Robert Henryson, The Complete Works: Fables
ROBERT HENRYSON, FABLES: FOOTNOTES
1 Serious matters please more sweetly when mixed with entertainment
2 What [may] be therein just as long as the floor is clean
3 About mishaps there's no need for him to fear
4 Across moor and bog, through banks, thicket, and thornbush
5 Happy are those who take warning from the perils of others
6 By the assigned time of sitting that court used then
7 Without fear for bribes they allow the right to fail
8 Hang out your tongue, and close tight your two eyes
9 Until he almost fainted and died in that place
10 There was a farmer who had a plow; to guide
11 Then after they were unhitched once it grew very light
12 The wolf says, "Lowrence, you are playing 'It' in blindman's buff"
ROBERT HENRYSON, FABLES: EXPLANATORY NOTES
Abbreviations: Bartholomaeus: Bartholomaeus Anglicus, On the Properties of Things; Bs: the Bassandyne Print; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; Consolation: Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; DOST: Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue; DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Eneados: Douglas, Eneados; Fox, ed.: The Poems of Robert Henryson, ed. Fox; Gray: Gray, Robert Henryson; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MSc: Middle Scots; NIMEV: Boffey and Edwards, eds., New Index of Middle English Verse; NPT: Chaucer, Nun's Priest's Tale; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; OFr: Old French; Orpheus: Henryson, Orpheus and Eurydice; Perry: Perry, ed., Babrius and Phaedrus; PF: Chaucer, Parliament of Fowls; Testament: Henryson, The Testament of Cresseid; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.
Fables (NIMEV 3703)
As attested in the print tradition, Henryson's Fables is a set of thirteen moralized tales headed by a Prologue. In large part, these tales are drawn from a curricular text of the Middle Ages, a collection of fables in Latin distichs (couplets), which has been identified in various ways: by its supposed author, Gualterus Anglicus (Walter of England); by its first modern editor, Anonymus Neveleti ("[Isaac] Nevelet's 'Anonymous'"); or by its medieval name, Romulus. The tenth-century Romulus is based on the first-century collection of Latin fables by Phaedrus, a Thracian freedman of the emperor Augustus; and Phaedrus begins his collection with the declaration "Aesopus auctor quam materiam repperit" ("Aesop is my source. He invented the substance of these fables"; Perry, pp. lxxiii–lxxxii, 190–91). Romulus contributed in the late twelfth century to the Fables of Marie de France, and to the French collections known as Isopets (Marie, Fables, p. 7). The fables in most of these derivations uphold the extreme brevity of the genre — De gallo et jaspide (The Cock and the Jasp) is a mere four distichs of tale and one of moral in Romulus; Marie completes this fable and its moral in eleven octosyllabic couplets. Early in the fifteenth century, John Lydgate turned to Romulus for his little sequence of Isopes Fabules. As presented in the print tradition, Henryson's Fables contains three sequences of fables from Romulus: at the beginning, the Prologue, The Cock and the Jasp, and The Two Mice; in the middle, The Sheep and the Dog, The Lion and the Mouse with its own prologue, and The Preaching of the Swallow; at the end, The Wolf and the Lamb and The Paddock and the Mouse. As is common to the tradition, each of Henryson's Fables ends with a Moralitas, a section in which the characters and events in the narrative are subjected to literal and allegorical moralization that sometimes challenges the present-day reader. Henryson draws inventively and learnedly on a rich tradition of scholastic commentary on "Aesop," that is, Romulus, especially as that tradition was disseminated in the Auctores octo morales ("Eight Moral Authors"): the Distichs of Cato, the Eclogue of Theodulus, the Facetus and De contemptu mundi by Bernard of Cluny, the Liber Floretus, the Tobias of Matthew of Vendôme, Alan of Lille's Doctrinale altum parabolarum, and finally the Romulus "Aesop." This collection of textbooks underpinned the elementary curriculum in medieval Europe.
In two sections inset into the overarching Aesopian sequence, Henryson's Fables in the print tradition include two groups of tales about foxes and wolves, drawn largely from the tradition of Reynard the Fox circulating from the twelfth century in Latin (the mock-epic Ysengrimus by Nivardus) and French (the many-branched compilation known as Le Roman de Renart, ca. 1175–1250, with later sequels); Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale comes from this tradition and provided Henryson a source for the first of his fables about foxes, The Cock and the Fox. Incorporation of Reynardian stories into collections of "Aesop" was well established by the time Henryson undertook to do so: Marie de France included such material (Marie, Fables, p. 7), as did Odo of Cheriton, whose Fables (dated 1225–40) appear to have been available to Henryson. A stimulus to such incorporation came in 1476–77, with Heinrich Steinhöwel's printing of his bilingual (Latin and German) schooltext Esopus, translated into French by Julien Macho (1480) and into English by William Caxton (1483–84; Davies, "Tale of Two Aesops"). Steinhöwel included seventeen so-called fabulae extravagantes in his collection, among them versions of "The Fox, the Wolf, and the Husbandman" and "The Wolf and the Wether." The term extravagantes (literally, "wandering outside") is usually associated with extra-canonical papal decrees, outside the Decree of Gratian and the Corpus Juris; in other words, the fabulae extravagantes ("non-canonical fables") have the same relation to Aesop as do the Extravagantes to the Decretales that formed the basis of the canon law for which Henryson, if the records pertain, received a degree at the University of Glasgow and which he appears to have practiced as a notary public in Dunfermline (see Introduction, above).
Henryson's handling of his sources for the Fables thus reveals a deep familiarity with the Aesopic tradition as embodied in the Romulus of the medieval curriculum, as well as a keen awareness of recent developments in the incorporation of extra-canonical material into the printed "Aesop" (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, pp. 150–56, 162; Lyall, "Henryson's Moral Fabillis," 89–90). The ways in which Henryson's Fables were received by generations of Scottish readers can be glimpsed in the short poem with which the young Edinburgh merchant George Bannatyne begins the fifth part of his manuscript anthology, devoted to "the Fabillis of Esop, with divers uthir fabillis and poeticall workis . . . 1568" (fol. 298r):
The allusions to "devyne doctouris" and concealed "Grave materis" indicate that, with a century and the Reformation separating him from Henryson's original composition of the Fables, Bannatyne still relishes the propriety of scholastic commentary's revealing the sudden conceptual leaps from within the vivid, even racy narrative.
To the Redar.
My freindis, thir storeis subsequent,
Albeid bot fabillis thay present,
Yit devyne doctouris of jugement
Sayis thair ar hid, but dowt,
Grave materis wyis and sapient
Under the workis of poyetis gent.
Thairfoir be war that thow consent
To blame thir heir set owt.
Yet learned doctors of theology
there; without doubt
be careful that you [don't] fall into the habit(?)
criticize these [that are] set forth here
Though still a matter for debate, the structural integrity of the Fables is being rediscovered in, for instance, the thematic significance of numbers: the thematic focus of the midmost lines in The Preaching of the Swallow and The Lion and the Mouse; the symbolic value of the numbers of stanzas, as in The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger (see the Explanatory Notes to lines 1461, 1754, and 2021–22). Indeed, the thematic consistency that emerges as the Fables unfold provides a powerful argument for their structural integrity (Greentree, Reader, pp. 81–89). Also subject to continued debate is the topicality of the Fables, the argument having been proffered that some passages allude to specific events. Summarizing Denton Fox's "brilliant account of the overall meaning of Henryson's selection and arrangement," Annabel Patterson notes that the structure of the Fables "illustrates the tragic ambiva-lence of Aesopian tradition with respect to its own powers of persuasion" (Fables of Power, p. 162n25).
A consideration of the text of the Fables should take as its primary tenet that "quite different textual traditions" are represented by the Bannatyne Manuscript and the Bassandyne print respectively (Fox, ed., p. lxxv). The text provided here follows modern practice (e.g., Wood, Fox, Kindrick, Gopen) in using the Bassandyne print as its base. However, credence has been given to the arguments advanced by Jamieson, MacQueen, and Burrow for the importance of the Bannatyne Manuscript as a witness to readings explainable as having been deemed linguistically obscure or doctrinally offensive by the late sixteenth-century Scottish printers. The present editor has noted the simplifications, modernizations, and expurgations that characterize Charteris, Bassandyne, and their descendants, and at such junctures has paid particular attention to the variant readings Bannatyne offers. As well, the present text follows Fox in occasionally preferring a reading from the Charteris and Lekprevik print of the Fables, on the grounds that variants between the text of this print and that of Bassandyne "should be judged solely on their merits" (Fox, ed., p. lxxiv); such variants sometimes occur because one or the other printer, faced with an unfamiliar word, has substituted a familiar one with a very different meaning (e.g., manfully in Bs for mane full, line 285), or because a common sort of mistake in transcription or typesetting has occurred (e.g., thus in Bs for this, line 1873).
Several distinguished analyses have been made of this Prologue in relation to its brief source (twelve distichs long), the Prologue to the verse Romulus (e.g., Fox, "Henryson's Fables," pp. 338–41; Fox, ed., pp. 187–94; Kratzmann, "Henryson's Fables," pp. 50–57; Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance, pp. 187–92). See Aaron E. Wright's edition, The Fables of "Walter of England" for the text of the distichs with a medieval commentary (pp. 19–23).
title. The title provided in the early printed editions shows the influence of the printed Aesops derived from Steinhöwel (including Caxton's), headed by the story of Aesop the Phrygian: for Henryson, however, Aesop is a Roman, Christian lawyer, and poet, not an illiterate, pagan Phrygian slave (lines 1371–74n; compare Gopen, Moral Fables of Aesop, p. 17).
1 Here and elsewhere in the edition, an initial capital letter in boldface corresponds to the marking of sections in the principal witnesses with ornamented or otherwise amplified initials.
1–7 feinyeit fabils. The collocation of "feign" and "fable" recurs in Scots, often with the connotation of lying (DOST fen3eit 2; compare Fables, line 1389); that "fable" and "falsehood" might be taken as synonymous can become realized as if in passing, as the work unfolds (e.g., the apparently straightfaced aside "but fabill," "without a lie" [line 2308]); as a whole, this stanza bears comparison with the discussion of fiction in lines 1379–97 and in Testament (64–70n).
3 polite termes of sweit rhetore. For later Middle Scots poets such as Gavin Douglas and Sir David Lyndsay, this line defines the high literary style: polished words and delectable eloquence (DOST polist 2; polit 2); compare Henryson's criticism of the lawyers who "under poleit termis falset mingis" (Fables, line 2716).
7 Figure is used, as elsewhere in the Fables (lines 59, 1258, 1400, 1451, 1614, 1971, "figuris" 2593; compare figurall, 587, 1099; figurate, 600, 2935), to refer to the allegorical status of a fiction in relation to the truth it in some way represents; compare Testament lines 506, 511.
8–14 In comparison to Chaucer with his "olde feldes" out of which "newe corn" simply "cometh" (PF, lines 22–23), Henryson emphasizes the sheer labor of cultivating the rich but intractable ground of fiction and language in order to produce a wholesome lesson; this work must be done repeatedly, with the reader coming after the writer like a pupil following the teacher (compare line 1734n).
10–12 In this organic image of the production and reception of a meaningful text, both the flowers and the grain are "springing"; hence, the adjectives "Hailsum and gude" refer to both as well (compare line 1904n).
15–16 Fables are traditionally justified in terms of the allegory — here, highly compressed — of the fable and moral as akin to the nutshell and its contents (compare lines 586–89). James Simpson suggests that the reading "The nuttis schell . . . is delectabill" should not be discarded hastily: "For the moralist who seeks abstract meanings in fiction, the shell is tough and the kernel sweet. For the lover of narrative, however, it's the other way around" ("Faith and Hermeneutics," pp. 225–26); the classic discussion of this figure remains Bernard Huppé and D. W. Robertson, Fruyt and Chaf.
17–19 Denton Fox (ed., p. 190) suggests that Stephen Hawes, an English poet at the court of Henry VII, may have imitated these lines in The Pastime of Pleasure (1509; lines 713–14).
20–25 In contrast to the allegory of the nutshell, the second, recreational, justification for fables may seem commonsensical but has its own curricular place (Boas and Botschuyver, Disticha Catonis 3.6). The allegory of the unbent bow is the latest in Henryson's sequence of brief figures; on this figure, see Glending Olson, Literature as Recreation, pp. 90–93.
26 sad materis. The mixture of merriness and seriousness seems at this juncture simply to be a matter of comic relief; subsequent events will deepen the ethical significance of the blend as a mirror of the pattern of existence (e.g., lines 193n, 331–33n, 345n, 368n, 642–43n).
28 Henryson is quoting the second line from the Prologue to Romulus (A. Wright, Fables, p. 19). H. Harvey Wood notes that "this quotation has been used as a clue in the attempt to discover Henryson's original for the fables" (Poemes and Fables, p. 225). It also appears on the title page of the Charteris text of the Fables. As becomes clear in the course of the Fables, mixing (which denotes augmenting but also corrupting and throwing into confusion) is a thematic as well as a stylistic principle underpinning the whole work (compare Testament 610–16n).
29–30 my maisteris . . . your correctioun. The mode of address changes (compare thee, thi in line 6, and we in line 22); modesty becomes the topic in a passage that exemplifies Machan's perception: "A diminished sense of self for both narrators and authors informs and, more importantly, enables Middle English writing" (Textual Criticism, pp. 97–98). Wheatley notes that maisteris is a term of address "appropriate to the classroom" (Mastering Aesop, p. 152); the poet is writing as if he is at school.
31–32 In mother toung . . . translatioun. The reference to "ane maner of translatioun" alludes tersely to the vernacular poet's power of invention: "What Henryson dramatizes, in effect, is the birth of the vernacular author whose father is literary authority and whose mother is vernacular language" (Machan, Textual Criticism, p. 130). Given the recent advance of Scots into the forum of official discourse (Introduction, p. 14, above), Henryson's reference to the "mother toung" is less self-deprecating than it is a tactical claim that, as a translator from Latin, the vernacular poet is advancing the right of his language to function at the center of public discourse — and the right of poetry to be situated at that center.
33–35 Lyall considers this "a typically Henrysonian touch, displacing responsibility for the idea but then declining to identify its true begetter" ("Structure," pp. 93–94); for Wheatley, the avoidance of vane presumpcioun entails suppression of a patron's name in the interest of a higher aim, "to glorify the spiritual [lord]" (Mastering Aesop, p. 153).
36–42 Such language recalls the bustious eird that demands cultivation if the flowers and grain are to grow (line 8, above; compare "rude and hamelie dite," line 119). The witty denial of eloquence is traditional: compare the Franklin's polished apology, CT V[F]718–20. Chaucer provides a precedent for the request, replete with ornate terms, for correction: TC 3.1331–36. Gray observes that "in asking for correction [Henryson] uses a cluster of words which are far from homely" (Robert Henryson, p. 83, note 13).
45–47 Priscilla Bawcutt and Felicity Riddy observe that the scholastic terms in these two lines (dispute, argow, sillogisme, propone, conclude, exempill, similitude) "suggest that Aesop's animals behave remarkably like academics of Henryson's day" (Selected Poems of Henryson and Dunbar, p. 212).
47–49 Henryson thus demonstrates the capacity of an allegory to work through inversion: people behaving like animals might be predicted to be the opposite of animals behaving like people, and yet the latter become an allegory of the former; and both phenomena involve an inversion of the proper working of creatures in their proper spheres of being.
50 ff. "Men like beasts" is scriptural (Psalm 49 :12; 2 Peter 2:12) and Boethian (Consolation 3.pr5; 4.pr3, me3). This statement of the unreinable tendency to sensuality anticipates but does not articulate the proverb "Like a dog to its vomit," from 2 Peter 2:22 (compare Proverbs 26:11), the memorably graphic conclusion of a scriptural passage that underpins this stanza; see also line 2972n.
56 The topic of humanity rendered bestial appears in the Prologues to the Auctores octo, the curricular compilation that featured "Aesop"; by this means, Henryson follows his source in emphasizing "the figurative nature of the poet's project" (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, pp. 153–54).
58 Aesop's gay metir and facound purpurat, the distichs of Romulus, implicitly find their counterpart in Scots rhyme royal; Henryson is alluding to the legitimate descent from his source to his translatioun even as he alludes to the gulf between them.
59–60 Henryson indicates that fables decorously conceal topics that might otherwise offend classes of people, high or low; raising the topic by appearing to dismiss it, he refers to the satirical and polemical capacity of this sort of narrative.
61 The Prologue ends by announcing the topic of the ensuing fable; thereby the textual link between the two sections is strengthened, and the location of The Cock and the Jasp at the start of Henryson's Fables explicitly parallels its location in Romulus.
The Cock and the Jasp
Henryson's source is the first fable in the verse Romulus (A. Wright, Fables, pp. 23–26), which is a mere four distichs long plus a single one for the Moralitas.
69 The term jasp (Latin, jaspis) tends to refer to various kinds of semiprecious chalcedony, a stone consisting of silica and quartz: the green (prase, chrysoprase, plasma), green with red (heliotrope), white, banded, and multicolored (onyx), banded brown (agate), or gray-blue varieties have been referred to as jasp, but not the red varieties sardonyx and carnelian. These stones were used for seal impressions because wax does not stick to their lustrous, smooth surface. Especially in Egypt, the Middle East, and Central Asia, these stones have been carved into intaglios and cameos since ancient times. If, as is typical, the jasp in this fable is thought of as a seal, it is to be regarded as not just a valuable item but an authentication of the identity of its owner — like modern guarantees of identification, crucial but difficult to replace.
81 Specifying an "ideal possessor" for a jewel is a topic in medieval texts about jewels, the lapidaries (Bishop, "Lapidary Formulas," p. 476).
82 The contrast between pietie and mydding deserves comparison with Hary's diction when his hero Wallace is thrown onto the midden at Ayr: "Thai kest him our out of that bailfull steid . . . In a draff myddyn quhar he remainyt thar" (McKim, Wallace, 2.255–57). Also in the background is the tercel's rebuke of the duck in PF: "Out of the donghil cam that word ful right" (line 597).
83 muke and mold. With the primary sense of "dung and dirt" goes a second meaning by which muke is wealth and mold is the humus from which the human body was created (OED muck n.1.II.4; mould/mold n.1.I.2.a). In regard to the wrongful setting of the jewel, Bishop notes the parallel with the Middle English poem Pearl (lines 22–24; see "Lapidary Formulas," p. 476).
86 Here and in line 100, the cock insistently rejects the allure of cullour; compare the "gay metir and facound purpurat" of Aesop's style (line 58).
102 An instance in which the "mother toung" (line 31) turns out to be more subtle than its user realizes, the proverb might be translated, "Looking is easy work," though the rooster, thinking only of filling his stomach, assumes that "light" means "unsubstantial"; for other instances in which the wisdom of proverbs ironically reflects on its user, see lines 1763n and 1997n.
106–12 Here is the "anaphoric climax" of the rooster's specious speech, in which he has used lapidary topics such as the ideal setting as "a substitute for thought . . . to justify his leaving well alone." In the last line of the stanza, Bishop notes especially the rooster's "self-centred" completion of his earlier remark that "thow ganis not for me" (line 80) with "nor I for thee" (line 112; see "Lapidary Formulas," p. 477).
120–26 However many properties are actually listed here (and the stanza may have been incompletely revised; Fox, ed., pp. 197–98), Henryson's account of the jasp is comparable with the discussion of this precious stone in the great medieval encyclopedia De proprietatibus rerum ("On the Properties of Things") by Bartholomaeus Anglicus: though "the chief colour therof be grene it hath many othere colours ymedlid among. . . . [It] dryveth away fantasies, and maketh a man siker in periles. . . . And me troweth that it hath as many vertues as dyvers colours and veynes" (XVI.52, Seymour-Smith, On the Properties of Things, 2:853).
129–30 The "deidis of vertew" are being described as surpassingly "excellent" in that they, like the jasp, derive from heaven.
139 In "Schir, ye have mony servitouris," Dunbar alludes to this scripturally redolent line (Matthew 6:19–20) in his insistence that his well-made verse is proof against "wering or consumptioun, / Roust, canker, or corruptioun" (lines 31–32); compare Aesop's frustration with a roustit, cankered world (lines 1396–97).
142–45 The passage is rich in scriptural reminiscences, beginning with the commonly cited epitome of the ignorantly mocking fool: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 13 :1).
146–47 Unlike the scriptural pigs goaded to violent retaliation by a diet of pearls (Matthew 7:6), this sow merely gets sick; the moralist does not engage in a preacher's full-scale denunciation of obdurate ignorance.
151 The scriptural allusion to the surpassingly valuable pearl for which the merchant sold all he owned (Matthew 13:45) makes the connection explicit between the jasp and the kingdom of heaven.
159 Of this mater to speik, it wair bot wind. One of many junctures at which the moralist pulls back from explicitly applying the fable to present circumstances; implicit, however, is a warning to the reader not to assume that the moral lessons to be uncovered in this work are inapplicable.
161 thair refers to the midden in the fable, in which the jasp was unexpectedly and unprofitably uncovered, but also to the actual lines of the fable in which the jasp is mentioned, as well as the lines in the moral in which it is interpreted.
The Two Mice
Henryson's source is the twelfth fable in the verse Romulus (A. Wright, Fables, pp. 45–49), which at fifteen distichs for the story and one for the Moralitas is a trifle more expansive than were either the Prologue or De gallo et iaspide. Fox surveys the key differences between the version in Romulus and Henryson's: in the latter, the mice are sisters and they experience two interruptions to their feast, one by a steward and one by a cat; both these changes from Romulus occur in other versions of the fable (Fox, ed., p. 201).
166–68 No mere rehash of Romulus, this opening provides a telling anticipation, the quhyle / Quhilis construction (compare lines 331–33), as well as an emphasis on crime that is only partly developed in the ensuing narrative; for the latter, compare the eighteenth-century poet Allan Ramsay's version of this passage (see Introduction); the opposition of briers to corn suggests an alternation of good times and bad that will assume depth as the Fables proceed (lines 184, 2541, 2545; compare line 2941).
172 In fifteenth-century Dunfermline the burgh gild was open to both artisans and merchants: "to judge by the expenditure on food and drink, conviviality was a principal function of its meetings" (Whyte, Scotland before the Industrial Revolution, p. 70); compare line 1558n.
173 "The mouse was exempt from the usual tolls, which were levied both on exports, such as wool and hides (the magna custuma), and on goods entering the burghs for sale in the markets (the parva custuma)" (Bawcutt and Riddy, Longer Scottish Poems, p. 355).
180–85 Resemblances are to be traced between the burgh mouse and Henryson's Orpheus, who traverses woods and wilsum wayis in search of Eurydice (lines 130, 155, 290, 414); compare the more explicitly penitential motive that almost convinces the shepherd mourning his dead dog to wander into the countryside (lines 2472–73n; compare Testament, lines 94–95n).
193 The mingling that will feature thematically at the end of the fable and again at the outset of the Moralitas (345n, 368n) emerges briefly at this apposite moment; indeed, the stanza includes some structural markers — the phrase fute for fute, for instance — that will recur more ominously in the final fable (line 2875).
204 The saying that thieves — evildoers generally — hate the light, ultimately scriptural (John 3:20; Whiting E184), assumes thematic importance as the Fables proceed (lines 618–20, 2294) and may be connected to the comparison between the soul and the eye of the bat, both of which can function only when the light is failing (lines 1636–40n); Gavin Douglas performs a self-reflexive variation on this theme in concluding The Palis of Honoure with the declaration that the poem is plagiarized, and "Thyft lovys lycht but lyte" (line 2167; also Dunbar, The Goldyn Targe, line 279).
206 The contrast between the two diets, one crude, the other dainty, becomes a theme of Cresseid's Complaint (Testament, lines 418, 440–41).
217 The burgh mouse has not come by her high standards by right of birth but is that frequent target of satire, the overweening commoner (compare Chaucer's guildsmen, CT I[A]361–78).
223 It is to strengthen the reader's exegetical teeth to work through textual tough nuts that the Fables have been written (lines 15–18, 1559n; compare Augustine, On Christian Doctrine 2.6.7).
229–31 The remonstration of the "rurall mous" assumes a sententious strain (line 225; Proverbs 15:17, 17:1; Whiting C176–78, M700).
248 To get her way, the burgh mouse inverts lavish Lenten fasting in the burgh and paltry rural Easter feasting; Dunbar reworks the theme in "Dumbaris Dirige to the King"; for further elaboration of the Lent-versus-Easter theme, see lines 2000–06n. Towards the end of the present fable, the rural mouse will return to this theme and set it right-ways-up (line 320n).
251 Though the burgh mouse has no fear of spring traps or box traps, she seems to know enough about them to distinguish between them; not so much can be said for Henryson's copyists (Textual Notes, line 251n).
257, 262 Henryson's reference to the nocturnal activity of the mice is a realistic detail but also suggests that this mode of travel involves a inversion of the usual scheme; likewise, the omission of the usual decorous greeting intensifies the sense of an increasingly offensive neglect of proprieties; see also line 268.
264 In the version of this fable by Marie de France, the foodstuffs are limited to "Plenté de farine e de miel" ("Plenty of flour and honey"; Marie, Fables, 9.27).
279 John A. Burrow notes the omission of an unstressed syllable in the first foot of the line; for Henryson, this is an unusual departure from the metrical norm, but may be an instance of poetic foregrounding: "The headless line may be original, reflecting the town mouse's emphasis" (English Verse, p. 343, note 118).
281 The unusual word subcharge, "additional course in the meal," recurs with irony in line 346.
285 This line caused the copyists difficulty; Bannatyne calls the pièce de résistance of the feast furmag, cheese (a word nowhere else attested in Middle Scots); that the difficult reading mane, fine white bread (compare MED pain-demeine; OED pandemain), is authoritative is suggested by its prominence in Odo's version of the fable (Jacobs, Fables, p. 87).
286 The whiteness of the candle is an indication of the good quality, and hence higher price, of the tallow used to make it.
287 Spices would be the expected serving at the end of a feast, but the mice have their own preferences. Lured to the sensation of eating spices, the print witnesses provide "gust thair mouth" for the mousier delight in B's reading "creisch thair teithis."
289 In interposing these common moralizing proverbs at this juncture (Whiting Y39, J58), Henryson makes a mock-heroic narrative transition (compare NPT, CT VII[B2]3205: "For evere the latter ende of joye is wo").
295 They taryit not to wesche. The alacrity of the mice is contrasted, appropriately, to the lavishing of time on preparations as in the ceremonious washing before the meal (line 268; compare CT I[A]3821–22: "And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle, / Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle / Upon the floor"). The present omission reflects ironically on the greedy omissions of proper etiquette mentioned earlier ("Withowt godspeid," "Withowtin grace," lines 262, 268); the inevitable lapse of etiquette shows the terror-stricken mice suddenly stripped of their pretensions. Compare the burlesque romance Rauf Coilyear (line 268), in which failure to wash indicates more straightforwardly a lack of refinement.
296–97 The form to ga instead of the expected past tense (yeid or hyit or haistit) indicates a lowering of the style and a related acceleration of the narrative: "But get out, whoever could get to the front of the crowd!" In their crowded haste, the mice are frustrating each other's efforts to escape (compare CT III[D]572–74: "I holde a mouses herte nat worth a leek / That hath but oon hole for to sterte to, / And if that faille, thanne is al ydo"). As often in Henryson's narration of action, the sudden shift from past to present tense indicates a further stylistic lowering to enhance the immediacy of the event.
320 thir fourty dayis suggests that these events are taking place during the long fast of Lent, or perhaps that the upland mouse feels the need to undertake penance — a whole Lent's worth — for her excesses and narrowly averted disaster.
326 In Romulus and its French derivations, it takes only one threat of capture to convince the country mouse to go home; Henryson's "rurall mous" attempts to regain her nerve and stay the course, only to suffer a more drastic encounter.
326, 329 Gib (an abbreviation of Gilbert) and Bawdronis are conventional Scots names for cats, the latter described as "affectionate" (DOST Gib n.; DSL Baudrons).
328 The simile alludes comically combat (Amis and Amiloun, line 1321; Golagros and Gawain, line 758; Whiting F190); the burlesque is augmented by the alliteration with fled (compare line 552).
331–33 The kittenish but deadly behavior is made emblematic of fortune (Greentree, Reader, p. 78; Lyall, "Structure," p. 95); the "Quhylis" (sometimes) topic associated with fortune recurs in similar circumstances (lines 166–68n, 1525n, 2892, 2939; Orpheus, line 516). The mingling of play and predation is like buk-heid (line 333), a rough version of "blindman's buff" (DOST buk-hid; compare lines 970, 2383).
336 The copyists differ as to where the rural mouse has gone: Bannatyne has her behind a dressour and the printers place her behind the burde. Asloan's reading, which has been adopted, implies that the chase is taking place in a hall, hung with curtains (Bawcutt and Riddy, Longer Scottish Poems, p. 358).
345 guse is gude. The contrast between the wished-for tasty goose and the unexpectedly sour garlic sauce becomes proverbial in later Scots (DOST gansel); if Henryson is not the author of the saying, he certainly infuses it with unprecedented thematic significance, exemplifying the principle of mingling that runs through this fable and out into the Fables as a whole.
365 At this point the stanza form changes from rhyme royal to the ballade (ababbcbC).
368 The intermingling of joy and adversity plays against the intermingling of fable and "gude moralitie." Implicitly, learning to read morally is an ethical practice in deciphering potentially deceptive appearances (line 2716n).
372 small possessioun. In the refrain, this repeated phrase reflects wittily upon a fable about the belongings proper to a mouse.
381–82 O wantoun man . . . Thy wambe . . . a god to be. The direct scriptural allusion (Philippians 3:19) opens a sequence of relevant concepts that emerge in the next two verses of the epistle: one's proper living place (compare the rural mouse's kith, line 351 and this cuntrie, line 379; Philippians 3:20); and the potential parallel between small, humble bodies and higher ones (Philippians 3:21). Compare the Pardoner's Tale, CT VI(C)520–33.
391–93 As Solomon sayis. Citing Solomon as an authority need not indicate a precise source in one of the books ascribed to him, though the lines here do paraphrase Ecclesiastes 3:12; as in the Moralitas to The Trial of the Fox (lines 1130–31), the prestige of his name adds luster to the reworking of a conventional theme.
395 maist degree. The distinction between worldly excess and true nobility, alluded to at various points in the fable, is emphasized at its endpoint.
The Cock and the Fox
Henryson's main source is Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale, though for the hens' speeches The Parliament of Fowls is an important contributor, as is the Wife of Bath's Prologue.
397–400 The concession to fiction that was indicated in the Prologue (lines 44–46), that animals may with propriety be represented as reasonable and articulate, appears now to be abandoned in favor of a more factually based principle: even though animals are without reasoning power, they still exemplify a diversity of natural inclinations.
407–10 The prospect of an unknowable infinity of animal natures, and thereby an infinity of fables, elicits a seemly gesture of incapacity from the poet. His avowed intention to write about the fox and the rooster thus seems a defeat on two levels: it has proven impossible to write inventively about nature; and the alternative is simply to retell an anecdote about a cais, an anecdote recalling an event "this ather yeir" (line 409). Assuming the guise of a dutiful old dog without the cunning to perform new tricks, Henryson may in fact be writing more like a "fenyeit, craftie, and cautelows" fox (line 402).
410 Chauntecleer is the name of the rooster in the Nun's Priest's Tale and also in Le Roman de Renart; this is only the second instance in the Fables of an animal having a name (after Gilbert, "Gib Hunter our jolie cat," line 326), and it signals a change in the generic affiliations of the ensuing tale.
411–13 In contrast to this curt dismissal, the widow in NPT is the subject of a little encomium of the simple life (CT VII[B2]2821–46); having been elaborated in the previous fable (e.g., lines 358–63, 373–80) this rustic theme would be redundant here.
415–17 Like the widow, the rooster is disposed of in a few lines; compare Chaucer's circumstantial portrait (CT VII[B2]2849–64); Henryson's Chantecleir will be described later, but through the varying perspectives of three of his wives (lines 495–543).
419–20 While Chaucer mentions the "yeerd . . . enclosed al aboute / With stikkes" before describing the rooster, Henryson places the description of the thicket after, in order for it to serve as the setting for the fox. In NPT, by contrast, many lines of discussion about dreams must pass before the description of the fox waiting "in a bed of wortes" (CT VII[B2]3221). Henryson gives the fox prominence: his character is no more or less than was predicted at the outset (line 402).
428 Chaucer's Chauntecleer cannot "ryde" Pertelote on their perch at night; "ful of joye and of solas," he does so in the daylight (CT VII[B2]3167–78). In contrast, Henryson's Chantecleir has been at work all night, and no mention is made of the narrowness of the perch — which is likely located under the roof of the widow's cottage (lines 584–85n). Klaus Bitterling reads for nicht as a compound adverb ("Robert Henryson, The Fables"): "Exhausted, having stayed up all night, Chantecleir flew from his nest" — one might suppose he is escaping.
429 As the name for the fox (compare Russell in NPT and Renard in the French sources), Lowrence occurs earliest in Henryson's Fables. The fox is unique in the Fables for the recurrence of his name, which has been explained as a pun on another word appearing earliest in this work, lour, "skulk" (line 952; DOST lour, v.; Lowrence). Breeze suggests, however, that the word lowry for "fox" derives from Brythonic Celtic, a language spoken in lowland Scotland and the north of England into the medieval period, with derivations surviving in place-names; compare early Welsh llewyrn, "foxes" ("Henryson's Lowrence the Fox," p. 300).
438–40 The fox broaches his offer of service, which will become the keynote of his appeal to Chantecleir; Chaucer's fox, in contrast, claims to have visited the yard "oonly for to herkne how that ye synge" (CT VII[B2]3290). Lowrence, meanwhile, claims that he owes duty to Chantecleir because of the bond of loyalty he shared with Chantecleir's father. Such bonds between lords and men were becoming increasingly formalized in fifteenth-century Scotland (Wormald, Lords and Men in Scotland, pp. 17–18).
449 The fox claims to have recited the dirge, the Matins of the Office of the Dead, "the liturgical text intoned daily for the souls of the dead" (Fein, Moral Love Songs, p. 289); knowledge of the dirge was spreading due to its inclusion in the medieval primer, the prayer book for lay people; the fox is flaunting his devotion but also his value as a literate and even clerkly servitor. The topic of the fox mourning is ubiquitous in the Roman de Renard.
462–63 Having neglected to crow according to his natural inclinatioun, the werie Chantecleir has declined from the proper conditioun of being a rooster; so claims the fox (lines 400, 428).
483 The hens' names each contain a diminutive suffix, -ok: "Bold little hen" (Pertok), "Speckled little hen" (Sprutok), and "Crested little hen" (Toppok). These names provided the occasion for inventiveness, if not occasional confusion, among later poets, copyists, and editors (Eneados 12 prol.159; Colkelbie Sow 3.105, 117; Fox, ed., p. 215).
491 Chaucer's widow remains conscious; Henryson prefers to let the focus shift to the hens' debate, a strikingly inventive amplification in a telling characterized by its compression.
498 Pertok's comparison between Chantecleir's voice and the clock tower bell corresponds to the detail in Chaucer's initial portrait of Chauntecleer (CT VII[B2]2854).
513–15 A forthrightly merry widow, Sprutok anticipates Dunbar's inventive elaboration in The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo: "I wald me prunya plesandly in precius wedis, / That luffaris myght apon me luke and ying lusty gallandis" (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, poem 3, lines 374–75).
533 From the wives' accumulated perspectives, Chantecleir combines apparently contradictory vices: having been called impotent and jealous (lines 517, 519), he is now an insatiable frequenter of prostitutes; he is a compendium of the more bestial inclinatiouns of husbands.
546–47 In later Scots, birkie denotes extreme bareness and paleness, like the white birch in winter (DSL birkie n3), so that Birkye may be a dog with short white fur. Berrie is assumably deep brown (like the Monk's horse, CT I[A]207); Bell has a fine ringing voice; and then there is poor Bawsie Broun — in Dunbar's Fasternis Evin in Hell, one of the devils is named "Bawsy Broun" (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, poem 47, line 30).
551–53 Alliteration functions here to enhance the impression of increasing force and speed. The first line starts slowly with double alliteration in the second foot; the pace increases in the third foot, with the recurrence pitched forward on the stressed syllable; then the b-less fourth foot produces a spurt towards bent, at the end of the line. In line 552, the conventional simile (line 328n) produces top speed. The lines move like the hounds, full wichtlie (line 553).
558 Chaucer's Chauntecleer speaks "In al his drede" (CT VII[B2]3406) and urges the fox to exult in his superior skill; Henryson's Chantecleir advises Lourence to defend his action as arising from a bond of friendship. In each case, the rooster is practicing the very trick that had previously fooled him, but here the theme on which it is based has become the false assurance of loyalty.
582 The lesson the fox derives from his loss is that a thief ought not to engage in formal dispute mechanisms like honest people, but just be a thief and make off with the goods. He has been fooled into acting on the values he had previously manipulated in order to catch Chantecleir.
