Commendation of this Booke, written by Thomas Churchyard Gent.
IN forraine land and natiue soyle, where soldiars I haue seen:
And chefly in the martial dais (when youth was fresh & green)
I haue beheld both Bow & shot, the Bow for Archers meet:
The shot for vse of powders force, and lads of liuely spreet.
And iudging by experience great, in place where both were tried:
I found where shot was graunted good, the Bow was not denied.
First ere we found out shot aright, the Bow great battels won:
And long the Bow great glory gate, before we knew the Gun.
As lo this Booke doth mention make, & shewes in verses good:
For murthering shot came in of late, when Bovv in honor stood.
In elders daies when manhode shone, as bright as blasing starre,
And christian hart and noble mind, disdaind this turkish warre.
The Bow was vsed as force of man & strength of arms might draw
To glad the frend and daunt the foe, and hold the world in awe.
But when that strength and courage fail’d, and cunning crept in place
The shot and roring Canon came, stout people to deface.
The Bow not fit for cowards hand, for cowards strength doth faile:
VVhen man drawes arrow to the head, and then doth foe assaile.
with sword and dagger Lion-like, that bends both brow and taile
And grins and gapes with gnashing teeth, to make his enemy quail
The shot lies lurking in a hole, and spies aduantage great:
Then bullet, match, and powders force, do work a wicked feate.
The Archer showes a manly face, in field and euery where:
And when his arrowes all are spent, he dies with courage there.
The shot no sooner all discharg’d, but legs for life must shift:
These bold and venterous nimble boyes, can find no further drift.
But geue the charging horsmen place, the Archers do not so:
For foure and twenty headed shafts, belongs to euery Bow.
And surely shoote the Archers may, at many a thing ye know.
When men in broyles and battailes doubt, how warres and world wil goe.
There is a knight a soldiar great, in court doth white staffe beare:
That knowes what Bowes haue done in field, against both shielde and speare.
Yea many more are yet aliue, that honours Bovv indeed:
And can record what noble actes the Bow hath done at need.
I saw in sundry soyles my selfe, much shot discharg’d in vaine:
Yet graunt we must that through the same are thousands daily slain
But enterlard the shot with Bow, and tel me then your mind:
A gallant course of wars vnknown, in field then shal you finde.
Fiue thousand Bowes that shooteth still, in Battel may do good:
They gall the horse, or kill the man, or draw some desperate blood.
And thick as moates in ayer they flee, which hinder much the sight
And haply makes when horses is hurt, the mounted man alight.
VVel, speak of shot what best you may, the Bovv is braue in field:
And sure in skirmish Archers oft, makes feeble shot to yeelde.
A rare deuise I will set out, to strengthen Man and Bovv,
And when the plaine deuice thereof the world shall see and know.
The Bovv shall come againe in fame, and win his wonted grace:
Looke out of hand for my discourse, til then come Bovv in place,
And take thine Ancient, rowme & vse, as Arthures Knights thee gaue,
Thou art a fearfull fore in field, and yet a pastime braue.
That brings vp youth, and pleasures age, a noble thing in view
An auncient arte, a worthy guise, that scornes all practise new.
An exercise that all men loue, an vse of Armes and strength,
And to this English soyle of ours, wilt bring great fame at length.
So cease I heere, in prayse of Bovv, thinke of me what you please,
A longer matter shall I show, before I crosse the Seaes.
Finis qd. T. Churchyard.

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