The Testament of Cresseid
THE TESTAMENT OF CRESSEID: FOOTNOTE1 I have pity that such misfortune should befall you
THE TESTAMENT OF CRESSEID: NOTES1-2 Henryson's use of symbolic naturalism has drawn extensive comment. The cold spring setting is appropriate to the sad tale of remorse he will relate. Compare Chaucer's use of the pathetic fallacy in Troilus, I.13-14.
4 tragedie. Henryson uses the term as Chaucer does to indicate Tragedy or Fate or Fortune (de casibus), where the protagonist rises to high estate, then falls. See Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, Book 2, pr. 2: "What other thynge bywaylen the cryinges of tragedyes but oonly the dedes of Fortune, that with an unwar strok overturneth the realmes of greet nobleye? (Glose. Tragedy is to seyn a dite of a prosperite for a tyne, that endyth in wrecchidnesse.) (Chaucer's translation, II. pr 2, lines 67-72.) See also the Monk's Tale, CT VII.1973-77.
fervent may also be translated as "burning." Fox suggests, in this regard, so cold as "to give the impression of heat" (p. 339); or, better perhaps, simply "intense."
5 Despite arguments by Skeat (p. 521) and others for different seasonal settings, I agree with Fox that Henryson is placing the time of his poem during the first month of spring.
6 gart is from Ruthven. Fox's emendation. Charteris and Thynne: can. Elliott and Wood: can.
8-84 The persona of Henryson's narrator has drawn considerable comment. Clearly the narrator is an older man who describes himself as an erstwhile servant of Venus. His comments on Cresseid seem to indicate sympathy and a willingness to "excuse" her actions. Nonetheless, because other aspects of the narrator's conduct reflect artistic fiction (such as his citing the uther quair, line 61), some critics contend that his sympathy for Cresseid, especially given her harsh fate, is also an artistic ruse.
10 sylit. Thynne: scyled.
15-18 Compare Chaucer, Book of the Duchess, lines 336-43. See Stearns (1949), p. 62.
18 sched the. Thynne: shedde his.
20 quhisling. Thynne: whiskyng.
28 chalmer. Thynne: chambre.
32 doif. Thynne: dull.
36 mend. Thynne: made.
40 quair. "Book" or perhaps "gathering," a book consisting of several quires, in which case the allusion might be specifically to Book V of Chaucer's Troilus.
42 worthie. Thynne: lusty.
48 esperance. Esperus, the Charteris reading of this line is problematic. Francis Kinaston (1639) changed the word to esperance to mean "hope." Clearly the antithesis between this line and line 47 provides a basis for Kinaston's emendation. See Wood, pp. 252-53.
49 quhyle. Thynne: and while.
52 of eirdly. Thynne: of al erthly.
55 ganecome. Thynne: gayncome.
61 To brek my sleip ane uther quair I tuik. Like Chaucer, in The Book of the Duchess, who takes a book "to rede and drive the night away" (BD line 49), Henryson reads to pass the time this chilly night. It is doubtful that Henryson's uther quair ever existed. Rather, like Chaucer's Lollius in Troilus, the fictitious source obliges artistic conventions about citing authorities in the Middle Ages. The device gives credence to the writing and at the same time distances the protagonist from troublesome material.
62 fatall destenie. See Troilus, V.1.
66 fenyeit. Thynne: forged.
70 scho thoillit, and quhat deid. Thynne: she was in or she deyde.
74 lybell of repudie. Thynne: lybel repudy. Fox (1968) notes libellum repudii ("bill of divorce") occurs six times as a legal term in the Vulgate: "Henryson may have in mind both Moses' statement that a woman who is divorced by her second husband cannot be taken back by her first 'because she is defiled, and is become abominable before the Lord' (Dt. 24:1-4), and also the passages where Christ denies the possibility of divorce and proclaims the sanctity of marriage (Mk. 19:3-9; Mk. 10:2-12)" (pp. 91-92). Obviously, however, because Diomede and Cresseid are nowhere described as "married," this "lybell" must be considered more as a public notice of separation and a demand on Diomede's part for her to stay away.
77 And sum men sayis is another rhetorical technique very similar to Henryson's citation of the fictional uther quair.
court commoun. Commoun implies that she "walked" as a courtesan in Venus' service; the DOST definition of commoun, "shared by all," captures the sense.
78 O fair Cresseid, the flour and A per se. Perhaps Henryson contrives his apostrophe on Cresseid's beauty from Chaucer's Right as oure firste lettre is now an A, / In beaute first so stod she, makeles (Troilus, I.171-72) where Chaucer's tribute to Queen Anne as our first letter now, in Henryson, simply becomes "first letter as such."
82 air. Thynne: early.
84 pietie thow. Thynne: pity thee.
86 brukkilnes. Thynne: brutelnesse.
94 but. Thynne: without.
on fute. Thynne: or refute.
95 Disagysit. Thynne: Dissheuelde.
96 mansioun. Henryson imagines a somewhat more established residence for Calchas than Chaucer's battlefield reference to "the tente ther as Calkas lay" (Troilus, V.845). The subsequent reference to Criseyde's father's "faire brighte tente" (Troilus, V.1022) is a far cry from Henryson's comfortable mansioun / Beildit full gay.
103 ff. Henryson's Calchas is more kindly and considerate of Cresseid than Chaucer's self-serving Calkas. Henryson elevates him to priest and keiper of the tempill (line 107).
109 was neist. Charteris: was thame neist. Thynne: was neist. Skeat and Wood read was thame neist, perhaps for reasons of meter. Fox follows Thynne on grounds of sense, suggesting that honourit might be trisyllabic (p. 94).
110 aneuch. Thynne: enewed.
113-17 As custome was. This moment contrasts with the beginning of Troilus where, according to "olde usage" (I.150), the Trojans celebrate the feast of Pallas Athena, which Criseyde bravely attends. Now Cresseid, hevie in hir intent (line 116), refuses to do homage to the gods, that is, Venus and her son Cupid. The juxtaposition perhaps underscores the beginning of Cresseid's conversion. In the end, she commends herself to Diana, rather than Chaucer's Athena.
117 kirk. Thynne: churche.
119 king. In Chaucer, Diomede is "Of Calydoyne and Arge a Kyng" (V.934).
132 Sen. Thynne: Sithe.
135 blind goddes. Venus, as well as Cupid, is sometimes said to be blind. See Fox's note (1981, pp. 348-49).