584–85 Chantecleir is finally depicted as an ordinary farmyard bird, flying back to the place from which he emerged at the outset of the story (line 428), in at the lever (the outlet through which the smoke escaped from the fireplace) to his home under the thatched roof of the widow's cottage.
586–89 Henryson picks up the discussion, itself typically allegorical, about the relation between the narrative of a fable and its moralization (compare lines 15–18).
595–99 Pride in kin leaves one "without a leg to stand on"; the ensuing comparison to the Fall of the Angels (Revelations 12:7–9) reduces faith in one's lineage to a type of devilish self-love; the hounding of the feyndis infernall recalls the memorable episode, just read, of the hounding of the fox (lines 546–54).
600–13 In contrast to Chaucer, whose denunciation of flattery occurs digressively (CT VII[B2]3325–30), Henryson allows the theme sequential development in the Moralitas, where it can be treated allusively without loss of clarity: note the motif of sugar and gall, implicitly connecting flattery to Venus and Fortune (compare Testament lines 225–29) but also to Boethius' false Muses (Consolation 1.pr1).
The Fox and the Wolf
Sources: for the confession of the fox, Roman de Renart passim; for the baptism of the kid, Perry no. 655 (in a Romulus recension). "Many analogues to the two main actions can be found in earlier fable literature, but they are not known to have been combined before Henryson" (Fox, ed., p. 222).
614–17 The allusions to the widow, Chantecleir, "this foxe," and his abortive daylight raids all indicate that the ensuing fable is to be taken as the integral second part of an inset sequence within the Fables; more than The Cock and the Fox, The Fox and the Wolf is to feature Lowrence as its antihero.
621–24 The level of style rises suddenly with this chronographia, a stylized indication of time that sets the ensuing narrative off from the preceding material; at the outset, the mythology (Thetis the sea, Phoebus the sun, Hesperus the evening star) seems burlesque — a fox is waiting for nightfall.
628 The fox proceeds into a rougher landscape than those encountered so far in the Fables (though one should make allowances for the difference of scale affecting the mice); this hill, on which he perceives his likely fate, anticipates the craig (line 664) from which the wolf emerges and the heuch in which the fox lies in wait for suitable prey (lines 745, 747).
629–34 The preceding chronographia has in fact served to prepare for Lowrence's learned interest in astronomy, comparable to that shown by the poet at the outset of the Testament (lines 8–14); and in this regard, the poet claims Lowrence as his teacher.
635–36 MacQueen notes the propriety to the ensuing events of maleficent Saturn associated with the sign of the goat and justice-dealing Jupiter with the sign of the archer (Robert Henryson, p. 146).
639 Noting the astronomical impossibility of this alignment, Alison Hanham and J. C. Eade suggest that the opposition of Venus to Mars and Saturn is a purely thematic device connecting the fable to the denunciation of sensuality in the Moralitas, thereby preparing for the reference to the fox's fornication in the next fable (lines 799–800; "Foxy Astrology in Henryson," pp. 25–29).
642–43 Scanning the heavens, this fox appears to balance between reason and instinct; the first is his as an outcome of the fictional form (lines 47–48); the second is an outcome of his special place in the plenitude of nature (lines 407–10); in this mingled state, Lowrence is deeply versed in celestial signs even though he lacks an astronomer's instruments and charts.
649–55 "The reader is asked here to contemplate not the usual fox of fable to whom we may conveniently assign the human characteristics of guile and deceit and whom we may then satisfyingly frustrate or punish. This fox is stretched on the dilemma of the opposition between his natural and spiritual instincts" (Roerecke, "Integrity and Symmetry," pp. 78–79).
666–69 Drawing on Renardian sources, Odo also depicts the wolf as an imperfect cleric (Perry 539.595, 52.628); with propriety, Henryson's wolf has the guise of a Franciscan, a gray friar (line 679), precedent for which is interpolated into the Romance of the Rose (11222.lvi1–lviii9); as a doctor of theology, he should be on a par with those best qualified to apply moral precept to lived experience (1100–03); such moralizing and its learned practitioners do not always warrant respect (lines 1052–53, 2971–72). Still, the poet's attitude to such doctors is complicated: after all, they are "the teachers who interpret fables" (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, p. 179).
676 The contraction dude ("do it"; DOST dude) provides the stanza with a pertly colloquial ending, one that belies the obsequious reverence the fox is showing his "gostlie father" (line 672) the wolf.
677 As a lanterne, he is taken to be a "guiding light" of moral instruction (MED lantern(e 4).
693 Benedicitie, the customary friar's greeting and, more generally, a common exclamation (e.g., CT III[D]241, 280, 1087), but also a metonymy for the rite of confession (e.g., CT I[A]205).
697 Gopen argues that "the narrator's sensitive withdrawal does not hinder him from giving a word-for-word account" (Moral Fables of Aesop, p. 12); by omitting to report the fox's actual confession, however, the poet has upheld the letter of his principle.
710 "Like Langland [Piers Plowman C.5.24: 'I am to wayke to wirche . . .'] and Hoccleve (Regement, 976–85) in similar situations, the fox alludes to Luke 16:3" (Pearsall, Chaucer, p. 492).
712–13 The elements necessary for perfyte confessioun that the fox lacks are "verray sorwe that a man receyveth in his herte for his synnes" and "sad purpos . . . neveremoore to do synne" (CT X[I]127–29).
719–21 Amenability to such negotiation is a theme of medieval satire against the friars (the so-called "antimendicant satire"; compare CT I[A]221–24).
731 neid may haif na law. Proverbial. See Whiting N51. Compare Piers Plowman B.20.10; Gower, CA 4.1167, 8.75; or variations like Chaucer, CTI[A]4026: "nede has na peer"; or Gower's frequent "nede he mot that nede schal" (CA 1.1714, 3.352, 8.1020).
734 The wording of this line recalls the title Asloan gives to the now-lost poem he ascribes to Henryson, "Master Robert Hendersonnis Dreme On Fut by Forth" (Introduction, p. 5); the Firth of Forth is the estuary on the north shore of which Dunfermline lies.
736 The fox's frustration on the shore offers a concise reenactment of the deflection of moral awareness that has been traced through the events of the fable so far.
751 Gray wittily and learnedly surveys the "splendid folk-motif" of the renaming of forbidden food, which is attested in Romulus (Gray, p. 116; Perry 569.655).
757–60 Always with ironic effect, the sensual impulse to warm one's belly recurs in Henryson's poems (line 1407; Testament, line 36), though this is the one time when the consequences are fatal. For the fox to make the wry assertion that it would be fitting to have an arrow in his belly seems an extreme provocation to an avenging thunderbolt of justice. On the other hand, this line may be a predecessor of the idiomatic expression "to make a bolt" of — that is, to take a risk on — something (Shakespeare, Merry Wives 3.4.24 qtd. OED bolt n.I.1.b); if so, the fox means to say, "My stomach is worth the risk"; but, as elsewhere in the Fables (e.g., line 2244), the literal meaning of his words comes unexpectedly uppermost.
775 The sudden, unprepared-for death is just the sort of schamefull end the fox had read for himself in the stars (line 653).
786–88 Having declared that fables provide symbolic instances of the ways in which certain kinds of people become like certain species of animals (lines 48–49, 399–40), the poet now indicates the circumstances in which both sorts of beings are neidlingis (necessarily) destroyed, namely through consuetude and ryte (line 782).
The Trial of the Fox
The motifs of the animals' parliament, the absent animal (a donkey rather than Henryson's mare), and the kicked wolf are assembled in Odo of Cheriton's fable De asino nolente venire ad parliamentum leonis (Perry no. 638). The trial of the fox occurs in the Roman de Renart, though there he is not executed (Branch 1.62–63.279–82, 458).
827–28 A characteristic Scots proverb about the fox (Whiting F 592; see also Dunbar's satire on the Gaelic chieftain Donald Owyr, ending "Ay rynnis the fox / Quhill he fute hais") leads into a typical detail of Scottish landscape, beyond the margins of arable soil: a peitpoit is a deep, waterlogged hole in a peat bog from which peat has been cut, mainly for fuel.
834–37 The poet exclaims on the familiar theme of the executor's disloyalty (Piers Plowman B.15.128; OED secutor), leading toward emphasis on their neglect of the duty to pray for the testator's soul; the Protestant printers rewrote this passage, which had become offensive for its devotional practice; in the process they emphasized the need to protect wealth, a theme at odds with the tenor of the passage (Textual Notes 836n, 837n).
839–40 The fanfare seems to shake the world, as it does in the Testament when Mars blows his horn (lines 195–96): "It is as though the tallies have been taken; the 'busteous Bugill' of the summoning Unicorn is highly suggestive of the trump of doomsday, as is the generally ominous tone the poet achieves in his description of the assemblage of beasts" (Roerecke, "Integrity and Symmetry," p. 85). The fox later takes up this apocalyptic theme (line 952).
842, 848 Decisively but not unchangeably, the arrival of the unicorn associates the animal kingdom with heraldry. In Scotland, heraldry was the concern of the court of the Lyon King of Arms, in which one of the junior heralds was the Unicorn Pursuivant. Oyas (Old French oiez, "Hear ye!") is the Scottish heraldic officer's proper cry before making an announcement to a gathering including knights and squires (DOST Oyes).
855–65 The lion's proclamation epitomizes and may parody the stiffly ceremonious style, ornamented with the stylized phrases and terms (celsitude, Lattis yow to wit, evin incontinent, Thinkis . . . to hald) typical of royal public discourse: a failure of proportion may occur in sending greeting to God and brutall beistis as if both were my subjectis grit and small.
866–72 The chronographia of a spring morning is decorously kingly, not least in its alliteration marking the stresses in the third line and following; to heighten the courtliness of this "pleasant place," indications of privilege (the sheer wealth, "as the gold" of vegetation, the buds of "spyce," the conspicuous consumption involved in cultivating grasses; compare Dunbar, The Goldyn Targe, lines 1–45) are interspersed with no less decorous scenic elements (the moisture-distilling clouds, the lark, merle, and mavis; compare lines 1321–27n).
873–79 Commencing with the nice detail of the three attendant leopards (the lions in the arms of England being known as leopards; Fox, ed., p. 237), the stanza depicts a series of royal appurtenances, in phrases marked by ornamental alliteration and a characteristic [modifier +] noun + modifier syntax.
887–920 By comparison with the catalogue of "mony diverse kynd" of beasts in The Kingis Quair (stanzas 155–57), Henryson's depiction is much longer, more syntactically variegated, semantically more negative, and more fanciful — arcane, even — in its names and details; it is a passage bound to give its copyists and editors headaches (e.g., lines 895n, 906n, 914n). As placing mythological beasts at the head of the list makes obvious, the passage is rhetorically encyclopedic; the reader need not be alarmed to encounter species repeated under various names.
893 Henryson depicts the camel in a way that recalls an Aristotelian association between gluttony and the neck of a crane, famously employed by Spenser (Nichomachean Ethics 3.10; Faerie Queene 1.4.21).
895 anteloip. The copyists may have made two animals out of one: the heraldic antelope has ax-like horns (OED antelope), and a sparth is literally a broad ax — "his sparth"? That something has gone amiss in the line is suggested by the lack of an unstressed syllable in the third foot.
903 In the Flyting, Dunbar combines Henryson's terms for the hedgehog and hare into a single insult: in his appearance and gait, Dunbar's opponent Walter Kennedie resembles a "Hard hurcheoun hirpland" (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, poem 65, line 179; compare Alexander Montgomerie, Cherrie and the Slae, second version, line 286).
906 The printed texts diverge markedly from the manuscript witness at this point (Textual Notes to line 906); Fox speculates that the manuscript reflects misunderstanding of a rare name like bonnacon (bison): this animal, with its reputedly "noxious excrement, could appropriately be linked to the notoriously stinking badger" (ed., p. 242).
914 The obscure names in this line have occasioned much speculation: ane refers elsewhere in MSc to the donkey, so that the second element of lurdane lane, Bannatyne's reading, becomes notionally plausible and thus is marginally preferred over the printers' apparently garbled bowranbane.
928 The widely distributed distich "Parcere prostatis scit nobilis ira leonis; / Tu quoque fac simile, quisquis dominaris orbe" (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, 2:398: "The noble lion's wrath knows how to show mercy to the abject; do thus, each of you who reign in the world"); the theme is literally central to the midmost of the Fables, in which the mouse restates the proverb and the lion learns it (lines 1486–88, 1503–05).
943–46 In Dunbar's The Thistle and the Rose (lines 106–12), the lion is advised to prevent the stronger animals from oppressing the weaker; the messianic prophecy (Isaiah 11:6–7) provides the context for this emblem of ideal peace, which turns out inevitably to be unsustainable.
951–58 Fensit the court. The necessary preliminaries to be undertaken by an officer of the court, "fencing included a demarcation of the bounds of the assembly, a proclamation of its authority and an announcement of the peace of the court"; usually the senior herald, Lyon King of Arms, fenced a new session of Parliament, the highest court in Scotland (Walker, Legal History, pp. 466, 233).
991 gray stude meir. In Odo's version of this tale (Perry 557.638), the absent animal is a donkey, an animal with a reputation for solitariness, stubbornness, and irritability; making the change to the mare, Henryson draws attention to the animal's belonging to a "stud" (enclosure) of horses, a valuable, productive community, the values of which she embodies (lines 1111–17; Fox, ed., p. 231); as a result of the change, her kick will be an altogether weightier, more considered, less merely temperamental, act.
1004 contumax. Despite having insisted on his ignorance in his plea to be excused from the errand of carrying the message to the mare, the fox (like Chaucer's Summoner; CT I[A]639–46) is now keen to show off what command he possesses of legal terminology; still, it is a scrap the lion cannot resist citing later (line 1050).
1013–14 Like the Robert Henryson who graduated from Glasgow University, the wolf is recommended as a venerabilis vir, a "man of age." The fox's gibe about the wolf's expertise has particular relevance to the task at hand: in fifteenth-century Scotland, the chancellor, usually a cleric, kept the great seal, the insignia by which various royal documents were authenticated (Walker, Legal History, p. 138; compare lines 1890n, 2970n).
1031–33 Though these lines may be read as the poet's interjection, they are taken here as part of the fox's rejoinder to the mare; flaunting his scraps of learning and his experience with "scrolls," he is insouciantly in character in saying what suits the moment — only a few moments after he found it prudent to claim to be illiterate. The proverb the fox cites ("Happy are those who take warning from the perils of others") works like a cliché, springing to mind automatically when the circumstances fit: thus the lion will intone it in Scots when he hears about the wolf's discomfiture (line 1065). As for the parenthetical assurance that the message on the scroll is not worth forfeiting (MED forfeten), the price of obedience, five shillings, would be a standard large amount for a poor person (line 1183).
1052 The wolf in the previous fable was also a "doctour of divinitie" (line 666). The joke about the doctoral red cap (the wolf's bloodied head), which is evidently so rich that the fox repeats and the lion echoes it (lines 1061–62), may pertain to the academic costume of non-theology doctors at Glasgow (Fox, ed., p. 247).
1064 greitest clerkis ar not the wysest men. Proverbial. See Whiting C291.
1079 The apparent intersection between aggression and fun with regard to the wolf has just brought the lion and his court to gales of laughter; caught out in his offense against the peace of the court, the fox is left feebly asserting the entertainment value of his attack on the lamb as his justification (compare lines 2558–77).
1089 Treason, an offense to be tried in parliament, was broadly defined in fifteenth-century Scotland; the fox is liable to the charge because he disobeyed the royal command to keep the peace and specifically that "tod Lowrie luke not upoun the lam" (line 945; Walker, Legal History, pp. 305, 527).
1091 In a Scottish court, the sentence would be pronounced, not by the judge, but by the dempster (Walker, Legal History, p. 340).
1101 "[T]he reference to the 'doctouris of devyne' . . . in support of his method rather encourages our scepticism because it reminds us of the vain outwitted Wolf whom the Fox mockingly addresses as 'new-maid doctour off divinitie'" (line 1052; Mehl, "Robert Henryson's Moral Fables," p. 97). On the other hand, given the bruising the profession of "doctouris of devyne" has received in the tale, it may be poetic justice to cede interpretive authority to them.
1102 For apply meaning "apply an allegory or moralization," see MED, ap(p)lien 3.c.
1104–10 Gavin Douglas amplifies this quick survey of a world going mad for profit, Sum wanting one thing, and sum another (Eneados 8.prol.44–52, 92–105). Henryson and Douglas give a satirical edge to an influential scriptural review of trades and crafts, Ecclesiasticus 38:24–31.
1111–17 This stanza and the two ending this Moralitas were subjected to a thoroughgoing Protestant revision in the printed texts; as well, the order of the stanzas may have been changed at an early stage of the textual tradition (Textual Notes, lines 1111–41 passim).
1118–24 Thus moralized, the mare sustains a commitment to a value higher than that of royal command; while taking the higher stakes and her greater integrity into account, she is still to be compared to that altogether smaller being the rural mouse, who surrendered to the blandishments of the burgh, was nearly destroyed, and regained her integrity in returning to her own country (lines 343–56). Though the switch from female to male may distract present-day readers in the equation of contemplative men to the nurturing, independent mare, that animal's strengths typify these men's commitment to interpret the world allegorically, as a penitential wilderness.
1145 The expression "The Talking of the Tod" could be taken to refer to the three tales concerning foxes (The Cock and the Fox, The Fox and the Wolf, and The Trial of the Fox); these three tales stand as a unit even in the Bannatyne Manuscript, where the sequence is otherwise strikingly at odds with that in the prints (Introduction, p. 7, above).
The Sheep and the Dog
Source: Romulus 4 (A. Wright, Fables, pp. 31–33).
1147 One element that distinguishes the present fable from the one to which it appears analogous, the penultimate The Wolf and the Lamb, is that the antagonist is a dog and not a wild predator, is poor and not powerful, and thus should be above dishonesty and oppression; compare the standard character of the loyal dog that Henryson alludes to earlier (line 403).
1148 In fifteenth-century Scotland, the consistory was an ecclesiastical court, usually presided over by the bishop's Official, a canon lawyer; this court had jurisdiction over moral offenses, especially those committed by clerics, but also over a variety of secular offenses. Since the procedure depended heavily on sworn statements, perjury was regarded as an especially damaging offense: "False accusations, if malicious, could give rise to the accusers being charged with defamation" (Walker, Legal History, pp. 405, 542–43).
1160 Making the raven the messenger of the court alludes to his wide reputation for untrustworthiness in such endeavors; sent out for news, the raven failed to return to Noah's Ark (Genesis 8:7; Holland, Buke of the Howlat, line 812).
1166 Perrie (in the Bannatyne Manuscript, Burry) may recall Berrie, one of the widow's dogs in The Cock and the Fox (lines 546–47n).
1174 The fox assumes the function that would have been the responsibility of the historical Robert Henryson, notary public of Dunfermline.
1175–79 The gled, or kite, had a reputation for cowardice and cruelty (Bartholomaeus XII.27, Seymour-Smith, On the Properties of Things, 1:634–35); like the graip, the vulture, it is a scavenger, though it also eats small animals, as in The Paddock and the Mouse (lines 2896–2902); the collusion between these two advocates is only natural.
1189–94 The charge of bias is serious and, if proven, would incur heavy punishment. In Scotland, "[t]he amount of legislation against judicial corruption in the fifteenth century shows how widespread the problem was" (Walker, Legal History, p. 543; also pp. 483–85); compare lines 2657–61, Abbey Walk line 35.
1199 In Scottish legal procedure, if a trial took place on a holiday, in feriate time, the judgment was liable to a parliamentary decree that it was "of no avail, strength, force or effect" (Walker, Legal History, p. 467).
1203–07 According to procedure, if the authority of the court is deemed to be compromised, arbiters were to be appointed by those in authority — the bishop in a case between clerics, the provost and burgh council if between townspeople — and not the parties themselves (Walker, Legal History, p. 181); in any case, one wonders what input the sheep had been able to exert if the two arbiters selected turned out to be the bear and the badger.
1216–17 The legal procedure appears to have shifted from canon to civil law. In Scotland, "civil law" meant Roman law, based on the Code of Justinian (the imperial statutes) and the Digests, principally the three compilations of legal opinions given the force of the law.
1221 The Decrees were the body of Roman law as commented upon by two principal groups of Italian jurists, the glossators and the later commentators, resulting in a weighty array of apparatus, collections of cases, opinions, and interpretations, and summaries, all composing an expanding body of law, the Corpus Juris Civilis. The arbiters are involved in a laborious, potentially endless, scholarly enterprise.
1246 Earlier (line 1157), interdictioun occurred in the context of a church court and refers to being banned from access to certain church sacraments; in the context of civil law, it refers to a prohibition from various kinds of public places and transactions. "By making his readers think of both types of courts," Gray comments, "Henryson is broadening his attack into one on legal injustice in general" (p. 147).
1265–71 Likening the wolf to a powerful sheriff (the king's chief administrator of justice in a county, with large and often sweeping powers of security, war, and taxation) completes the transition from church law to civil, noted above; this transition makes notional sense in a legal system in which the sheriff is bound "to support the church courts." In various counties, the office of the sheriff was inheritable, a tradition not conducive to competence; opportunities were plentiful to exploit the position, and corruption seems, as Henryson indicates, to have been widespread (Walker, Legal History, pp. 333–34).
1269–75 Rather than being associated with inquests as became the practice in England, the medieval Scottish coroner is to be considered a royal officer who summoned those charged with offenses to appear at trial; Henryson depicts the coroner touching the accused person with his wand, his staff of office (DOST wand n. 6). Earlier (line 1160) named as an apparitou, a summoner for a church court, the raven is now (line 1272) identified as the crownair, the coroner of a sheriff court, no less corrupt than the presiding judge.
1279–81 "Henryson informs us that we must wait until later — the second half of the work, as it turns out — to learn the allegorical significance of the Fox and Glede. He does this in a passage which looks both backward and forward in the work" (Roerecke, "Integrity and Symmetry," p. 120, citing lines 2205 and 2431–33 for the fox, and line 2962 for the gleid, the kite).
1286–1320 The stylistic, situational, and thematic strengths of this displaced complaint have been perceptively discussed (e.g., Jamieson, "Poetry," p. 104; Mehl, "Robert Henryson's Moral Fables," pp. 95–96; Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, p. 161). The sheep's mythological reference (Boreas) and his prominently alliterative allusion to the flowers faded by frost refer eloquently to the disorder of the cursit consistorie. His having been "counted as [a] sheep for the slaughter" justifies his quotation of the desperate question that immediately follows that verse, "quhy sleipis thow" (Psalm 43 :22–23); his demand that God "discerne" his "cause" draws polemically on the opening of the previous Psalm ("Iudica me Deus et descerne causam meam a gente non sancta" "Judge me O God and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy").
1309–12 Allegory achieves compression (compare lines 237–38): poor people are naked sheep; gentleness, the value of true nobility, is murdered; mercy is exiled.
1314–20 The conclusion to the sheep's complaint involves an austere acceptance of responsibility for suffering (compare Testament line 574, and Prayer for the Pest lines 17–22).
The Lion and the Mouse
The principal source is Romulus 18 (A. Wright, Fables, pp. 58–61). "The opening section of the fable is apparently original, though of course the [devices and gambits] are all traditional" (Fox, ed., p. 263).
1321–27 The kingly associations of this Chaucerian stanza, brilliant in themselves, have been prepared for by the linking of the lion to the season and the scene, in The Trial of the Fox (lines 866–72n); they further prepare for the arrival of the "imperious" Aesop (Machan, Textual Criticism, p. 129) and his evocation and subsequent moralization of the kingly pleasant place in the tale proper (lines 1346–47, 1408, 1580n; compare Eneados 13.prol.1–88).
1349–60 David Laing speculated that Henryson's description of Aesop "might in some measure be applicable to himself" (Poems and Fables, p. xi; compare line 1373, "In civile law studyit"; also line 1384, "my maister venerabill"; Introduction, above), a speculation analogous to that of Aesop as "an image not of the Other but of the writerly Self in an ideally productive, famous form" (Patterson, Fables of Pwer, p. 32); in this regard, Aesop is to be compared with Henryson's witty portrait of the planetary god Mercury in the Testament (see especially lines 239, 242). A prominent article of Aesop's clothing is the camel's hair "chimar," (a loose, short robe) which is dyed a deep purple; the unusual color recalls the violets mentioned only a few lines earlier, but also Aesop's own purpurat verse style as evoked in the opening Prologue (lines 58, 1335).
1363–69 In spite of the stanza's abundant indications of paternal benevolence (sitting down beside the dreamer) and filial regard (the reverent mode of address), Henryson diplomatically asks his "gude maister" to identify himself, as if aware of the needs of his own audience even in the midst of his dream.
1370–74 Aesop's noble descent, Roman birth "withoutin nay," university education in civil law, and eternal salvation in heaven all contrast with the depiction in the printed Aesop of the author as a "dyfformed and evylle shapen" churl, unschooled but with a surprisingly "grete wytte" (Caxton fol. ii), a depiction reflected, for example, in the image of Aesop "the Phrygian" that is used in the frontispiece to the Bassandyne print of Henryson's Fables. Aesop is also a Roman "poyet laureate" for John Lydgate (Isopes Fabules, lines 8–14). The "cunning" clerk who appears earlier in the Fables is the wolf in The Trial of the Fox (lines 998, 1026).
1398–1403 "[T]aillis may lytill succour mak" in a corrupted world (line 1397), but with the most delicate courtesy, the dreamer can still persuade the laureate author to provide one more fable, in the hope that this one listener may yet carry away something that will help "heirefter"; as in his request for a curriculum vitae from Aesop, he is playing at being his own ideal reader — and, by implication, is assuring that reader that receiving and keeping the kernel of the fable may help mightily hereafter.
1431–46 "[T]he pleas of the mouse . . . deploy in small compass and with great felicity every possible argument to excuse the impertinence of the mice. In this stanza the disciplines of rhetoric and the bar combine to yield a delectably lively economy of utterance, clinched by the typically decisive final rhyme" (Burrow, "Dunbar," p. 115).
1449–53 The image of authority deserves the same respect as the person; on the one hand, the lion upholds the principle of the awe that should be shown to images of royalty; on the other, he cannot help implying that all authority is like a stuffed lionskin.
1460 On the punishment decreed for treason, see line 2634n.
1461–66 The central stanza of the forty-three comprising The Lion and the Mouse has at its center the appeal to the king to "mak thy mynd to mercy inclinate" (Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance, p. 198); the same emphasis occurs in the central line of the entire Fables, line 1488, the completion of a sentence recapitulating the proverb "Parcere prostratis scit nobilis ira leonis" (line 928n).
1475–78 Following Romulus, Henryson alludes to a classical triumph, "in which the honour gained by the victorious triumphator depends on the prestige of the captives who are displayed in his procession" (Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance, p. 198; compare Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 1.1.37–39). The mouse's point is that honor arises from the indomitability of one's adversary and does not redound to the victor who kills those who have surrendered to him.
1493 The mouse is reckoned scripturally among the unclean beasts (Leviticus 11:29).
1525 The "Quhyle . . . quhyle" pattern reduces the lion to a plight like those experienced by two mice in the Fables: the rural mouse in the paws of the cat, and the mouse struggling to keep afloat while tied to a frog (331–33n, 2929ff.n; compare 166ff.n).
1531–41 The lion gives vent to a formal complaint rhetorically and even verbally akin to those uttered by Cresseid (Testament, lines 407–10) and Orpheus (Orpheus, lines 134–83).
1558 The mice calling their female leader "brother" has perplexed Henryson's editors, who have adduced the demands of rhyme for explanation; still, the word may pertain to any fellow Christian, fellow member of a religious order or guild, or close friend (MED brother 3, 4); given the emphasis elsewhere in the Fables on members of religious communities protecting and correcting wayward secular authority (lines 991, 1118–24, 1616–19), the arresting detail of the possible sex-change demands the reader's attention.
1559–63 These mere rural mice are equipped and willing to get a king out of an insoluble bind; they are to be contrasted to the burgh mouse with her sensitive teeth (line 223n) and perhaps compared to the moralization on the mare whose duties are not to be disturbed by royal command (lines 1118–24n).
1566–69 Aesop's immediate conclusion is that the king's safety depends on the principle that the bestowal of mercy instills loyalty; the dreamer's request for "ane moralitie / In this fabill" does not indicate his obtuseness but rather his desire for a fuller explication of the signification of each of the narrative elements.
1573–79 Though this stanza has been taken to refer to James III (e.g., Nicholson, Scotland, pp. 500–20), it is couched in general terms. Henryson's accusation of sleuth does stick, however: rarely calling parliaments outside Edinburgh, James was unprecedentedly sedentary; he earned opposition by his sale of remissions to people convicted of robbery and murder (Walker, Legal History, p. 190; Macdougall, James III, pp. 160–80; Wormald, Court, pp. 10–12).
1580 Aesop is teaching the dreamer, and thus the reader, to interpret such seasonally "lowne and le" landscapes as allegories of mutability (compare lines 1321–27n).
1598–1600 The point of this textually complex passage (Textual Notes, line 1599n) is that by showing mercy, lords set an example for those "of small degree," so that the social damage and disruption involved in the retaliatory violence of the bloodfeud can be avoided through the kin offering and accepting kinbute (financial compensation for manslaughter or injury; DOST kinbut); as the master shows mercy and reason, so does the man. In fifteenth-century Scotland, kinbute is a traditional way of averting full-scale bloodfeud: it involves "the acceptance by the kin [of the person killed] of pecuniary compensation," analogous to wergild in Anglo-Saxon England. Still, kinbuit was a term "used more generally, for compensation for other kinds of losses" (Walker, Legal History, p. 616; Acts of the Parliament of Scotland 2.3.7 ).
1608–11 Though generally skeptical about specific political allegory in this fable, Gray comments that this stanza "strongly suggests a veiled reference to some well-known contemporary event . . . the generalizing 'oftymes hes bene sene' may suggest to some that it is a deliberate piece of mystification" (p. 143).
1615–19 Aesop assigns the dreamer a task to persuade, not the lords to be loyal to the king, but the kirkmen to pray that the lords remain loyal; it is a line of approach that suits a poet based in an ecclesiastical center like Dunfermline; such a poem properly addresses and instructs politically responsible churchmen.
1618 In 1482, a band of lords captured James III at Lauder. McKenna reviews the debate over whether this reference to unfaithful lords may allude to that event ("Legends of James III").
The Preaching of the Swallow
The principal source is Romulus 20 (A. Wright, Fables, pp. 63–65). Henryson adapts "his source markedly — adding new forms (the chanson d'aventure, the debate, the preaching), expanding the tale ('realistic' detail), omitting an incident that does not suit his purpose (the Swallow does not live with the Fowler)" (Jamieson, "Poetry," pp. 162–63).
1623–42 Studying the language and style of this passage, Jeremy J. Smith notes that it can exemplify the value of French terms to denote ethical and religious concepts (prudence, mervelous, profound, omnipotent, perfyte, ingenious), and "a marked tendency to adopt the characteristically French post-modifying adjective construction, even when a Germanic word is used as the headword: wirking mervelous." These stanzas exemplify Henryson's philosophical style, to be contrasted to the courtly manner in which the preceding fable began (lines 1321–27n) by its more "complex syntax, flagged by subordinating conjunctions and non-finite verb phrases acting as the predicators of subordinate clauses" ("Language of Older Scots Poetry," pp. 205–06).
1626–28 "[P]rudence, according to an ancient and widely received tradition, consists precisely in the ability to hold in mind not merely the present time, but also the past and the future" (Burrow, "Preaching," p. 154). The emphasis on the instantaneous divine perception of time is Boethian (Consolation 5.pr6).
1629 "The logic of Henryson's 'thairfoir' is that the 'presoun corporall' is a limitation placing man far beneath a God 'sa perfyte and sa ingenious'" (Schrader, "Henryson and Nominalism," p. 7; compare Eneados 10.prol.86–95); the furthest the shackled mind can go towards understanding divine wisdom, perhaps, is to employ fictional analogies drawn from creation, what Douglas calls "rude exemplys and figuris" (Eneados 10.prol.83), thereby making a virtue of necessity.
1636–40 The Aristotelean comparison between human reason and the weak eyesight of a noctural animal in the daylight (Metaphysics 2.1.3; compare 204n) here becomes elaborated into a miniature figure replete with naturalistic and regional detail; Henryson complicates the figure by having the bat venture forth in the gloming, in the vestiges of daylight, not quite in the nocturnal realm of fantasie. From another perspective, "The illusory 'reality' of the natural world prevents our seeing the true realities of God manifest in it" (Burrow, English Verse, p. 325).
1650–51 To illustrate the tradition from which Henryson derives his compensatory assurance that creation offers ways to perceive God's qualities, "the eclectic Sentences of Peter Lombard" have been cited ("For from the continuity of creatures the Maker is known to be eternal, from the greatness of creatures omnipotent, from order and arrangement wise, from governance good," 220.127.116.11.36, qtd. and trans. Schrader, "Henryson and Nominalism," p. 11).
1657–60 The firmament "represents the furthest limit of human perception" and the nearest approach to divine perfection. Concentric below it, the "spheres" — Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, the moon, all in their fixed paths — revolve around the earth. "All eight spheres are carried each day through one complete revolution from East to West by the Primum mobile, which contains them all, although their own proper motions are from West to East" (Burrow, English Verse, p. 326). From the "chirkinge of the mevinge of the cerclis and of roundnesse of hevene . . . cometh most swete melodye and acorde" (Bartholomaeus VIII.17, Seymour-Smith, On the Properties of Things, 1:493); Henryson returns to the theme of this music in Orpheus (lines 218–39n), though he avoids mentioning it in the darker cosmology of the Testament.
1661 The descent and consequent degradation of order is inscribed in the descending sequence of the four elements, "since the movement of the passage is from God to man" (Fox, ed., p. 278); compare Testament, line 147n.
1663 Glimpsed thus, God perfects the author function, a connection that the theologian Hugh of St. Victor characterized thus: "the whole world which is knowne by sence is as it were a booke written with the fynger of God . . . and every the creatures be as it were certaine letters . . . ordeyned by the judgement of God, to make knowne, and as it were after a certaine maner to signify the invysible wisdome of God" (Patrologia Latina 176.814; sixteenth-century English trans. qtd. Gray, p. 125).
1671–74 In a passage abounding with commonplace scriptural echoes, these lines make especially prominent and explicit allusions to Wisdom 9:2 (God "fitted human beings to rule the creatures") and 11:20 (God "ordered all things by measure, number, and weight"), the latter "a key text in medieval cosmology" (Burrow, English Verse, p. 327n53); at the virtual nadir of the descent of meaning and order, humanity is also depicted as its focus.
1675 Attention shifts toward order in seasonal time; Boethius is an important source for the concept that the cycle of the seasons exemplifies divine benevolence (Consolation 4.m4).
1692–1705 In the Prologue to Book 7 of his Eneados, Douglas responds enthusiastically to Henryson's set-piece descriptions of the onset of winter, here and in lines 1832–38: see, for example, Douglas' variation on the topic of the stripping of the leaves:
Of Aeolus, god of the winds, Priscilla Bawcutt comments that "[i]n Scottish tradition he absorbs the character of Boreas, the north wind" (Poems of William Dunbar, 2:397).
The grond stud barrant, widderit, dosk or gray,
Herbis, flowris and gersis wallowyt away.
Woddis, forestis, with nakyt bewis blowt,
Stude stripyt of thar weid in every howt.
barren, withered, dark
bare, barren branches
Stood stripped; garments; forest
1697–98 The detail of the birds' mourning in winter foreshadows the events of the fable (lines 1836–38); compare the winter scene in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in which the knight is "Ner slayn wyth the slete" and "mony bryddez unblythe upon bare twyges . . . pitosly ther piped for pyne of the colde" (lines 729; 746–47). Gower, by comparison, couches the effects of seasonal change on avian behavior in terms of the myth of Philomela, the bare trees of winter intensifying the shamed nightingale's wish to hide (CA 5.5946–53; compare lines 1832–38). Douglas amplifies this detail in his description of winter:
Smale byrdis, flokkand throu thik ronys thrang1707–08 The depiction of spring as the servant of summer is an original twist on the personification of the seasons: as the chief servitor and representative, spring bears the official insignia and thus ensures everything is ready for the arrival of his lord the summer (line 1681); still, Henryson draws back from too close an association between the increasingly pleasant scene and the theme usually associated with it, of kingship (compare 1321–27n): to see the clay underneath the wild columbine is to recognize that this is not the courtly pleasant place (lines 1713–19n).
In chyrmyng and with cheping changit thar sang
Sekand hidlis and hyrnys thame to hyde
Fra feirfull thuddis of the tempestuus tyde
[Small birds, flocking through thickly overgrown bushes
Into chirping and cheeping change their song
Seeking hiding-places and nooks to hide themselves
From terrifying gusts of the stormy season]
1710–11 "The small birds of the vivid descriptio of spring take their place in the spring opening of the story, to become later [line 1730 and following] its chief actors. The same spring which is the last of one series of seasons becomes the first of another" (Burrow, "Preaching," p. 153). The passage bears comparison with the depiction of the birds in the Prologue to Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, except that Chaucer's birds anticipate the fate still in store for Henryson's:
1713 Echoes of the Prologue to Langland's Piers Plowman cluster in this fable, here to the opening line, "In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne"; see also line 1775 (compare Piers Plowman Prol.6, "Me bifel a ferly, of Fairye me thoghte"; Burrow, English Verse, p. 332n153–4).
