Mad Tom probably has an earlier origin, but it is often pinned to Shakespeare's play King Lear. The speaker in this version, which probably comes from Restoration England, is Tom's lover, Maudlin. In some stanza's she speaks as herself; in others, as her Tom. In all she speaks of the turning from light to dark in the sky, in the season and in the mind of Mad Tom.
Loving Mad Tom
From the had and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye
All the spirits that stand by the naked man
In the Book of Moons defend ye!
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken
Nor wander from yourselves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon.
When I short have shorn my sour face
And swigged my horny barrel
In an oaken inn I pound my skin
As a suit of gilt apparel.
The Moon's my constant Mistress,
And the lonely owl my marrow,
The flaming drake and the nightcrow make
Me music to my sorrow.
I know more than Apollo,
For oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at bloody wars
In the wounded welkin weeping;
The Moon embrace her shepherd
And the queen of Love her warrior,
While the first doth horn the star of morn
And the next the heavenly Farrier.
With an host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear, and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney,
Then leagues beyond the wide world's end,
Methinks it is no journey.
Header: The Jester by Thomas S. Noble via American Gallery