136 alwayis understand. Thynne: vnderstande alway.
138 supplie and grace. Thynne: souple grace.
141-294 Henryson's portrayal of the pagan gods largely reflects medieval notions. The extent to which these characters are to be understood as real divinities or as forces of nature, immutable and inalterable, makes a major difference in the interpretation of Henryson's attitude towards his heroine. See especially Stearns, "Planet Portraits" (1944).
144 ringand. Thynne: tynkyng.
151 Saturn is the most sinister and malevolent of the planets. See note to line 295.
155 fronsit. Charteris: frosnit. Thynne: frounsed. Smith uses the original Charteris reading. However, Wood emended the reading to fronsit which Elliott and Fox retain. Fox suggests that Saturn seems himself to have symptoms of leprosy (1981, p. 351). Lead is the metal affiliated with Saturn's influence. Compare Chaucer's House of Fame, lines 1429-32 and 1448-50.
156 cheverit. Thynne: sheuered.
157 drowpit, how. Thynne: drouped hole.
160 ice schoklis. Charteris: ic-eshoklis. Thynne: yse-yckels.
164 gyis. Thynne: gate, with gay after full. Fox emends to gy[te] and adds gay after full since gytes and gay often go together (compare Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue, CT III.559) and for purposes of meter. But gay and its irony are unnecessary if gyis is disyllabic. Anderson (1663) reads guise and adds gay. Perhaps gyis might be emended to gytis to avoid the confusion. See line 178. The word is not to be confused with the monosyllabic gyse of line 260.
166 busteous bow. Usually Saturn carries a sickle. See Fox (1981, p. 353), for discussion of traditions that affiliate him with the bow.
169 Juppiter. The most benign of the planets toward humankind, Fra his father Saturne far different (line 172). That he takes no stand on Cresseid's behalf is cause for her to abandon hope.
170 starnis. Thynne: sterres.
173 brent. Perhaps "radiant" or "glowing"; or perhaps "burnished." Fox notes that browis and brent are often linked with "smooth" as opposed to "arched," which is thus a possible gloss for brent (1981, p. 354).
178 gyis. Thynne: gyte, with gay added after full. See note to line 164. Fox follows Thynne.
180 middill bair. Thynne: myddle he beare.
187-88 roustie. Fox glosses the term as "rusty" and cites several attempts by scholars to make sense of the adjective: "G. G. Smith, followed by Wood, explains roustie as 'bronze', but there is no warrant for this (and iron is the metal of Mars). Hamer (MLR xxix , 344), followed by Elliott, suggests that it was 'the mediaeval custom not to wipe the sword clean of blood [but to leave it on] . . . until it rusted the blade, as a sign of its owner's prowess'. But it seems unnecessary to suppose this untidy custom: Henryson probably repeats roustie because of its ominous connotations, which may have arisen from the bloody colour of rust. William Nelson points out that Spenser's Rancour, Revenge, Danger, and Despair have rusty blades and knives (Renaissance News xviii (1965), 113-17). Christopher Dean, however, suggests that Henryson gives Mars a rusty sword because this is a token of a boor and a churl (Explicator xxxi (1972), Item 21)" (1981, p. 355). But "bloody" makes the best sense of the two uses; perhaps "roustie" is a contracted form of "russetlike," i.e., red (Mars' color), thus bloody. Certainly the term as Henryson uses it is meant to be ominous not akin to Chaucer's Reeve with his "rusty blade" (CT I.618), where rust is rust and likely used for comic purposes.
190 Schaikand his sword. Thynne: Shakyng his brande.
192 bullar. Thynne: blubber.
203 that in this warld. Thynne: that al this worlde hath.
216 Philogié. Four syllables, with stress on second and fourth syllables to rhyme with sey. Anderson (1663) treats as trisyllabic and adds and before callit. Thynne reads Philologee, followed by Fox and Wood. Skeat argues that the original must have been Philogoney (p. lvi), though he emends to Philegoney. Elliot emends to [and callit Philogey], which is metrically the best solution.
218 gay. Omitted at the end of the line in Charteris. Wood made the emendation from Thynne, thus completing the rhyme; adapted by Elliott and Fox.
222 With. Charteris: Quhyte. Thynne: White. Anderson: With. Fox's emendation. Kinaston, noting the contradiction between white and gold, emended to Bright. See Fox's note (1981, p. 359).
224 Quhyles perfyte. Thynne: While parfite.
229 pungitive. So in Charteris and Thynne, though pugnitive, "fierce," might make better sense.
239 Mercurius. Since Mercury is traditionally the god of eloquence, rhetoric, and elocution, he is made spokesman for the group (lines 265-66) and designates Saturn and the moon to pass the sentence on Cresseid.
252 lie. Thynne: le, and so in Wood and Skeat.
253 Cynthia. The moon is usually neither malevolent nor benevolent, though strongly influential upon lovers and noted for her inconstancy. Normally, she takes her quality from the house she is in or the company she keeps. In the Middle Ages, she was considered "cold" perhaps in the sense of being neutral or easily influenced. See note to line 295.
255 hornis twa. Depicted with a crescent moon in her crown, Cynthia appears to have two horns, a sign of danger (changeability and cuckoldry) to would-be lovers.
256 appeir. Thynne: tapere.
261-63 The churl bearing a bunch of thorns on his back as part of the moon's iconography reminds one of the rude mechanicals' efforts to represent Moonshine with his "bunch" of thorns in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Fox (1981), p. 363, directs the reader to Oliver F. Emerson, "Legends of Cain, Especially in Old and Middle English," PMLA 21 (1906), 831-929, and Edmund Reiss, "Chaucer's Friar and the Man in the Moon," JEGP 62 (1963), 481-85.
266 foirspeikar. The prolocutor, a speaker on behalf of a cause.
276 lak. Thynne: losse.
280 starklie. Thynne: she stately.
286 returne. Fox chooses retorte from Thynne, instead of following Charteris' returne on, suggesting that even though the term is not well attested until the sixteenth century, it suits better the sense of Cupid's florid rhetoric. Skeat, Wood, and Elliott follow Charteris.