The smale foules, of the sesoun fayn,
That from the panter and the net ben scaped,
Upon the fouler, that hem made awhaped
In wynter, and distroyed hadde hire brood,
In his dispit, hem thoghte yt did hem good
To synge of hym, and in hir song despise
The foule cherl that, for his coveytise,
Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.
1713–19 The poet's motives contrast with those that impel Amans into the wood at the outset of CA, "Noght for to singe with the briddes" (1.111) but to lament his misfortune in love. Like the figure of the poet in Chaucer's Prologue to the Legend of Good Women (G 40–50), Henryson's visitor to the springtime scene wants to hear the birds and see the flowers and "the soill that wes richt sessonabill," a collocation that, like the "clay" previously (lines 1707–08n), recalls the trope in the Prologue of the soil as the ground for the text (lines 8–14n).
1725 Those "that luifit corne" include both birds and farmers; in the hard world of this fable, that shared love does not draw them into harmony but pits them in competition.
1729 Typically shrubby, its blossoms an early sign of spring, the hawthorn tree provides cover in several Middle English and Middle Scots poems to observe unusual goings-on undetected (e.g., Winner and Wastoure, line 36; Dunbar, Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo, line 14). Gray comments on the "magical reputation of the tree" (p. 89n19).
1734 Associations between swallows and prophecy were available to Henryson (Isidore, Etymologiae, XII.vii.70, p. 268; Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum naturale 16.97.1213, qtd. Hill, "Hirundines Habent Prescium," p. 30). In scholastic commentaries on Romulus, the swallow is commonly interpreted to be a preacher (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, p. 169). In her exhortation to her flock to work the soil for their own future well-being (line 1750), the swallow, like the poet (lines 8–14n), is also a teacher.
1741 Henryson infuses significance into varieties of laughter: often, as here, a laugh or derisive chuckle bespeaks an assumption of superiority and a lowering of one's guard — a spontaneously revealed failure to recognize what is at stake (e.g., lines 446, 684, 1054; compare line 2329); compare line 1558n.
1754 Disticha Catonis 2.24: "Prospice qui veniant, hos casus esse ferendos; / Nam levius laedit, quidquid praevidimus ante." The swallow has already provided a translation (lines 1738–40). Burrow comments that this maxim "stands at the mathematical centre of the poem . . . excluding the Moralitas. . . . Perhaps it was Henryson's custom, when expounding this passage of [Romulus] in the school at Dunfermline, to use the parallel with Cato as a way of introducing discussion of the fable's moral significance" ("Preaching," pp. 157–58).
1755–58 The passage, as Schrader points out, is strongly Boethian (Consolation 2.pr1, qtd. Fox, ed., p. 282). Burrow translates lines 1757–58 thus: "But prudence is an interior process of reasoning (?) which makes a man foresee in advance and observe" (English Verse, p. 331n136–7).
1763 As Burrow notes, most of these proverbs will come to pass in ways that lead to the destruction of the lark and her fellows (English Verse, p. 332).
1825–31 The fowler and his wife follow an ancient procedure in the making of flax (Fox, ed., pp. 283–84). The pods are raked off at the outset in order to harvest the seeds for oil and planting. While many medieval flax-makers retted the stalks in troughs, the burn is convenient for the purpose here. The stalks are then beaten, scraped and raked to extract the fibers, which are spun into thread. The documentary realism of this passage, conveyed by a poet who seems entirely conversant with the activity he is summarizing, forms a precedent for the authenticity in the depiction of rural life in the next two fables, as for instance the description of ploughing in The Fox, the Wolf, and the Husbandman (lines 2233–43n).
1846–50 Roerecke contrasts the birds' scraping to the ignorant rooster's search for food in the first fable ("Integrity and Symmetry," pp. 92–96); unlike the rooster, the flock has been taught to read the signs; these birds' "persistence in error, then, is obviously perverse and thus the more blameable" (p. 110).
1887 The abruptness may pertain to the violent catastrophe, after which a return to the consolatory mode of the prologue to the fable would been ill-advised (McKenna, Henryson's Tragic Vision, p. 189).
1890 Work that is autentik is of enduring importance (DOST); it involves truth unadorned by a surface of fiction; compare lines 1013 and 2971–72 for the further possibility that the purveyors of such authenticity are not always to be trusted.
1897 The devil is often depicted as a fowler, and not least when a bird is speaking: Dunbar's blackbird advises "every man that he / With lufe nocht in the feindis net be tone" (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, poem 24, lines 101–02; compare Chaucer, Legend of Good Women F Prol.130–37, qtd. lines 1710–11n). Of particular relevance in the comparison is the depiction of the devil as sower of tares (compare lines 366–70; Matthew 12:25), but the reference to the devil as a fallen angel (compare lines 596–99) conveys a motive of particular envy for the birds, which are still blessed with the capacity to fly upwards.
1902–08 By the fifteenth century, the analysis of the process of sin into three parts was conventional; compare Chaucer's Parson's Tale: "deedly synne hath, first, suggestion of the feend . . . and afterward, the delit of the flessh . . . and after that the consentynge of resoun" (CT X[I]330–35).
1904 Note the antitype here to the sprouts of knowledge and eloquence in the Prologue to the Fables (lines 10–12n).
1908 As elsewhere in the Fables, the moral implications of human behavior cause fact and fiction to converge: habit likens humanity to the brutall beistis (line 397; compare lines 54–56, 215–17; see also 786–88n).
1921 The ungodly are conventionally compared to chaff or dust in the wind (e.g., Psalms 1:4, 35:5); adjacent to one such comparison is a no less relevant analogy between ephemerality and the flight of a bird (Wisdom 5:14; compare 5:10).
1932 The memorably grisly image of the grave as the worms' kitchen neatly achieves an inversion of worldly values: it is a mark of social distinction to be served from a kitchen.
1949 Fellowship with the angels in heaven articulates a factor to the delight of this fable: the energetic flight of the birds draws out the more fiendish aspects of the fowler's hatred for them (line 1897n).
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger
Arthur Richard Diebler identified a source for this fable to be Roman de Renart, branche 14, episode 10 (Henrisone's Fabeldichtungen, pp. 65–68). Henryson appears to have been especially inventive here; his "account merely follows the outlines of the story" (Jamieson, "Poetry," 242–43). Agreeing that the two versions resemble each other only slightly, Fox speculates that "Henryson may well have known an oral version" (ed., p. 289).
1955 Anger is the element in which the characters of this fable operate: the wolf, who is its principal exponent at the outset, seems to pass it to the fox, who takes offense at having to swear an oath of loyalty (line 2023); and by stealing the fish and then cursing his victim, the fox passes it along to the cadger (line 2098); it is not until the penultimate fable, The Wolf and the Lamb, that the wolf again becomes chiefly identified by wrath. The association between rage and wind present in breith returns in the simile for the cadger's anger, "wraith as ony wind" (line 2168; compare Dunbar, "I maister Andro Kennedy," line 26).
1956 The alliterative collocation "feud or favor" recurs in Scots, most early in official documents (DOST fede, n.1c; compare 2165).
1962 Elsewhere in the Fables, foxes are called Lowrence or Lowrie (429n); here, the name Russell appears for the only time in the work (compare CT VII[B2]3334). The wolf may be making a clumsy pun on the expression russat gray, meaning "undyed homespun cloth" (line 679, Orpheus line 158), in which case he is alluding to the fox's comparative poverty; or he may be using russel, meaning "red thing" (MED russel, n.a; DOST russell, 2n), as in "you gray red thing"; if so, this is the first of several references to actual or supposed characteristics of the animal (compare lines 1982n, 1991, 2001) — the fox tends to have a silver-gray cast to the fur on its haunches and under its tail.
1966–68 As steward, the fox is to be the wolf's chief executive officer, though the term can be used, as in England, to refer to a household administrator responsible for provisions. The term also has high political associations, the Stewart of Scotland being the "officer of state next after the king," and, since Robert II, a title of the king's eldest son (DOST stewart). The parodic usage of the term is compounded by the fox's reluctance; he is compelled to take his place as a tricky servitor, not, as in The Cock and the Fox, as an outcome of his flattery, but at the insistence of the wolf; strategically or not, Lowrence plays hard to get.
1967 The expression "knap doun caponis" recalls a line from the Scots burlesque romance Rauf Coilyear, "Knap doun capounis of the best, but in the byre" ("Knock down some of the best capons out in the barn," line 111); perhaps the wolf is being associated in passing with the boorish, overbearing hero of that romance, who is calling for the capons; the echoic knap begins a sequence of vividly rendered sounds in this fable: swak (lines 2076, 2146), swakkit (line 2081), trimmillit (line 2098), hakkit (line 2103), battis (line 2182), dungin (line 2196).
1982 Foxes are notorious for their odor, emitted from glands under the tale and on the feet; again, as with the verbal echoing of sounds noted above (line 1967n), the representation of the keen sensory apprehension of the world, this time through smell, conveys both danger and desire; compare line 2030.
1997 This is one of several instances in the Fables in which a proverb rebounds upon its user (e.g., lines 102n, 1031–33n, 1763n, 2063–69n). See Whiting F49.
2000–06 The fox's disinclination to fish makes an allusion to The Fox and the Wolf, in another situation in which penance is required and dodged (lines 719–21); the fox in that fable was killed, which may suggest that chronology has not been maintained — or, more significantly, that all foxes are the same in regard to penance and fishing. MacQueen notes the relation between the numerical structure of the fable and the season of Lent: forty stanzas for forty days ("Lent" p. 117; compare line 248n and lines 2034, 2120, 2153).
2002 The size of a minnow, the stickleback has spines on its back and armor plates on its sides; it would not make an appetizing morsel for a fox, let alone a wolf.
2010 Bawcutt translates the line thus: "You expect to manipulate me, playing with me as if I were a cat that would chase a straw" (Poems of William Dunbar, 2:364).
2021–22 "The additional oath of loyalty demanded by the Wolf is particularly relevant to fifteenth-century Scottish circumstances; in effect it is a bond of manrent" (MacQueen, "Lent," p. 115); on such bonds between lords and servitors, see lines 438–40n.
2025–27 "Errour of naciouns and feynynges of poetis menen that Jubiter was highest fadir of goddis" (Bartholomaeus VIII.12, Seymour-Smith, On the Properties of Things, 1:480); to swear by Jupiter is to swear falsely; compare lines 2869–71.
2028 The spelling cadgear is typical of late sixteenth-century MSc orthography; the spellings current in the 1490s are cagger, kegger. Henryson's is the earliest use of the word in Scots (DOST, cadge(a)r, cage(a)r).
2042 In English, the pejorative significance of pelf is taken to emerge in the sixteenth century (OED pelf, n); In "Abbey Walk" the expression "warldlie pelf" (line 51) is used with such a connotation, which may be an indication of the poem's having been written by someone other than Henryson. Here, the fox means it to refer admiringly and avidly to prospectively stolen goods.
2045 not worth ane fle. Proverbial. See Whiting F263. Compare Fables, line 2286.
2046 Bawcutt and Riddy note "a subdued irony, since the bee is usually a type of honest industry" (Longer Scottish Poems, p. 364).
2052–55 The "unliklie" posture of the fox playing dead inspires the cadger to dance his grotesque little jig of triumph (lines 2060–62); the exchange of emotions and sensory experiences, noted above as a narrative technique in this fable (lines 1967n, 1982n) appears to be realized in an exchange of distorted gestures, which in turn will ensnare the wolf (lines 2161–67); the sequence represents a development of the technique employed in the depiction of the exaggerated pose the fox urges on Chantecleir (lines 462–80) and of the languorous loll affected by the fox himself just before he is shot (757–60n).
2063–69 The mishandling of proverbs indicates the supreme readiness of the speaker for a comeuppance (e.g., 1997n): the cadger mangles two sayings in rapid succession: the devil seldom lies dead in a ditch and the fox prospers when the farmer's wife curses him (Fox, ed., p. 293; Bawcutt and Riddy, Longer Scottish Poems, p. 364).
2074 Though not as economically important as wool, hides were a staple of Scottish trade with Flanders (Whyte, Scotland before the Industrial Revolution, pp. 59, 73–74).
2083 The rousing morning song "Hunt's up" was being sung in England in the early sixteenth century (OED hunt's-up); Henryson's is the earliest reference, though, as in English, there are several occurrences in sixteenth-century Scots (DOST hunt n.1.b). The word hunt to refer to the pursuit rather than the pursuer is earliest attested in Scots, although a strikingly early English example appears in Chaucer (CT I[A]2628).
2089 The word nekhering has two meanings in Scots: a heavy hit to the nape of the neck (a translation of the Latin colaphus) and a kind of herring, the shad (Latin collacus; DOST nekhering).
2127 The appeal to the senses produces a redolent line: callour is an adjective applied to fine salmon in which the flesh is richly flecked with jellied fat (MED calver; compare OED calver a. and v.); the simile of the partridge's eye "might be used appropriately to describe the glistening skin of a fresh-caught salmon" (Fox, ed., p. 296). The key to all this distracting vividness of sensory appeal is that it is entirely a ruse — the fox is conjuring up a fantasy fish for the greedily willful wolf.
2154 In principio, "In the beginning," the opening words of both Genesis and the Gospel of John, used as a greeting by begging friars and as a charm (CT I(A)254; Bloomfield, "Magic of In Principio," pp. 559–65). This detail of satire against the friars reverses the roles played in The Fox and the Wolf.
2189–90 The proverb is borne out by the wolf's comeuppance but not by the fox's success; the discrepancy is resolved in the Moralitas, in which the fox is the supreme trickster, the world (line 2205; compare lines 2063–69n).
2228 The proverb (Whiting P421, 423) clinches the sensory appeal and its disastrous frustration traced in the language and narrative structure of the fable: lured by the worldly fox, the wolf and the cadger have proceeded without perception and have come to confusion.
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Husbandman
A source for this fable has been identified in Steinhöwel's Esopus (8.10; Lyall, "Henryson's Moral Fabillis," p. 375) or one of its translations; in Steinhöwel, this is the tenth in a series of in twelve fables derived from a widely-distributed compilation, the Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alfonsi. Fox adds that "the greater part of Henryson's version is original: it is only the bare bones of the plot and a few details which can be parallelled in the earlier works" (ed., p. 300).
2233–43 The documentary precision of this description of ploughing with oxen creates the impression of a strong contrast with the preceding fable with its dizzying sensory appeal; looking back across that tale of illusion, this opening recalls the description of flax-making in The Preaching of the Swallow (lines 1825–31n).
2234 "Streiking tyme" ("ploughing time") is ambiguous: this could be autumn (as soon as late August), early winter, or early spring; the simile of the angry hare (line 2242n) may imply the latter. However, if the fox's vision of a "somer cheis" (line 2355) indicates the freshness of the item, the autumn would make better sense.
2235, 2241 The ploughman's view of the furrow contrasts with that of the burgh mouse, toiling "Fra fur to fur" in search of her sister (line 185).
2237 The ploughman's religious interjection Benedicité deserves comparison with the earlier misuse of this holy greeting (line 693n). Perhaps the world of this fable is not so far after all from one in which a wolf in friar's clothing blesses a possibly penitent fox, or in which a supposedly solicitous fox utters In principio as a charm to avert bad luck (line 2154n). The opening realism may be nothing but a ruse; after all, the complete hoax of the big cheese lies ahead.
2242 The Scots proverbial depiction of the hare as an epitome of anger corresponds to the expression more usual in English, "mad as a March hare" (Fox, ed., p. 301).
2246 Compared to Steinhöwel and Petrus Alfonsi, in both of which versions the fox is a latecomer to the dispute, here the fox is at the center of the scene from the outset; "it is Lowrence who instigates the action, encouraging the Wolf to take the Husbandman's cursing of his oxen seriously" (Lyall, "Henryson's Moral Fabillis," p. 366); the same decisive shift of focus toward the fox occurs when he volunteers to judge the dispute (line 2310).
2251 The wolf will treat the plowman's words as if they were as binding as a king's verbum or judgment (Hill, "Stet Verbum Regis," p. 129), a position made valid by the medieval perception that "the mental faculty most readily associated with promises was not intention but will"; in other words, "one was felt to be answerable for the performative power of one's own words even when one had no intention of making them perform anything" (Green, Crisis of Truth, pp. 310, 312). An outcome of the wolf's position is that the plowman is placed on equal footing with the sovereign in terms of the weight of his utterances; a moral lesson about controlling one's speech is implicit, but so is a political one about the responsibilities shared by individuals at all ranks in society. In effect, integrity is true nobility; compare Testament, lines 551–53n.
2253–54 At this point, Henryson's phrasing resembles that found in several versions of Steinhöwel's Esopus, Caxton's among them: "And whanne the nyght was come / the labourer vnbonde his oxen / and lete them goo to his hows / And thenne whanne the wulf sawe them comynge homeward . . ." (Lenaghan, Caxton's Aesop, p. 206; qtd. Lyall, "Henryson's Moral Fabillis," p. 367).
2255 The wolf is depicted with a limp; with Henryson's depiction of the "hirpilland hair" in mind (line 903n), one might suppose that the wolf is ready to be "angrie as ane hair," as the plowman was previously (line 2242n); but more likely this awkward pace indicates his hesitancy to approach the man, even now that the hour is "weill lait" (line 2253); the same can be said for the lourand approach of the fox when he emerges from cover (line 2294).
2259 Gray comments that "We feel no more surprised when the wolf accosts the husbandman . . . than we do in the ballad when Thomas the Rhymer meets the Queen of fair Elfland. This is the result of a confident and consummate skill in narrative art" (p. 82).
2270 The plank, a coin of small value, was first minted in Scotland about 1470 (DOST plak, n.). The occurrence of the word offers evidence of a date after which the fable was written or at least revised; compare the date of publication of the Aesopic tradition likeliest to have provided its source — Steinhöwel (1476–77), translated into French by Macho (1480), translated in turn into English by Caxton (1483–84).
2280–83 Again (compare line 2251n) the wolf insists on the fundamental parity between the word of a lord and that of a farmer.
2285–86 But lawte . . . nocht worth ane fle. Proverbial. See Whiting F263. Compare Fables, line 2045.
2329 In the role of a judge, Lowrence exemplifies the corruption of the office depicted in The Sheep and the Dog (line 1265n); see also line 1741n on the possible significance of the fox's laugh.
2332 Lowrence's allusion to the scriptural theme of the sleep of God underscores the relation between the present parody of judicial procedure and that which is featured in The Sheep and the Dog, in the Moralitas to which it was the suffering victim who cried out "O lord, quhy sleipis thow sa lang?" (lines 1286–1320n). Now the sleep of God is complacently assumed by the wicked.
2335 The Wife of Bath also uses this proverb (CT III[D]415).
2346 To rave "unrocked" is to act wildly without provocation (DOST rok v.). In The Testament of the Papyngo, Lyndsay uses the phrase in a Henrysonian dialogue between scavenging birds (line 969). The repeated association between the expression and lowlife characters suggests that it is markedly coarse, a quality Henryson sharpens by Lowrence's uttering it in the same breath as a blasphemous oath (OED rock v1.6a; DOST rok v. 2; compare Orpheus line 284).
2362 The comparison between the worthless outcome of further dispute and a withered turnip has its counterpoise in a cheese promised to be "Quhyte as ane neip" ("white as a turnip," line 2395), especially when that cheese is later moralized as the vice of covetousness (line 2448).
2392 Though the expression "shadow of the moon" has been taken as evidence that Henryson had read Caxton's version of the fable (Jamieson, "Poetry," p. 257; MacQueen, Robert Henryson, p. 219), the word schadow is "Henryson's normal term for 'reflection', or 'reflected image' (compare Testament, line 348)" (Fox, ed., p. 306).
2408 As in the preceding fable, the fox lures the wolf into the final stage of the trick by appealing to his superior strength (compare lines 2124–25).
2418–19 The question whether Henryson copied "if one goes up, the other must come down" from Caxton can be answered by noting that this proverb is widely distributed by the late fifteenth century and would have occurred to more than one reteller of this fable (Whiting B575).
2427–30 As noted above (line 1955n), Henryson gives much more prominence to the wicked oppression of the wolf in his version of The Wolf and the Lamb (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, p. 183).
2437–39 Scholars have often expressed perplexity with the apparent arbitrariness of the interpretations offered in this Moralitas. Foremost among the problematic details is the identification of the hens with the good works by which a medieval Christian avoids falling into the devil's clutches. Kratzmann regards the topic of the hens as "ridiculously far-fetched," speculates about its "playful mockery," and, relenting, concludes that "Henryson manages to have it both ways, and to give the game a serious edge" ("Henryson's Fables," p. 67; for further comment, see Lyall, "Henryson's Moral Fabillis" p. 371). Jamieson speculates that Protestant revision has been so extensive that it is not even "certain that we have Henryson's own moralitas to this fable," at least in regard to specific details ("Poetry," p. 272). Wheatley is less disturbed by the hens: "Much ink has been spent deriding the allegory of the hens as good deeds; scholastic commentators recurrently gloss various characters in fables thus" (Mastering Aesop, p. 184).
The Wolf and the Wether
Steinhöwel's Esopus and its translations contain the source for this fable (5.15; Perry no. 703).
2465 The simile is a conventional indication of the pallor and gauntness of grief (Orpheus, line 350; DOST wed(e n.2).
2471 The shepherd's lament may have burlesque associations: darling is a word typical of love and marriage, as when Troilus mourns Cresseid, "sumtyme his awin darling" (Testament, line 504) or Pertok bewails the loss of Chantecleir, "our drowrie and our dayis darling" (line 497).
2472–73 The decision to leave home and wander into the countryside has penitential undertones; compare the burgh mouse going to visit her sister (lines 180–87).
2475 The verb schute establishes the threat of deadly violence (DOST s(c)hute v.1.b) but later (line 2567) signals the success of coarse humor in reversing that threat.
2480–89 "[T]he sheep disguised in a dog's skin is a living and comic image of the meaning hidden within the deceptive outer form of fiction" (Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance, p. 194; compare lines 15–16n); it is also a reminder of the assertion made by the lion in The Lion and the Mouse, that the image of power — a skin stuffed with straw — should be honored as much as the powerful person whose image it represents (lines 1449–53n); in the recurrence of the theme, Henryson is not far from King Lear's dog in office.
2495 The collocation "wanton of his weed" may appear to suggest that the ram becomes self-indulgent or extravagant because of his new clothes; more likely, this is an early example of the word to refer to insolence or even mercilessness (OED wanton a.4b. compare 5a.; MED wantoun a, b); his declared lack of fear for the wolf reveals that his appearance has made a fool of him already.
2518–25 Alliteration and "carefully chosen visual details" heighten the rendering of violent action (Gray, p. 106); the passage deserves comparison with the description of an earlier dog-chase (lines 551–53n).
2537 In the landscape of the chase, the rekill appears to mark a boundary between farmland and wilderness; the peats would be stacked after being dug out from the bog (lines 827–28n). Now the chase is in the wolf's territory.
2555–56 The topic of mingled play and earnest, which now gains prominence in the final stages of the narration (lines 2558, 2560, 2564, 2577, 2583) is initiated by the wolf; he sees the game as an instrument of scorne that will lower his standing.
2575 The ram's excuse that he intended no harm to the person of the wolf makes clear that he understands the damage done thereby to the respect owed the wolf; his only excuse, a feeble one, is that he did not intend to cause this damage.
2584 "The wolf is more upset about his little accident than anything, and returns to it again and again; it seems he cannot get over the needless indignity of it. (He is a gentleman, after all)" (Pearsall, Chaucer, p. 497; compare lines 2562–63, 2567).
2588 Wondering how to distinguish between surface ornament and meaningful core in this stanza, MacQueen calls it "one of the most Lydgatean stanzas [Henryson] ever wrote" (Robert Henryson, p. 186); Mehl compares it to the stanza at the start of the Moralitas to The Cock and the Fox and adds that "in both cases there is a certain self-consciousness and a contrast of tone that is quite unlike Lydgate" ("Robert Henryson's Moral Fables," p. 98); after the sudden violence of the previous stanza, this ceremonious retreat into latinate abstraction is diplomatic and prepares for the safely orthodox meaning about to be derived from the fable; high rhetorical style is being donned like a robe of office.
2598–2601 That an overweening "pure man" can "counterfute ane lord in all degree" indicates a flaw in the system of badges of rank, one that can be repaired only by its expansion to an unsustainable prominence ("clym sa hie") and a subsequent correction through inversion ("tit thair heillis over thair heid"). Events in fifteenth-century Scotland bore out this principle: for example, under James I, the Parliament of 1430 passed an act that "grouped persons into classes of society and prescribed the permitted standards of dress for each" (Walker, Legal History, p. 183).
2599 Compare lines 371–72.
2610–11 For Pearsall, "there seems a particular uneasiness in the relation of fable and Moralitas when the reference is to social rather than religious obligations" (Chaucer, p. 498). However, the moral might also be seen as a counter to the situation of the previous fable, with which it is closely linked in terms of their common source in Steinhöwel; the potentially inexpedient emphasis there on a nobility based on integrity rather than blood is here covered by an insistence on the necessity for rigidly maintained ranks. But in his bodily reaction to fear, the lordly wolf has already submitted perforce to the common circumstances of animal nature, in a memorable reduction of natural equality into parity with beasts (lines 48–50).
The Wolf and the Lamb
The Fables return to their principal source, Romulus: De lupo et agno ("The Wolf and the Lamb") is the second in the Latin sequence (A. Wright, Fables, pp. 26–28). The simple, long-established narrative elicits special inventiveness in the Moralitas, "although of course the fable was commonly used to show how the powerful unjustly oppress the poor" (Fox, ed., p. 315). Henryson's foregrounding of dialogue has been likened to Lydgate's in his version of the fable (Davenport, Medieval Narrative, p. 90); however, Lydgate begins with the wolf's accusatory comparison between the "false and double" lamb and his "contrary" father (lines 260–66); Lydgate's lamb, much less eloquent than Henryson's, simply repeats helplessly that he stood downstream (lines 272–84; Lydgate, Minor Poems, 2:574–76). Dialogue is central to all versions deriving from Romulus, including those of Marie de France (Fables, pp. 32–35) and Odo of Cheriton (Jacobs, Fables, p. 95).
2634 Drawing (being dragged to the gallows) and hanging constituted a punishment notoriously enacted by Edward I in Scotland for treason; as perpetuated under Robert I, it has been deemed "less brutal than the contemporary English practice in that it omitted disembowelling and quartering of the victims' bodies, but was grim enough" (Walker, Legal History, p. 528; see also Bellamy, Law of Treason, p. 23; Walker, Legal History, pp. 85, 88; Fables, line 1460).
2650 The Ergo reveals the logician in sheep's clothing: evidently the lamb has been well-schooled; all the more does he irritate the wolf.
2657–61 Compare lines 1191–94; in the order in which they appear in the sixteenth-century prints, the order followed in this edition, the generational progression of relationships and hostilities — the rising feuds of the fable world — take form.
2663–68 The lamb proceeds to a higher level of authority, citing Ezekiel 18 on the limits of retribution.
2672 The question whether the father's guilt is visited upon the son opens up a scriptural discrepancy that the wolf is quick to exploit in his allusion to Exodus 20:5; St. Thomas Aquinas comments on the conflicting interpretations of guilt (Summa theologiae I–II, q.81, a.2; qtd. Fox, ed., p. 317); in insisting on the unforgiving pursuit of vengeance from generation unto generation, the wolf is upholding the principle of the feud.
2676–78 The wolf's accusation that the lamb's father planned to poison the water advances his attack on three fronts: it makes a distractingly scandalous diversion from the minutiae of textual debate (in which the lamb has already demonstrated his skill), a tactical response to the lamb's assertion that his lips are not contagious but sweit (lines 2652, 2654), and a sharpening of the actual charge according to Scots criminal law, the Poison Acts of 1450 having made the importation of such substances a capital crime (Walker, Legal History, pp. 527; 550, note 58).
2693–94 In a striking personification, the wolf is accusing the lamb of "intruding reason" as if the action were like asserting the right of a false claimant for a property; this "propertie" should be shared by those already in possession, the wolf's preferred "wrang and reif." Laying aside all his previous fantastic theories about spewing poison and the crimes of the father (lines 2672 and following), the wolf now declares that the real treason is that the lamb's insistence on mercy, reuth, is overturning the custom of crueltie in these parts.
2702 The grim parody of the Mass renders the wolf's inversion of values blatant.
2716 The wielders of "polished terms" are here the corrupt lawyers; the only other occurrence of the phrase in the Fables is in the Prologue (line 3), in which it refers to "feinyeit fabils of ald poetre"; blending terms is what poets do, like lawyers; it is an activity that mirrors the nature of existence in the world, with adversity intermellit with joy (line 368n); and, like fine clothes on the backs of churls, it often produces confusion and corruption (lines 2598–2601n); the theme reemerges in the first part of the Moralitas to The Paddock and the Mouse (lines 2910–25, 2912n.; compare Testament line 241).
2728–34 Landlords' oppression of tenants is a topic of complaint in Middle Scots poetry, occurring, for example in Dunbar, "Efter geving I speik of taking" (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, poem 46, lines 11–20; 2:382).
2745–48 Though the Leases Act (1449) and Diligence Act (1469) had done much to alleviate the problems of tenants, legal disputes over landlords' wrongful claims were rife in later fifteenth-century Scotland (Walker, Legal History, pp. 676–80); one such case, in Traquair (south of Edinburgh, some distance from Dunfermline) involved a group of tenants that included a Robert Henryson (Mathews, "Land," p. 46).
The Paddock and the Mouse
For his source, Henryson turns to the fable immediately following De lupo et agno in Romulus, De mure et rana ("The Mouse and the Frog"; A. Wright, Fables, pp. 29–31). The Moralitas follows the tradition of the commentaries in focusing on key elements of the narrative: "Henryson has taken the image of the paddock and mouse struggling in the water and then caught up unawares by the kite, and has made it into a powerful and gloomy symbol for man's earthly life" (Fox, ed., p. 325).
2785 Given its aquatic setting, the paddok (OED paddock n.1: pad n.1 + the diminutive suffix -ock; MED paddok(e n.) is not a toad but a frog, "watery and morische, crying and slymy, with a grete wombe and ysplekked therunder and is venemous and abhominable therfore to men and most yhated. And bothe in water and in londe he lyveth" (Bartholomaeus XVIII.91, Seymour-Smith, On the Properties of Things, 2:1243).
2795–97 Compare the burgh mouse's refusal of her sister's rustic meal (lines 222–23); a reluctance to work one's way through nutshells suggests a parallel reluctance to see beyond the surface of things (lines 15–16n).
2830 In the Flyting with Walter Kennedie, Dunbar recalls this sentiment, "Thocht I wald lie, thy frawart phisnomy / Dois manifest thy malice to all men" (lines 81–82); perhaps the mouse is so easily deflected from her justifiable suspicion because she bases it solely upon the frog's physiognomy.
2832 A translation (line 2830) anticipates the Latin proverb (Walther, Proverbia Sententiaeque Latinitatis Medii Aevi, no. 6026).
2842 The frog is alluding not to Absalon in the Miller's Tale but to the biblical Absalom, the handsome, rebellious son of King David (2 Samuel 13–19).
2865 The "murthour aith" is recorded only here and in line 2884; the phrase seems to refer to a pledge to protect the life of one for whom one is undertaking a service of carriage: Walker notes that such oaths were considered binding by both divine and natural law (Legal History, p. 600).
2869–71 MacQueen reads this oath "subjecting the pair to the god of nature" as an emblem of "the binding together of body and soul" (Complete and Full with Numbers, p. 97); compare lines 2025–27n.
2892 Compare lines 331–33n, 1525n.
2896 "The kite is evoked with the same kind of savagery as the fiendish churl in The Preaching of the Swallow" (Kratzmann, "Henryson's Fables," p. 64). Throughout the fables, Henryson's birds of prey (compare gled and graip, lines 1175–79n) have been scavengers; the Scottish poet refuses to emulate Chaucer's interest in noble eagles and hawks.
2901 The kite "hath a voys of pleynynge and of mone as it were messenger of hungir, for when he hungrith he sechith his mete pewlynge with voys of pleynynge and of mone" (Bartolomaeus XII.27; Seymour-Smith, On the Properties of Things, 1:635).
2903–05 In his translation of this fable, Seamus Heaney mutes the alliteration but does not soften the grisliness of this climactic passage:
That butcher disembowelled them with his bill,2904 From this starkly memorable line, it is possible to look back at what Rosemary Greentree describes as a "recurring motif . . . that of stripping away the outer covering, in a metaphorical or a literal sense. . . . Thus the literal references to skinning and stripping carry at least the threat of death, and we see a change in the creatures affected as the Fables proceed" (Reader, pp. 79–80; compare 15–16n, lines 774, 812, 1309, 1450).
Flayed them, stripped the skin off inside out
Like taking off a sock, but guts and all,
Their flesh only half-filled that greedy kite.
2910–33 The first three stanzas of the Moralitas are in the ballade with refrain (ababbcbC), the stanza used for the Moralitas to The Two Mice (lines 365–96); as there, Henryson varies the phrasing in the refrain. The ballade befits a passage in which the moralization is straightforward and static: avoid committing yourself to a dishonest partner; many have been ruined by such relationships; it is better to be alone than to be bound in such a partnership — Henryson properly refers to the passage as "This simpill counsall" (line 2930). Nevertheless, he is about to enter a zone of discourse in which it is revealed that all is not as it seems in this fable.
2912 As in "Against Hasty Credence," flattery and lying are judged to be "Moir perrellus than ony pestillence" (line 30).
2923 Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria nova line 201 (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, pp. 174–75); Henryson's fox might not agree with this line (line 760).
2934 Kratzmann observes the double marking of a change of direction at this point in the Moralitas: not only does the stanza revert to rhyme royal after three stanzas of ballade, but the new stanza begins with "explicit authorial comment" ("Henryson's Fables," p. 63).
2939–47 Although Henryson delays making explicit the commonplace "waves of tribulation" (line 2956), he is imitating that ebb and flow in his anaphora on "Now." Early in this "Now" sequence (line 2939) appears a brief reversion to the "quhylis" formula that has previously signified mutability in both narrative and exclamatory modes (line 1525n); Kratzmann notes the gravity of Henryson's style, "masterly alliterative colloquialism within the control of an insistently rhetorical form" ("Henryson's Fables," p. 63).
2948 The binding of the soul to the body is a theme also present in the Moralitas to Orpheus (lines 451–54). Spearing adds perceptively that "it is tempting also to see [the frog and mouse] as the literal and the allegorical, 'Standand distynit in thair opinioun' (line 2958), yet unbreakably linked" (Medieval to Renaissance, p. 194).
2966 The reduction of the audience to a single person, "my freind" (also line 2969) may reflect a pessimism akin to that expressed by Aesop in the prologue to The Lion and the Mouse (lines 1391–97), concerning the capacity of fables to hold and teach an audience (Wheatley, Mastering Aesop, p. 187); noting a parallel occurrence in Dunbar ("He hes anewch that is content," line 11), Bawcutt points out, however, that "Such addresses were common in didactic verse" (Poems of William Dunbar, 2:401).
2970 Wheatley (Mastering Aesop, p. 188) hears the voice of a "sadder and a wiser man" who is preparing to undertake what Aesop earlier referred to as "mair autentik werk" (line 1890). In the assertion that this fable is ending "schortlie," Kratzmann and Mehl perceive an irony that may involve a dig at the friars ("Henryson's Fables," p. 65; "Robert Henryson's Moral Fables," p. 93); compare lines 1890n, 2154n.
2972 A gesture of closure can be traced in this echo of a passage in the Prologue (lines 47–49n) in which the superficial function of fables — to show animals behaving like people — is inverted; the repetition recalls the "initial announcement" (Roerecke, "Integrity and Symmetry," pp. 96–97).
ROBERT HENRYSON, FABLES: TEXTUAL NOTESAbbreviations: A: the Asloan Manuscript; B: rhe Bannatyne Manuscript; Br: Bawcutt and Riddy, Longer Scottish Poems; Bs: The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian (Bassandyne); Bu: Burrow, English Verse 1300–1500; C: The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian (Lekprevik and Charteris); DOST: Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue; Fox: Denton Fox, ed., The Poems of Robert Henryson; H: Harley 3865; neHt: The Morall Fabillis of Esope (Hart); MED: Middle English Dictionary; Mk: the Makculloch Manuscript; OED: Oxford English Dictionary.
title Bs (base text throughout), C: The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian.
The Prologue: Mk, B, Bs [C, H, Ht], Fox
title Mk omits. B: The Cock and the Jewell. [new line] Prolog. Bs: The Prolog.
