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1540c.2 Nobleman Recalls "Palm Play" in Royal Court
So cruel prison how could betide,alas,
As proud Windsor [Castle]? Where I in lust [pleasure] and joy
With a king's son my childish years did pass
. . .
Where each of us did plead the other's right;
The palm play [handball?], where despoiled [disrobed] for the game,
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love
Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,
[The full selection, and email notes by John Bowman, are shown below.]
Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), So Cruel a Prison, Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition, 1983: from Songes and sonettes, written by the right honourable Lorde Henry Howard, late Earle of Surrey (London, A. R. Tottel, 1557).
We are not certain that "palm play" could have been a baserunning game. It may be an Anglicized form of jeu de paume, a likely French antecedent to tennis.
The reference to "large grene courtes" in the full ball-play stanza suggests a tennis or handball-type pastime.
Have scholars indicated the likely nature of "palm play?" Could it have involved the batting of a ball with the palm?