Few men were more beloved than was this fool
Whose merry prate kept with the King much rule.
When he was sad the King with him would rhyme;
Thus Will exil'd sadness many a time.
The King would ever grant what he did crave,
For well he knew Will no exacting knave,
But wish'd the King to do good deeds great store,
Which caused the Court to love him more and more.
Will Somers, the subject of this poem, was the jester of Henry VIII, known as the 'Poor Man's Friend' for his charity and kindness. Robert Armin was a member of Shakespeare's acting troupe who specialised in playing fools; many of Shakespeare's jester parts were written with him in mind. This poem comes from Armin's 'Nest for Ninnies', 1608.