4 plesand ar. Mk, B: Ar rycht plesand.
5 quhy that. Mk, B, Fox: quhy. Bs: that. Fox notes the support of Mk and B in 2344 but suggests that quhy that "may have been the original reading" (ed., p. 189); on the grounds that metrical regularity is a hallmark of Henryson's style, especially at the outset of each of the Fables, Fox's suggestion has been adopted here.
6 of thi. B: vyce of. Bs: haill.
7 O. Mk, B, Bs: Off. Taking a cue from G. Gregory Smith's emendation of Mk from Off to O (Specimens, p. 267) and noting the reading of thi in line 6 of the same witness, Fox regards Mk's apparent redundancy as the best pointer to the meaning and rhetorical stance of this passage (ed., p. 189).
8 a. Bs: the. The reading shared by Mk and B refers to a particular kind of heavy soil, hard to cultivate but fertile; the implications are richer than in the reading in Bs, which refers to soil generically.
12 springis thar a. Bs: dois spring ane.
16 Haldis. Bs: aldis.
sweit and. Bs: and is. For Kratzmann, the reading in Mk and B is "clearly preferable, because it gives a sense which provides a logical relation to the second part of the simile" ("Henryson's Fables," p. 53).
21 blyth. Bs: light.
22 For as we se. Mk: For as. Bs: Forthermair.
24 ay is. Bs: is ay.
29 authour. Mk, Fox: poete. Aesop is one of the Eight Authors (Auctores octo) of the medieval curriculum; to call him an authour is more meaningful, therefore, than to refer to him as a poete; it is understandable that in Mk, which provides the text of only one fable, this point is less significant than it is in the more ambitious compilations in B and especially Bs.
40 Gif ye find ocht that. Bs: Gif that ye find it.
43 his fabillis. Mk: this fabill. B: his fable. The variation is of considerable import for readings of the Fables: either this is a general prologue to the whole sequence of tales or it introduces specifically and only the ensuing tale, The Cock and the Jasp; here a crucial difference arises between Bs, in which the ensuing fable is indeed the first, and B, in which it appears in the middle of what seems to be a much looser sequence.
45 And to. Bs: In to.
47 Puttyng. Bs: Put in.
and. Bs: and in.
52 him renye nor. B: nocht derenye nor. Mk: nocht derenye and. Both derenye (OED deraign v.1; DOST deren3e v.) and renye ("call to account"; OED arraign v.1) are precisely apposite here; since the next verb, arreist, has precisely legal associations, the reading in Bs is preferred here.
54 Quhilk. Bs: And that.
the. Bs omits.
55 the mynd. Bs: thair myndis.
56 he. Bs: thay.
beist is. Bs: beistis ar.
58 and facound purpurat. Mk, Fox: and in facund purpurat. B: facound and purpurat. Bs: as poete lawriate. Fox notes that facund was a noun in fifteenth-century Scots and points out that the preposition in introducing this phrase may be a scribal error (DOST facund n.; ed., p. 193).
60 Tak. Bs: Lak.
63a Bs: Finis.
The Cock and the Jasp: Mk, B, Bs C [H, Ht], Fox
title Mk, B, C omit. Bs: The Taill of the Cok and the Jasp.
74 Quhat be thairin. Mk: Tak no tent so at. Bs, C: Thay cair na thing.
81 lord or. B: only warldly.
82 Bs, C: Pietie it wer thow suld ly in this mydding.
83 muke and. Bs, C: muke on.
87 I may. Mk: It may. Bs, C: It may me.
89 leif and. Mk: haldyne.
92 ga skraip. Bs: ga scrapit. C: haif scraipit.
98 Bs: For les availl may me as now dispyis. C: For thyne availl may as now dispyis.
99 I had. Bs, C: haif I.
102 wyfis. B: wyse men.
that. Bs omits.
werk is. B: wark was. Bs, C: werkis ar.
103 B omits.
sum meit have. Bs, C: have sum meit.
104 not weil leif. Bs, C: not leue.
111 fen. B: as. Bs, C: midding.
118 fabill. Bs, C omit.
title Moralitas. Mk, Bs, C: precedes line 127. B [marginal, in a different hand]: Moralite.
120–26 In Bs, some confusion seems to have arisen about the proper location of this stanza, which is in the same civilité font as the fable proper, not the Roman font of the following stanzas of the Moralitas.
120 hes. Bs, C: had.
122 is lyke. Bs, C, Fox: lyke to.
125 hap. Mk: hoip.
126 Of fyre nor fallis. Mk: and noi sal. Bs, C: Or fyre nor water. Lists of terms typically pose difficulties for copyists; the difficulty of fallis has arguably produced simpler readings in Mk, Bs, and C.
131 ay. Bs, C: for.
132 haif. Bs, C: wyn.
139 can freit. Mk: fre. B: nor ket. Bs: can screit.
143 Mk, Bs, C, Fox: Quhilk at science makis bot ane moik and scorne.
145 argumentis. Bs: argumenti.
147 the. Bs, C omit.
150 Mk, Bs, C: Quhilk is sa nobill, sa precious and sa ding.
151 it. B omits.
with na. B: nocht with no. Bs, C: not with.
thing. Mk: gud.
154 neidit. Bs, C: neidis.
156 it nocht. Mk: it.
for. Mk: nocht. B omits.
159 it wair bot. Mk, Fox: I wair bot. B: I do bot waistis. Bs, C: it wer bot.
161a B: Explicit quod mr R. H. Bs, C: Finis.
The Two Mice: A, B, Bs, C [H, Ht]; Fox, Bu, Br
title A: Heir begynnes the tale of the uplandis mous and the borowstoun mous. B (in a later hand): The Twa Myss. Bs, C: The Taill of the Uponlandis Mous and the Burges Mous.
164 eldest. B, Bs, C: eldest duelt.
165 yungir. Bs, C: uther.
166 Bs, C, Br: Soliter, quhyle under busk, quhyle under breir.
167 in. Bs, C: and.
168 levit on hir. B, Bs, C: levis on thair.
171 tother. Bs, C, Fox, Br: uther.
that in. A: into.
couth. Bs, C, Fox, Br: can.
175 Bs, C, Br: Amang the cheis in ark and meill in kist. The arrangement of nouns in compound phrases, as elsewhere in the Fables, produces variant readings.
179 led. Bs, C, Br: had.
183 Throw. Bs, C, Br: Furth.
184 mure and mosse. A: mure mos. Bs, C, Fox: mosse and mure.
185 A: Cryand on hir fra balk to balk. Bs: Scho ran cryand quhill scho come to a balk. C: Scho ranne with mony ane hiddeous quaik. Bawcutt and Riddy consider both A and B to be "weakened by the absence of a reference to the fur or 'furrow', which vividly conveys the different scale of the mouse's world" (Br, p. 356). Burrow observes that "The sudden switch to the Lilliputian world of the mouse, labouring up and down the ridge and furrow of a ploughed field, puzzled scribes" (English Verse, p. 339).
186 sweit. B, Br omit.
187 couth. B: quod. Bs, Fox, Br: culd. C: cryit.
188 kinnismen. Bs, C, Fox: kinnisman.
190 cheir, lord. Bs, C, Br: joy.
191 A, B, Bu: Was kithit [B: kyid] quhen thir sisteris twa war met. Bs, Br: Beis kith quhen that thir sisteris met. ythit. Fox: Beis kithit quhen thir sisteris twa war met.
192 Quhilk that oft syis. A, Bu: The welcummyng. Bs, C, Br: And grit kyndnes.
197 semple. Bs, C, Br: sober.
198 misterlyk. B: maisterlig. Bs, C: febillie.
199 erdfast. Bs, C: steidfast. Bawcutt and Riddy note that erdfast is "distinctive but perhaps slightly archaic" (Br, p. 356).
202 Withoutin. Bs: Without.
205 hyid. Bs: glyde. C: yeid.
206 peis. Bs, C: candill.
207 thair wes weilfair. Bs, C, Br: this wes gude fair.
208 prompit. B: prunnigit. Fox: prunyit. Though the logical reading in Bs is arguably a simplifying substitution of a more for a less familiar term, Fox's emendation has not been followed; the meaningful, idiomatic, unusual prompit has good textual support.
210 Think ye this meis [A, Bu, Fox: meit] nocht. Bs, C, Br: Is nocht this meit rycht.
213 efter that. Bs, C: sister quhen.
215 ryte. Bs, C: rate.
216 syre. B: schyr. Bs, C omit.
levand in. Bs, C: leving into.
221 quhy. Bs, C: quhylis.
224 usit wes before. A, Bu: usit is befor. B: usit wer befoir. Bs, C: wes before usit.
226 yow pleis. Bs, C: pleis yow.
229 hartlie. Bs, C: mery.
231 tender, sweit, and. Bs, C: tender and wonder.
232 plesans. Bs, C: plesure.
in. Bs, C: in the.
235 visage. Bs, C: curage.
239 this. Bs, C: his.
247 trewe. B: gude. Bs, C omit.
251 na fall, na trap. A: na trape na fall. Bs, C: nor fall trap. According to Bawcutt and Riddy, "A and B seem to make a distinction between two kinds of mouse-trap (MED falle; DOST fall, n. 2) which is lost in Bs" (Br, p. 357).
252 on togidder yeid. B, C, Fox, Br: on togidder thay yeid. The loss of metrical regularity in the alternate reading does not seem justified.
253 skugry ay. A: stowthry ay. Bs, C: stubill array. Bawcutt and Riddy comment that "Scribal misunderstanding of a rare word, together with the common c/t confusion, could have led to A's stowthry" (Br, p. 357).
rankest. Bs, C omit.
254 Under covert full. B: And wondir sly full. Bs, C: And under buskis.
262 Withowt godspeid. A: Intill ane innes. The lack of proper etiquette has greater thematic import than the identification in A of a specific destination.
264 upon. Bs, C: upon thair.
265 Flesche. B: With fische. Bs, C: And flesche.
266 grotis, meile, and. Bs: meill and eik off.
278 bot how lang. A, Bu: how lang now. Bs, C, Br: how lang.
281–87 A omits this stanza.
285 mane full. B, Bu: furmag. Bs: manfully. This crux appears to Fox to depend on the failure of B and Bs to identify mane as fine white bread. Burrow, however, bases a case for furmag on the common association between mice and cheese (English Verse, p. 344).
287 gust thair mouth. B, Bu: creisch thair teithis. As Burrow notes, the reading in B is delightfully specific (English Verse, p. 344); however, it may provide an instance of Bannatyne's enthusiastically imaginative involvement in the poem he is copying, with something of a mixed metaphor resulting in the unwanted implication that the spices would have been greasy as well as the substitute the mice prefer.
289 thay. Bs, C, Fox, Br omit.
300 all. A, Bs, C, Fox, Br: ane.
304 nor serche. A: to char.
to char nor. A: nor yit to. B: nor char no. Bs, C, Br: to sker nor.
306 This. Bs, C, Fox: The.
passage. Bs, C, Br: passing.
309 flatlingis. Bs, C, Fox, Br: flatling.
311 wofull. A, Bu: wilsome.
312 fever. Bs, C: fever scho.
318 answerit. Bs, C: answerit hir.
324 A, Bu: And unto burde togidder baith thay sat. Bs, C, Fox: And to the burde thay went and togidder sat.
328 fled. Bs, C: went.
of. Bs, C: on.
331 tait. Bs, C: cant.
335 fair. Bs, C. omit.
336 the dosor. B: the dressour. Bs, C: ane burde. Bawcutt and Riddy comment that the reading in the printed texts may "derive from a memory of line 324" (Br, p. 358).
337 Syne. Bs, C: And.
338 So hie scho clam. Bs, C. Scho clam so hie.
339 And. Bs, C: Syne.
clukis. A, Bu: clukis richt. Bs, C, Br: cluke thair.
342 Apon. Bs, C: And to.
346 sair. Bs, C: fair.
347 ma. A, B, Fox: may. Bs, C: na.
352 I suld. Bs: suld I. C: suld.
356 scho. B, Bs, C, Fox, Br omit.
357 eftirwart. Bs, C: weill thairefter.
361 A, Bu: Of nutis, pes. B, Fox: Off peis and nuttis. The variants for this line exemplify the copyists' difficulty with lists of topically related terms.
365 heir. Bs, C omit.
will ye. A: quhill ye. Bs, C, Br: and ye will.
366 In. Bs, C: In to.
368 intermellit. Bs, C: interminglit. The prints appear to substitute a more modern for an older form of the word.
372 And. Bs, C: That ar.
381–88 C omits this stanza.
383 Luke. Bs: Lieke.
ondeid. Bs: but dreid.
387 Bs: Best thing in eird, thairfoir I say for me. The syntax of the manuscript readings is more idiomatic.
388 merry hart. A: sekerness. Bs, Br: blyithness in hart. The metrical irregularity of the reading in Bs encourages a preference for the reading in B.
389 freind, thocht. Bs, C, Br: my freind sa.
392 I. Bs: thair. C: it.
se. Bs, C: be.
396a A: Heir endis of the twa mys. B: Explicit quod mr. R. H. Bs, C: Finis.
The Cock and the Fox: B, Bs [C, H, Ht]; Fox
title B (in a later hand): The Fox and the Cock. Bs: The Taill of Schir Chantecleir and the Foxe.
405 and. Bs: and sa.
407 it excedis. Bs: is excludit.
423 hir pultrie. Bs, Fox: pultrie baith. The line in B is more metrically regular than that in Bs, and as idiomatic.
430 juparteis. Bs: jeperdie.
438 yow service for. Bs, Fox: service to you.
441 oft fulfillit. Bs: full oft fillit.
447 forsuth I held. Bs: I held up.
456 warmys. Bs: is warme.
457 Yow for to serve. Bs: To mak yow blyith.
462 Me think yow. Bs, Fox: Ye are me think.
463 and. Bs: off.
472 Quhat. Bs: For.
cok. Bs: fox. Capturing the speed and zest of the interchange at this key moment, Fox's two emendations here are irresistible.
477 walkit. Bs: wawland. The image, conveyed by Bs's wawland, of Chantecleir rolling his eyes seems weakly associative: his eyes are shut.
482 countermaund. Bs: that cryme. The reading in B is more specifically, wittily apposite.
486 reylok. Bs: hay. The printed text makes a characteristic substitution here of a familiar for an unfamiliar word.
494 of. Bs: in.
527 yow. Bs omits.
ye. Bs: he is.
533 Bs: "He had," quod scho, "Kittokis ma than sevin."
536 Adulteraris that list. Bs: For adulterie that will.
546 Birkye. Bs: Berk.
Bell. Bs omits.
555 raches. Bs: kennettis. The variant terms are roughly synonymous; the reading in B produces a formulaic alliteration that befits the scene of vigorous motion that is beginning.
558 spak. Bs: said.
570 unto a. Bs: out off the.
576 Bs: Na fals theif and revar, stand not me neir. The variant presents an instance of the copyists' recurrent difficulty with lists, a difficulty that in Bs produces metrical irregularity.
578 love. Bs: freindschip.
581 mair. Bs: mais.
coud nocht be. Bs: to be sa.
582 But spake. Bs: Quhairthrow.
585 In. Bs: And in.
592 ar. B, Fox: is.
602 mynd maist toxicate. B: mouth mellifluate.
606a B: Flattery.
607 The wickit mynd and. B: This wikkit wind of. The imaginative reading in B produces a mixed metaphor arguably characteristic of the scribe — a wicked wind is not like sweet sugar; see the Textual Note to Fables, line 287.
609 fell. Bs omits.
The Fox and the Wolf: B, Bs [C, H, Ht]; Fox
title B (in a later hand): The Fox and the Wolf. Bs: The Taill how this foirsaid Tod maid his confessioun to Freir Wolf Waitskaith.
614 B (LH margin): Incipit aliam fabulam. Thus begins an explicit connection between the fox fables in B that is arguably stronger than the linkage between the group of ten of the Fables intermingled in this manuscript compilation with other poems.
616 fatal. Bs: subtell.
618 miching. Bs: waitting.
621 Thetes. Bs omits.
623 off. Bs: up.
648 the. Bs: my.
649 wait. B, Fox: watt. Bs: ken.
651 fait. Bs: men.
652 bot. Bs: bot gif.
653 Deid. Bs: It.
and. Bs: ane.
655 all. Bs: my.
657 lyif is. Bs: lyifis.
659 alyk ar. Bs: ar lyke.
665 thence. Bs: hence.
666 of. Bs: in.
668 cum. Bs: cummit.
677 Bs: Ye ar mirrour, lanterne, and sicker way.
684 Na. Bs: A.
697 But to. Bs: Unto.
mele. Bs: kneill.
714 pennance. Bs: penitence.
716 A. Bs: Na.
717 Seikly. Bs: Selie. B: And seikly.
723 hyne to. Bs: untill.
729 faut of. Bs: fall no.
736 walterand. Bs: watter and.
737 All stonist. Bs: Astonist all.
741 boittis, net, nor bait. B: net, bottis, nor bate. Bs: boittis nor net bait. This line exemplifies the difficulties posed to copyists by lists of terms.
769 gane. Bs: gang.
772 The hird him hynt. Bs: He harlit him.
776 contritioun. Bs: provisioun. Here and again in 778, 779, and 794, the prints show signs of Protestant expurgation of explicit references to the moral conditions leading to penitence in the sacrament of confession; it is one thing to satirize confession in the fable itself, and another to indicate the ongoing importance of the ritual for the reader.
777 mend. Bs: amend.
778 conclusioun. Bs: confusioun.
779 gois now to confessioun. Bs: now hes gude professioun.
780 Cannot repent. Bs: Yit not repentis.
794 Do wilfull pennance here. Bs: Obey unto your God.
795a B: Explicit exemplum veritatis et falsitatis. In B, the reader is invited to read the trio of fox thus, as contrasts of truth and falsehood.
The Trial of the Fox: B, Bs [C, H, Ht]; Fox
title B [in a later hand]: The Fox Tryed Before the Lyon. Bs: The Taill of the Sone and Air of the foirsaid Foxe, callit Father wer: Alswa the Parliament of the fourfuttit Beistis, haldin be the Lyoun.
798 Bs: Till airschip be law that micht succeid.
799 the. Bs omits.
lemanrie. B: lenanrye. Bs: adulterie.
802 pultrie tig. Bs, Fox: pultrie to tig. The infinitive is implicit without to; the more concise version in B preserves metrical regularity.
806 get. Bs: geir.
wrang. Bs: fals.
812 is. Bs: hes. The use of is as the auxiliary here for the present perfect of the verb of motion accords with grammatical practice in fifteenth-century Scots.
822 stouth. Bs, Fox: thift. Stouth is a specific kind of theft; B's reading is thus marginally preferable.
he had done. Bs, Fox: did his father. B's reading preserves metrical regularity.
824 throw naturall. B: for faderlye. Here is an instance of B's imaginative involvement in the text producing a shift in perspective (from the son's motivation to the father's) that does not fit logically.
832 wrangwis guidis, gold. Bs: warldlie gude and gold.
836 Bs: To execute, to do, to satisfie. In Bs, the traditional secular theme of the greedy, disloyal executors of a will has taken the place of the reference, preserved in B, to the medieval ritual, discredited under Protestantism, of prayers for the dead; see also line 837.
837 Bs: Thy letter will, thy det, and legacie.
is thy devotioun. B: is thy devotioun; thy produces a metrical confusion and may be "a spurious addition" (Fox, ed., p. 235).
838 he carit. Bs: him, he passit. B, Fox: him carit. Fox's emendation is unnecessary: B's reading preserves a use of carry in Scots as a transitive verb meaning go (Fables line 1767; DOST cary v); compare Fables 2029 and its textual note.
840 him. Bs: he.
841–42 Bs: these two lines are transposed; the sequence in B preserves a logical and chronological sequence.
848 Oyas, oyas. Bs: on this wyis. The herald's conventional cry Oyez ("Listen!") has been misunderstood by the printer.
851 Govand. Bs: Gritlie. Again, the printer substitutes a current, familiar word for an archaic one.
852 his buste. Bs: ane bus.
bill. Bs: bull.
855 We. Bs: The.
856 ay lestand but ending. Bs: helth everlestyng.
868 as the. Bs: als as.
869 gresis. Bs: gers.
872 trippand. Bs: creippand. B's birds are more sprightly than those in Bs.
873 a. Bs: with.
881 fut all. Bs: all four futtit.
898 jonet. Bs: gillet. The jonet is a fine light saddle horse, while gillet is synonymous with "mare"; a case could be made for either reading; the decision here is to side, as Fox does, with B because the scribe tends to preserve more unusual terms — if also to fabricate them on occasion (as found in Fables 824, textual note).
902 wodwys. Bs: tame cat.
wild wolfyne. Bs: wildwod swyne. "Some of the strange names may have defeated early copyists as well as modern editors" (Gray, Selected Poems of Henryson and Dunbar, p. 374); here and elsewhere, too insistent an avoidance of redundancy and apparently arbitrary association (why mention a she-wolf here when the wolf was named elsewhere?) may impose a principle of organization foreign to the work.
906 baver, bakon, and the. Bs: wyld once, the buk, the.
balterand. B: batterand. Bs: welterand. Burrow considers this emendation one of Fox's most perceptive and skilled ("Dunbar," p. 121).
908 gray. B, Fox: gay. B's reading may arise from the wish to avoid an apparent redundancy; B's seems grounded on the etymological difference involved — in greyhound, the first element has nothing to do with color but derives from Old Norse grøy, "bitch" (OED greyhound).
with. B, Fox: the.
910 globard. B: globert. Bs: glebard.
914 bowranbane. B: lurdane lane. The reading in Bs has not been defined convincingly; but in spite of its alliterative tidiness and relative obviousness (lane from l'âne, Fr. "donkey"), B's reading looks like a desperate stopgap.
919 Bs: With haist scho haikit unto that hill off hicht. In the version of the line in B, the a lyric inversion of the second foot conforms to Henryson's common practice (Introduction, p. 22).
923 blenkit. Bs: luikit. B's reading is more specific; Bs's anticipates lukit in line 926.
926 The lyoun lukit quhen. Bs: He lukit quhen that.
945 Bs, Fox: The tod Lowrie luke not to the lam. Within the zone of normal variation (see the Textual Note to 919, above), B offers a metrically more regular line than does Bs.
949 call. Bs: callit.
952 Tod Lowrie lukit up. Bs, Fox: Than Tod Lowrie luikit. Jamieson argues for the superiority of B because of the richer implications there in the placement, physically and psychologically, of the fox ("Poetry," p. 232n1).
954 rarit. Bs, Fox: cryit.
966 far doun. Bs: laich.
967 the. Bs omits.
969 thoill. Bs: bene.
971–77 B omits this stanza. "The other [sources] provide two additional stanzas . . . of direct condemnation by the author . . . The alliterative pattern seems Henrysonian though the metre is very rough indeed" (Jamieson, "Poetry," p. 234).
986 stait. Bs: estait.
989 beist into this. Bs: kynd of beistis in.
991 gray stude. Bs: stude gray.
993 My lord. Bs: Now see.
999 ye. Bs. omits.
1035 wretchit. B and Fox omit.
on his wayis. Bs: thus on he.
1042 a bank. Bs: abak.
1052 This new-maid. Bs: Speir at your.
1067 garray. Bs: merines. B's reading is more archaic; Bs prefers the word common to Scots and English.
1072 He werryit. Bs: Devorit.
1087 sis. Bs: assyis. The aphetic variant (missing the first syllable a-) in B is attested elsewhere (in French, Dutch, and Latin as well as Scots and English; OED size n1); it maintains metrical regularity better than does the explicitness of assyis in Bs.
1089 and party. Bs: pyking and.
1095 basare. Bs: bowcher. Bs provides a simple, common substitute for the specialized term in B.
1102 Apertly be oure leving. Bs: That to our leving full weill.
1103 Bs, Fox: And paynt thair mater furth be poetry. The printed text arguably provides a Protestant revision of a potentially unacceptable subordination of preaching to the authority of poesye.
1104 liklynace. Bs: liknes.
1106 mare grace. Bs: incres. The printed text substitutes an inoffensive secular term to avoid even the possibility that the line might be read to refer to the earning of grace in spiritual terms.
1107 And gapis. Bs: Thinkand.
1111–24 B, Bs, Fox all present these two stanzas in the opposite order, which inverts the topical and grammatical coherence of the passage (e.g., the antecedent of "Hir," line 1125); if this analysis is correct, the inversion would have taken place at a stage in the textual transmission prior to the divergence of the manuscript tradition represented by B from the print tradition represented by Bs.
1118 contemplatioun. Bs: gude conditioun. A Protestant revision has occurred here in Bs; the rest of the stanza is marked by similar substitutions.
1119 Of pennance. Bs: As pilgrymes.
1120 Bs: Approvand that for richt religioun.
1121 That presis God. Bs: Thair God onlie. Concern that the idiom presis God to pleis will be misread (not "endeavors to please God" but "forces God to be pleasant") may have resulted in the attempt at a correct explicitness in Bs.
1123 Bs: Fechtand with lust, presumptioun, and pryde.
1129 Bs, Fox: Fra thow begin thy mynd to mortifie. In the last word of the line in Bs, note the false rhyme with fle in 1128.
1130 Bs, Fox: Salomonis saying thow may persaif heirin. The delay in Bs of the reference to Solomon enables the Protestant copyist to avoid the reference, preserved in B, to the penitent believer's capacity to wyn "thy sely saull."
1134 Bs: Assaultand men with sweit perswasionis. Thus Bs avoids mentioning the religious orders disestablished in reformed Scotland.
1135 Bs: Ay reddie for to trap thame in ane trayne.
1137 with ithand. Bs: draw neir with. B presents a more archaic, precise phrase than does Bs.
1139 B [line cancelled, with the following correction interlined]: Lord eternall medeator for us mast meke. Bs: O mediatour mercifull and meik. If B's correction is to be taken as editorial, then the apostrophe to Mary sounds a doctrinal alarm for even the maker of a manuscript anthology in Edinburgh in the late 1560s.
1140 B [line cancelled, with the following correction interlined]: Sitt doun before thy fader celestiall. Bs: Thow soveraigne lord and king celestiall.
1141 Bs: Thy celsitude maist humillie we beseik.
1143 that. Bs: thy.
The Sheep and the Dog: B, Bs [C, H, Ht]; Fox
title B [in a later hand]: The Dog, the Scheip, and the Wolff. Bs: The Taill of the Scheip and the Doig.
1148 unto. Bs: to.
1158 straitly. Bs: for.
1164 the dayis. Bs: twa dayis or.
1172 Bs, Fox: The oure off cause quhilk that the juge usit than. The reading in B is metrically more regular than the version in Bs.
1175 up. Bs omits.
1186 Avysitlie. Bs: The scheip avysitlie. Greater explicitness is achieved by the indication of the subject phrase in Bs, but a hypermetric line is thus produced; omission of the subject phrase in B seems based on a looser, less formal sense of syntactic relations than holds in Bs.
1190 enter pley. B: interply. Bs: enter in pley.
1194 as juge. Bs: juge as.
1200 In quhilk no jugeis. Bs, Fox: Quhairfoir na juge.
1208 eftir. Bs: efterwart.
1211 or. Bs: nor.
1214 decreitis. B, Fox: decretalis.
1216 civile mony volum. Bs: civile law volumis full mony. The adjective civile can be used alone to denote civil law (MED civile adj. as n.).
1218 Pro and contra, strait argumentis resolve. B: Prowe and contra strait argument thay resoll. Bs: Contrait prostrait argumentis thay resolve. Fox: Contra et pro, strait argumentis thay resolve. Fox proposes that thay may be a "spurious addition, made by analogy with 1216" (ed., p. 258).
1219 Bs: Sum objecting and sum can hald.
1220 ye, thay. Bs: ye that thay.
1221 held. Bs: hald.
1222 schrew. Bs: beschrew.
1224 summar and. Bs: sweirand.
1242 and. Bs: and eke.
1251 persecutioun. Bs: the executioun.
1252 and. Bs: he.
1256 he forjugeit. Bs: it commandit.
1270 Bs: Thocht he wer trew as ever wes Sanct Johne.
1273 porteous. Bs: portioun.
1276 be. Bs: wes.
1278 swa. Bs: tak.
skat. Bs: tat.
1289 frawart. Bs: hard.
1292 hair. Bs: sair.
1295 O lord. Bs: Lord God. The divine reference is made explicit in Bs at the cost of rhetorical emphasis.
1300 syn. Bs: sone.
1301 Bs: Loist hes baith lawtie and eik law. As elsewhere, lists of terms result in textual variation (e.g., textual notes to lines 126, 576, 741).
1304 jugis. B: juge. Bs: juge it.
1305 Thay ar. Bs: He is.
1306 meid thay thoill. Bs: micht he lettis.
The Lion and the Mouse: B, Bs [C, H, Ht]; Fox, Br
title B [in a later hand]: The Lyon and the Mous. Bs: The Taill of the Lyoun and the Mous.
Prologue. B, Bs omit.
1321 joly. Bs omits.
1324 lemis. Bs: bemis.
1331 gresis. Bs, Br: gers. The explicitly disyllabic variant in B underlines the metrical regularity of the line.
1335 arrayit rone. Bs, Br: arrayit on rone.
1336 viola. Bs: violat bla. In Bs, the preference for common, straightforward terms (violat for viola) has produced a distracting inappositeness of color — a livid violet — and a hypermetrical line.
1340 and the. Bs, Br: and of.
1345 maid a cors. Bs: cled my heid. As elsewhere (e.g., Fables, lines 776, 836, 1103, 1118, 1130, and textual notes), the Protestant printer expurgates explicit references to Catholic religious practices.
1350 chymmeris. Bs: chemeis. The printer substitutes the name of a more familiar article of clothing for a garment specific to a scholar or cleric (Fox, ed., p. 266).
1359 he weir. Bs, Br: can beir. The reading in Bs may arise from a confusion, not infrequent in Scots secretary script, between b and w (or v); B's reading presents weir as a form of the past tense of weir, "wear."
1386 dedene. Bs: not disdayne. Fox notes that dedene "was falling out of use in the 16th c." (ed., p. 267); further, the reading in Bs is hypermetrical.
1395 e. Bs, Br: hart.
1398 Yit. Bs: Yis.
1404a B omits. Bs: The end of the Prolog, and beginnis the Taill.
1405 wery. Bs: war. In support of B's reading, Bawcutt and Riddy adduce Langland's wery forwandrit (Piers Plowman A.prol.7); however, they ingeniously suggest that C's reading verray is superior: "verray is not an adverb but an adjective describing the lion's true and rightful prey, the venison which is later contrasted with the 'unhailsum' flesh of mice" (Br, p. 360; compare lines 1490–95). The location of the adjective verray after the noun it modifies is rare but occasionally appears as an indicator of a heightened, religious style, as in Henryson's Bludy Serk, line 109 (DOST verray adj.); in the present context, such worshipful eloquence seems inapposite, while the Langlandian implication of culpably wearying wandering may be closer to the mark.
1438 prodissioun. B: promissioun. Bs, Br: presumptioun. Fox bases this emendation on the clue provided by the otherwise semantically weak reading in B.
1439 Erer. Bs, Br: The rather. B provides a rarer, less modern reading.
1460 Onto. Bs, Br: Upon. The action of dragging calls for the preposition in B.
1461 A. Bs, Br: Na.
1463 thi yre. Bs, Br: it.
1471 spirituall. Bs: speciall. Fox suggests that Bs makes "a Protestantizing emendation" here (ed., p. 269).
1477 conqueist. B, Fox: compair. Spearing argues incisively for conqueist, the reading in Bs in a "precise classical sense" comparable to tribunall (line 1472) and honour triumphall" (line 1475; Medieval to Renaissance, p. 352n52).
1527 he knet. Bs, Br: the net.
1530 thus. Bs, Br: and.
1548 thy. Bs, Br: off thy.
gentilnes. Bs, Br: gentrace.
1549 with that. Bs, Br: this way.
1552 same. Bs, Fox, Br: samin.
1562 abone. Bs: about.
1563 mastis. Bs, Br: net.
1577 and. Bs, Br: that.
1599 kinbute baith for. B, Fox: commoun baith for. Bs, Br: kinbute baith of. Especially when used figuratively, B's term is the difficult reading (note the uncertainty with the idiom in Bs) and has been retained.
1612 expone. Bs, Fox, Br: expound.
1616 Bs: I the beseik and all men for to pray. Here is another instance of the printers' removal of references to medieval religious practices.
1619 lord. Bs, Br: king.
The Preaching of the Swallow: B, Bs [C, H, Ht]; Fox, Bu
1625 B: Excelland. Bs, Fox: Excellent. Though excellent can function in Scots northern English as an adjectival present participle (Fox, ed., p. 277; OED excellent a.), the -and suffix is correct.
argument. Bs, Fox: jugement.
1632 a thing. Bs, Fox: nor thingis. Burrow speculates that the reading in Bs may arises from a determination "to avoid calling God 'a thing'" (English Verse, p. 325).
1633 materiale. Bs: naturall. The reading in B is more emphatic and specific.
1649 dirk ressounis. Bs: all ressoun. Fox posits that B's reading "attempts to soften Henryson's statement" (ed., p. 278); Schrader argues that Henryson "was not trying to do away with all reasoning" and hence B should be preferred ("Henryson and Nominalism," p. 9n32).
1653 takis. Bs: tak.
1664 we. Bs, Fox: weill.
1665 we. Bs, Fox: weill.
1678 grene. Bs: off grene.
1688 Hir tume. B: Hir louid. Bs, Br: The tume. Fox emends this phrase to conform with the pronoun hir in line 1690 and to take account of the more specific adjective in Bs.
1701 ar bethit. Bs: bene laifit.
1711 smale. Bs: haill.
1744 lo se, and. Bs: and gude.
1754 praevidimus. B: providimus. Burrow notes that B's reading follows that provided in some manuscripts of Disticha Catonis (English Verse, p. 331).
1758 befoir and see. Bs: and foirse.
1760 thingis at. Bs: thing behald.
1761 ethar. Bs: the better.
1770 ferslye. Bs, Fox: ferlie. The violence of the flight is rhetorically significant; the reading in Bs appears to echo the occurrence of this word and its related forms elsewhere in this fable (lines 1730, 1775).
1797 young. Bs omits.
1829 swingillit. B: scutchit. The variants are synonymous.
1841 hes. Bs, Fox omit.
1851 into a branche litill. Bs, Fox: on ane lytill branche neir. Burrow observes that "litill by may represent a rare expression meaning 'not too close', otherwise unrecorded; branch here means 'seedling tree'" (English Verse, p. 336; MED braunch 4c).
1856 lyit heir. Bs, Fox: heir layit.
1860–66 In addition to appearing in the complete text of this fable in B, this stanza also occurs as a separate item in B (f. 76b), in the section of "ballatis Full of wisdome and moralitie" (f. 43b).
1874 rycht grit hertis. Bs, Fox: grit hart sair for.
1879 Bs: Off sum the heid he straik, off sum he brak the crag. Fox: Off sum the heid, off sum he brak the crag. Fox corrects the hypermetrical line in Bs; in the present edition, the line in B is preferred — anacoluthic purpose is detected in the semantically clashing off's.
1903 in. Bs: unto.
1911 stark. Bs, Fox: scharp.
1920 vaill. Bs: availl. The aphetic form in B is metrically superior to its more explicit counterpart in Bs.
1923 thus. Bs, Fox: is.
1928 warld calf dois. Fox: warldis calf dois.
1931 partit. Bs: departit.
1934 helpis. Fox: help is.
1946 to seis. Bs: fra.
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger: Bs, C, H, Ht; Fox, Br
title Bs: The Taill of the Wolf that Gat the Nekhering throw the Wrinkis of the Foxe that Begylit the Cadgear.
1957 breith. Bs, H, Ht: wraith.
1958 waithing. Bs, C: watching. H: wetching.
1983 thay suld. Bs, C: I.
1995 sonyeis. Bs, H: senyes.
2001 C, Ht: And I can nouther fische with huke nor net.
2013 rude. Bs, C, H, Br: reid.
2029 caryand. Bs, C, H, Fox, Br: carpand. The emendation caryand was proposed by A. J. Aitken (Br, p. 364).
Lowrence culd him spy C: drew this boucheour by.
2087–88 C transposes these two lines.
2103 hakkit. C: snakkit. Like Fox, Bawcutt and Riddy prefer snakkit, "broke with a snapping sound" (Br, p. 364) but it is not recorded until the late sixteenth century (DOST snak v.).
2148 dow not. Bs, H: he will. The reading in B denotes lack of capacity; that in Bs involves a redundant subject.
2168 als wraith as ony. Bs, H, Ht: wavering as the.
2171 revenge him best. Bs, H: revengit on him.
2177 bat. Bs, C: bot.
2192 myne. Bs, C: syne.
2193 a stewart fyne. Bs, C: efterwart syne. H, Ht, Fox: efterwart fyne. For the emendation to a stewart, see Poole, "Henryson, Fables 2193."