295 Mercury's suggestion in effect dooms Cresseid. By picking the highest and lowest of the gods, he has put Cresseid's fate in the hands of Saturn and Cynthia, the one least sympathetic to humankind, the other strongly influenced by her companionship; linked to Saturn her cold and changeable nature works evil for Cresseid. Johnstone Parr notes that Kinaston and others connect Saturn when linked to Luna with leprosy. On Saturn's malevolence toward humankind, see Chaucer's Knight's Tale (CT I.2453-69). Also see Kilbansky, Panofsky, and Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy.
304 scho. Thynne: that she.
312-43 Henryson's realism is so remarkable that J. A. Y. Simpson was able specifically to identify the disease in 1841 as elephantiasis leprosy even though Henryson never names the specific type of leprosy involved.
316 melancholy. One of the four humors, characterized by excess of black bile; a gloomy, sullen condition, cold and dry.
334 heit. Thynne: heale.
348 schaddow. Used in the same sense ("reflection") that it is used in the Fabillis, line 2392.
349 face. Thynne: visage.
350 was wa aneuch, God wait. Thynne: were wo, I ne wyte god wate.
360 syne culd. Thynne: efte couth.
363 Fox suggests the emendation of beedes from Thynne for prayers in Charteris and Anderson. Elliott and Wood follow Charteris.
385 weird. Thynne: werthe.
386 bawer. The beaver hat, a piece of apparel of great expense, has been problematic. Despite Smith's assertion that "Beggars, like their betters, wore fur caps" (p. 50), later scholars have argued that it would seem to be absolutely inappropriate in a leper house, except perhaps as a ratty hand-me-down. This reference has also been interpreted as a comment on the extravagances of James III.
390 Unto. Charteris: Wnto.
401 ouerheled. Charteris: ouirquhelmit. Fox makes a good historical case for the Thynne reading, ouerheled, a word which Henryson also uses in the Fabillis, line 587, and which disappears from written entries after 1513. See Fox (1981), p. 370.
407 The Complaint of Cresseid follows the model of Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite.
411 saif the of thy. Anderson: save or sound thy. Fox emends to saif [or sound] thy.
415 nane. Thynne: men.
416 ff. Quhair is. Cresseid's ubi sunt ("where are the . . .") formula recalls Troilus' use of the device in his laments in Chaucer's poem (V.218-24; and V.1674-76.)
421 saipheron sals. Thynne: sauery sauce.
426 quene Floray. Goddess of flowers and spring. Compare Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, lines 402ff., and Legend of Good Women, F text, lines 171ff.
429 tak the dew. Skeat glosses as "gather May-dew," referring to the May Day custom of girls going aMaying early to gather dew to wash their faces, thus acquiring beauty. See Fox, pp. 372-73. The contrast to Cresseid's grotesque circumstances is poignant.
433-37 Omitted in Thynne.
438 burelie. Thynne: goodly.
441 peirrie. Thynne: pirate. peirrie is a pear cider. Thynne's pirate also refers to a pear drink and could be correct.
446 Omitted in Thynne.
448-49 Omitted in Thynne.
449 na leid now lyking hes. Thynne: no pleople [sic] hath lykyng.
460 war, gif ony war. Thynne: worse, if any worse.
469 Omitted in Thynne.
477 dowbillis bot. Thynne: but doubleth.
478 mak vertew of ane neid. Compare Theseus' Boethian advice in Chaucer's Knight's Tale: To maken vertue of necessitee (CT I.3042).
479 Go leir. Charteris: To leir. Anderson: Go leir. Thynne: Go lerne.
480 leif. Charteris: leir. Thynne: lerne. Fox's emendation. Elliott emends to leve. Wood reads leir.
489 richt royallie is an emendation dating back to Smith. It incorporates richt from the Charteris duplicative richt richt.
491 companie, all. Fox's emendation. Charteris, Wood: companie thai come. Anderson: the troup they came. Thynne: that company come.
493 Worthie. Charteris, Anderson, Wood: Said worthie. Thynne: Worthy.
498-511 Stearns (Robert Henryson, pp. 97-105) has pointed out the basic principles of Aristotelian psychology that Henryson uses in this recognition scene. His description of the process which causes Troilus to remember his beloved is realistic in terms of the psychology of the period.
501 plye. Thynne: plyte.
521 This line is repeated in the Charteris print.
522 swak. Thynne: shake.
523 he is added from Thynne. It is omitted in Charteris.
534 Hes done. Thynne: That dothe.
536 it is. Thynne: is a knight.
541 cald ochane. Thynne: colde atone.
544 Than fel in swoun full oft or ever scho fane. Charteris, Wood: Than swounit scho oft or scho culd refrane. Thynne: Than fel in swoun ful oft or she wolde fane. Anderson: Than fel in swoun full oft ere she would fane.
549 efflated. Fox emends the Charteris elevait with the Anderson effated. Thynne reads effated, which makes the Anderson reading likely. Elliott and Wood follow Charteris.
550 quheill. The Wheel of Fortune, against which Chaucer's Criseyde often cried out.
552 frivolous. Thynne: furious.
554 continence. Thynne: countenaunce. Wood: gude countenaunce.
569 Brukkill. Thynne: Brittel. Fox glosses as "Morally frail" (1981, p. 381).
570 greit unfaithfulnes. Thynne: great brutelnesse.
574 This line is clearly the fulcrum in Cresseid's recognition of her own responsibility for her plight. Some critics read this as a sympathetic expression of Henryson's emphasis on her growth and maturity. Others see it as a mean-spirited fiction by which Henryson attempts to justify his treatment of his heroine.
577 beteiche. Thynne: bequeth.
607 Troy the. Charteris: Troyis.
613 Ming. Anderson: Wing.
614 schort. Thynne. sore.
616 Sen. Thynne: Sithe.
Ane doolie sessoun to ane cairfull dyte
Suld correspond and be equivalent:
Richt sa it wes quhen I began to wryte
This tragedie; the wedder richt fervent,
Quhen Aries, in middis of the Lent,
Schouris of haill gart fra the north discend,
That scantlie fra the cauld I micht defend.
Yit nevertheles within myne oratur
I stude, quhen Titan had his bemis bricht
Withdrawin doun and sylit under cure,
And fair Venus, the bewtie of the nicht,
Uprais and set unto the west full richt
Hir goldin face, in oppositioun
Of God Phebus, direct discending doun.
