Tom o' Bedlam

From Academic Kids

Tom o' Bedlam is the name of a poem written c. 1600 about a Bedlamite.

At least 25 stanzas of 4 lines each comprise the complete poem. The existence of a chorus suggests that it was originally sung as a ballad.

The most commonly quoted lines are as thus:

"The spirits white as lightening
Would on my travels guide me
The stars would shake and the moon would quake
Whenever they espied me.


With a 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
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end-
Methinks it is no journey."


Robert Silverberg has written a book by the same name, "Tom O'Bedlam" (1985).

Mercedes Lackey has co-authored a series of books whose titles are taken from verses of the poem.

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