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Husbandman: Bs, C [H, Ht]; Fox
title Bs, C: The Taill of the Foxe that begylit the wolf in the schadow of the Mone.
2284 contrufit. Fox. Bs, C: contrusit.
2310 juge. Bs, C: ane juge.
2372 hous. Bs, C: hors.
2432 Arctand. Bs: Actand.
2434–38 Because no text survives except those in the Protestant printed editions, it is impossible to judge the extent to which these four lines have been adjusted to tone down unwanted references to medieval religious practices.
The Wolf and the Wether: Bs, C [H], Ht; Fox
title Bs, C: The Taill of the wolf and the wedder.
2474 that. Bs, C omit.
2476 wichtlie. Bs, C: wretchitlie. Ht: wightlie. Fox cites the emendation to wichtlie proposed by Craik, but notes these witnesses' lack of trouble with this word in its earlier occurrence (line 553) and offers another, "less apt" alternative, wrethlie, "angrily" (ed., p. 311); while the reservation about Craik's emendation is persuasive, the alternative is not.
2537 till ane rekill. Bs, Ht: still quhill ane strand.
2548 Syne. Bs: Tyne.
The Wolf and the Lamb: B, Bs, C [H, Ht]; Fox
title B: The Wolff and the Lamb. Bs: The Taill of the Wolf and the Lamb.
2628 him. Bs, C: he.
presomyng. Bs, C: belevand. Fox notes that belevand, while current in sixteenth-century Scots, is nowhere else attested in Henryson (ed., p. 316).
2629 this. Bs, C: him.
2630 angrie, austre. Bs, C: awfull angrie.
2632 this. Bs: and.
2668 pyne. Bs, C: pane.
2673 cheris. Bs: refuse.
2677 into. Bs: in.
spew. Bs: did spew.
2682 audiens. Bs, C: evidence. Fox: audience.
2685 contrairie, or. B: contra and.
2690 law. B: way.
wys. Bs: gyis. C: use. Fox: wyis.
2693 Ha. Bs, C: Na.
2697 Goddis. Bs, C: his. Here is a characteristic expurgation by the Protestant printers.
2701 heidit. Bs, C: deid.
2703 syne. Bs, C: and.
2713 sutelté. Bs, C: facultie. Fox: suteltie.
2716 poleit. Bs, C: poete.
2721–41 B provides these lines in the following order: 2728–41, 2721–27.
2729 aneuch. Bs: full grit.
2731 in peax ane pureman. Bs, C: the pure in pece to.
2738 crufe. B: cruse. Bs: caff. C: calf.
2750 cairt. Bs, C: court.
and cariage. Bs, C: or in cariage.
2760 be rad. Bs, C: dreid.
2771 and men. B: I mene. Bs: and fell
The Paddock and the Mouse: B, Bs, C [H, Ht]; Fox
title B [in a later hand]: The Mous and the Paddock. Bs: The Taill of the Paddok and the Mous.
2789 rauk. Bs: rank.
2800 your. Bs: thy. In B, the Paddock uses the respectful second-person plural pronoun, at least at the outset of the dialogue; compare lines 2854–58.
2802 Withoutin. Bs: Without.
2803 yow. Bs: the.
2804 your. Bs: thy.
2805 mervell than. Bs: grit wounder.
2806 thow can. Bs: can thow.
2808 drowin to wed. Bs: drounit be.
2815 swyme. Bs: row.
2869 O. B, Fox: How.
2873 crappald. B: crabit. Bs: carpand; C: trappald. Noting that the phrase crappald pad appears redundant, Fox defends this emendation (a word otherwise unrecorded in Scots) in terms scribal error — the reading in C can thus be explained in terms of the easy confusion in Scots script between the letters c and t, and the reading carpand in Bs makes sense in relation to crapaud (recorded in Middle English), with inversion of ra and a minim error of n for u (ed., p. 331).
2877 to fleit and. Bs: for to.
2887 Bs: With all hir mycht scho forsit hir to swym.
2893 this plungit in. Bs: plungit into.
2898 owthir. Bs: ony.
2904 fettislie thame. So Fox. B: fetly he thame. Bs: fettillie thame. B's fetly and Fox's emendation are legitimate synonyms in Scots; B's he "looks suspiciously like a scribal insertion" (ed., p. 332).
2915 Bs: To thee wer better beir the stane barrow.
2916 Or sweitand dig and. B: Of sweitand ding and. Bs: For all thy dayis to. "[W]ithout conviction," Fox follows W. A. Craigie's emendation reported in G. Gregory Smith's edition (Fox, ed., p. 333).
2930 at. Bs: of.
2942 wardit. Bs: wrappit.
2946 fysche. Bs: fitche.
2947 wappit. Bs: wrappit.
2950 twin. Bs: wyn.
2957 ay waverand. Bs, Fox: wer steirrand.
2958 Standis distinyt. Bs: Standand rycht different.
2959 spreit. Bs: saull.
2960 B: The natur of the saule wald our be borne. The rhyme in B is imperfect. Fox records G. G. Smith's observation "that both versions are the results of Protestantizing emendations" (Specimens, p. 280).
2961 hevinnis blis. B: hevinly trone.
2967 gud deidis. Bs: faith in Christ; again, Bs has put in an acceptable Protestant emphasis in place of a now-objectionable medieval Catholic doctrine.
2972 a sample or. Bs: exempill and ane. The aphetic form sample is amply attested in fifteenth-century Scots (DOST sampil).
Thocht feinyeit fabils of ald poetre
Be not al grunded upon truth, yit than
Thair polite termes of sweit rhetore
Richt plesand ar unto the eir of man
And als the caus quhy that thay first began
Wes to repreif thee of thi misleving,
O man, be figure of ane uther thing,
In lyke maner as throw a bustious eird,
Swa it be laubourit with grit diligence,
Springis the flouris and the corne abreird
Hailsum and gude to mannis sustenence,
Sa springis thar a morall sweit sentence
Oute of the subtell dyte of poetry
To gude purpois, quha culd it weill apply.
The nuttis schell thocht it be hard and teuch
Haldis the kirnell sweit and delectabill,
Sa lyis thair ane doctrine wyse aneuch
And full of frute under ane fenyeit fabill,
And clerkis sayis it is richt profitabill
Amangis ernist to ming ane merie sport
To blyth the spreit and gar the tyme be schort.
For as we se, ane bow that ay is bent
Worthis unsmart and dullis on the string
Sa dois the mynd that ay is diligent
In ernistfull thochtis and in studying.
With sad materis sum merines to ming
Accordis weill; thus Esope said iwis,
Dulcius arrident seria picta iocis.1
Of this authour, my maisteris, with your leif,
Submitting me to your correctioun,
In mother toung, of Latyng, I wald preif
To mak ane maner of translatioun,
Nocht of myself for vane presumptioun
Bot be requeist and precept of ane lord
Of quhome the name it neidis not record.
In hamelie language and in termes rude
Me neidis wryte for quhy of eloquence
Nor rethorike I never understude,
Thairfoir meiklie I pray your reverence
Gif ye find ocht that throw my negligence
Be deminute or yit superfluous,
Correct it at your willis gratious.
My author in his fabillis tellis how
That brutal beistis spak and understude
And to gude purpois dispute and argow,
Ane sillogisme propone and eik conclude,
Puttyng exempill and similitude
How mony men in operatioun
Ar like to beistis in conditioun.
Na mervell is ane man be lyke ane beist
Quhilk lufis ay carnall and foull delyte
That schame cannot him renye nor arreist
Bot takis all the lust and appetyte
Quhilk throw custum and the daylie ryte
Syne in the mynd sa fast is radicate
That he in brutal beist is transformate.
This nobill clerk Esope, as I haif tauld,
In gay metir and facound purpurat
Be figure wrait his buke for he nocht wald
Tak the disdane off hie nor low estate,
And to begin, first of ane cok he wrate,
Seikand his meit, quhilk fand ane jolie stone,
Of quhome the fabill ye sall heir anone.
The Cock and the Jasp
Ane cok sumtyme with feddram fresch and gay,
Richt cant and crous albeit he was bot pure,
Flew furth upon ane dunghill sone be day.
To get his dennar set was al his cure.
Scraipand amang the as be aventure
He fand ane jolie jasp richt precious
Wes castin furth in sweping of the hous.
As damisellis wantoun and insolent
That fane wald play and on the streit be sene,
To swoping of the hous thay tak na tent
Quhat be thairin swa that the flure be clene,2
Jowellis ar tint as oftymis hes bene sene
Upon the flure and swopit furth anone.
Peradventure sa wes the samin stone.
Sa mervelland upon the stane, quod he,
“O gentill jasp, O riche and nobill thing,
Thocht I thee find, thow ganis not for me.
Thow art ane jowell for ane lord or king.
It wer pietie thow suld in this mydding
Be buryit thus amang this muke and mold
And thow so fair and worth sa mekill gold.
“It is pietie I suld thee find for quhy
Thy grit vertew nor yit thy cullour cleir
I may nouther extoll nor magnify,
And thow to me may mak bot lyttill cheir,
To grit lordis thocht thow be leif and deir.
I lufe fer better thing of les availl
As draf or corne to fill my tume intraill.
“I had lever ga skraip heir with my naillis
Amangis this mow and luke my lifys fude
As draf or corne, small wormis or snaillis,
Or ony meit wald do my stomok gude
Than of jaspis ane mekill multitude,
And thow agane upon the samin wyis
May me as now for thin availl dispyis.
“Thow hes na corne and thairof I had neid.
Thy cullour dois bot confort to the sicht
And that is not aneuch my wame to feid
For wyfis sayis that lukand werk is licht.
I wald sum meit have, get it geve I micht,
For houngrie men may not weil leif on lukis.
Had I dry breid, I compt not for na cukis.
“Quhar suld thow mak thy habitatioun,
Quhar suld thow dwell bot in ane royall tour,
Quhar suld thow sit bot on ane kingis croun,
Exaltit in worschip and in grit honour?
Rise, gentill jasp, of all stanis the flour,
Out of this fen and pas quhar thow suld be.
Thow ganis not for me nor I for thee.”
Levand this jowell law upon the ground
To seik his meit this cok his wayis went;
Bot quhen or how or quhome be it wes found
As now I set to hald na argument,
Bot of the inward sentence and intent
Of this fabill as myne author dois write
I sall reheirs in rude and hamelie dite.
This jolie jasp hes properteis sevin.
The first, of cullour it is mervelous,
Part lyke the fyre and part is lyke the hevin.
It makis ane man stark and victorious,
Preservis als fra cacis perrillous.
Quha hes this stane sall have gude hap to speid.
Of fyre nor fallis him neidis not to dreid.3
This gentill jasp richt different of hew
Betakinnis perfite prudence and cunning
Ornate with mony deidis of vertew
Mair excellent than ony eirthly thing,
Quhilk makis men in honour ay to ring,
Happie and stark to haif the victorie
Of all vicis and spirituall enemie.
Quha may be hardie, riche, and gratious?
Quha can eschew perrell and aventure?
Quha can governe ane realme, cietie, or hous?
Without science, no man, I yow assure.
It is riches that ever sall indure
Quhilk maith nor moist nor uther rust can freit.
To mannis saull it is eternall meit.
This cok, desyrand mair the sempill corne
Than ony jasp, may till ane fule be peir
Makand at science bot ane knak and scorne
And na gude can, als lytill will he leir.
His hart wammillis wyse argumentis to heir
As dois ane sow to quhome men for the nanis
In hir draf troich wald saw the precious stanis.
Quha is enemie to science and cunning
Bot ignorants that understandis nocht
Quhilk is sa nobill, precious, and ding
That it may with na eirdlie thing be bocht.
Weill wer that man over all uther that mocht
All his lyfe dayis in perfite studie wair
To get science for him neidit na mair.
Bot now allace this jasp is tynt and hid.
We seik it nocht nor preis it for to find.
Haif we richis, na better lyfe we bid,
Of science thocht the saull be bair and blind.
Of this mater to speik, it wair bot wind,
Thairfore I ceis and will na forther say.
Ga seik the jasp quha will for thair it lay.
The Two Mice
Esope myne authour makis mentioun
Of twa myis and thay wer sisteris deir
Of quham the eldest in ane borous toun,
The yungir wynnit uponland weill neir
Richt soliter, quhyle under busk and breir,
Quhilis in the corne in uther mennis skaith
As owtlawis dois and levit on hir waith.
This rurall mous into the wynter tyde
Had hunger, cauld, and tholit grit distres.
The tother mous that in the burgh couth byde,
Was gild brother and made ane fre burges,
Toll-fre alswa but custum mair or les
And fredome had to ga quhairever scho list
Amang the cheis and meill in ark and kist.
Ane tyme quhen scho wes full and unfutesair,
Scho tuke in mynd hir sister uponland
And langit for to heir of hir weilfair
To se quhat lyfe scho led under the wand.
Bairfute, allone, with pykestaf in hir hand
As pure pylgryme scho passit owt off town
To seik hir sister baith oure daill and down.
Throw mony wilsum wayis can scho walk,
Throw mure and mosse, throw bankis, busk, and breir,4
Fra fur to fur, cryand fra balk to balk,
“Cum furth to me, my awin sweit sister deir,
Cry peip anis!” With that the mous couth heir
And knew hir voce as kinnismen will do
Be verray kynd and furth scho come hir to.
The hartlie cheir, lord God geve ye had sene
Beis kythit quhen thir sisteris twa war met,
Quhilk that oft syis wes schawin thame betwene!
For quhylis thay leuch and quhylis for joy thay gret,
Quhyle kissit sweit and quhilis in armis plet
And thus thay fure quhill soberit wes their mude,
Syne fute for fute unto the chalmer yude.
As I hard say, it was ane semple wane
Of fog and farne full misterlyk wes maid,
Ane sillie scheill under ane erdfast stane
Of quhilk the entres wes not hie nor braid
And in the samin thay went but mair abaid
Withoutin fyre or candill birnand bricht
For comonly sic pykeris luffis not lycht.
Quhen thay wer lugit thus, thir sely myse,
The youngest sister into hir butterie hyid
And brocht furth nuttis and peis insteid of spyce.
Giff thair wes weilfair, I do it on thame besyde.
The burges mous prompit forth in pryde
And said, “Sister, is this your dayly fude?”
“Quhy not?” quod scho, “Think ye this meis nocht gude?”
“Na be my saull I think it bot ane scorne.”
“Madame,” quod scho, “ye be the mair to blame.
My mother sayd, efter that we wer borne,
That I and ye lay baith within ane wame.
I keip the ryte and custome of my dame
And of my syre, levand in povertie,
For landis hald we nane in propertie.”
“My fair sister,” quod scho, “hald me excusit.
This rude dyat and I can not accord.
To tender meit my stomok is ay usit
For quhy I fair alsweill as ony lord.
Thir wydderit peis and nuttis or thay be bord
Wil brek my teith and mak my wame ful sklender
Quhilk usit wes before to meitis tender.”
“Weil, weil, sister,” quod the rurall mous,
“Geve it yow pleis, sic thing as ye se heir,
Baith meit and dreink, harberie and hous
Sal be your awin will ye remane al yeir.
Ye sall it have wyth blyith and hartlie cheir
And that suld mak the maissis that ar rude
Amang freindis richt tender, sweit, and gude.
“Quhat plesans is in festis delicate
The quhilkis ar gevin with ane glowmand brow?
Ane gentill hart is better recreate
With blyith visage than seith to him ane kow;
Ane modicum is mair for till allow
Swa that Gude Will be kerver at the dais,
Than thrawin vult with mony spycit mais.”
For all this mery exhortatioun
This burges mous had littill will to sing
Bot hevilie scho kest hir browis doun
For all the daynteis that scho culd hir bring,
Yit at the last scho said halff in hething,
“Sister, this victuall and your royall feist
May weill suffice for sic ane rurall beist.
“Lat be this hole and cum unto my place,
I sall yow schaw be trewe experience
My Gude Friday is better nor your Pace,
My dische likingis is worth your haill expence.
I have housis anew of grit defence.
Of cat, na fall, na trap I have na dreid.”
“I grant,” quod scho, and on togidder yeid.
In skugry ay throw rankest gers and corne
Under covert full prevelie couth thay creip.
The eldest was the gyde and went beforne,
The younger to hir wayis tuke gude keip.
On nicht thay ran and on the day can sleip
Quhill in the morning or the laverok sang
Thay fand the town and in blythlie couth gang.
Not fer fra thyne unto ane worthie wane
This burges brocht thame sone quhare thay suld be.
Withowt godspeid thair herberie wes tane
Into ane spence with vittell grit plentie,
Baith cheis and butter upon skelfis hie,
Flesche and fische aneuch, baith fresche and salt,
And sekkis full of grotis, meile, and malt.
Efter quhen thay disposit wer to dyne,
Withowtin grace thay wesche and went to meit,
With all coursis that cukis culd devyne,
Muttoun and beif strikin in tailyeis greit.
Ane lordis fair thus couth thay counterfeit
Except ane thing, thay drank the watter cleir
Insteid of wyne bot yit thay maid gude cheir.
With blyith upcast and merie countenance,
The eldest sister sperit at hir gest
Giff that scho thocht be ressoun difference
Betwix that chalmer and hir sarie nest.
“Ye, dame!” quod scho. “bot how lang will this lest?”
“For evermair, I wait, and langer to.”
“Gif it be swa, ye ar at eis,” quod scho.
Till eik thair cheir ane subcharge furth scho brocht,
Ane plait of grottis and ane disch full of meill.
Thraf caikkis als I trow scho spairit nocht
Aboundantlie about hir for to deill
And mane full fyne scho brocht insteid of geill
And ane quhyte candill owt of ane coffer stall
Insteid of spyce to gust thair mouth withall.
Thus maid thay merie quhill thay micht na mair
And “Haill, Yule, haill!” thay cryit upon hie,
Yit efter joy oftymes cummis cair
And troubill efter grit prosperitie.
Thus as thay sat in all thair jolitie,
The spenser come with keyis in his hand,
Oppinnit the dure, and thame at denner fand.
They taryit not to wesche as I suppose
Bot on to ga quha micht formest win.
The burges had ane hole and in scho gois.
Hir sister had na hole to hyde hir in.
To se that selie mous it wes grit sin,
So desolate and will off all gude reid.
For verray dreid scho fell in swoun neir deid.
Bot as God wald, it fell ane happie cace.
The spenser had na laser for to byde,
Nowther to seik nor serche, to char nor chace,
Bot on he went and left the dure up wyde.
This bald burges his passage weill hes spyde.
Out of hir hole scho come and cryit on hie,
“How, fair sister! Cry peip, quhairever ye be!”
This rurall mous lay flatlingis on the ground
And for the deith scho wes full sair dredand
For till hir hart straik mony wofull stound,
As in ane fever trimbillit fute and hand.
And quhan hir sister in sic ply hir fand,
For verray pietie scho began to greit,
Syne confort hir with wordis hunny sweit.
“Quhy ly ye thus? Ryse up, my sister deir,
Cum to your meit, this perrell is overpast.”
The uther answerit with a hevie cheir,
“I may not eit, sa sair I am agast.
I had lever thir fourty dayis fast
With watter caill and gnaw benis or peis
Than all your feist in this dreid and diseis.”
With fair tretie yit scho gart hir upryse.
To burde thay went and on togidder sat
And scantlie had thay drunkin anis or twyse
Quhen in come Gib Hunter our jolie cat
And bad godspeid. The burges up with that.
And till hir hole scho fled as fyre of flint.
Bawdronis the uther be the bak hes hint.
Fra fute to fute he kest hir to and fra,
Quhylis up, quhylis doun, als tait as ony kid.
Quhylis wald he lat hir rin under the stra,
Quhylis wald he wink and play with hir buk-heid.
Thus to the selie mous grit pane he did
Quhill at the last throw fair fortune and hap
Betwix the dosor and the wall scho crap,
Syne up in haist behind the parraling
So hie scho clam that Gilbert micht not get hir
And be the clukis craftelie can hing
Till he wes gane. Hir cheir wes all the better,
Syne doun scho lap quhen thair wes nane to let hir.
Apon the burges mous loud can scho cry,
“Fairweill, sister, thy feist heir I defy.
“Thy mangerie is mingit all with cair,
Thy guse is gude, thy gansell sour as gall.
The subcharge of thy service is bot sair,
Sa sall thow find heir-efterwart ma fall.
I thank yone courtyne and yone perpall wall
Of my defence now fra yone crewell beist.
Almichtie God keip me fra sic ane feist!
“Wer I into the kith that I come fra
For weill nor wo I suld never cum agane.”
With that scho tuke hir leif and furth can ga
Quhylis throw the corne and quhylis throw the plane.
Quhen scho wes furth and fre, scho wes full fane
And merilie scho markit unto the mure.
I can not tell how eftirwart scho fure
Bot I hard say scho passit to hir den
Als warme as woll suppose it wes not greit,
Full beinly stuffit baith but and ben
Of beinis and nuttis, peis, ry, and quheit.
Quhenever scho list, scho had aneuch to eit
In quyet and eis withoutin ony dreid
Bot to hir sisteris feist na mair scho yeid.
Freindis, heir may ye find, will ye tak heid,
In this fabill ane gude moralitie.
As fitchis myngit ar with nobill seid
Swa intermellit is adversitie
With eirdlie joy swa that na state is frie
Without trubill or sum vexatioun
And namelie thay quhilk clymmis up maist hie
And not content with small possessioun.
Blissed be sempill lyfe withoutin dreid,
Blissed be sober feist in quietie.
Quha hes aneuch, of na mair hes he neid
Thocht it be littill into quantatie.
Grit aboundance and blind prosperitie
Oftymes makis ane evill conclusioun.
The sweitest lyfe thairfoir in this cuntrie
Is sickernes with small possessioun.
O wantoun man that usis for to feid
Thy wambe and makis it a god to be,
Luke to thyself, I warne thee weill ondeid.
The cat cummis and to the mous hes ee.
Quhat is avale than thy feist and royaltie
With dreidfull hart and tribulatioun?
Thairfoir best thing in eird, I say for me,
Is merry hart with small possessioun.
Thy awin fyre, freind, thocht it be bot ane gleid,
It warmis weill and is worth gold to thee.
As Solomon sayis, gif that thow will reid,
“Under the hevin I can not better se
Than ay be blyith and leif in honestie,”
Quhairfoir I may conclude be this ressoun,
Of eirthly joy it beiris maist degree,
Blyithnes in hart with small possessioun.
The Cock and the Fox
Thocht brutall beistis be irrationall,
That is to say, wantand discretioun,
Yit ilkane in thair kyndis naturall
Hes mony divers inclinatioun:
The bair busteous, the wolf, the wylde lyoun,
The fox fenyeit, craftie, and cautelows,
The dog to bark on nicht and keip the hows.
Sa different thay ar in properteis
Unknawin unto man and infinite,
In kynd havand sa fell diversiteis,
My cunning it excedis for to dyte.
Forthy as now I purpose for to wryte
Ane cais I fand quhilk fell this ather yeir
Betwix ane foxe and gentill Chantecleir.
Ane wedow dwelt intill ane drop thay dayis
Quhilk wan hir fude off spinning on hir rok
And na mair had forsuth as the fabill sayis
Except of hennis scho had ane lyttill flok
And thame to keip scho had ane jolie cok
Richt curageous that to this wedow ay
Devydit nicht and crew befoir the day.
Ane lyttill fra this foirsaid wedowis hows,
Ane thornie schaw thair wes, of grit defence,
Quhairin ane foxe, craftie and cautelous,
Maid his repair and daylie residence
Quhilk to this wedow did grit violence
In pyking off hir pultrie day and nicht
And na way be revengit on him scho micht.
This wylie tod, quhen that the lark couth sing,
Full sair hungrie unto the toun him drest
Quhair Chantecleir into the gray dawing,
Werie for-nicht, wes flowen fra his nest.
Lowrence this saw and in his mynd he kest
The juparteis, the wayis, and the wyle,
Be quhat menis he micht this cok begyle.
Dissimuland into countenance and cheir,
On kneis fell and simuland thus he said,
“Gude morne, my maister, gentill Chantecleir.”
With that the cok start bakwart in ane braid.
“Schir, be my saull, ye neid not be effraid
Nor yit for me to start nor fle abak;
I come bot heir yow service for to mak.
“Wald I not serve to yow, it wer bot blame
As I have done to yowr progenitouris.
Your father oft fulfillit hes my wame
And send me meit fra midding to the muris
And at his end I did my besie curis
To hald his heid and gif him drinkis warme,
Syne at the last the sweit swelt in my arme.”
“Knew ye my father?” quod the cok and leuch.
“Yea my fair sone, forsuth I held his heid
Quhen that he deit under ane birkin beuch,
Syne said the dirigie quhen that he wes deid.
Betwix us twa how suld thair be ane feid?
Quhame suld ye traist bot me your servitour
That to your father did sa grit honour?
“Quhen I behald your fedderis fair and gent,
Your beik, your breist, your hekill, and your kame,
Schir, be my saull and the blissit Sacrament,
My hart warmys, me think I am at hame.
Yow for to serve I wald creip on my wame
In froist and snaw, in wedder wan and weit,
And lay my lyart loikkis under your feit.”
This fenyeit foxe fals and dissimulate
Maid to this cok ane cavillatioun.
“Me think yow changit and degenerate
Fra your father and his conditioun.
Of craftie crawing he micht beir the croun
For he wald on his tais stand and craw.
This is na le, I stude beside and saw.”
With that the cok upon his tais hie
Kest up his beik and sang with all his micht.
Quod schir Lowrence, “Weill said, sa mot I the!
Ye ar your fatheris sone and air upricht
Bot of his cunning yit ye want ane slicht —
“Quhat!” quod the cok — “he wald, and haif na dout,
Baith wink and craw and turne him thryis about.”
The cok inflate with wind and fals vanegloir
That mony puttis unto confusioun,
Traisting to win ane grit worschip thairfoir,
Unwarlie winkand, walkit up and doun,
And syne to chant and craw he maid him boun
And suddandlie be he had crawin ane note,
The foxe wes war and hint him be the throte,
Syne to the woid but tarie with him hyit,
Of countermaund haifand bot lytill dout.
With that Pertok, Sprutok, and Toppok cryit.
The wedow hard and with ane cry come out.
Seand the cace, scho sichit and gaif ane schout,
“How! murther! reylok!” with ane hiddeous beir,
“Allace, now lost is gentill Chantecleir!”
As scho wer woid, with mony yell and cry,
Ryvand hir hair, upon hir breist can beit,
Syne paill of hew, half in ane extasy,
Fell doun for cair in swoning and in sweit.
With that the selie hennis left thair meit
And quhill this wyfe wes lyand thus in swoun
Fell of that cace in disputatioun.
“Allace,” quod Pertok, makand sair murning
With teiris grit attour hir cheikis fell,
“Yone wes our drowrie and our dayis darling,
Our nichtingall and als our orlege bell,
Our walkryfe watche us for to warne and tell
Quhen that Aurora with hir curcheis gray
Put up hir heid betwix the nicht and day.
“Quha sall our lemman be, quha sall us leid,
Quhen we ar sad quha sall unto us sing?
With his sweit bill he wald brek us the breid —
In all this warld wes thair ane kynder thing? —
In paramouris he wald do us plesing
At his power as nature did him geif.
Now efter him allace how sall we leif?”
Quod Sprutok than, “Ceis, sister, of your sorrow.
Ye be to mad, for him sic murning mais.
We sall fair weill I find, Sanct Johne to borrow.
The proverb sayis, ‘Als gude lufe cummis as gais.’
I will put on my halydais clais
And mak me fresch agane this jolie May,
Syne chant this sang, ‘Wes never wedow sa gay!’
“He wes angry and held us ay in aw
And woundit with the speir of jelowsy.
Of chalmer glew, Pertok, full weill ye knaw
Waistit he wes, of nature cauld and dry.
Sen he is gone thairfoir sister, say I,
Be blyith in baill for that is best remeid.
Let quik to quik and deid ga to the deid.”
Than Pertok spak that feinyeit faith befoir,
In lust but lufe that set all hir delyte.
“Sister, ye wait of sic as him ane scoir
Wald not suffice to slaik our appetyte.
I hecht yow be my hand sen ye ar quyte,
Within ane oulk, for schame and I durst speik,
To get ane berne suld better claw oure breik.”
Than Toppok lyke ane curate spak full crous,
“Yone wes ane verray vengeance from the hevin.
He wes sa lous and sa lecherous,
Seis coud he nocht with kittokis ma than sevin
Bot rychteous God haldand the balandis evin,
Smytis rycht sair, thocht he be patient,
Adulteraris that list thame not repent.
“Prydefull he wes and joyit of his sin
And comptit not for Goddis favour nor feid
Bot traistit ay to rax and sa to rin,
Quhill at the last his sinnis can him leid
To schamefull end and to yone suddand deid.
Thairfoir it is the verray hand of God
That causit him be werryit with the tod.”
Quhen this wes said, this wedow fra hir swoun
Start up on fute and on hir kennettis cryde,
“How! Birkye, Berrie, Bell, Bawsie Broun,
Rype-schaw, Rin-weil, Curtes, Nuttieclyde,
Togidder all but grunching furth ye glyde,
Reskew my nobill cok or he be slane
Or ellis to me se ye cum never agane.”
With that but baid thay braidet over the bent,
As fyre off flint thay over the feildis flaw,
Full wichtlie thay throw wood and wateris went
And ceissit not schir Lourence quhill thay saw;
Bot quhen he saw the raches cum on raw
Unto the cok in mynd he said, “God sen
That I and thow wer fairlie in my den.”
Then spak the cok with sum gude spirit inspyrit,
“Do my counsall and I sall warrand thee.
Hungrie thow art and for grit travell tyrit,
Richt faint of force and may not ferther fle.
Swyith turne agane and say that I and ye
Freindis ar maid and fellowis for ane yeir.
Than will thay stint, I stand for it, and not steir.”
This tod, thocht he wes fals and frivolus
And had fraudis his querrell to defend,
Desavit wes be menis richt mervelous
For falset failyeis ay at the latter end.
He start about and cryit as he wes kend.
With that the cok he braid unto a bewch.
Now juge ye all quhairat schir Lowrence lewch.
Begylit thus, the tod under the tre
On kneis fell and said, “Gude Chantecleir,
Cum doun agane and I but meit or fe
Sal be your man and servand for ane yeir.”
“Na, murther, theif, and revar, stand on reir.
My bludy hekill and my nek sa bla
Hes partit love for ever betwene us twa.
“I wes unwyse that winkit at thy will,
Quhairthrow almaist I loissit had my heid.”
“I wes mair fule,” quod he, “coud nocht be still
But spake to put my pray into pleid.”
“Fair on, fals theif, God keip me fra thy feid.”
With that the cok over the feildis tuke his flicht.
In at the wedowis lever couth he licht.
Now worthie folk, suppose this be ane fabill
And overheillit wyth typis figurall,
Yit may ye find ane sentence richt agreabill
Under thir fenyeit termis textuall.
To our purpose this cok weill may we call
Nyse proud men, woid and vaneglorious
Of kin and blude, quhilk ar presumpteous.
Fy, puft up pryde, thow is full poysonabill.
Quha favoris thee on force man haif ane fall.
Thy strenth is nocht, thy stule standis unstabill.
Tak witnes of the feyndis infernall
Quhilk houndit doun wes fra that hevinlie hall
To hellis hole and to that hiddeous hous
Because in pryde thay wer presumpteous.
This fenyeit foxe may weill be figurate
To flatteraris with plesand wordis quhyte,
With fals mening and mynd maist toxicate
To loif and le that settis thair haill delyte.
All worthie folk at sic suld haif despyte
For quhair is thair mair perrellous pestilence
Nor gif to learis haistelie credence?
The wickit mynd and adullatioun,
Of sucker sweit haifand the similitude,
Bitter as gall and full of fell poysoun
To taist it is, quha cleirlie understude.
Forthy as now, schortlie to conclude,
Thir twa sinnis, flatterie and vaneglore,
Ar vennomous. Gude folk, fle thame thairfoir.
The Fox and the Wolf
Leif we this wedow glaid, I yow assure,
Of Chantecleir mair blyith than I can tell,
And speik we of the fatal aventure
And destenie that to this foxe befell
Quhilk durst na mair with miching intermell
Als lang as leme or licht wes of the day
Bot bydand nicht full styll lurkand he lay
Quhill that Thetes the goddes of the flude
Phebus had callit to the harbery
And Hesperous put off his cluddie hude
Schawand his lustie visage in the sky,
Than Lourence luikit up quhair he couth ly
And kest his hand upon his ee on hicht,
Merie and glade that cummit wes the nicht.
Out of the wod unto ane hill he went
Quhair he micht se the twinkling sternis cleir
And all the planetis of the firmament,
Thair cours and eik thair moving in the spheir,
Sum retrograde and sum stationeir
And off the zodiak in quhat degree
Thay wer ilkane as Lowrence leirnit me:
Than Saturne auld wes enterit in Capricorne
And Juppiter movit in Sagittarie
And Mars up in the Rammis heid wes borne
And Phebus in the Lyoun furth can carie,
Venus the Crab, the Mone wes in Aquarie,
Mercurius the god of eloquence
Into the Virgyn maid his residence.
But astrolab, quadrant, or almanak,
Teichit of nature be instructioun,
The moving of the hevin this tod can tak
Quhat influence and constellatioun
Wes lyke to fall upon the eirth adoun
And to himself he said withoutin mair,
“Weill worth thee, father, that send me to the lair.
“My destenie and eik my weird I wait,
My aventure is cleirlie to me kend.
With mischeif myngit is my mortall fait,
My misleving the soner bot I mend.
Deid is reward of sin, and schamefull end.
Thairfoir I will ga seik sum confessour
And schryiff me clene of all sinnis to this hour.”
“Allace,” quod he, “richt waryit ar we thevis.
Our lyif is set ilk nicht in aventure.
Our cursit craft full mony man mischevis
For ever we steill and ever alyk ar pure.
In dreid and schame our dayis we indure,
Syne ‘Widdinek’ and ‘Crakraip’ callit als
And till our hyre ar hangit be the hals.”
Accusand thus his cankerit conscience,
Into ane craig he kest about his ee,
So saw he cummand ane lyttill than frome thence
Ane worthie doctour of divinitie,
Freir Wolff Waitskaith, in science wonder sle,
To preiche and pray wes new cum fra the closter
With beidis in hand, sayand his Pater Noster.
Seand this wolff, this wylie tratour tod
On kneis fell with hude into his nek.
“Welcome, my gostlie father under God,”
Quod he with mony binge and mony bek.
“Ha,” quod the wolff, “schir tod, for quhat effek
Mak ye sic feir? Ryse up, put on your hude!”
“Father,” quod he, “I haif grit cause to dude:
“Ye ar the lanterne and the sicker way
Suld gyde sic sempill folk as me to grace.
Your bair feit and your russet coull of gray,
Your lene cheik, your paill and pietious face,
Schawis to me your perfite halines
For weill wer him that anis in his lyve
Had hap to yow his sinnis for to schryve.”
“Na, selie Lowrence,” quod the wolf and leuch,
“It plesis me that ye ar penitent.”
“Of reif and stouth, schir, I can tell aneuch
That causis me full sair for to repent.
Bot father, byde still heir upon the bent,
I yow beseik, and heir me to declair
My conscience that prikkis me sa sair.”
“Weill,” quod the wolff, “sit doun upon thy kne.”
And he doun bairheid sat full humilly
And syne began with “Benedicitie.”
Quhen I this saw, I drew ane lytill by,
For it effeiris nouther to heir nor spy
Nor to reveill thing said under that seill
But to the tod thisgait the wolf couth mele,
“Art thow contrite and sorie in thy spreit
For thy trespas?” “Na, schir, I can not duid.
Me think that hennis ar sa honie sweit
And lambes flesche that new ar lettin bluid,
For to repent my mynd can not concluid
Bot of this thing that I haif slane sa few.”
“Weill,” quod the wolf, “in faith thow art ane schrew.
“Sen thow can not forthink thy wickitnes,
Will thow forbeir in tyme to cum and mend?”
“And I forbeir, how sall I leif allace,
Haifand nane uther craft me to defend?
Neid causis me to steill quhairever I wend.
I eschame to thig, I can not wirk ye wait,
Yit wald I fane pretend to gentill stait.”
“Weill,” quod the wolf, “thow wantis pointis twa
Belangand to perfyte confessioun.
To the thrid part of pennance let us ga.
Will thow tak pane for thy transgressioun?”
“A, schir, considder my complexioun,
Seikly and waik and of my nature tender;
Lo, will ye se, I am baith lene and sklender.
“Yit nevertheles I wald, swa it wer licht,
Schort, and not grevand to my tendernes,
Tak part of pane, fulfill it gif I micht,
To set my selie saull in way of grace.”
“Thow sall,” quod he, “forbeir flesch hyne to Pasche
To tame this corps, that cursit carioun,
And heir I reik thee full remissioun.”
“I grant thairto swa ye will giff me leif
To eit puddingis or laip ane lyttill blude
Or heid or feit or paynchis let me preif
In cace I faut of flesch unto my fude.”