Throwout the glas hir bemis brast sa fair
That I micht se on everie syde me by;
The northin wind had purifyit the air
And sched the mistie cloudis fra the sky;
The froist freisit, the blastis bitterly
Fra Pole Artick come quhisling loud and schill,
And causit me remufe aganis my will.
For I traistit that Venus, luifis quene,
To quhome sum tyme I hecht obedience,
My faidit hart of lufe scho wald mak grene,
And therupon with humbill reverence
I thocht to pray hir hie magnificence;
Bot for greit cald as than I lattit was
And in my chalmer to the fyre can pas.
Thocht lufe be hait, yit in ane man of age
It kendillis nocht sa sone as in youtheid,
Of quhome the blude is flowing in ane rage;
And in the auld the curage doif and deid
Of quhilk the fyre outward is best remeid:
To help be phisike quhair that nature faillit
I am expert, for baith I have assaillit.
I mend the fyre and beikit me about,
Than tuik ane drink, my spreitis to comfort,
And armit me weill fra the cauld thairout.
To cut the winter nicht and mak it schort
I tuik ane quair - and left all uther sport -
Writtin be worthie Chaucer glorious
Of fair Creisseid and worthie Troylus.
And thair I fand, efter that Diomeid
Ressavit had that lady bricht of hew,
How Troilus neir out of wit abraid
And weipit soir with visage paill of hew;
For quhilk wanhope his teiris can renew,
Quhill esperance rejoisit him agane:
Thus quhyle in joy he levit, quhyle in pane.
Of hir behest he had greit comforting,
Traisting to Troy that scho suld mak retour,
Quhilk he desyrit maist of eirdly thing,
For quhy scho was his only paramour.
Bot quhen he saw passit baith day and hour
Of hir ganecome, than sorrow can oppres
His wofull hart in cair and hevines.
Of his distres me neidis nocht reheirs,
For worthie Chauceir in the samin buik,
In gudelie termis and in joly veirs,
Compylit hes his cairis, quha will luik.
To brek my sleip ane uther quair I tuik,
In quhilk I fand the fatall destenie
Of fair Cresseid, that endit wretchitlie.
Quha wait gif all that Chauceir wrait was trew?
Nor I wait nocht gif this narratioun
Be authoreist, or fenyeit of the new
Be sum poeit, throw his inventioun
Maid to report the lamentatioun
And wofull end of this lustie Creisseid,
And quhat distres scho thoillit, and quhat deid.
Quhen Diomeid had all his appetyte,
And mair, fulfillit of this fair ladie,
Upon ane uther he set his haill delyte,
And send to hir ane lybell of repudie
And hir excludit fra his companie.
Than desolait scho walkit up and doun,
And sum men sayis into the court commoun.
O fair Creisseid, the flour and A per se
Of Troy and Grece, how was thow fortunait
To change in filth all thy feminitie,
And be with fleschelie lust sa maculait,
And go amang the Greikis air and lait,
Sa giglotlike takand thy foull plesance!
I have pietie thow suld fall sic mischance! 1
Yit nevertheles, quhat ever men deme or say
In scornefull langage of thy brukkilnes,
I sall excuse als far furth as I may
Thy womanheid, thy wisdome and fairnes,
The quhilk fortoun hes put to sic distres
As hir pleisit, and nathing throw the gilt
Of the - throw wickit langage to be spilt!
This fair lady, in this wyse destitute
Of all comfort and consolatioun,
Richt privelie, but fellowschip on fute,
Disagysit passit far out of the toun
Ane myle or twa, unto ane mansioun
Beildit full gay, quhair hir father Calchas
Quhilk than amang the Greikis dwelland was.
Quhen he hir saw, the caus he can inquyre
Of hir cumming: scho said, siching full soir,
"Fra Diomeid had gottin his desyre
He wox werie and wald of me no moir."
Quod Calchas, "Douchter, weip thow not thairfoir;
Peraventure all cummis for the best.
Welcum to me; thow art full deir ane gest!"
This auld Calchas, efter the law was tho,
Wes keiper of the tempill as ane preist
In quhilk Venus and hir sone Cupido
War honourit, and his chalmer was neist;
To quhilk Cresseid, with baill aneuch in breist,
Usit to pas, hir prayeris for to say,
Quhill at the last, upon ane solempne day,
As custome was, the pepill far and neir
Befoir the none unto the tempill went
With sacrifice, devoit in thair maneir.
Bot still Cresseid, hevie in hir intent,
Into the kirk wald not hir self present,
For giving of the pepill ony deming
Of hir expuls fra Diomeid the king,
Bot past into ane secreit orature,
Quhair scho micht weip hir wofull desteny.
Behind hir bak scho cloisit fast the dure
And on hir kneis bair fell doun in hy;
Upon Venus and Cupide angerly
Scho cryit out, and said on this same wyse,
"Allace, that ever I maid yow sacrifice!
"Ye gave me anis ane devine responsaill
That I suld be the flour of luif in Troy;
Now am I maid ane unworthie outwaill,
And all in cair translatit is my joy.
Quha sall me gyde? Quha sall me now convoy,
Sen I fra Diomeid and nobill Troylus
Am clene excludit, as abject odious?
"O fals Cupide, is nane to wyte bot thow
And thy mother, of lufe the blind goddes!
Ye causit me alwayis understand and trow
The seid of lufe was sawin in my face,
And ay grew grene throw your supplie and grace.
Bot now, allace, that seid with froist is slane,
And I fra luifferis left, and all forlane."
Quhen this was said, doun in ane extasie,
Ravischit in spreit, intill ane dreame scho fell,
And be apperance hard, quhair scho did ly,
Cupide the king ringand ane silver bell,
Quhilk men micht heir fra hevin unto hell;
At quhais sound befoir Cupide appeiris
The sevin planetis, discending fra thair spheiris;
Quhilk hes power of all thing generabill,
To reull and steir be thair greit influence
Wedder and wind, and coursis variabill:
And first of all Saturne gave his sentence,
Quhilk gave to Cupide litill reverence,
Bot as ane busteous churle on his maneir
Come crabitlie with auster luik and cheir.
His face fronsit, his lyre was lyke the leid,
His teith chatterit and cheverit with the chin,
His ene drowpit, how sonkin in his heid,
Out of his nois the meldrop fast can rin,
With lippis bla and cheikis leine and thin;
The ice schoklis that fra his hair doun hang
Was wonder greit, and as ane speir als lang:
Atouir his belt his lyart lokkis lay
Felterit unfair, ovirfret with froistis hoir,
His garmound and his gyis full of gray,
His widderit weid fra him the wind out woir,
Ane busteous bow within his hand he boir,
Under his girdill ane flasche of felloun flanis
Fedderit with ice and heidit with hailstanis.