“For grit mister I gif thee leif to dude
Twyse in the oulk, for neid may haif na law.”
“God yeild yow schir, for that text weill I knaw.”
Quhen this wes said, the wolf his wayis went.
The foxe on fute he fure unto the flude.
To fang him fisch haillelie wes his intent
Bot quhen he saw the walterand wallis woude,
All stonist still into ane stair he stude
And said, “Better that I had biddin at hame
Nor bene ane fischar in the devillis name.
“Now man I scraip my meit out of the sand
For I haif nouther boittis, net, nor bait.”
As he wes thus for falt of meit murnand,
Lukand about his leving for to lait,
Under ane tre he saw ane trip of gait.
Than wes he blyith and in ane hewch him hid,
And fra the gait he stall ane lytill kid,
Syne over the heuch unto the see he hyis
And tuke the kid be the hornis twane
And in the watter outher twyis or thryis
He dowkit him and till him can he sayne,
“Ga doun schir kid, cum up schir salmond agane,”
Quhill he wes deid, syne to the land him drewch
And of that new-maid salmond eit anewch.
Thus fynelie fillit with young tender meit,
Unto ane derne for dreid he him addrest
Under ane busk quhair that the sone can beit
To beik his breist and bellie he thocht best
And rekleslie he said quhair he did rest,
Straikand his wame aganis the sonis heit,
“Upon this wame set wer ane bolt full meit.”
Quhen this wes said, the keipar of the gait,
Cairfull in hart his kid wes stollen away,
On everilk syde full warlie couth he wait
Quhill at the last he saw quhair Lowrence lay.
Ane bow he bent, ane flane with fedderis gray
He haillit to the heid, and or he steird
The foxe he prikkit fast unto the eird.
“Now,” quod the foxe, “allace and wellaway.
Gorrit I am and may na forther gane.
Methink na man may speik ane word in play
Bot now on dayis in ernist it is tane.”
The hird him hynt and out he drew his flane
And for his kid and uther violence
He tuke his skyn and maid ane recompence.
This suddand deith and unprovysit end
Of this fals tod without contritioun
Exempill is exhortand folk to mend
For dreid of sic ane lyke conclusioun
For mony gois now to confessioun
Cannot repent nor for thair sinnis greit
Because thay think thair lustie lyfe sa sweit.
Sum bene also throw consuetude and ryte
Vincust with carnall sensualitie.
Suppose thay be as for the tym contryte,
Cannot forbeir nor fra thair sinnis fle.
Use drawis nature swa in propertie
Of beist and man that neidlingis thay man do
As thay of lang tyme hes bene hantit to.
Bewar, gude folke, and feir this suddane schoit
Quhilk smytis sair withoutin resistence.
Attend wyislie and in your hartis noit,
Aganis deith may na man mak defence.
Ceis of your sin, remord your conscience,
Do wilfull pennance here and ye sall wend
Efter your deith to blis withouttin end.
The Trial of the Fox
This foirsaid foxe that deit for his misdeid
Had not ane barne wes gottin richteouslie
That to his airschip micht of law succeid
Except ane sone the quhilk in lemanrie
He gottin had in purches privelie
And till his name wes callit Father-war
That luifit weill with pultrie tig and tar.
It followis weill be ressoun naturall
And gre be gre of richt comparisoun,
Of evill cummis war, of war cummis werst of all,
Of wrangus get cummis wrang successioun.
This foxe, bastard of generatioun,
Of verray kynde behuifit to be fals.
Swa wes his father and his grandschir als.
As nature will, seikand his meit be sent,
Off cace he fand his fatheris carioun,
Nakit, new slane and till him is he went,
Tuke up his heid and on his kne fell doun
Thankand grit God of that conclusioun
And said,”Now sall I bruke, sen I am air,
The boundis quhair thow wes wont for to repair.”
Fy covetice, unkynd and venemous.
The sone wes fane he fand his father deid
Be suddand schot for deidis odious
That he micht ringe and raxe intill his steid,
Dreidand nathing the samin lyfe to leid
In stouth and reif as he had done befoir
Bot to the end attent he tuke no moir.
Yit nevertheles throw naturall pietie
The carioun upon his bak he tais.
“Now find I weill this proverb trew,” quod he,
“Ay rinnis the foxe, als lang as he fute hais,”
Syne with the corps unto ane peitpoit gais
Of watter full and kest him in the deip
And to the Devill he gaif his banis to keip.
O fulische man plungit in wardlynes
To conqueis wrangwis guidis, gold and rent,
To put thy saull in pane or hevines,
To riche thy air quhilk efter thow art went,
Have he thy gude, he takis bot small tent
To sing or say for thy salvatioun.
Fra thow be dede, done is thy devotioun.
This tod to rest he carit to ane craig
And thair he hard ane buisteous bugill blaw
Quhilk as him thocht maid all the warld to waig,
Than start he up quhen he this hard and saw
Ane unicorne come lansand over ane law,
With horne in hand, ane bill in breist he bure,
Ane pursephant semelie, I yow assure.
Unto ane bank quhair he micht se about
On everilk syde, in haist he culd him hy,
Schot out his voce full schyll, and gaif ane schout
And “Oyas, oyas” twyse or thryse did cry.
With that the beistis in the feild thairby,
All mervelland quhat sic ane thing suld mene,
Govand agast, thay gaderit on ane grene.
Out of his buste ane bill sone can he braid
And red the text withoutin tarying.
Commandand silence, sadlie thus he said:
“‘We, nobill Lyoun, of all beistis the king,
Greting to God ay lestand but ending,
To brutall beistis and irrationall
I send as to my subjectis grit and small.
“‘My celsitude and hie magnificence
Lattis yow to wit that evin incontinent
Thinkis the morne with royall deligence
Upon this hill to hald ane parliament.
Straitlie thairfoir I gif commandement
For to compeir befoir my tribunall
Under all pane and perrell that may fall.’”
The morrow come, and Phebus with his bemis
Consumit had the mistie cluddis gray.
The ground wes grene and as the gold it glemis
With gresis growand gudelie, grit, and gay.
The spyce thay spred to spring on everilk spray.
The lark, the maveis, and the merll full hie
Sweitlie can sing, trippand fra tre to tre.
Thre leopardis come, a croun of massie gold
Beirand thay brocht unto that hillis hicht
With jaspis jonit and royall rubeis rold
And mony diveris dyamontis dicht.
With pollis proud ane palyeoun doun thay picht
And in that throne thair sat ane wild lyoun
In rob royall with sceptour, swerd, and croun.
Efter the tennour off the cry befoir
That gais on fut all beistis in the eird
As thay commandit wer withoutin moir
Befoir thair lord the lyoun thay appeird
And quhat thay wer, to me as Lowrence leird,
I sall reheirs ane part of everilk kynd
Als fer as now occurris to my mynd. As much
The minotaur, ane monster mervelous,
Bellerophont, that beist of bastardrie,
The warwolf and the pegase perillous
Transformit be assent of sorcerie,
The linx, the tiger full of tiranie,
The elephant and eik the dromedarie,
The cameill with his cran-nek furth can carie,
The leopard as I haif tauld beforne,
The anteloip the sparth furth couth speid,
The peyntit pantheir and the unicorne,
The rayndeir ran throw reveir, rone, and reid,
The jolie jonet and the gentill steid,
The asse, the mule, the hors of everilk kynd,
The da, the ra, the hornit hart, the hynd,
The bull, the beir, the bugill, and the bair,
The wodwys, wildcat, and the wild wolfyne,
The hardbakkit hurcheoun and the hirpland hair,
Baith otter and aip and pennit porcupyne,
The gukit gait, the selie scheip, the swyne,
The baver, bakon, and the balterand brok,
The fowmart with the fibert furth can flok,
The gray grewhound with slewthound furth can slyde
With doggis all divers and different,
The rattoun ran, the globard furth can glyde,
The quhrynand quhitret with the quhasill went,
The feitho that hes furrit mony fent,
The mertrik with the cunning and the con,
The bowranbane and eik the lerion,
The marmisset the mowdewart couth leid
Because that nature denyit had hir sicht.
Thus dressit thay all furth for dreid of deid.
The musk — the lytill mous with all hir micht
In haist haikit unto that hillis hicht —
And mony kynd of beistis I couth not knaw
Befoir thair lord the lyoun thay loutit law.
Seing thir beistis all at his bidding boun,
He gaif ane braid and blenkit him about,
Than flatlingis to his feit thay fell all doun.
For dreid of deith, thay droupit all in dout.
The lyoun lukit quhen he saw thame lout
And bad thame with ane countenance full sweit,
“Be not efferit bot stand up on your feit.
“I lat yow wit my micht is merciabill
And steiris nane that ar to me prostrait,
Angrie, austerne, and als unamyabill
To all that standfray ar to myne estait.
I rug, I reif all beistys that makis debait
Aganis the micht of my magnyficence.
Se nane pretend to pryde in my presence.
“My celsitude and my hie majestie
With micht and mercie myngit sall be ay.
The lawest heir I can full sone uphie
And mak him maister over yow all I may.
The dromedarie giff he will mak deray,
The grit camell thocht he wer never sa crous,
I can him law als lytill as ane mous.
“Se neir be twentie mylis quhair I am
The kid ga saiflie be the gaittis syde,
Se tod Lowrie luke not upoun the lam
Na revand beistis nouther ryn nor ryde.”
Thay couchit all efter that this wes cryde.
The justice bad the court for to gar fence,
The sutis call, and foirfalt all absence.
The panther with his payntit coit-armour
Fensit the court as of the law effeird.
Tod Lowrie lukit up quhair he couth lour
And start on fute all stonist and all steird.
Ryifand his hair, he rarit with ane reird,
Quaikand for dreid and sichand couth he say,
“Allace this hour, allace this dulefull day.
“I wait this suddand semblie that I se
Haifand the pointis of ane parliament
Is maid to mar sic misdoars as me.
Thairfoir geve I me schaw, I will be schent,
I will be socht and I be red absent,
To byde or fle it makis no remeid,
All is alyke, thair followis not bot deid.”
Perplexit thus in his hart can he mene
Throw falset how he micht himself defend.
His hude he drew far doun attoure his ene hood;
And winkand with the ane eye furth he wend.
Clinscheand he come that he micht not be kend
And for dreddour that he suld thoill arreist
He playit bukhude behind fra beist to beist.
O fylit spreit and cankerit conscience
Befoir ane roy renyeit with richteousnes,
Blakinnit cheikis and schamefull countenance,
Fairweill thy fame, now gone is all thy grace!
The phisnomie, the favour of thy face
For thy defence is foull and disfigurate,
Brocht to the licht basit, blunt, and blait.
Be thow atteichit with thift or with tressoun
For thy misdeid wrangous and wickit fay,
Thy cheir changis, Lowrence, thow man luke doun.
Thy worschip of this warld is went away.
Luke to this tod how he wes in effray
And fle the filth of falset, I thee reid,
Quhairthrow thair fallowis syn and schamefull deid.
Compeirand thus befoir thair lord and king
In ordour set as to thair stait effeird,
Of everilk kynd he gart ane part furth bring
And awfullie he spak and at thame speird
Geve there wes ony beist into this eird
Absent and thairto gart thame deiplie sweir
And thay said nane except ane gray stude meir.
“Ga make ane message sone unto that stude.”
The court than cryit, “My lord, quha sall it be?”
“Cum furth, Lowrie, lurkand under thy hude.”
“Aa, schir, mercie, lo I have bot ane ee,
Hurt in the hoche and cruikit as ye may se.
The wolff is better in ambassatry
And mair cunning in clergie fer than I.”
Rampand he said, “Ga furth, ye brybouris baith!”
And thay to ga withowtin tarying.
Over ron and rute thay ran togidder raith
And fand the meir at hir meit in the morning.
“Now,” quod the tod, “Madame, cum to the king.
The court is callit, and ye ar contumax.”
“Let be, Lowrence,” quod scho, “your cowrtlie knax.”
“Maistres,” quod he, “cum to the court ye mon.
The lyoun hes commandit so indeid.”
“Schir tod, tak ye the flyrdome and the fon.
I have respite ane yeir and ye will reid.”
“I can not spell,” quod he, “sa God me speid.
Heir is the wolff, ane nobill clerk at all
And of this message is maid principall.
“He is autentik and ane man of age
And hes grit practik of the chancellary.
Let him ga luke and reid your privilage
And I sall stand and beir witnes yow by.”
“Quhair is thy respite?” quod the wolff in hy.
“Schir, it is heir under my hufe, weill hid.”
“Hald up thy heill,” quod he, and so scho did.
Thocht he wes blindit with pryde, yit he presumis
To luke doun law quhair that hir letter lay.
With that the meir gird him upon the gumis
And straik the hattrell of his heid away.
Halff out of lyif, thair lenand doun he lay.
“Allace,” quod Lowrence, “Lupus, thow art loist.”
“His cunning,” quod the meir, “wes worth sum coist.
“Lowrence,” quod scho,”will thow luke on my letter
Sen that the wolff nathing thairoff can wyn?”
“Na, be Sanct Bryde,” quod he. “me think it better
To sleip in haill nor in ane hurt skyn.
Ane skrow I fand and this wes writtin in
(For fyve schillingis I wald not anis forfaut him),
Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum.”5
With brokin skap and bludie cheikis reid,
This wretchit wolff weipand on his wayis went
Of his menye markand to get remeid —
To tell the king the cace wes his intent.
“Schir,” quod the tod, “byde still upon this bent
And fra your browis wesche away the blude
And tak ane drink for it will do yow gude.”
To fetche watter this fraudfull foxe furth fure.
Sydelingis a bank he socht unto ane syke.
On cace he meittis, cummand fra the mure,
Ane trip of lambis dansand on ane dyke.
This tratour tod, this tirrant and this tyke,
The fattest of this flock he fellit hais
And eit his fill, syne to the wolff he gais.
Thay drank togidder and syne thair journey takis
Befoir the king, syne kneillit on thair kne.
“Quhair is yone meir, schir tod, wes contumax?”
Than Lowrence said, “My lord, speir not at me.
This new-maid doctour of divinitie
With his reid cap can tell yow weill aneuch.”
With that the lyoun and all the laif thay leuch.
“Tell on the cais now, Lowrence, let us heir.”
“This wittie wolf,” quod he, “this clerk of age,
On your behalff he bad the meir compeir
And scho allegit to ane privilage:
‘Cum neir and se, and ye sall haiff your wage.’
Because he red hir rispite plane and weill,
Yone reid bonat scho raucht him with hir heill.”
The lyoun said, “Be yone reid cap I ken
This taill is trew, quha tent unto it takis.
The greitest clerkis ar not the wysest men,
The hurt of ane happie the uther makis.”
As thay wer carpand in this cais with knakis
And all the court in garray and in gam,
Swa come the yow, the mother of the lam,
Befoir the justice on hir kneis fell,
Put out hir playnt on this wyis wofully,
“This harlet huresone and this hound of hell,
He werryit hes my lamb full doggitly
Within ane myle in contrair to your cry.
For Goddis lufe my lord, gif me the law
Of this lurker.” With that Lowrence let draw.
“Byde!” quod the lyoun, “Lymmer, let us se
Giff it be suthe the selie yow hes said.”
“Aa soverane lord, saif your mercie,” quod he,
“My purpois wes with him for to haif plaid,
Causles he fled as he had bene effraid,
For dreid of deith he duschit over ane dyke
And brak his nek.” “Thow leis,” quod scho, “fals tyke.”
“His deith be practik may be previt eith:
Thy gorrie gumis and thy bludie snout,
The woll, the flesche yit stikkis on thy teith
And that is evidence aneuch but dout.”
The justice bad ga cheis ane sis about
And so thay did and fand that he wes fals
Of murther, thift, and party tressoun als.
Thay band him fast, the justice bad belyif
To gif the dome and tak of all his clais,
The wolf that new-maid doctour couth him schrif,
Syne furth him led and to the gallows gais
And at the ledder fute his leif he tais.
The aip wes basare and bad him sone ascend
And hangit him and thus he maid his end.
Richt as the mynour in his minorall
Fair gold with fyre may fra the leid weill wyn,
Richt so under ane fabill figurall
Sad sentence men may seik and efter fyne
As daylie dois the doctouris of devyne
Apertly be oure leving can apply
And preve thare preching be a poesye.
The lyoun is the warld be liklynace
To quhome loutis baith empriour and king
And thinkis of this warld to get mare grace
And gapis daylie to get mair leving,
Sum for to reull and sum to raxe and ring,
Sum gadderis geir, sum gold, sum uther gude,
To wyn this warld, sum wirkis as thay wer wod.
This wolf I likkin to sensualitie
As quhen lyke brutall beistis we accord
Our mynd all to this warldis vanitie,
Lyking to tak and loif him as our lord.
Fle fast thairfra gif thow will richt remord,
Than sall ressoun ryse, rax, and ring
And for thy saull thair is na better thing.
The meir is men of contemplatioun
Of pennance walkand in this wildernes
As monkis and othir men of religioun
That presis God to pleis in everilk place,
Abstractit from this warldis wretchitnes
In wilfull povertee fra pomp and pryde,
And fra this warld in mynd ar mortyfyde.
Hir hufe I likkin to the thocht of deid.
Will thow remember, man, that thow man de,
Thow may brek sensualiteis heid
And fleschlie lust away fra thee sall fle.
Wis Salomon sais — will thow nocht see —
“For as thow may thy sely saull now wyn,
Think on thy end — thow sall not glaidlie sin.”
This tod I likkin to temptationis
Beirand to mynd mony thochtis vane
That daylie sagis men of religounis,
Cryand to thame, “Cum to the warld agane!”
Yit gif thay se sensualitie neir slane
And suddand deith with ithand panis sore,
Thay go abak and temptis thame no more.
O Mary myld mediatour of mercy meik
Sitt doun before thy sone celestiall,
For us synnars his celsitude beseke
Us to defend fra pane and perrellis all
And help us up unto that hevinlie hall
In gloir quhair we may se the face of God
And thus endis the talking of the tod.
The Sheep and the Dog
Esope ane taill puttis in memorie
How that ane doig because that he wes pure
Callit ane scheip unto the consistorie
Ane certane breid fra him for to recure.
Ane fraudfull wolff wes juge that tyme and bure
Authoritie and jurisdictioun
And on the scheip send furth ane strait summoun,
For by the use and cours and commoun style
On this maner maid his citatioun,
“I, Maister Wolff, partles of fraud and gyle,
Under the panis of hie suspensioun,
Of grit cursing and interdictioun,
Schir Scheip, I charge thee straitly to compeir
And answer to ane doig befoir me heir.”
Schir Corbie Ravin wes maid apparitour
Quha pykit had full mony scheipis ee,
The charge hes tane and on the letteris bure,
Summonit the scheip befoir the wolff that he
“Peremptourlie within the dayis thre
Compeir under the panis in this bill
To heir quhat Perrie doig will say thee till.”
This summondis maid befoir witnes anew,
The ravin, as to his office weill effeird,
Indorsat hes the write and on he flew.
The selie scheip durst lay na mouth on eird
Till he befoir the awfull juge appeird
Be oure off cause quhilk that court usit than — 6
Quhen Hesperus to schaw his face began.
The foxe wes clerk and noter in the cause,
The gled, the graip up at the bar couth stand
As advocatis expert into the lawis,
The doggis pley togidder tuke on hand
Quhilk wer confidderit straitlie in ane band
Aganis the scheip to procure the sentence.
Thocht it wes fals thay had na conscience.
The clerk callit the scheip, and he wes thair.
The advocatis on this wyse couth propone:
“Ane certane breid worth fyve schilling or mair
Thow aw the doig of quhilk the terme is gone.”
Of his awin heid, but advocate, allone,
Avysitlie gaif answer in the cace:
“Heir I declyne the juge, the tyme, the place.
“This is my cause in motive and effect:
The law sayis it is richt perrillous
Till enter pley befoir ane juge suspect
And ye, schir wolff, hes bene richt odious
To me for with your tuskis ravenous
Hes slane full mony kinnismen of myne,
Thairfoir as juge suspect I yow declyne.
“And schortlie, of this court ye memberis all,
Baith assessouris, clerk, and advocate,
To me and myne ar ennemies mortall
And ay hes bene as mony scheipheird wate.
The place is fer, the tyme is feriate
In quhilk no jugeis suld sit in consistory
Sa lait at evin. I yow accuse for-thy.”
Quhen that the juge in this wyse wes accusit,
He bad the parteis cheis with ane assent
Twa arbeteris as in the law is usit
For to declair and gif arbitriment
Quhidder the scheip suld answer in jugement
Befoir the wolff and so thay did but weir,
Of quhome the namis eftir ye sall heir.
The beir, the brok, the mater tuke on hand
For to discyde gif this exceptioun
Wes of na strenth or lauchfully mycht stand,
And thairupon as jugis thay sat doun
And held ane lang quhyle disputatioun,
Seikand full mony decreitis of the law
And glosis als, the veritie to knaw.
Of civile mony volum thay revolve,
The codies and digestis new and ald,
Pro and contra, strait argumentis resolve,
Sum a doctryne and sum anothir hald.
For prayer nor price, trow ye, thay wald fald
Bot held the glose and text of the decreis
As trew jugis. I schrew thame ay that leis.
Schortlie to mak ane end of this debait,
The arbiteris than summar and plane
The sentence gave and proces fulminait:
The scheip suld pas befoir the wolff agane
And end his pley. Than wes he nathing fane
For fra thair sentence couth he not appeill.
On clerkis I do it gif this sentence wes leill.
The scheip agane befoir the wolff derenyeit,
But advocate, abasitlie couth stand.
Up rais the doig and on the scheip thus plenyeit,
“Ane soume I payit have befoir the hand
For certane breid.” Thairto ane borrow he fand
That wrangouslie the scheip did hald the breid,
Quhilk he denyit, and thair began the pleid.
And quhen the scheip this stryif had contestait,
The justice in the cause furth can proceid.
Lowrence the actis and the proces wrait
And thus the pley unto the end thay speid.
This cursit court, corruptit all for meid,
Aganis gude faith, gude law, and conscience,
For this fals doig pronuncit the sentence.
And it till put to executioun,
The wolff chargit the scheip without delay
Under the panis of interdictioun
The soume of silver or the breid to pay.
Of this sentence allace quhat sall I say,
Quhilk dampnit hes the selie innocent
And justifyit the wrangous jugement?
The scheip, dreidand mair persecutioun,
Obeyand to the sentence and couth tak
His way unto ane merchand of the toun
And sauld the woll that he bure on his bak
Syne bocht the breid and to the doig couth mak
Reddie payment as he forjugeit was,
Naikit and bair syne to the feild couth pas.
This selie scheip may present the figure
Of pure commounis that daylie ar opprest
Be tirrane men quhilkis settis all thair cure
Be fals meinis to mak ane wrang conquest
In hope this present lyfe suld ever lest;
Bot all begylit thay will in schort tyme end
And efter deith to lestand panis wend.
This wolf I likkin to ane schiref stout
Quhilk byis ane forfalt at the kingis hand
And hes with him ane cursit assyis about,
And dytis all the pure men uponland.
Fra the crownar haif laid on him his wand,
Suppois he be als trew as wes Sanct Johine,
Slain sall he be or with the juge compone.
This ravin I likkin to ane fals crownair
Quhilk hes ane porteous of the inditement
And passis furth befoir the justice air
All misdoaris to bring to jugement;
Bot luke gif he be of ane trew intent
To scraip out “Johne” and wryte in “Will” or “Wat”
And swa ane bud at boith the parteis skat.
Of this fals tod of quhilk I spak befoir
And of this gled, quhat thay micht signify,
Of thair nature, as now I speik no moir,
Bot of this scheip and of his cairfull cry
I sall reheirs for as I passit by
Quhair that he lay, on cais I lukit doun
And hard him mak sair lamentatioun.
“Allace,” quod he, “this cursit consistorie
In middis of the winter now is maid
Quhen Boreas with blastis bitterlie
And frawart froistes thir flouris doun can faid.
On bankis bair now may I mak na baid,”
And with that word into ane coif he crap
Fra hair wedder and froistis him to hap.
Quaikand for cauld, sair murnand ay amang,
Kest up his ee unto the hevinnis hicht
And said, “O lord, quhy sleipis thow sa lang?
Walk and discerne my cause groundit on richt,
Se how I am be fraud, maistrie, and slicht
Peillit full bair and so is mony one
Now in this warld richt wonder wobegone.
“Se how this cursit syn of covetice
Exylit hes baith lufe, lawtie, and law.
Now few or nane will execute justice,
In falt of quhome the pure man is overthraw.
The veritie suppois the jugis knaw,
Thay ar so blindit with affectioun
But dreid for meid thay thoill the richt go doun.7
“Seis thow not, lord, this warld overturnit is
As quha wald change gude gold in leid or tyn.
The pure is peillit, the lord may do na mis,
And simonie is haldin for na syn.
Now is he blyith with okker maist may wyn.
Gentrice is slane and pietie is ago.
Allace gude lord, quhy tholis thow it so?
“Thow tholis this evin for our grit offence.
Thow sendis us troubill and plaigis soir
As hunger, derth, grit weir, or pestilence
Bot few amendis now thair lyfe thairfoir.
We pure pepill as now may do no moir
Bot pray to thee: sen that we ar opprest
Into this eirth, grant us in hevin gude rest.”
The Lion and the Mouse
In middis of June that joly sweit seasoun
Quhen that fair Phebus with his bemis bricht
Had dryit up the dew fra daill and doun
And all the land maid with his lemis licht,
In ane mornyng betwix midday and nicht
I rais and put all sleuth and sleip asyde
And to ane wod I went allone but gyde.
Sweit wes the smell of flouris quhyte and reid,
The noyes of birdis richt delitious,
The bewis braid blomit abone my heid,
The ground growand with gresis gratious.
Of all plesance that place wes plenteous,
With sweit odouris and birdis harmony,
The morning myld, my mirth wes mair forthy.
The rosis reid arrayit rone and ryce,
The prymeros and the purpour viola.
To heir it wes ane poynt of paradice
Sic mirth the mavis and the merle couth ma.
The blossummis blythe brak upon bank and bra,
The smell of herbis and the fowlis cry
Contending quha suld have the victory.
Me to conserve than fra the sonis heit,
Under the schaddow of ane hawthorne grene
I lenit doun amang the flouris sweit
Syne maid a cors and closit baith my ene.
On sleip I fell amang thir bewis bene
And in my dreme methocht come throw the schaw
The fairest man that ever befoir I saw.
His gowne wes of ane claith als quhyte as milk,
His chymmeris wes of chambelate purpour broun,
His hude of scarlet bordowrit weill with silk
On hekillit wyis untill his girdill doun,
His bonat round and of the auld fassoun,
His beird wes quhyte, his ene wes grit and gray
With lokker hair quhilk over his schulderis lay.
Ane roll of paper in his hand he bair,
Ane swannis pen stikand under his eir,
Ane inkhorne with ane prettie gilt pennair,
Ane bag of silk all at his belt he weir,
Thus wes he gudelie grathit in his geir.
Of stature large and with ane feirfull face,
Evin quhair I lay he come ane sturdie pace
And said, “God speid, my sone,” and I wes fane
Of that couth word and of his cumpany.
With reverence I salusit him agane,
“Welcome, father,” and he sat doun me by.
“Displeis yow not my gude maister thocht I
Demand your birth, your facultye, and name,
Quhy ye come heir or quhair ye dwell at hame.”
“My sone,” said he, “I am of gentill blude.
My natall land is Rome withoutin nay
And in that towne first to the sculis I yude,
In civile law studyit full mony ane day
And now my winning is in hevin for ay.
Esope I hecht. My writing and my werk
Is couth and kend to mony cunning clerk.”
“O maister Esope, poet lawriate,
God wait ye ar full deir welcum to me.
Ar ye not he that all thir fabillis wrate
Quhilk in effect suppois thay fenyeit be,
Ar full of prudence and moralitie?”
“Fair sone,” said he, “I am the samin man.”
God wait gif that my hert wes merie than.
I said, “Esope, my maister venerabill,
I yow beseik hartlie for cheritie
Ye wald dedene to tell ane prettie fabill
Concludand with ane gude moralitie.”
Schaikand his heid, he said, “My sone, lat be
For quhat is it worth to tell ane fenyeit taill
Quhen haly preiching may nathing availl?
“Now in this warld me think richt few or nane
To Goddis word that hes devotioun.
The eir is deif, the hart is hard as stane,
Now oppin sin without correctioun,
The e inclynand to the eirth ay doun,
Sa roustit is the warld with canker blak
That now my taillis may lytill succour mak.”
“Yit, gentill schir,” said I, “For my requeist,
Not to displeis your fatherheid I pray,
Under the figure off ane brutall beist
Ane morall fabill ye wald denye to say.
Quha wait nor I may leir and beir away
Sumthing thairby heirefter may availl?’
“I grant,” quod he, and thus begouth ane taill.
Ane lyoun, at his pray wery foirrun,
To recreat his limmis and to rest,
Beikand his breist and belly at the sun,
Under ane tre lay in the fair forest.
Swa come ane trip of myis out off thair nest
Richt tait and trig, all dansand in ane gyis
And over the lyoun lansit twyis or thryis.
He lay so still, the myis wes not effeird
Bot to and fro out over him tuke thair trace.
Sum tirlit at the campis of his beird,
Sum spairit not to claw him on the face.
Merie and glaid thus dansit thay ane space
Till at the last the nobill lyoun woke
And with his pow the maister mous he tuke.
Scho gave ane cry and all the laif, agast,
Thair dansing left and hid thame sone alquhair.
Scho that wes tane cryit and weipit fast
And said allace oftymes that scho come thair.
“Now am I tane ane wofull presonair
And for my gilt traistis incontinent
Of lyfe and deith to thoill the jugement.”
Than spak the lyoun to that cairfull mous,
“Thow cative wretche and vile unworthie thing,
Over malapart and eik presumpteous
Thow wes to mak out over me thy tripping.
Knew thow not weill I wes baith lord and king
Of beistis all?” “Yes,” quod the mous, “I knaw,
Bot I misknew because ye lay so law.
“Lord, I beseik thy kinglie royaltie
Heir quhat I say and tak in patience.
Considder first my simple povertie
And syne thy mychtie hie magnyfycence.
Se als how thingis done of neglygence,
Nouther of malice nor of prodissioun,
Erer suld have grace and remissioun.
“We wer repleit and had grit aboundance
Off alkin thingis sic as to us effeird.
The sweit sesoun provokit us to dance
And mak sic mirth as nature to us leird.
Ye lay so still and law upon the eird
That be my saull we weind ye had bene deid,
Elles wald we not have dancit over your heid.”
“Thy fals excuse,” the lyoun said agane,
“Sall not availl ane myte, I underta.
I put the cace I had bene deid or slane
And syne my skyn bene stoppit full of stra,
Thocht thow had found my figure lyand swa,
Because it bare the prent of my persoun,
Thow suld for feir on kneis have fallin doun.
“For thy trespas thow can mak na defence
My nobill persoun thus to vilipend.
Of thy feiris nor thy awin negligence
For to excuse thow can na cause pretend.
Thairfoir thow suffer sall ane schamefull end
And deith sic as to tressoun is decreit,
Onto the gallous harlit be the feit.”
“A, mercie, lord, at thy gentrice I ase
As thow art king of beistis coronate,
Sober thy wraith and let thi yre overpas
And mak thy mynd to mercy inclynate.
I grant offence is done to thyne estate,
Quhairfoir I worthie am to suffer deid
Bot gif thy kinglie mercie reik remeid.
“In everie juge mercy and reuth suld be
As assessouris and collaterall.
Without mercie, justice is crueltie
As said is in the lawis spirituall.
Quhen rigour sittis in the tribunall,
The equitie of law quha may sustene?
Richt few or nane but mercie gang betwene.
“Alswa ye knaw the honour triumphall
Of all victour upon the strenth dependis
Of his conqueist quhilk manlie in battell
Throw jeopardie of weir lang defendis.
Quhat pryce or loving quhen the battell endis
Is said off him that overcummis ane man
Him to defend quhilk nouther may nor can?
“Ane thowsand myis to kill and eik devoir
Is lytill manheid to ane strang lyoun,
Full lytill worschip have ye wyn thairfoir,
To quhais strenth is na comparisoun.
It will degraid sum part of your renoun
To sla ane mous quhilk may mak na defence
Bot askand mercie at your excellence.
“Also it semis not your celsitude
Quhilk usis daylie meittis delitious
To fyle your teith or lippis with my blude
Quhilk to your stomok is contagious.
Unhailsum meit is of ane sarie mous
And that namelie untill ane strang lyoun
Wont till be fed with gentill vennesoun.
“My lyfe is lytill worth, my deith is les,
Yit and I leif I may peradventure
Supplie your hienes beand in distres
For oft is sene ane man of small stature
Reskewit hes ane lord of hie honour
Keipit that wes in poynt to be overthrawin
Throw misfortoun. Sic cace may be your awin.”
Quhen this wes said, the lyoun his langage
Paissit and thocht according to ressoun
And gart mercie his cruell ire asswage
And to the mous grantit remissioun,
Oppinnit his pow and scho on kneis fell doun
And baith hir handis unto the hevin upheild,
Cryand, “Almichty God mot yow foryeild!”
Quhen scho wes gone, the lyoun held to hunt
For he had nocht bot levit on his pray
And slew baith tayme and wyld as he wes wont
And in the cuntrie maid ane grit deray
Till at the last the pepill fand the way
This cruell lyoun how that thay mycht tak.
Of hempyn cordis strang nettis couth thay mak
And in ane rod quhair he wes wont to ryn
With raipis rude fra tre to tre it band,
Syne kest ane range on raw the wod within,
With hornis blast and kennettis fast calland.
The lyoun fled and throw the ron rynnand
Fell in the net and hankit fute and heid.
For all his strenth he couth mak na remeid.
Welterand about with hiddeous rummissing,
Quhyle to, quhyle fra, quhill he mycht succour get
Bot all in vane, it vailyeit him nathing.
The mair he flang, the faster wes he knet.
The raipis rude wes sa about him plet
On everilk syde that succour saw he nane
Bot styll lyand, thus murnand maid his mane.
“O lamit lyoun liggand heir sa law,
Quhair is the mycht of thy magnyfycence
Of quhome all brutall beist in eird stude aw
And dred to luke upon thy excellence?
But hoip or help, but succour or defence,
In bandis strang heir man I ly allace
Till I be slane, I se nane uther grace.
“Thair is na wy that will my harmis wreik
Nor creature do confort to my croun.
Quha sall me bute, quha sall my bandis breik,
Quha sall me put fra pane off this presoun?”
Be he had maid this lamentatioun,
Throw aventure the lytill mous come neir
And of the lyoun hard the pietuous beir.
And suddanlie it come intill hir mynd
That it suld be the lyoun did hir grace
And said, “Now wer I fals and richt unkynd
Bot gif I quit sum part thy gentilnes
Thow did to me,” and on with that scho gais
To hir fellowis and on thame fast can cry,
“Cum help, cum help!” and thay come all in hy.
“Lo,” quod the mous, “this is the same lyoun
That grantit grace to me quhen I wes tane
And now is fast heir bundin in presoun,
Brekand his hart with sair murning and mane.
Bot we him help, of souccour wait he nane.
Cum help to quyte ane gude turne for ane uther,
Go lous him sone”; and thay said, “Ye, gude brother.”
Thay tuke na knyfe, thair teith wes scharpe aneuch.
To se that sicht forsuith it wes grit wounder
How that thay ran amang the rapis tewch,
Befoir, behind, sum yeid abone, sum under
And schuir the raipis of the mastis in schunder,
Syne bad him ryse and he start up anone
And thankit thame, syne on his way is gone.
Now is the lyoun fre of all danger,
Lows and delyverit to his libertie
Be lytill beistis of ane small power
As ye have hard because he had pietie.”
Quod I, “Maister, is thair ane moralitie
In this fabill?” “Yea, sone,” he said, “richt gude.”
“I pray yow, schir,” quod I, “Ye wald conclude.”
“As I suppois, this mychtie gay lyoun
May signifie ane prince or empriour,
Ane potestate or yit ane king with croun
Quhilk suld be walkrife gyde and governour
Of his pepill and takis na labour
To reule and steir the land and justice keip,
Bot lyis still in lustis, sleuth, and sleip.
The fair forest with levis lowne and le,
With foulis sang and flouris ferlie sweit
Is bot the warld and his prosperitie
As fals plesance myngit with cair repleit.
Richt as the rois with froist and wynter weit
Faidis, swa dois the warld and thame desavis
Quhilk in thair lustis maist confidence havis.
Thir lytill myis ar bot the commountie,
Wantoun, unwyse without correctioun.
Thair lordis and princis quhen that thay se
Of justice mak nane executioun,
Thay dreid nathing to mak rebellioun
And disobey for quhy thay stand nane aw
That garris thame thair soveranis misknaw.
Be this fabill, ye lordis of prudence
May considder the vertew of pietie
And to remit sumtyme ane grit offence
And mitigate with mercy crueltie.
Oftymis is sene ane man of small degree
Hes quit ane kinbute baith for gude and ill
As lord hes done rigour or grace him till.
Quha wait how sone ane lord of grit renoun
Rolland in wardlie lust and vane plesance
May be overthrawin, destroyit, and put doun
Throw fals fortoun quhilk of all variance
Is haill maistres and leidar of the dance
Till injust men and blindis thame so soir
That thay na perrell can provyde befoir?
Thir rurall men that stentit hes the net
In quhilk the lyoun suddandlie wes tane
Waittit alway amendis for to get.
For hurt, men wrytis in the marbill stane.
Mair till expone as now I lett allane
Bot king and lord may weill wit quhat I mene.
Figure heirof oftymis hes bene sene.”
Quhen this wes said, quod Esope, “My fair child,
Persuaid the kirkmen ythandly to pray
That tressoun of this cuntrie be exyld
And justice regne and lordis keip thair fay
Unto thair soverane lord baith nycht and day,”
And with that word he vanist and I woke,
Syne throw the schaw my journey hamewart tuke.
The Preaching of the Swallow
The hie prudence and wirking mervelous,
The profound wit of God omnipotent
Is sa perfyte and sa ingenious,
Excellent far all mannis argument
For quhy to him all thing is ay present
Rycht as it is or ony tyme sall be
Befoir the sicht of his divinitie,
Thairfoir our saull with sensualitie
So fetterit is in presoun corporall,
We may not cleirlie understand nor se
God as he is, a thing celestiall.
Our mirk and deidlie corps materiale
Blindis the spirituall operatioun
Lyke as ane man wer bundin in presoun.
In Metaphisik Aristotell sayis
That mannis saull is lyke ane bakkis ee
Quhilk lurkis still als lang as licht of day is
And in the gloming cummis furth to fle.
Hir ene ar waik, the sone scho may not se.
Sa is our saull with fantasie opprest
To knaw the thingis in nature manifest.
For God is in his power infinite,
And mannis saull is febill and over small,
Of understanding waik and unperfite
To comprehend him that contenis all;
Nane suld presume be ressoun naturall
To seirche the secreitis of the Trinitie,
Bot trow fermelie and lat dirk ressounis be.
Yit nevertheles we may haif knawlegeing
Of God almychtie be his creatouris,
That he is gude, fair, wyis, and bening.
Exempill takis be thir jolie flouris
Rycht sweit of smell and plesant of colouris,
Sum grene, sum blew, sum purpour, quhyte, and reid,
Thus distribute be gift of his godheid.
The firmament payntit with sternis cleir
From eist to west rolland in cirkill round,
And everilk planet in his proper spheir,
In moving makand harmonie and sound,
The fyre, the air, the watter, and the ground:
Till understand it is aneuch iwis
That God in all his werkis wittie is.
Luke we the fische that swimmis in the se,
Luke we in eirth all kynd of bestyall,
The foulis fair sa forcelie thay fle,
Scheddand the air with pennis grit and small;
Syne luke to man that he maid last of all
Lyke to his image and his similitude;
Be thir we knaw that God is fair and gude.
All creature he maid for the behufe
Of man and to his supportatioun
Into this eirth, baith under and abufe,
In number, wecht, and dew proportioun,
The difference of tyme and ilk seasoun
Concorddand till our opurtunitie
As daylie be experience we may se.
The somer with his jolie mantill grene
With flouris fair furrit on everilk fent,
Quhilk Flora goddes of the flouris quene
Hes to that lord as for his seasoun lent
And Phebus with his goldin bemis gent
Hes purfellit and payntit plesandly
With heit and moysture stilland from the sky.
Syne harvest hait quhen Ceres that goddes
Hir barnis benit hes with abundance
And Bachus god of wyne renewit hes
Hir tume pyipis in Italie and France
With wynis wicht and liquour of plesance
And copia temporis to fill hir horne
That never wes full of quheit nor uther corne.
Syne wynter wan quhen austerne Eolus
God of the wynd with blastis boreall
The grene garment of somer glorious
Hes all to-rent and revin in pecis small.
Than flouris fair faidit with froist man fall,
And birdis blyith changit thair noitis sweit
In styll murning, neir slane with snaw and sleit.
Thir dalis deip with dubbis drounit is,
Baith hill and holt heillit with frostis hair
And bewis bene ar bethit bair of blis.
Be wickit windis of the winter wair,
All wyld beistis than from the bentis bair
Drawis for dreid unto thair dennis deip,
Coucheand for cauld in coifis thame to keip.
Syne cummis ver quhen winter is away,
The secretar of somer with his sell
Quhen columbie up keikis throw the clay
Quhilk fleit wes befoir with froistes fell.
The mavis and the merle beginnis to mell,
The lark on loft with uther birdis smale
Than drawis furth fra derne over doun and daill.
That samin seasoun into ane soft morning,
Rycht blyth that bitter blastis wer ago,
Unto the wod to se the flouris spring
And heir the mavis sing and birdis mo,
I passit furth, syne lukit to and fro
To se the soill that wes richt sessonabill,
Sappie, and to resave all seidis abill.
Moving thusgait, grit myrth I tuke in mynd
Of lauboraris to se the besines,
Sum makand dyke and sum the pleuch can wynd,
Sum sawand seidis fast frome place to place,
The harrowis hoppand in the saweris trace.
It wes grit joy to him that luifit corne
To se thame laubour baith at evin and morne,
And as I baid under ane bank full bene,
In hart gritlie rejosit of that sicht,
Unto ane hedge under ane hawthorne grene,
Of small birdis thair come ane ferlie flicht
And doun belyif can on the leifis licht
On everilk syde about me quhair I stude,
Rycht mervellous, ane mekill multitude.
Amang the quhilks ane swallow loud couth cry
On that hawthorne hie in the croip sittand,
“O ye birdis on bewis heir me by,
Ye sall weill knaw and wyislie understand
Quhair danger is or perrell appeirand
It is grit wisedome to provyde befoir
It to devoyd for dreid it hurt yow moir.”
“Schir swallow,” quod the lark agane and leuch,
“Quhat have ye sene that causis yow to dreid?”
“Se ye yone churll,” quod scho, “beyond yone pleuch
Fast sawand hemp, lo se, and linget seid,
Yone lint will grow in lytill tyme indeid
And thairof will yone churll his nettis mak
Under the quhilk he thinkis us to tak.
“Thairfoir I reid we pas quhen he is gone
At evin and with our naillis scharp and small
Out of the eirth scraip we yone seid anone
And eit it up for giff it growis we sall
Have cause to weip heirefter ane and all.
Se we remeid thairfoir furthwith instante,
Nam levius laedit quicquid praevidimus ante.
“For clerkis sayis it is nocht sufficient
To considder that is befoir thyne ee
Bot prudence is ane inwart argument
That garris ane man provyde befoir and see
Quhat gude, quhat evill, is liklie for to be
Of everilk thingis at the fynall end,
And swa fra perrell ethar him defend.”
The lark lauchand the swallow thus couth scorne
And said scho fischit lang befoir the net.
“The barne is eith to busk that is unborne.
All growis nocht that in the ground is set.
The nek to stoup quhen it the straik sall get
Is sone aneuch. Deith on the fayest fall.”
Thus scornit thay the swallow ane and all.
Despysing thus hir helthsum document,
The foulis ferslye tuke thair flicht anone,
Sum with ane bir thay braidit over the bent
And sum agane ar to the grene wod gone.
Upon the land quhair I wes left allone,
I tuke my club and hamewart couth I carie
Swa ferliand as I had sene ane farie.
Thus passit furth quhill June that jolie tyde
And seidis that wer sawin of beforne
Wer growin hie that hairis mycht thame hyde
And als the quailye craikand in the corne.
I movit furth betwix midday and morne
Unto the hedge under the hawthorne grene
Quhair I befoir the said birdis had sene,
And as I stude be aventure and cace
The samin birdis as I haif said yow air,
I hoip because it wes thair hanting place,
Mair of succour or yit mair solitair,
Thay lychtit doun and quhen thay lychtit wair,
The swallow swyth put furth ane pietuous pyme,
Said, “Wo is him can not bewar in tyme.
“O blind birdis and full of negligence,
Unmyndfull of your awin prosperitie,
Lift up your sicht and tak gude advertence,
Luke to the lint that growis on yone le.
Yone is the thing I bad forsuith that we,
Quhill it wes seid, suld rute furth off the eird.
Now is it lint, now is it hie on breird,
“Go yit quhill it is tender, young, and small,
And pull it up, let it na mair incres.
My flesche growis, my bodie quaikis all,
Thinkand on it I may not sleip in peis.”
Thay cryit all and bad the swallow ceis
And said, “yone lint heirefter will do gude,
For linget is to lytill birdis fude.
“We think quhen that yone lint bollis ar ryip
To mak us feist and fill us of the seid
Magré yone churll and on it sing and pyip.”
“Weill,” quod the swallow, “freindes, hardilie beid,
Do as ye will bot certane sair I dreid
Heirefter ye sall find als sour as sweit
Quhen ye ar speldit on yone carlis speit.
“The awner of yone lint ane fouler is,
Richt cautelous and full off subteltie.
His pray full sendill tymis will he mis
Bot gif we birdis all the warrer be.
Full mony of our kin he hes gart de
And thocht it bot ane sport to spill thair blude.
God keip me fra him, and the halie rude.”
Thir small birdis haveand bot lytill thocht
Of perrell that mycht fall be aventure,
The counsell of the swallow set at nocht
Bot tuke thair flicht and furth togidder fure,
Sum to the wode, sum markit to the mure.
I tuke my staff quhen this wes said and done
And walkit hame for it drew neir the none.
The lynt ryipit, the carll pullit the lyne,
Rippillit the bollis and in beitis set,
It steipit in the burne and dryit syne
And with ane bittill knokkit it and bet,
Syne swingillit it weill and hekkillit in the flet.
His wyfe it span and twynit it into threid
Of quhilk the fowlar nettis maid indeid.
The wynter come, the wickit wind can blaw,
The woddis grene wer wallowit with the weit,
Baith firth and fell with froistys wer maid faw,
Slonkis and slaik maid slidderie with the sleit.
The foulis fair for falt thay fell of feit.
On bewis bair it wes na bute to byde
Bot hyit unto housis thame to hyde.
Sum in the barn, sum in the stak of corne
Thair lugeing tuke and maid thair residence.
The fowlar saw and grit aithis hes he sworne
Thay suld be tane trewlie for thair expence.
His nettis hes he set with diligence
And in the snaw he schulit hes ane plane
And heillit it all over with calf agane.
Thir small birdis, seand the calff, wes glaid.
Trowand it had bene corne, thay lychtit doun
Bot of the nettis na presume thay had
Nor of the fowlaris fals intentioun.
To scraip and seik thair meit thay maid thame boun.
The swallow into a branche litill by,
Dreiddand for gyle, thus loud on thame couth cry:
“Into that calf scraip quhill your naillis bleid,
Thair is na corne, ye laubour all in vane,
Trow ye yone churll for pietie will yow feid?
Na, na, he hes it lyit heir for ane trane.
Remove, I reid, or ellis ye will be slane;
His nettis he hes set full prively,
Reddie to draw; in tyme be war forthy.
“Grit fule is he that puttis in dangeir
His lyfe, his honour, for ane thing of nocht.
Grit fule is he that will not glaidlie heir
Counsall in tyme quhill it availl him mocht.
Grit fule is he that nathing hes in thocht
Bot thing present and efter quhat may fall
Nor of the end hes na memoriall.”
Thir small birdis, for hunger famischit neir,
Full besie scraipand for to seik thair fude,
The counsall of the swallow wald not heir,
Suppois thair laubour dyd thame lytill gude.
Quhen scho thair fulische hartis understude
Sa indurate, up in ane tre scho flew.
With that, this churll over thame his nettis drew.
Allace it wes rycht grit hertis sair to se
That bludie bowcheour beit thay birdis doun
And for till heir quhen thay wist weill to de
Thair cairfull sang and lamentatioun.
Sum with ane staf he straik to eirth on swoun,
Sum off the heid, off sum he brak the crag,
Sum half on lyfe he stoppit in his bag.
And quhen the swallow saw that thay wer deid,
“Lo,” quod scho, “thus it happinnis mony syis
On thame that will not tak counsall nor reid
Of prudent men or clerkis that ar wyis.
This grit perrell I tauld thame mair than thryis.
Now ar thay deid, and wo is me thairfoir.”
Scho tuke hir flicht, bot I hir saw no moir.
Lo worthie folk, Esope that nobill clerk,
Ane poet worthie to be lawreate,
Quhen that he vaikit from mair autentik werk
With uther ma, this foirsaid fabill wrate
Quhilk at this tyme may weill be applicate
To gude morall edificatioun,
Haifand ane sentence according to ressoun.
This carll and bond of gentrice spoliate,
Sawand this calf thir small birdis to sla,
It is the feind quhilk fra the angelike state
Exylit is as fals apostata
Quhilk day and nycht weryis not for to ga
Sawand poysoun and mony wickit thocht
In mannis saull quhilk Christ full deir hes bocht.
And quhen the saull as seid into the eird
Gevis consent in delectatioun,
The wickit thocht beginnis for to breird
In deidlie sin quhilk is dampnatioun.
Ressoun is blindit with affectioun
And carnall lust growis full grene and gay
Throw consuetude hantit from day to day.
Proceding furth be use and consuetude,
The sin ryipis and schame is set on syde,
The feynd plettis his nettis stark and rude,
And under plesance previlie dois hyde,
Syne on the feild he sawis calf full wyde,
Quhilk is bot tume and verray vanitie
Of fleschlie lust and vaine prosperitie.
Thir hungrie birdis wretchis we may call
Ay scraipand in this warldis vane plesance,
Greddie to gadder gudis temporall,
Quhilk as the calf ar tume without substance,
Lytill of vaill and full of variance,
Lyke to the mow befoir the face of wind
Quhiskis away and makis wretchis blind.
This swallow quhilk eschaipit thus the snair
The halie preichour weill may signifie,
Exhortand folk to walk and ay bewair
Fra nettis of our wickit enemie
Quha sleipis not bot ever is reddie
Quhen wretchis in this warld calf dois scraip
To draw his net that thay may not eschaip.
Allace, quhat cair, quhat weiping is and wo,
Quhen saull and bodie partit ar in twane:
The bodie to the wormis keitching go;
The saull to fyre, to everlestand pane.
Quhat helpis than this calf, thir gudis vane,
Quhen thow art put in Luceferis bag
And brocht to hell and hangit be the crag?
Thir hid nettis for to persave and se,
This sarie calf wyislie to understand,
Best is bewar in maist prosperitie
For in this warld thair is na thing lestand.
Is na man wait how lang his stait will stand,
His lyfe will lest, nor how that he sall end
Efter his deith nor quhidder he sall wend.
Pray we thairfoir quhill we ar in this lyfe
For four thingis: the first, fra sin remufe,
The secund is to seis all weir and stryfe,
The thrid is perfite cheritie and lufe,
The feird thing is and maist for our behufe
That is in blis with angellis to be fallow,
And thus endis the Preiching of the Swallow.
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger
Quhylum thair wynnit in ane wildernes
(As myne authour expreslie can declair)
Ane revand wolff that levit upon purches
On bestiall and maid him weill to fair.
Wes nane sa big about him he wald spair,
And he war hungrie, outher for favour or feid,
Bot in his breith he weryit thame to deid.
Swa happinnit him in waithing as he went
To meit ane foxe in middis of the way.
He him foirsaw and fenyeit to be schent
And with ane bek he bad the wolff gude day.
“Welcum to me,” quod he, “thow Russell gray.”
Syne loutit doun and tuke him be the hand,
“Ryse up, Lowrence, I leif thee for to stand.
“Quhair hes thow bene this sesoun fra my sicht?
Thow sall beir office and my stewart be,
For thow can knap doun caponis on the nicht
And lourand law thow can gar hennis de.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “that ganis not for me
And I am rad gif thay me se on far
That at my figure beist and bird will skar.”
“Na,” quod the wolff, “thow can in covert creip
Upon thy wame and hint thame be the heid
And mak ane suddand schow upon ane scheip,
Syne with thy wappinnis wirrie him to deid.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “ye knaw my roib is reid
And thairfoir thair will na beist abyde me
Thocht I wald be sa fals as for to hyde me.”
“Yis,” quod the wolff, “throw buskis and throw brais
Law can thow lour to come to thy intent.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “ye wait weill how it gais.
Ane lang space fra thame, thay will feill my sent,
Than will thay eschaip suppois thay suld be schent
And I am schamefull for to cum behind thame
Into the feild thocht I suld sleipand find thame.”
“Na,” quod the wolff, “thow can cum on the wind.
For everie wrink forsuith thow hes ane wyle.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “that beist ye mycht call blind
That micht not eschaip than fra me ane myle.
How micht I ane of thame that wyis begyle?
My tippit twa eiris and my twa gray ene
Garris me be kend quhair I wes never sene.”
Than said the wolff, “Lowrence, I heir thee le
And castys for perrellis thy ginnes to defend,
Bot all thy sonyeis sall not availl thee
About the busk with wayis thocht thow wend.
Falset will failye ay at the latter end.
To bow at bidding and byde not quhill thow brest
Thairfoir I giff thee counsall for the best.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “it is Lentring, ye se;
I can nocht fische, for weiting of my feit,
To tak ane banestikill, thocht we baith suld de.
I have nane uther craft to win my meit.
Bot wer it Pasche, that men suld pultrie eit,
As kiddis, lambis, or caponis into ply,
To beir your office than wald I not set by.”
Than said the wolff in wraith, “Wenis thou with wylis
And with thy mony mowis me to mat?
It is ane auld dog doutles that thow begylis;
Thow wenis to draw the stra befoir the cat.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “God wait, I mene not that;
For and I did it wer weill worth that ye
In ane rude raip had tyit me till ane tre.
“Bot now I se he is ane fule perfay
That with his maister fallis in ressoning.
I did bot till assay quhat ye wald say.
God wait, my mynd wes on ane uther thing.
I sall fulfill in all thing your bidding
Quhat-ever ye charge on nichtis or on dayis.”
“Weill,” quod the wolf, “I heir weill quhat thou sayis
“Bot yit I will thow mak to me ane aith
For to be leill attour all levand leid.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “that ane word maks me wraith,
For now I se ye have me at ane dreid;
Yit sall I sweir, suppois it be nocht neid,
Be Juppiter and on pane of my heid,
I sall be trew to you quhill I be deid.”
With that ane cadgear with capill and with creillis
Come caryand furth. Than Lowrence culd him spy;
The foxe the flewer off the fresche hering feillis
And to the wolff he roundis prively,
“Schir, yone ar hering the cadgear caryis by;
Thairfoir I reid that we se for sum wayis
To get sum fische aganis thir fasting dayis.
“Sen I am stewart, I wald we had sum stuff;
And ye ar silver-seik, I wait richt weill.
Thocht we wald thig yone verray churlische chuff,
He will not giff us ane hering off his creill,
Befoir yone churle on kneis thocht we wald kneill.
Bot yit I trow alsone that ye sall se
Gif I can craft to bleir yone carlis ee.
“Schir, ane thing is and we get of yone pelff,
Ye man tak travell and mak us sum supple
For he that will not laubour and help himselff
Into thir dayis he is not worth ane fle.
I think to work als besie as ane be
And ye sall follow ane lytill efterwart
And gadder hering for that sall be your part.”
With that he kest ane cumpas far about
And straucht him doun in middis of the way.
As he wer deid he fenyeit him but dout
And than upon lenth unliklie lay:
The quhyte he turnit up of his ene tway,
His toung out hang ane handbreid of his heid,
And still he lay als straucht as he wer deid.
The cadgear fand the foxe and he wes fane
And till himself thus softlie can he say,
“At the nixt bait, in faith, ye sall be flane,
And off your skyn I sall mak mittenis tway.”
He lap full lichtlie about him quhair he lay
And all the trace he trippit on his tais;
As he had hard ane pyper play he gais.
“Heir lyis the Devyll,” quod he, “deid in ane dyke;
Sic ane selcouth saw I not this sevin yeir.
I trow ye have bene tussillit with sum tyke
That garris you ly sa still withoutin steir.
Schir Foxe, in faith ye ar deir welcum heir.
It is sum wyfis malisone, I trow,
For pultrie pyking, that lychtit hes on yow.
“Thair sall na pedder, for purs nor yit for glufis
Nor yit for poyntis, pyke your pellet fra me.
I sall of it mak mittenis to my lufis
Till hald my handis hait quhairever I be.
Till Flanderis sall it never saill the se.”
With that in hy he hint him be the heillis
And with ane swak he swang him on the creillis
Syne be the heid the hors in hy hes hint.
The fraudfull foxe thairto gude tent hes tane
And with his teith the stoppell or he stint
Pullit out and syne the hering ane and ane
Out of the creillis he swakkit doun gude wane.
The wolff wes war and gadderit spedilie.
The cadgear sang, “Huntis up, up,” upon hie.
Yit at ane burne the cadgear lukit about.
With that the foxe lap quyte the creillis fray.
The cadgear wald have raucht the foxe ane rout
Bot all for nocht; he wan his hoill that day.
Than with ane schout thus can the cadgear say,
“Abyde, and thou ane nekhering sall haif
Is worth my capill, creillis, and all the laif.”
“Now,” quod the foxe, “I schrew me and we meit.
I hard quhat thou hecht to do with my skyn.
Thy handis sall never in thay mittinnis tak heit
And thou wer hangit, carll, and all thy kyn.
Do furth thy mercat, at me thou sall nocht wyn
And sell thy hering thou hes thair till hie price,
Ellis thow sall wyn nocht on thy merchandice.”
The cadgear trimmillit for teyne quhair that he stude.
“It is weill worthie,” quod he, “I want yone tyke
That had nocht in my hand sa mekill gude
As staff or sting yone truker for to stryke.”
With that lychtlie he lap out over ane dyke
And hakkit doun ane staff, for he wes tene,
That hevie wes and of the holyne grene.
With that the foxe unto the wolff could wend
And fand him be the hering quhair he lyis.
“Schir,” said he than,”maid I not fair defend?
Ane wicht man wantit never, and he wer wyis.
Ane hardie hart is hard for to suppryis.”
Than said the wolff, “Thow art ane berne full bald
And wyse at will, in gude tyme be it tald.
“Bot quhat wes yone the carll cryit on hie
And schuke his hand,” quod he, “Hes thou no feill?”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “that I can tell trewlie.
He said the nekhering wes intill the creill.”
“Kennis thou that hering?” “Ye, schir, I ken it weill
And at the creill mouth I had it thryis but dout.
The wecht of it neir tit my tuskis out.
“Now suithlie schir, micht we that hering fang,
It wald be fische to us thir fourtie dayis.”
Than said the wolf, “Now God nor that I hang
Bot to be thair I wald gif all my clays
To se gif that my wappinnis mycht it rais.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “God wait I wischit you oft
Quhen that my pith micht not beir it on loft.
“It is ane syde of salmond as it wair
And callour, pypand lyke ane pertrik ee.
It is worth all the hering ye have thair,
Ye and we had it swa, is it worth sic thre.”
Than said the wolff, “Quhat counsell gevis thou me?”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “wirk efter my devyis
And ye sall have it and tak you na suppryis.
“First, ye man cast ane cumpas far about,
Syne straucht you doun in middis of the way.
Baith heid and feit and taill ye man streik out,
Hing furth your toung, and clois weill your ene tway,8
Syne se your heid on ane hard place ye lay
And dout not for na perrell may appeir
Bot hald you clois quhen that carll cummis neir.
“And thocht ye se ane staf, have ye na dout,
Bot hald you wonder still into that steid
And luke your ene be clois as thay wer out
And se that ye schrink nouther fute nor heid.
Than will the cadgear carll trow ye be deid
And intill haist will hint you be the heillis
As he did me and swak you on his creillis.”
“Now,” quod the wolff, “I sweir thee be my thrift,
I trow yone cadgear carll dow not me beir.”
“Schir,” said the foxe, “on loft he will you lift
Upon his creillis and do him lytill deir.
Bot ane thing dar I suithlie to you sweir.
Get ye that hering sicker in sum place,
Ye sall not fair in fisching mair quhill Pasche.
“I sall say In principio upon yow
And crose your corps from the top to tay.
Wend quhen ye will, I dar be warrand now
That ye sall de na suddand deith this day.”
With that the wolff gird up sone and to gay
And caist ane cumpas about the cadgear far,
Syne raucht him in the gait or he come nar.
He laid his halfheid sicker, hard, and sad,
Syne straucht his four feit fra him and his heid
And hang his toung furth as the foxe him bad.
Als styll he lay as he wer verray deid,
Rakkand nathing of the carlis favour nor feid
Bot ever upon the nekhering he thinkis
And quyte foryettis the foxe and all his wrinkis.
With that the cadgear, als wraith as ony wind
Come rydand on the laid, for it wes licht,
Thinkand ay on the foxe that wes behind
Upon quhat wyse revenge him best he micht
And at the last of the wolff gat ane sicht
Quhair he in lenth lay streikit in the gait,
Bot gif he lichtit doun or nocht, God wait!
Softlie he said, “I wes begylit anis;
Be I begylit twyis, I schrew us baith,
That evill bat it sall licht upon thy banis
He suld have had that hes done me the skaith.”
On hicht he hovit the staf for he wes wraith
And hit him with sic will upon the heid
Quhill neir he swonit and swelt into that steid.9
Thre battis he bure or he his feit micht find
Bot yit the wolff wes wicht and wan away.
He mycht not se, he wes sa verray blind,
Nor wit reddilie quhether it wes nicht or day.
The foxe beheld that service quhair he lay
And leuch on loft quhen he the wolf sa seis,
Baith deif and dosinnit, fall swonand on his kneis.
He that of ressoun cannot be content
Bot covetis all, is abill all to tyne.
The foxe, quhen that he saw the wolff wes schent,
Said to himself, “Thir hering sall be myne.”
(I le or ellis he wes a stewart fyne
That fand sic wayis his maister for to greif!)
With all the fische thus Lowrence tuke his leif.
The wolff wes neir weill dungin to the deid
That uneith with his lyfe away he wan
For with the bastoun weill brokin wes his heid.
The foxe into his den sone drew him than
That had betraisit his maister and the man.
The ane wantit the hering of his creillis;
The utheris blude wes rynnand over his heillis.
This taill is myngit with moralitie
As I sall schaw sumquhat or that I ceis.
The foxe unto the warld may likkinnit be,
The revand wolf unto ane man but leis,
The cadgear deith quhome under all man preis;
That ever tuke lyfe throw cours of kynd man dee
As man and beist and fische into the see.
The warld, ye wait, is stewart to the man
Quhilk makis man to haif na mynd of deid
Bot settis for winning all the craftis thay can.
The hering I likkin unto the gold sa reid,
Quhilk gart the wolf in perrell put his heid;
Richt swa the gold garris landis and cieteis
With weir be waistit daylie, as men seis.
And as the foxe with dissimulance and gyle
Gart the wolf wene to haif worschip forever,
Richt swa this warld with vane glore for ane quhyle
Flatteris with folk as thay suld failye never;
Yit suddandlie men seis it oft dissever
With thame that trowis oft to fill the sek.
Deith cummis behind and nippis thame be the nek.
The micht of gold makis mony men sa blind
That settis on avarice thair felicitie
That thay forget the cadgear cummis behind
To stryke thame, of quhat stait sa ever thay be.
Quhat is mair dirk than blind prosperitie?
Quhairfoir I counsell mychtie men to haif mynd
Of the nekhering interpreit in this kynd.
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Husbandman
In elderis dayis, as Esope can declair,
Thair wes ane husband quhilk had ane plewch to steir.10
His use wes ay in morning to ryse air,
Sa happinnit him in streiking tyme of yeir
Airlie in the morning to follow furth his feir,
Unto the pleuch bot his gadman and he,
His stottis he straucht with Benedicité.
The caller cryit, “How! Haik!” upon hicht,
“Hald draucht, my dowis,” syne broddit thame full sair.
The oxin wes unusit, young, and licht
And for fersnes thay couth the fur forfair.
The husband than woxe angrie as ane hair,
Syne cryit and caist his patill and grit stanis:
“The wolff,” quod he, “mot have you all at anis!”
Bot yit the wolff wes neirar nor he wend,
For in ane busk he lay and Lowrence baith,
In ane rouch rone wes at the furris end
And hard the hecht. Than Lowrence leuch full raith,
“To tak yone bud,” quod he, “it wer na skaith.”
“Weill,” quod the wolff, “I hecht thee be my hand,
Yone carlis word as he wer king sall stand.”
The oxin waxit mair reulie at the last,
Syne efter thay lousit fra that it worthit weill lait.11
The husband hamewart with his cattell past,
Than sone the wolff come hirpilland in his gait
Befoir the oxin and schupe to mak debait.
The husband saw him and worthit sumdeill agast
And bakwart with his beistis wald haif past.
The wolff said, “Quhether dryvis thou this pray?
I chalenge it for nane of thame ar thyne!”
The man thairoff wes in ane felloun fray
And soberlie to the wolff answerit syne,
“Schir, be my saull, thir oxin ar all myne:
Thairfoir I studdie quhy ye suld stop me,
Sen that I faltit never to you, trewlie.”
The wolff said, “Carll, gaif thou not me this drift
Airlie quhen thou wes eirrand on yone bank,
And is thair oucht, sayis thou, frear than gift?
This tarying wyll tyne thee all thy thank:
Far better is frelie for to gif ane plank
Nor be compellit on force to gif ane mart.
Fy on the fredome that cummis not with hart!”
“Schir,” quod the husband, “ane man may say in greif
And syne ganesay fra he avise and se.
I hecht to steill, am I thairfoir ane theif?
God forbid, schir, all hechtis suld haldin be.
Gaif I my hand or oblissing,” quod he,
“Or have ye witnes or writ for to schaw?
Schir, reif me not bot go and seik the law.”
“Carll,” quod the wolff, “ane lord and he be leill,
That schrinkis for schame or doutis to be repruvit,
His saw is ay als sickker as his seill.
Fy on the leid that is not leill and lufit.
Thy argument is fals and eik contrufit
For it is said in proverb, “But lawte,
All uther vertewis ar nocht worth ane fle.”
“Schir,” said the husband, “remember of this thing:
Ane leill man is not tane at half ane taill.
I may say and ganesay, I am na king.
Quhair is your witnes that hard I hecht thame haill?”
Than said the wolff, “Thairfoir it sall nocht faill.
Lowrence,” quod he, “cum hidder of that schaw,
And say nathing bot as thow hard and saw.”
Lowrence come lourand for he lufit never licht
And sone appeirit befoir thame in that place.
The man leuch na thing quhen he saw that sicht.
“Lowrence,” quod the wolff, “thow man declair this cace
Quhairof we sall schaw the suith in schort space.
I callit on thee leill witnes for to beir
Quhat hard thou that this man hecht me lang eir.”
“Schir,” said the tod, “I cannot hastelie
Swa sone as now gif sentence finall
Bot wald ye baith submit yow heir to me
To stand at my decreit perpetuall,
To pleis baith I suld preif gif it may fall.”
“Weill,” quod the wolff, “I am content for me.”
The man said, “Swa am I, however it be.”
Than schew thay furth thair allegeance but fabill
And baith proponit thair pley to him compleit.
Quod Lowrence, “Now I am juge amycabill;
Ye sall be sworne to stand at my decreit
Quhether heirefter ye think it soure or sweit.”
The wolf braid furth his fute, the man his hand
And on the toddis taill sworne thay ar to stand.
Than tuke the tod the man furth till ane syde
And said him, “Freind, thou art in blunder brocht.
The wolf will not forgif thee ane oxe hyde
Yit wald myself fane help thee and I mocht
Bot I am laith to hurt my conscience ocht.
Tyne nocht thy querrell in thy awin defence;
This will not throu but grit coist and expence.
“Seis thou not buddis beiris bernis throw
And giftis garris crukit materis hald full evin?
Sumtymis ane hen haldis ane man in ane kow.
All ar not halie that heifis thair handis to hevin.”
“Schir,” said the man, “ye sall have sex or sevin
Richt off the fattest hennis of all the floik.
I compt not all the laif, leif me the coik.”
“I am ane juge!” quod Lowrence than and leuch,
“Thair is na buddis suld beir me by the rycht.
I may tak hennis and caponis weill aneuch
For God is gane to sleip as for this nycht.
Sic small thingis ar not sene into his sicht.
Thir hennis,” quod he, “sall mak thy querrell sure:
With emptie hand na man suld halkis lure.”
Concordit thus, than Lowrence tuke his leif
And to the wolff he went into ane ling,
Syne prevelie he plukkit him be the sleiff,
“Is this in ernist,” quod he, “ye ask sic thing?
Na be my saull, I trow it be in heithing.”
Than said the wolf, “Lowrence, quhy sayis thou sa?
Thow hard the hecht thyself that he couth ma.
“The hecht,” quod he, “yone man maid at the pleuch,
Is that the cause quhy ye the cattell craif?”
Half into heithing said Lowrence than and leuch,
“Schir, be the rude, unroikit now ye raif.
The devill ane stirk tail thairfoir sall ye haif.
Wald I tak it upon my conscience
To do sa pure ane man as yone offence?
“Yit haif I commonnit with the carll,” quod he,
“We ar concordit upon this cunnand:
Quyte off all clamis swa ye will mak him fre,
Ye sall ane cabok have into your hand
That sic ane sall not be in all this land
For it is somer cheis baith fresche and fair,
He sayis it weyis ane stane and sumdeill mair.”
“Is that thy counsell,” quod the wolff, “I do
That yone carll for ane cabok suld be fre?”
“Ye be my saull and I wer sworne yow to,
Ye suld nane uther counsell have for me,
For gang ye to the maist extremitie,
It will not wyn yow worth ane widderit neip.
Schir, trow ye not I have ane saull to keip?”
“Weill,” quod the wolff, “it is aganis my will
That yone carll for ane cabok suld ga quyte.”
“Schir,” quod the tod, “ye tak it in nane evill,
For be my saull, yourself had all the wyte.”
Than said the wolff, “I bid na mair to flyte
Bot I wald se yone cabok of sic pryis.”
“Schir,” said the tod, “he tauld me quhair it lyis.”
Than hand in hand thay held unto ane hill.
The husband till his hous hes tane the way
For he wes fane he schaippit from thair ill
And on his feit woke the dure quhill day.
Now will we turne unto the uther tway.
Throw woddis waist thir freikis on fute can fair
Fra busk to busk quhill neir midnycht and mair.
Lowrence wes ever remembring upon wrinkis
And subtelteis, the wolff for to begyle.
That he had hecht ane caboik he forthinkis
Yit at the last he findis furth ane wyle,
Than at himself softlie couth he smyle.
The wolf sayis, “Lowrence, thou playis bellie blind.12
We seik all nycht bot nathing can we find.”
“Schir,” said the tod, “we ar at it almaist;
Soft yow ane lytill and ye sall se it sone.”
Than to ane manure place thay hyit in haist.
The nycht wes lycht, and pennyfull the mone.
Than till ane draw-well thir senyeours past but hone
Quhair that twa bukkettis severall suithlie hang.
As ane come up ane uther doun wald gang.
The schadow off the mone schone in the well.
“Schir,” said Lowrence, “anis ye sall find me leill,
Now se ye not the caboik weill yoursell,
Quhyte as ane neip and round als as ane seill?
He hang it yonder that na man suld it steill.
Schir, traist ye weill, yone caboik ye se hing
Micht be ane present to ony lord or king.”
“Na,” quod the wolff, “mycht I yone caboik haif
On the dry land as I it yonder se,
I wald quitclame the carll of all the laif.
His dart oxin I compt thame not ane fle,
Yone wer mair meit for sic ane man as me.
Lowrence,” quod he, “leip in the bukket sone
And I sall hald the ane quhill thow have done.”
Lowrence gird doun baith sone and subtellie,
The uther baid abufe and held the flaill.
“It is sa mekill,” quod Lowrence, “it maisteris me.
On all my tais it hes not left ane naill.
Ye man mak help upwart and it haill:
Leip in the uther bukket haistelie
And cum sone doun and mak me sum supple.”
Than lychtlie in the bukket lap the loun.
His wecht but weir the uther end gart ryis.
The tod come hailland up, the wolff yeid doun.
Than angerlie the wolff upon him cryis,
“I cummand thus dounwart, quhy thow upwart hyis?”
“Schir,” quod the foxe, “thus fairis it of fortoun:
As ane cummis up, scho quheillis ane uther doun.”
Than to the ground sone yeid the wolff in haist.
The tod lap on land, als blyith as ony bell
And left the wolf in watter to the waist.
Quha haillit him out I wait not, of the well.
Heir endis the text, thair is na mair to tell,
Yyt men may find ane gude moralitie
In this sentence thocht it ane fabill be.
This wolf I likkin to ane wickit man
Quhilk dois the pure oppres in everie place
And pykis at thame all querrellis that he can
Be rigour, reif, and uther wickitnes.