Than Juppiter, richt fair and amiabill,
God of the starnis in the firmament
And nureis to all thing generabill;
Fra his father Saturne far different,
With burelie face and browis bricht and brent,
Upon his heid ane garland wonder gay
Of flouris fair, as it had bene in May.
His voice was cleir, as cristall wer his ene,
As goldin wyre sa glitterand was his hair,
His garmound and his gyis full of grene
With goldin listis gilt on everie gair;
Ane burelie brand about his middill bair,
In his richt hand he had ane groundin speir,
Of his father the wraith fra us to weir.
Nixt efter him come Mars the god of ire,
Of strife, debait, and all dissensioun,
To chide and fecht, als feirs as ony fyre,
In hard harnes, hewmound, and habirgeoun,
And on his hanche ane roustie fell fachioun,
And in his hand he had ane roustie sword,
Wrything his face with mony angrie word.
Schaikand his sword, befoir Cupide he come,
With reid visage and grislie glowrand ene,
And at his mouth ane bullar stude of fome,
Lyke to ane bair quhetting his tuskis kene;
Richt tuilyeour lyke, but temperance in tene,
Ane horne he blew with mony bosteous brag,
Quhilk all this warld with weir hes maid to wag.
Than fair Phebus, lanterne and lamp of licht,
Of man and beist, baith frute and flourisching,
Tender nureis, and banischer of nicht;
And of the warld causing, be his moving
And influence, lyfe in all eirdlie thing,
Without comfort of quhome, of force to nocht
Must all ga die that in this warld is wrocht.
As king royall he raid upon his chair,
The quhilk Phaeton gydit sum tyme unricht;
The brichtnes of his face quhen it was bair
Nane micht behald for peirsing of his sicht;
This goldin cart with fyrie bemis bricht
Four yokkit steidis full different of hew
But bait or tyring throw the spheiris drew.
The first was soyr, with mane als reid as rois,
Callit Eoye, into the orient;
The secund steid to name hecht Ethios,
Quhitlie and paill, and sum deill ascendent;
The thrid Peros, richt hait and richt fervent;
The feird was blak, callit Philogié,
Quhilk rollis Phebus doun into the sey.
Venus was thair present, that goddes gay,
Hir sonnis querrell for to defend, and mak
Hir awin complaint, cled in ane nyce array,
The ane half grene, the uther half sabill blak,
With hair as gold kemmit and sched abak;
Bot in hir face semit greit variance,
Quhyles perfyte treuth and quhyles inconstance.
Under smyling scho was dissimulait,
Provocative with blenkis amorous,
And suddanely changit and alterait,
Angrie as ony serpent vennemous,
Richt pungitive with wordis odious;
Thus variant scho was, quha list tak keip:
With ane eye lauch, and with the uther weip,
In taikning that all fleschelie paramour,
Quhilk Venus hes in reull and governance,
Is sum tyme sweit, sum tyme bitter and sour,
Richt unstabill and full of variance,
Mingit with cairfull joy and fals plesance,
Now hait, now cauld, now blyith, now full of wo,
Now grene as leif, now widderit and ago.
With buik in hand than come Mercurius,
Richt eloquent and full of rethorie,
With polite termis and delicious,
With pen and ink to report all reddie,
Setting sangis and singand merilie;
His hude was reid, heklit atovir his croun,
Lyke to ane poeit of the auld fassoun.
Boxis he bair with fyne electuairis,
And sugerit syropis for digestioun,
Spycis belangand to the pothecairis,
With mony hailsum sweit confectioun;
Doctour in phisick, cled in ane skarlot goun,
And furrit weill, as sic ane aucht to be;
Honest and gude, and not ane word culd lie.
Nixt efter him come lady Cynthia,
The last of all and swiftest in hir spheir;
Of colour blak, buskit with hornis twa,
And in the nicht scho listis best appeir;
Haw as the leid, of colour nathing cleir,
For all hir licht scho borrowis at hir brother
Titan, for of hir self scho hes nane uther.
Hir gyse was gray and full of spottis blak,
And on hir breist ane churle paintit full evin
Beirand ane bunche of thornis on his bak,
Quhilk for his thift micht clim na nar the hevin.
Thus quhen thay gadderit war thir goddes sevin,
Mercurius thay cheisit with ane assent
To be foirspeikar in the parliament.
Quha had bene thair and liken for to heir
His facound toung and termis exquisite,
Of rethorick the prettick he micht leir,
In breif sermone ane pregnant sentence wryte.
Befoir Cupide veiling his cap alyte,
Speiris the caus of that vocatioun,
And he anone schew his intentioun.
"Lo," quod Cupide, "quha will blaspheme the name
Of his awin god, outher in word or deid,
To all goddis he dois baith lak and schame,
And suld have bitter panis to his meid.
I say this by yone wretchit Cresseid,
The quhilk throw me was sum tyme flour of lufe,
Me and my mother starklie can reprufe,
"Saying of hir greit infelicitie
I was the caus, and my mother Venus,
Ane blind goddes hir cald that micht not se,
With sclander and defame injurious.
Thus hir leving unclene and lecherous
Scho wald returne in me and my mother,
To quhome I schew my grace abone all uther.
"And sen ye ar all sevin deificait,
Participant of devyne sapience,
This greit injure done to our hie estait
Me think with pane we suld mak recompence;
Was never to goddes done sic violence:
As weill for yow as for my self I say,
Thairfoir ga help to revenge, I yow pray!"
Mercurius to Cupide gave answeir
And said, "Schir King, my counsall is that ye
Refer yow to the hiest planeit heir
And tak to him the lawest of degré,
The pane of Cresseid for to modifie:
As God Saturne, with him tak Cynthia."
"I am content," quod he, "to tak thay twa."
Than thus proceidit Saturne and the Mone
Quhen thay the mater rypelie had degest:
For the dispyte to Cupide scho had done
And to Venus, oppin and manifest,
In all hir lyfe with pane to be opprest,
And torment sair with seiknes incurabill,
And to all lovers be abhominabill.
This duleful sentence Saturne tuik on hand,
And passit doun quhair cairfull Cresseid lay,
And on hir heid he laid ane frostie wand;
Than lawfullie on this wyse can he say,
"Thy greit fairnes and all thy bewtie gay,
Thy wantoun blude, and eik thy goldin hair,
Heir I exclude fra the for evermair.
"I change thy mirth into melancholy,
Quhilk is the mother of all pensivenes;
Thy moisture and thy heit in cald and dry;
Thyne insolence, thy play and wantones,
To greit diseis; thy pomp and thy riches
In mortall neid; and greit penuritie
Thow suffer sall, and as ane beggar die."
O cruell Saturne, fraward and angrie,
Hard is thy dome and to malitious!
On fair Cresseid quhy hes thow na mercie,
Quhilk was sa sweit, gentill and amorous?
Withdraw thy sentence and be gracious -
As thow was never; sa schawis through thy deid,
Ane wraikfull sentence gevin on fair Cresseid.
Than Cynthia, quhen Saturne past away,
Out of hir sait discendit doun belyve,
And red ane bill on Cresseid quhair scho lay,
Contening this sentence diffinityve:
"Fra heit of bodie I the now depryve,
And to thy seiknes sall be na recure
Bot in dolour thy dayis to indure.
"Thy cristall ene mingit with blude I mak,
Thy voice sa cleir unplesand, hoir, and hace,
Thy lustie lyre ovirspred with spottis blak,
And lumpis haw appeirand in thy face:
Quhair thow cummis, ilk man sall fle the place.
This sall thow go begging fra hous to hous
With cop and clapper lyke ane lazarous."
This doolie dreame, this uglye visioun
Brocht to ane end, Cresseid fra it awoik,
And all that court and convocatioun
Vanischit away: than rais scho up and tuik
Ane poleist glas, and hir schaddow culd luik;
And quhen scho saw hir face sa deformait,
Gif scho in hart was wa aneuch, God wait!
Weiping full sair, "Lo, quhat it is," quod sche,
"With fraward langage for to mufe and steir
Our craibit goddis; and sa is sene on me!
My blaspheming now have I bocht full deir;
All eirdlie joy and mirth I set areir.
Allace, this day; allace, this wofull tyde
Quhen I began with my goddis for to chyde!"
Be this was said, ane chyld come fra the hall
To warne Cresseid the supper was reddy;
First knokkit at the dure, and syne culd call,
"Madame, your father biddis yow cum in hy:
He hes merwell sa lang on grouf ye ly,
And sayis your beedes bene to lang sum deill;
The goddis wait all your intent full weill."
Quod scho, "Fair chyld, ga to my father deir
And pray him cum to speik with me anone."
And sa he did, and said, "Douchter, quhat cheir?"
"Allace!" quod scho, "Father, my mirth is gone!"
"How sa?" quod he, and scho can all expone,
As I have tauld, the vengeance and the wraik
For hir trespas Cupide on hir culd tak.
He luikit on hir uglye lipper face,
The quhylk befor was quhite as lillie flour;
Wringand his handis, oftymes he said allace
That he had levit to se that wofull hour;
For he knew weill that thair was na succour
To hir seiknes, and that dowblit his pane;
Thus was thair cair aneuch betuix thame twane.
Quhen thay togidder murnit had full lang,
Quod Cresseid, "Father, I wald not be kend;
Thairfoir in secreit wyse ye let me gang
To yone hospitall at the tounis end,
And thidder sum meit for cheritie me send
To leif upon, for all mirth in this eird
Is fra me gane; sic is my wickit weird!"
Than in ane mantill and ane bawer hat,
With cop and clapper, wonder prively,
He opnit ane secreit get and out thair at
Convoyit hir, that na man suld espy,
Unto ane village half ane myle thairby;
Delyverit hir in at the spittaill hous,
And daylie sent hir part of his almous.
Sum knew hir weill, and sum had na knawledge
Of hir becaus scho was sa deformait,
With bylis blak ovirspred in hir visage,
And hir fair colour faidit and alterait.
Yit thay presumit, for hir hie regrait
And still murning, scho was of nobill kin;
With better will thairfoir they tuik hir in.
The day passit and Phebus went to rest,
The cloudis blak ouerheled all the sky.
God wait gif Cresseid was ane sorrowfull gest,
Seing that uncouth fair and harbery!
But meit or drink scho dressit hir to ly
In ane dark corner of the hous allone,
And on this wyse, weiping, scho maid hir mone.
The Complaint of Cresseid
"O sop of sorrow, sonkin into cair,
O cative Creisseid, for now and ever mair
Gane is thy joy and all thy mirth in eird;
Of all blyithnes now art thou blaiknit bair;
Thair is na salve may saif the of thy sair!
Fell is thy fortoun, wickit is thy weird,
Thy blys is baneist, and thy ball on breird!
Under the eirth, God gif I gravin wer,
Quhair nane of Grece nor yit of Troy micht heird!
"Quhair is thy chalmer wantounlie besene,
With burely bed and bankouris browderit bene;
Spycis and wyne to thy collatioun,
The cowpis all of gold and silver schene,
Thy sweit meitis servit in plaittis clene
With saipheron sals of ane gude sessoun;
Thy gay garmentis with mony gudely goun,
Thy plesand lawn pinnit with goldin prene
All is areir, thy greit royall renoun!
"Quhair is thy garding with thir greissis gay
And fresche flowris, quhilk the quene Floray
Had paintit plesandly in everie pane,
Quhair thou was wont full merilye in May
To walk and tak the dew be it was day,
And heir the merle and mawis mony ane,
With ladyis fair in carrolling to gane
And se the royall rinkis in thair array,
In garmentis gay garnischit on everie grane?
"Thy greit triumphand fame and hie honour,
Quhair thou was callit of eirdlye wichtis flour,
All is decayit, thy weird is welterit so;
Thy hie estait is turnit in darknes dour;
This lipper ludge tak for thy burelie bour,
And for thy bed tak now ane bunche of stro,
For waillit wyne and meitis thou had tho
Tak mowlit breid, peirrie and ceder sour;
Bot cop and clapper now is all ago.
"My cleir voice and courtlie carrolling,
Quhair I was wont with ladyis for to sing,
Is rawk as ruik, full hiddeous, hoir and hace;
My plesand port, all utheris precelling,
Of lustines I was hald maist conding -
Now is deformit the figour of my face;
To luik on it na leid now lyking hes.
Sowpit in syte, I say with sair siching,
Ludgeit amang the lipper leid, `Allace!'
"O ladyis fair of Troy and Grece, attend
My miserie, quhilk nane may comprehend,
My frivoll fortoun, my infelicitie,
My greit mischeif, quhilk na man can amend.
Be war in tyme, approchis neir the end,
And in your mynd ane mirrour mak of me:
As I am now, peradventure that ye
For all your micht may cum to that same end,
Or ellis war, gif ony war may be.
"Nocht is your fairnes bot ane faiding flour,
Nocht is your famous laud and hie honour
Bot wind inflat in uther mennis eiris,
Your roising reid to rotting sall retour;
Exempill mak of me in your memour
Quhilk of sic thingis wofull witnes beiris.
All welth in eird, away as wind it weiris;
Be war thairfoir, approchis neir your hour;
Fortoun is fikkill quhen scho beginnis and steiris."
Thus chydand with hir drerie destenye,
Weiping scho woik the nicht fra end to end;
Bot all in vane; hir dule, hir cairfull cry,
Micht not remeid, nor yit hir murning mend.
Ane lipper lady rais and till hir wend,
And said, "Quhy spurnis thow aganis the wall
To sla thy self and mend nathing at all?
"Sen thy weiping dowbillis bot thy wo,
I counsall the mak vertew of ane neid;
Go leir to clap thy clapper to and fro,
And leif efter the law of lipper leid."
Thair was na buit, bot furth with thame scho yeid
Fra place to place, quhill cauld and hounger sair
Compellit hir to be ane rank beggair.
That samin tyme, of Troy the garnisoun,
Quhilk had to chiftane worthie Troylus,
Throw jeopardie of weir had strikken doun
Knichtis of Grece in number mervellous;
With greit tryumphe and laude victorious
Agane to Troy richt royallie thay raid
The way quhair Cresseid with the lipper baid.
Seing that companie, all with ane stevin
Thay gaif ane cry, and schuik coppis gude speid,
"Worthie lordis, for Goddis lufe of hevin,
To us lipper part of your almous deid!"
Than to thair cry nobill Troylus tuik heid,
Having pietie, neir by the place can pas
Quhair Cresseid sat, not witting quhat scho was.
Than upon him scho kest up baith hir ene,
And with ane blenk it come into his thocht
That he sumtime hir face befoir had sene,
Bot scho was in sic plye he knew hir nocht;
Yit than hir luik into his mynd it brocht
The sweit visage and amorous blenking
Of fair Cresseid, sumtyme his awin darling.
Na wonder was, suppois in mynd that he
Tuik hir figure sa sone, and lo, now quhy:
The idole of ane thing in cace may be
Sa deip imprentit in the fantasy
That it deludis the wittis outwardly,
And sa appeiris in forme and lyke estait
Within the mynd as it was figurait.
Ane spark of lufe than till his hart culd spring
And kendlit all his bodie in ane fyre;
With hait fewir, ane sweit and trimbling
Him tuik, quhill he was reddie to expyre;
To beir his scheild his breist began to tyre;
Within ane quhyle he changit mony hew;
And nevertheles not ane ane uther knew.
For knichtlie pietie and memoriall
Of fair Cresseid, ane gyrdill can he tak,
Ane purs of gold, and mony gay jowall,
And in the skirt of Cresseid doun can swak;
Than raid away and not ane word he spak,
Pensiwe in hart, quhill he come to the toun,
And for greit cair oft syis almaist fell doun.
The lipper folk to Cresseid than can draw
To se the equall distributioun
Of the almous, bot quhen the gold thay saw,
Ilk ane to uther prewelie can roun,
And said, "yone lord hes mair affectioun,
How ever it be, unto yone lazarous
Than to us all; we knaw be his almous."
"Quhat lord is yone," quod scho, "have ye na feill,
Hes done to us so greit humanitie?"
"Yes," quod a lipper man, "I knaw him weill;
Schir Troylus it is, gentill and fre."
Quhen Cresseid understude that it was he,
Stiffer than steill thair stert ane bitter stound
Throwout hir hart, and fell doun to the ground.
Quhen scho ouircome, with siching sair and sad,
With mony cairfull cry and cald ochane:
"Now is my breist with stormie stoundis stad,
Wrappit in wo, ane wretch full will of wane!"
Than fel in swoun full oft or ever scho fane,
And ever in hir swouning cryit scho thus,
"O fals Cresseid and trew knicht Troylus!
"Thy lufe, thy lawtie, and thy gentilnes
I countit small in my prosperitie,
Sa efflated I was in wantones,
And clam upon the fickill quheill sa hie.
All faith and lufe I promissit to the
Was in the self fickill and frivolous:
O fals Cresseid and trew knicht Troilus!
"For lufe of me thow keipt continence,
Honest and chaist in conversatioun;
Of all wemen protectour and defence
Thou was, and helpit thair opinioun;
My mynd in fleschelie foull affectioun
Was inclynit to lustis lecherous:
Fy, fals Cresseid; O trew knicht Troylus!
"Lovers be war and tak gude heid about
Quhome that ye lufe, for quhome ye suffer paine.
I lat yow wit, thair is richt few thairout
Quhome ye may traist to have trew lufe agane;
Preif quhen ye will, your labour is in vaine.
Thairfoir I reid ye tak thame as ye find,
For thay ar sad as widdercok in wind.
"Becaus I knaw the greit unstabilnes,
Brukkill as glas, into my self, I say -
Traisting in uther als greit unfaithfulnes,
Als unconstant, and als untrew of fay -
Thocht sum be trew, I wait richt few ar thay;
Quha findis treuth, lat him his lady ruse;
Nane but my self as now I will accuse."
Quhen this was said, with paper scho sat doun,
And on this maneir maid hir testament:
"Heir I beteiche my corps and carioun
With wormis and with taidis to be rent;
My cop and clapper, and myne ornament,
And all my gold the lipper folk sall have,
Quhen I am deid, to burie me in grave.
"This royall ring, set with this rubie reid,
Quhilk Troylus in drowrie to me send,
To him agane I leif it quhen I am deid,
To mak my cairfull deid unto him kend.
Thus I conclude schortlie and mak ane end:
My spreit I leif to Diane, quhair scho dwellis,
To walk with hir in waist woddis and wellis.
"O Diomeid, thou hes baith broche and belt
Quhilk Troylus gave me in takning
Of his trew lufe," and with that word scho swelt.
And sone ane lipper man tuik of the ring,
Syne buryit hir withouttin tarying;
To Troylus furthwith the ring he bair,
And of Cresseid the deith he can declair.
Quhen he had hard hir greit infirmitie,
Hir legacie and lamentatioun,
And how scho endit in sic povertie,
He swelt for wo and fell doun in ane swoun;
For greit sorrow his hart to brist was boun;
Siching full sadlie, said, "I can no moir;
Scho was untrew and wo is me thairfoir."
Sum said he maid ane tomb of merbell gray,
And wrait hir name and superscriptioun,
And laid it on hir grave quhair that scho lay,
In goldin letteris, conteining this ressoun:
"Lo, fair ladyis, Cresseid of Troy the toun,
Sumtyme countit the flour of womanheid,
Under this stane, lait lipper, lyis deid."
Now, worthie wemen, in this ballet schort,
Maid for your worschip and instructioun,
Of cheritie, I monische and exhort,
Ming not your lufe with fals deceptioun:
Beir in your mynd this schort conclusioun
Of fair Cresseid, as I have said befoir.
Sen scho is deid I speik of hir no moir.
dismal season; woeful poem; (see note)
weather; bitter(see note)
Showers of hail did from; (see note)
study; (see note)
stood; beams bright
concealed; cover; (see note)
window; burst; (see note)
dissipated; (see note)
extreme cold became icy
whistling; shrill; (see note)
withdraw [from the window]
great cold; hindered
chamber; (see note)
Though love be hot
old; sexual desire; dull; dead; (see note)
warmed myself; (see note)
took a book; (see note)
Received; bright of complexion
nearly out of [his] mind went
face pale of hue
Until hope gladdened; (see note)
sometimes; lived; pain(see note)
earthly; (see note)
return; (see note)
I need not retell
Compiled; for whoever wishes to read
a second book; (see note)
authoritative; newly composed; (see note)
suffered; death; (see note)
another; whole delight
bill of divorce; (see note)
flower; paragon; (see note)
early; late; (see note)
whorishly taking; pleasure
fickleness; (see note)
without; (see note)
Disguised; (see note)
mansion; (see note)
Said; (see note)
dwelling was beside [the temple]; (see note)
anguish enough in heart; (see note)
people; (see note)
church; (see note)
To avoid; knowledge
expulsion; (see note)
bare knees; haste
flower of love
into wretchedness transformed
guide; take care of me
Since; (see note)
believe; (see note)
seed of love; sown
support; (see note)
lovers abandoned; utterly lost
swoon; (see note)
Ravished in spirit into
And seemed to hear
ringing; (see note)
over all created things
crabbily; stern; countenance
wrinkled; complexion; lead; (see note)
teeth chattered; shivered; (see note)
eyes drooped; sunken; (see note)
livid (blue); lean
icicles; (see note)
Around; hoary locks
In ugly mats overlaid; hoarfrost
garments; attire; (see note)
withered clothes; blew out
A powerful; bore; (see note)
quiver; cruel arrows
stars; (see note)
handsome; bright; radiant; (see note)
golden wire so glittering
garment; attire; (see note)
broad belt; (see note)
fight, as fierce; fire
war gear, helmet; mail
hip; bloody cruel falchion; (see note)
Shaking; (see note)
red face; glowering eyes
glob of froth drivelled; (see note)
boar whetting; sharp
aggressive; without; anger
war caused to erupt
be dead; created; (see note)
fiery beams bright
sorrel; red as rose
steed; is called
fourth; (see note)
clad; lovely garment
combed and gathered; (see note)
Sometimes; (see note)
stinging; (see note)
for whoever would notice
Mixed; sorrowful; pleasure
leaf; withered and past
Writing songs; singing
hood; red fringed above; head
Boxes; carried; remedies
such a one ought
adorned; two; (see note)
likes; (see note)
takes from her
peasant painted; (see note)
theft; climb; no nearer
advocate; (see note)
doffing; a little
dishonor; (see note)
flower of love
strongly; reprove; (see note)
she called her
slander; defamation injurious
blame on; (see note)
dishonor; (see note)
legalistically; fashion; (see note)
gloom; (see note)
read a verdict
unpleasing, rough; hoarse
mirror; reflection; (see note)
If; woeful enough; knows; (see note)
intemperate; move; arouse
knocked; then called; (see note)
prayers; somewhat; (see note)
fate; (see note)
beaver; (see note)
cup; in complete secret
covered; (see note)
wretched food; lodging
Without; turned herself
sunken; (see note)
happiness; deprived completely
no medicine; sorrow; (see note)
Cruel; evil; fate
joy is banished; woe growing
if I buried were
hear of it; (see note)
chamber gaily furnished; (see note)
broad; tapestries embroidered
saffron sauce; (see note)
lovely linens; broach
garden; plants (herbs)
when; (see note)
hear; blackbird; thrush
decorated; particular; (see note)
ruined; fate; skewed
leper lodge; lovely chamber; (see note)
choice; food; then
moldy; pear juice; cider; (see note)
Except for; gone
raw as a rook's; rough and hoarse
bearing; excelling; (see note)
person now desires; (see note)
Immersed in; sorrow
worse; (see note)
rosy complexion; return
stirs; (see note)
be remedied; abate
leper; rose; went
only doubles; (see note)
learn; (see note)
live; folk; (see note)
until cold; extreme
rode; (see note)
one voice; (see note)
shook [their] cups vigorously
eyes; (see note)
plight; (see note)
Had an image of
image; in certain cases
hot fever; sweat
became too weak
neither knew the other
jewel; (see note)
fling; (see note)
rode; (see note)
sorrow often times
Each; secretly whispered
an act of charity; (see note)
recovered; sighing sore
alas; (see note)
deprived of hope
before; stopped; (see note)
enmeshed; (see note)
climbed; wheel so high; (see note)
myself; (see note)
gained their good opinion
let; know; out there
Brittle; (see note)
as; (see note)
bequeath; (see note)
as a love token
sorrowful death; known
can [do or say]
wrote her; epitaph
formerly a leper
Mix; (see note)
Since; (see note)