The foxe the feind I call into this cais,
Arctand ilk man to ryn unrychteous rinkis,
Thinkand thairthrow to lok him in his linkis.
The husband may be callit ane godlie man
With quhome the feynd falt findes, as clerkis reids,
Besie to tempt him with all wayis that he can.
The hennis ar warkis that fra ferme faith proceidis.
Quhair sic sproutis spreidis, the evill spreit thair not speids
Bot wendis unto the wickit man agane,
That he hes tint his travell is full unfane.
The wodds waist quhairin wes the wolf wyld
Ar wickit riches, quhilk all men gaipis to get.
Quha traistis in sic trusterie ar oft begyld,
For mammon may be callit the devillis net
Quhilk Sathanas for all sinfull hes set.
With proud plesour quha settis his traist thairin
But speciall grace, lychtlie can not outwin.
The cabok may be callit covetyce
Quhilk blomis braid in mony mannis ee.
Wa worth the well of that wickit vyce
For it is all bot fraud and fantasie
Dryvand ilk man to leip in the buttrie
That dounwart drawis unto the pane off hell.
Christ keip all Christianis from that wickit well.
The Wolf and the Wether
Quhylum thair wes, as Esope can report,
Ane scheipheird dwelland be ane forrest neir
Quhilk had ane hound that did him grit comfort.
Full war he wes to walk his fauld but weir,
That nouther wolf nor wildcat durst appeir
Nor foxe on feild nor yit no uther beist
Bot he thame slew or chaissit at the leist.
Sa happinnit it, as everilk beist man de,
This hound of suddand seiknes to be deid,
Bot than, God wait, the keipar of the fe
For verray wo woxe wanner nor the weid.
“Allace,” quod he, “now se I na remeid
To saif the selie beistis that I keip
For with the wolf weryit beis all my scheip.”
It wald have maid ane mannis hart sair to se
The selie scheiphirdis lamentatioun.
“Now is my darling deid allace,” quod he,
“For now to beg my breid I may be boun,
With pyikstaff and with scrip to fair off toun
For all the beistis befoir that bandonit bene
Will schute upon my beistis with ire and tene.”
With that ane wedder wichtlie wan on fute.
“Maister,” quod he, “mak merie and be blyith.
To brek your hart for baill it is na bute.
For ane deid dog ye na cair on yow kyith.
Ga fetche him hither and fla his skyn off swyth,
Syne sew it on me and luke that it be meit,
Baith heid and crag, bodie, taill, and feit.
“Than will the wolf trow that I am he
For I sall follow him fast quharever he fair.
All haill the cure I tak it upon me
Your scheip to keip at midday, lait, and air;
And he persew, be God I sall not spair
To follow him as fast as did your doig
Swa that I warrand ye sall not want ane hoig.”
Than said the scheipheird, “This come of ane gude wit.
Thy counsall is baith sicker, leill, and trew.
Quha sayis ane scheip is daft, thay lieit of it.”
With that in hy the doggis skyn off he flew
And on the scheip rycht softlie couth it sew.
Than worth the wedder wantoun of his weid:
“Now of the wolff,” quod he, “I have na dreid.”
In all thingis he counterfait the dog
For all the nycht he stude and tuke na sleip
Swa that weill lang thair wantit not ane hog.
Swa war he wes and walkryfe thame to keip
That Lowrence durst not luke upon ane scheip
For and he did, he followit him sa fast
That of his lyfe he maid him all agast.
Was nowther wolff, wildcat, nor yit tod
Durst cum within thay boundis all about
Bot he wald chase thame baith throw rouch and snod.
Thay bailfull beistis had of thair lyvis sic dout,
For he wes mekill and semit to be stout,
That everilk beist thay dred him as the deid,
Within that woid that nane durst hald thair heid.
Yit happinnit thair ane hungrie wolff to slyde
Out-throw his scheip quhair thay lay on ane le:
“I sall have ane,” quod he, “quhatever betyde,
Thocht I be werryit, for hunger or I de.”
With that ane lamb intill his cluke hint he.
The laif start up for thay wer all agast
Bot God wait gif the wedder followit fast.
Went never hound mair haistelie fra the hand
Quhen he wes rynnand maist raklie at the ra
Nor went this wedder baith over mois and strand,
And stoppit nouther at bank, busk, nor bra,
Bot followit ay sa ferslie on his fa
With sic ane drift quhill dust and dirt over-draif him,
And maid ane vow to God that he suld have him.
With that the wolff let out his taill on lenth
For he wes hungrie and it drew neir the ene
And schupe him for to ryn with all his strenth.
Fra he the wedder sa neir cummand had sene,
He dred his lyfe, and he overtane had bene;
Thairfoir he spairit nowther busk nor boig,
For weill he kennit the kenenes of the doig.
To mak him lycht, he kest the lamb him fra,
Syne lap over leis and draif throw dub and myre.
“Na,” quod the wedder, “in faith we part not swa.
It is not the lamb bot thee that I desyre.
I sall cum neir for now I se thee tyre.”
The wolf ran till ane rekill stude behind him
Bot ay the neirar the wedder he couth bind him.
Sone efter that, he followit him sa neir
Quhill that the wolf for fleidnes fylit the feild,
Syne left the gait and ran throw busk and breir
And schupe him fra the schawis for to scheild.
He ran restles for he wist of na beild.
The wedder followit him baith out and in
Quhill that ane breir busk raif rudelie off the skyn.
The wolff wes wer and blenkit him behind
And saw the wedder come thrawand throw the breir,
Syne saw the doggis skyn hingand on his lind.
“Na!” quod he, “Is this ye that is sa neir,
Richt now ane hound and now quhyte as ane freir?
I fled over fer and I had kennit the cais.
To God I vow that ye sall rew this rais.
“Quhat wes the cause ye gaif me sic ane katche?”
With that in hy he hint him be the horne.
“For all your mowis, ye met anis with your matche,
Suppois ye leuch me all this yeir to scorne.
For quhat enchessoun this doggis skyn have ye borne?”
“Maister,” quod he, “bot to have playit with yow.
I yow requyre that ye nane uther trow.”
“Is this your bourding in ernist than?” quod he,
“For I am verray effeirit and on flocht;
Cum bak agane and I sall let yow se.”
Than quhar the gait wes grimmit he him brocht.
“Quhether call ye this fair play or nocht
To set your maister in sa fell effray,
Quhill he for feiritnes hes fylit up the way?
“Thryis, be my saull, ye gart me schute behind:
Upon my hoichis the senyeis may be sene;
For feiritnes full oft I fylit the wind.
Now is this ye? Na, bot ane hound, I wene!
Me think your teith over schort to be sa kene.
Blissit be the busk that reft yow your array,
Ellis, fleand, bursin had I bene this day.”
“Schir,” quod the wedder, “suppois I ran in hy,
My mynd wes never to do your persoun ill.
Ane flear gettis ane follower commounly
In play or ernist, preif quha sa ever will.
Sen I bot playit, be gracious me till
And I sall gar my freindis blis your banis.
Ane full gude servand will crab his maister anis.”
“I have bene oftymis set in grit effray
Bot be the rude, sa rad yit wes I never
As thow hes maid me with thy prettie play.
I schot behind quhen thow overtuke me ever
Bot sikkerlie now sall we not dissever.”
Than be the crag bane smertlie he him tuke
Or ever he ceissit, and it in schunder schuke.
Esope that poet, first father of this fabill,
Wrait this parabole quhilk is convenient
Because the sentence wes fructuous and agreabill,
In moralitie exemplative prudent
Quhais problemes bene verray excellent
Throw similitude of figuris to this day,
Gevis doctrine to the redaris of it ay.
Heir may thow se that riches of array
Will cause pure men presumpteous for to be.
Thay think thay hald of nane, be thay als gay,
Bot counterfute ane lord in all degree.
Out of thair cais in pryde thay clym sa hie
That thay forbeir thair better in na steid
Quhill sum man tit thair heillis over thair heid.
Richt swa in service uther sum exceidis;
And thay haif withgang, welth, and cherising
That thay will lychtlie lordis in thair deidis
And lukis not to thair blude nor thair ofspring
Bot yit nane wait how lang that reull will ring.
Bot he was wyse that bad his sone considder,
“Bewar in welth, for hall benkis ar rycht slidder.”
Thairfoir I counsell men of everilk stait
To knaw thameself and quhome thay suld forbeir,
And fall not with thair better in debait,
Suppois thay be als galland in thair geir.
It settis na servand for to uphald weir
Nor clym sa hie quhill he fall off the ledder
Bot think upon the wolf and on the wedder.
The Wolf and the Lamb
Ane cruell wolff richt ravenous and fell
Upon ane tyme past to ane reveir
Descending from ane rotche unto ane well,
To slaik his thrist drank of the watter cleir.
Swa upon cace ane selie lamb come neir
Bot of his fa the wolff na thing he wist
And in the streme laipit to cule his thrist.
Thus drank thay baith bot not of ane intent,
The wolfis thocht wes all on wickitnes,
The selie lamb wes meik and innocent.
Upon the rever in ane uther place
Beneth the wolff he drank ane lytill space
Quhill him thocht gude, presomyng thair nane ill.
The wolff this saw and rampand come him till.
With girnand teith and angrie, austre luke,
Said to the lamb, “Thow cative, wretchit thing,
How durst thow be sa bald to fyle this bruke
Quhar I suld drink with thy foull slavering!
It wer almous thee for to draw and hing
That suld presume with thy foull lippis vyle
To glar my drink and this fair watter fyle.”
The selie lamb quaikand for verray dreid
On kneis fell and said, “Schir, with your leif,
Suppois I dar not say thairoff ye leid
Bot be my saull, I wait ye can nocht preif
That I did ony thing that suld yow greif.
Ye wait alswa that your accusatioun
Failyeis fra treuth and contrair is to ressoun.
“Thocht I can nocht, nature will me defend
And of the deid perfyte experience.
All hevie thing man of the self discend
Bot giff sumthing on force mak resistence,
Than may the streme on na way mak ascence
Nor ryn bakwart. I drank beneth yow far,
Ergo for me your bruke wes never the war.
“Alswa my lippis, sen that I wes ane lam,
Tuitchit na thing that wes contagious
Bot sowkit milk from pappis of my dam,
Richt naturall, sweit, and als delitious.”
“Weill,” quod the wolff, “thy language rigorus
Cummis thee of kynd; swa thy father before
Held me at bait baith with boist and schore.
“He wraithit me and than I culd him warne,
Within ane yeir and I brukit my heid
I suld be wrokkin on him or on his barne
For his exorbetant and frawart pleid.
Thow sall doutles for his deidis be deid.”
“Schir, it is wrang that for the fatheris gilt
The saikles sone suld punist be or spilt.
“Haiff ye not hard quhat halie scripture sayis
Endytit with the mouth of God almycht,
‘Of his awin deidis ilk man sall beir the pais
As pyne for sin, reward for werkis rycht.’
For my trespas quhy suld my sone have plycht?
Quha did the mis, lat him sustene the pane.”
“Yaa,” quod the wolff, “yit pleyis thow agane?
“I let thee wit quhen that the father offendis
I will cheris nane of his successioun
And of his barnis I may weill tak amendis
Unto the twentie degree descending doun.
Thy father thocht to mak ane strang poysoun
And with his mouth into my watter spew.”
“Schir,” quod the lamb, “thay twa ar nouther trew.
“The law sayis and ye will understand,
Thair suld na man for wrang nor violence
His adversar punis at his awin hand
Without proces of law and audiens
Quhilk suld have leif to mak lawfull defence
And thairupon summond peremtourly
For to propone, contrairie, or reply.
“Set me ane lauchfull court, I sall compeir
Befoir the lyoun, lord and leill justice,
And be my hand I oblis me rycht heir
That I sall byde ane unsuspect assyis.
This is the law, this is the instant wys,
Ye suld pretend thairfoir ane summondis mak
Aganis that day to gif ressoun and tak.”
“Ha,” quod the wolff, “thou wald intruse ressoun
Quhair wrang and reif suld dwell in propertie.
That is ane poynt and part of fals tressoun
For to gar reuth remane with crueltie.
Be Goddis woundis, fals tratour, thow sall de
For thy trespas and for thy fatheris als.”
With that anone he hint him be the hals.
The selie lamb culd do nathing bot bleit.
Sone wes he heidit, the wolff wald do na grace,
Syne drank his blude and of his flesche can eit
Quhill he wes full, syne went his way on pace.
Of his murther quhat sall we say allace,
Wes not this reuth, wes not this grit pietie,
To gar this selie lamb but gilt thus de?
The pure pepill this lamb may signifie
As maill men, merchandis, and all lauboureris
Of quhome the lyfe is half ane purgatorie
To wyn with lautie leving as efferis.
The wolf betakinnis fals extortioneris
And oppressouris of pure men as we se
Be violence or craft in sutelté.
Thre kynd of wolfis in this warld now rings.
The first ar fals perverteris of the lawis
Quhilk under poleit termis falset mingis,
Lettand that all wer gospell that he schawis,
Bot for ane bud the pure man he overthrawis,
Smoirand the richt, garrand the wrang proceid.
Of sic wolfis hellis fyre sall be thair meid.
O man of law, let be thy subteltie
With nice gimpis and fraudis intricait
And think that God in his divinitie
The wrang, the richt of all thy werkis wait.
For prayer, price, for hie nor law estait,
Of fals querrellis se thow mak na defence,
Hald with the richt, hurt not thy conscience.
Ane uther kynd of wolfis ravenous
Ar mychtie men haifand aneuch plentie
Quhilkis ar sa gredie and sa covetous
Thay will not thoill in peax ane pureman be.
Suppois he and his houshald baith suld de
For falt of fude, thairof thay gif na rak
Bot over his heid his mailling will thay tak.
O man but mercie, quhat is in thy thocht,
War than ane wolf and thow culd understand!
Thow hes aneuch, the pure husband richt nocht
Bot croip and crufe upon ane clout of land.
For Goddis aw, how durst thow tak on hand
And thow in barn and byre sa bene and big
To put him fra his tak and gar him thig?
The thrid wolf ar men of heritage
As lordis that hes land be Goddis lane
And settis to the mailleris ane village
And for ane tyme gressome payit and tane,
Syne vexis him or half his terme be gane
With pykit querrellis for to mak him fane
To flit or pay his gressome new agane.
His hors, his meir, he man len to the laird
To drug and draw in cairt and cariage,
His servand or his self may not be spaird
To swing and sweit withoutin meit or wage.
Thus how he standis in labour and bondage
That scantlie may he purches by his maill
To leve upon dry breid and watter caill!
Hes thow not reuth to gar thy tennentis sweit
Into thy laubour with faynt and hungrie wame
And syne hes lytill gude to drink or eit
With his menye at evin quhen he cummis hame?
Thow suld be rad for richteous Goddis blame
For it cryis ane vengeance unto the hevinnis hie
To gar ane pure man wirk but meit or fe.
O thow grit lord that riches hes and rent,
Be nocht ane wolf thus to devoir the pure.
Think that nathing cruell nor violent
May in this warld perpetuallie indure.
This sall thow trow and sikkerlie assure:
For till oppres, thow sall haif als grit pane
As thow the pure with thy awin hand had slane.
God keip the lamb quhilk is the innocent
From wolfis byit and men extortioneris,
God grant that wrangous men of fals intent
Be manifest and punischit as effeiris.
And God, as thow all rychteous prayer heiris,
Mot saif our king and gif him hart and hand
All sic wolfis to banes of the land.
The Paddock and the Mouse
Upon ane tyme as Esope culd report,
Ane lytill mous come till ane rever syde.
Scho micht not waid, hir schankis wer sa schort,
Scho culd not swym, scho had na hors to ryde,
Of verray force behovit hir to byde
And to and fra besyde that revir deip
Scho ran cryand with mony pietuous peip.
“Help over! Help over!” this silie mous can cry,
“For Goddis lufe, sumbodie, over the brym.”
With that ane paddok in the watter by
Put up hir heid and on the bank can clym
Quhilk be nature culd douk and gaylie swym.
With voce full rauk scho said on this maneir,
“Gude morne schir mous, quhat is your erand heir?”
“Seis thow,” quod scho, “of corne yone jolie flat
Of ryip aitis, of barlie, peis, and quheit?
I am hungrie and fane wald be thair at
Bot I am stoppit be this watter greit
And on this syde I get nathing till eit
Bot hard nuttis quhilkis with my teith I bore.
Wer I beyond, my feist wer fer the more.
“I have no boit, heir is no maryner
And thocht thair war, I have no fraucht to pay.”
Quod scho, “Sister, lat be your hevie cheir,
Do my counsall and I sall find the way
Withoutin hors, brig, boit, or yit galay
To bring yow over saiflie, be not afeird,
And not wetand the campis of your beird.”
“I haif mervell than,” quod the lytill mous,
“How thow can fleit without fedder or fin.
This rever is sa deip and dangerous,
Methink that thow suld drowin to wed thairin.
Tell me thairfoir quhat facultie or gin
Thow hes to bring thee over this watter wan.”
That to declair the paddok thus began.
“With my twa feit,” quod scho, “lukkin and braid
Insteid off airis I row the streme full styll
And thocht the brym be perrillous to waid
Baith to and fra I swyme at my awin will.
I may not droun for quhy my oppin gill
Devoidis ay the watter I resaif
Thairfoir to droun forsuith na dreid I haif.”
The mous beheld unto hir fronsit face,
Hir runkillit cheikis and hir lippis syde,
Hir hingand browis and hir voce sa hace,
Hir loggerand leggis and hir harsky hyde.
Scho ran abak and on the paddok cryde,
“Giff I can ony skill of phisnomy,
Thow hes sumpart of falset and invy.
“For clerkis sayis the inclinatioun
Of mannis thocht proceidis commounly
Efter the corporall complexioun
To gude or evill, as nature will apply.
Ane thrawart will, ane thrawin phisnomy:
The auld proverb is witnes of this lorum,
Distortum vultum sequitur distortio morum.”
“Na,” quod the taid, “that proverb is not trew
For fair thingis oftymis ar fundin faikin,
The blaberyis thocht thay be sad of hew
Ar gadderit up quhen primeros is forsakin,
The face may faill to be the hartis takin,
Thairfoir I find this scripture in all place,
‘Thow suld not juge ane man efter his face.’
“Thocht I unhailsum be to luke upon
I have na wyt quhy suld I lakkit be.
Wer I als fair as jolie Absolon
I am no causer of that grit beutie.
This difference in forme and qualitie
Almychtie God hes causit dame Nature
To prent and set in everilk creature.
“Of sum the face may be full flurischand
With silkin toung and cheir rycht amorous
With mynd inconstant, fals, and variand,
Full of desait and menis cautelous.”
“Let be thy preiching,” quod the hungrie mous,
“And be quhat craft thow gar me understand
That thow wald gyde me to yone yonder land.”
“Thow wait,” quod scho, “ane bodie that hes neid
To help thameself suld mony wayis cast.
Thairfoir ga tak ane doubill twynit threid
And bind thy leg to myne with knottis fast:
I sall thee leir to swym, be not agast,
Als weill as I.” “As thow?” than quod the mous.
To preif that play, it wer rycht perrillous!
“Suld I be bund and fast quhar I am fre
In hoip of help, na, than I schrew us baith
For I mycht lois baith lyfe and libertie.
Gif it wer swa, quha suld amend the skaith
Bot gif thow sweir to me the murthour aith
But fraud or gyle to bring me over this flude
But hurt or harme.” “In faith,” quod scho, “I dude.”
Scho goikit up and to the hevin can cry,
“O Juppiter, of nature god and king,
I mak ane aith trewlie to thee that I
This lytill mous sall over this watter bring.”
This aith wes maid; the mous but persaving
The fals ingyne of this foull crappald pad
Tuke threid and band hir leg as scho hir bad.
Than fute for fute thay lap baith in the brym
Bot in thair myndis thay wer rycht different,
The mous thocht nathing bot to fleit and swym,
The paddok for to droun set hir intent.
Quhen thay in midwart of the streme wer went,
With all hir force the paddok preissit doun
And thocht the mous without mercie to droun.
Persavand this, the mous on hir can cry,
“Tratour to God, and manesworne unto me!
Thow swore the murthour aith richt now that I
But hurt or harme suld ferryit be and fre.”
And quhen scho saw thair wes bot do or de,
Scho bowtit up and foirsit hir to swyme,
And preissit upon the taiddis bak to clym.
The dreid of deith hir strenthis gart incres
And forcit hir defend with mycht and mane.
The mous upwart, the paddok doun can pres.
Quhyle to, quhyle fra, quhyle doukit, up agane,
This selie mous, this plungit in grit pane,
Gan fecht als lang as breith wes in hir breist
Till at the last scho cryit for ane preist.
Fechtand thusgait, the gled sat on ane twist
And to this wretchit battell tuke gude heid
And with ane wisk or owthir of thame wist,
He claucht his cluke betwix thame in the threid,
Syne to the land he flew with thame gude speid,
Fane of that fang, pyipand with mony “Pew!”
Syne lowsit thame and baith but pietie slew,
Syne bowellit thame, that boucheour with his bill,
And bellieflaucht full fettislie thame fled
Bot all thair flesche wald scant be half ane fill,
And guttis als, unto that gredie gled.
Of thair debait thus quhen I hard outred,
He tuke his flicht and over the feildis flaw.
Gif this be trew, speir ye at thame that saw.
My brother, gif thow will tak advertence
Be this fabill thow may persave and se
It passis far all kynd of pestilence
Ane wickit mynd with wordis fair and sle.
Bewar thairfore with quhome thow fallowis thee
For thow wer better beir of stane the barrow
Or sweitand dig and delf quhill thow may dre
Than to be matchit with ane wickit marrow.
Ane fals intent under ane fair pretence
Hes causit mony innocent for to de.
Grit folie is to gif over sone credence
To all that speiks fairlie unto thee.
Ane silkin toung, ane hart of crueltie,
Smytis more sore than ony schot of arrow.
Brother, gif thow be wyse, I reid the flee
To matche thee with ane thrawart fenyeit marrow.
I warne thee als, it is grit nekligence
To bind thee fast quhair thow wes frank and free.
Fra thow be bund, thow may mak na defence
To saif thy lyfe nor yit thy libertie.
This simpill counsall, brother, tak at me
And it to cun perqueir see thow not tarrow:
Better but stryfe to leif allane in le
Than to be matchit with ane wickit marrow.
This hald in mynd, rycht more I sall thee tell
Quhairby thir beistis may be figurate.
The paddok usand in the flude to dwell
Is mannis bodie swymand air and lait
Into this warld with cairis implicate
Now hie, now law, quhylis plungit up, quhylis doun,
Ay in perrell and reddie for to droun,
Now dolorus, now blyth as bird on breir,
Now in fredome, now wardit in distres,
Now haill and sound, now deid and brocht on beir,
Now pure as Job, now rowand in riches,
Now gounis gay, now brats laid in pres,
Now full as fysche, now hungrie as ane hound,
Now on the quheill, now wappit to the ground.
This lytill mous heir knit thus be the schyn
The saull of man betakin may indeid,
Bundin and fra the bodie may not twin
Quhill cruell deith cum brek of lyfe the threid,
The quhilk to droun suld ever stand in dreid
Of carnall lust be the suggestioun
Quhilk drawis ay the saull and druggis doun.
The watter is the warld ay welterand
With mony wall of tribulatioun
In quhilk the saull and bodye ay waverand,
Standis distinyt in thair opinioun,
The spreit upwart, the body precis doun,
The saull rycht fane wald be brocht over iwis
Out of this warld into the hevinnis blis.
The gled is deith that cummis suddandlie
As dois ane theif and cuttis sone the batall.
Be vigilant thairfoir and ay reddie
For mannis lyfe is brukill and ay mortall.
My freind, thairfoir mak thee ane strang castell
Of gud deidis for deith will thee assay
Thow wait not quhen, evin, morrow, or midday.
Adew my freind and gif that ony speiris
Of this fabill sa schortlie I conclude,
Say thow I left the laif unto the freiris
To mak a sample or similitude.
Now Christ, for us that deit on the rude,
Of saull and lyfe as thow art salviour,
Grant us till pas intill ane blissit hour.
Though fictitious tales of old poetry; (see note)
completely; but even so
polished; sweet rhetoric; (see note)
Very pleasing are; ear; (t-note)
also; why; (t-note)
reprove; your evil way of life; (t-note)
by [the] representation of a different; (see note); (t-note)
similar; through; intractable soil; (see note); (t-note)
If; cultivated; great effort
The flowers shoot up; wheat in early growth; (see note)
Healthy and good for man's sustenance
In this way there grows; meaning; (t-note)
good purpose, if one could interpret it well
nut’s shell though; tough; (see note)
Contains; sweet; delectable; (t-note)
And thus there lies a; wise enough; (see note)
fruitful implication beneath a fictitious story
scholars say; most advantageous
serious matters to mix some amusing fun; (see note)
delight the spirit; make; short; (t-note)
see; is always bent; (t-note)
Becomes weak; slackens
As does; always; (t-note)
serious matters some merriment to mix; (see note)
well; Aesop; indeed
leave; (see note); (t-note)
tongue; out of Latin; want to try; (see note)
make a kind
of my own will; vain arrogance; (see note)
But by request
whom; is not necessary [to]
homely; plain words; (see note)
It is necessary for me to write because
rhetoric I never did understand
meekly I request of your worships
If; anything; through; (t-note)
diminished or else
according to your gracious wishes
irrational beasts spoke; understood
good purpose [did]; argue; (see note); (t-note)
Advance a hypothetical argument; also
Providing [an] example; likeness; (see note); (t-note)
How [it is that] many; manner of action
Are in a condition like that of the beasts
[It] is no surprise; likened to a beast; (see note)
Who constantly loves; foul delight
Whom shame cannot challenge or restrain; (t-note)
Which through; daily routine; (t-note)
Subsequently; so firmly is rooted; (t-note)
into an irrational beast is turned; (see note); (t-note)
scholar; have told
fine meter and purpled eloquence; (see note); (t-note)
Figuratively wrote; wish; (see note)
To suffer scorn from high; social class; (t-note)
about a rooster; wrote; (see note)
Seeking; food, who found
About whom; you shall hear forthwith; (t-note)
Rooster; Jasper; (t-note)
Very lively; bold; poor
just at daybreak
all his effort was committed
Scraping among the ashes, by chance
found a brilliant piece of chalcedony very; (see note)
[That] had been cast out during the sweeping
As when irresponsible and rebellious maidservants
Who would rather; be seen in the street
About the sweeping; take no care
Jewels; lost; often has been seen
swept out at once
By accident; same
marveling at the stone, he said
Though; are of no use
Thou; jewel; (see note); (t-note)
It would be a pity should you; dung heap; (see note); (t-note)
buried; among this dung and dirt; (see note); (t-note)
When you; beautiful; so much
great power; bright color; (see note)
exalt; glorify; (t-note)
can; hardly any feast
By great; precious and dear; (t-note)
love far; something of less value
Such as malt; grain; empty guts
rather go scrape here; claws; (t-note)
dust; seek the sustenance needed for my life
any food [that] would; stomach good
in the same way
despise me now in terms of your wellbeing; (t-note)
[if] I had need thereof; (t-note)
color provides comfort only to the sight
enough to feed my belly
wives say; the act of looking; unsustaining; (see note); (t-note)
would have some food, if I might get it; (t-note)
hungry; live adequately on looks; (t-note)
If I had; bread, I would not care; any chefs
Where should; (see note)
Exalted in glory; great
filth; go; (t-note)
Thou art of no use to me
seek his food; went on his way
when; by whom it was
intend; carry on no debate
give an account; rough; homely style
has seven attributes; (see note); (t-note)
also; dangerous situations
good luck; succeed; (t-note)
highly variegated of hue
Signifies perfect; intelligence
deeds of virtue; (see note)
always to reign; (t-note)
Fortunate; capable; have; (t-note)
Over all vices and [the] devil
Who is able to be courageous; benevolent
avoid peril and jeopardy
maggots; damp; consume; (see note); (t-note)
desiring more; mere
to a fool be equivalent; (see note)
Making of; merely a mockery; (t-note)
can do no good, and as little; learn
heart shudders; hear; (t-note)
does; for whom; for example; (see note)
swill trough might strew; stones; (t-note)
learning and wisdom
ignorant people who do not understand
[Something] that; exalted; (t-note)
earthly; bought; (see note); (t-note)
Favored would be; others who could
nothing more was needful; (t-note)
alas; lost; hidden
hasten not to find it; (t-note)
If we have; we aspire to
though; soul; destitute
About; matter; speak, it only wastes breath; (see note); (t-note)
cease; say no more
Go seek; whoever wants; (see note); (t-note)
whom; borough town; (t-note)
dwelt up-country very nearby; (t-note)
alone, sometimes; bush; briar; (see note); (t-note)
Sometimes; to other men’s loss; (t-note)
live; gleanings; (t-note)
cold; suffered great
other; who dwelt in the town; (t-note)
Was a guild member; citizen; (see note)
also without the greater tax; (see note)
wherever she wished
cheese; milled grain; coffer; chest; (t-note)
Once when; comfortable
longed to hear; prosperity
“out in the sticks”; (t-note)
Barefoot; walking stick; (see note)
Like a poor; went out from
over hill and dale
Along; lonely paths did; (t-note)
From furrow; crying; ridge; (t-note)
Just cry "peep"!; did hear; (t-note)
recognized her voice; kinfolk; (t-note)
By sheer instinct; came to her
heartfelt show of affection; if you; (t-note)
Was displayed when these; (t-note)
many times; displayed between them; (t-note)
sometimes; laughed; wept; (see note)
carried on until; mood
Then with joint step; room [they] went
heard; humble dwelling; (t-note)
Of winter grass; fern; poorly was built; (t-note)
mere hut; firmly fixed stone; (t-note)
entry; high or broad
the same; without more delay
burning bright; (t-note)
such pilferers love not the light
lodged; these poor little mice; (see note)
hastened into the pantry; (t-note)
brought; peas instead; (see note); (t-note)
If; abundance; leave it to; (t-note)
nourishment not good; (t-note)
by; soul; only an insult
both inside the same womb
routine; mother; (t-note)
father, living; (t-note)
said; consider me excused
delicate food; is invariably accustomed
Because; live as well; (t-note)
These withered; before; gnawed into
stomach very slender; (see note)
accustomed; to; (t-note)
If it please you, such; here; (t-note)
even should you stay
in a joyous and sincere spirit; (see note); (t-note)
pleasure is there; feasts; (t-note)
which; given; scowling
joyful face; cook up a cow for him; (t-note)
of much more account
As long as; carver
frowning face; spiced dishes
Despite; cheerful encouragement; (t-note)
little inclination to sing along
Despite; dainties; could bring her
Give up; come
shall show you by actual; (t-note)
Good Friday fast; than your Easter feast; (see note)
lickings; whole outlay
aplenty; great security
nor; box-trap(?); dread; (see note); (t-note)
accept; went ahead together; (t-note)
Under cover always; thickest grass; (t-note)
secretly did they creep; (t-note)
paid good attention
At night; went ahead; slept; (see note)
Until; before the lark
found; joyously did walk in
from thence; fine building
brought; soon where; should
Without any word of blessing; shelter; taken; (see note); (t-note)
pantry; most abundant foodstuffs
shelves; (see note); (t-note)
sacks; groats, meal; (t-note)
Afterwards when; were ready to eat
Without prayer; washed; feast
cooks could dream up
cut; great slices
lord’s style of dining
asked her guest
If; noticed by her judgment [there was any]
Between; room; miserable
Yes; long; last; (t-note)
Forever after; suppose; longer too; (see note)
If it is so, you; ease
To increase; side dish; brought; (see note); (t-note)
plate; groats; more fine-ground grain
flat oatcakes; believe; did not neglect
to serve out around her
fine bread; meat jelly; (see note); (t-note)
white; out from a stand of boxes; (see note)
Instead; flavor their mouth[s] as well; (see note); (t-note)
until they could
at the top of their voices; (see note); (t-note)
often comes care
found them at dinner
tarried; wash; (see note)
go, whoever could take the lead; (see note)
hide herself in
deprived of; good advice; (t-note)
dread; swoon; dead
wished; turned out in a happy way
no extra time to stay around
Neither; seek; knock aside; (t-note)
bold citizen [the elder mouse]; (t-note)
death; dreading very grievously
struck; grievous pang; (t-note)
found her in such a plight
words sweet as honey
are you lying [there] like that
peril has been overcome
gloomy expression; (t-note)
rather have fasted these forty days; (see note)
watery cabbage soup
entreaty; she made her get up
table; again sat together; (t-note)
When; came “Gilbert”; fine; (see note)
welcome; [got] up
like fire from a flint; (see note); (t-note)
“Baldwin” [the cat] the other [mouse] by; seized; (see note)
Sometimes; nimble; any; (see note); (t-note)
let her run under the straw
hide and seek
great pain to the poor mouse he caused
through good fortune and luck; (t-note)
Between; curtain; crept; (see note); (t-note)
Then; haste; wall hanging; (t-note)
climbed; could; (t-note)
claws; did hang; (t-note)
gone. Her mood
came; no one; prevent
Against; loudly did she; (t-note)
banquet is mixed
sauce; (see note)
second course; utter pain; (t-note)
shall; hereafter may come to pass; (t-note)
that curtain; partition
For; cruel beast
protect; from such a feast
took her leave
merrily; headed to; moor; (t-note)
how she fared afterwards; (t-note)
[Which was] as; wool although
amply; outer; inner [rooms of the house]
rye; wheat; (t-note)
was inclined; enough
if you choose to pay attention; (see note); (t-note)
vetches are mixed
intermingled; (see note); (t-note)
they who climb most high
(see note); (t-note)
moderate meal in quietude
Though; small in amount
Often bring about; unhappy end
security; few belongings
who is accustomed to feed; (see note); (t-note)
belly; turn it into a god
Look; indeed; (t-note)
has an eye
What is then the use [of]
as far as I am concerned; (t-note)
if; read; (see note)
I can see nothing better; (t-note)
always to be carefree; live
with this thought
bears highest rank; (see note)
Although brute beasts; (see note)
lacking the ability to discern
each one; their species
the violent boar
at night and guard
in [their respective] traits
Undiscovered by; (t-note)
By nature having so many
understanding; transcends to write; (see note); (t-note)
event I learned; befell; other
Between; noble Chantecleer [the rooster]; (see note)
widow; in a hamlet [in] those; (see note)
Who earned; from; distaff
no more; indeed
to guard them; (see note)
Very spirited; for; regularly
little way; foresaid
thicket there was, of great security; (see note)
In which; devious
Made; residence; daily lodging
snatching away her poultry; (t-note)
by no means; she could
wily fox; did sing
sorely; farm betook himself
Where; in the gray dawn
Weary from staying up; had flown from; (see note)
[the fox]; considered; (see note)
risks; subterfuges; cunning; (t-note)
what means he might
Feigning; look; manner
Good morning; master
recoiled with a jump
Sir, by; soul; need; afraid
on my account; recoil
come here only to do you service; (see note); (t-note)
Did I not wish; [nothing] but
often has filled up; belly; (t-note)
sent; food; midden; moors
devoted my full energies
hold; head; give
Until; darling passed away
son, indeed; (t-note)
died; the bough of a birch
Then; dirge when; dead; (see note)
Between; two; could; feud
trust but; servant
paid such great respect
beak; breast; neck-feathers; comb
by; holy Mass
grows warm; it seems to me; (t-note)
To serve you; creep; (t-note)
gloomy and wet weather
You seem to me changed; (see note); (t-note)
From; character; (t-note)
crowing; could take; crown
no lie; stood
Well tried, so may I prosper
son and rightful heir
technique you lack a special touch
have no doubt; (t-note)
bring many to perdition
Trusting; great accolade
Heedlessly closing his eyes; (t-note)
made himself ready
suddenly by the time that; crowed
alert; grabbed; by the throat
forest without delay; rushed
forbiddance having; fear; (t-note)
that [outcome]; cried out; (see note)
widow heard; came
Seeing; situation; sighed
Ho!; robbery; yell; (t-note)
As if; insane
Tearing at; did beat
pale; complexion; trance
grief; fainting; a sweat; (see note)
while; was lying
about that situation; debate; (t-note)
making heavy mourning
great tears over; cheeks
also; clock tower; (see note)
Raised up her head between
lover; who shall lead us
When; who shall
would break; bread
During sex; give us pleasure
nature endowed him
too; [who] make such mourning
do fine, I expect, trust me
As good love comes; goes
holiday clothes; (see note)
make myself over in time for
restrained; always; fear
bedroom pleasure; you know very well
Exhausted; by nature cold
glad in misfortune; remedy
the living; the dead go
spoke who pretended loyalty earlier
know [that] of such; score
Would not be enough; satisfy
promise; by; since; free; (t-note)
week; if I dare speak
man; tickle; crotch
like; priest; boldly
Cease; wenches more; (see note); (t-note)
holding; scales [of justice]
Smites very painfully though
Adulterers who prefer not to; (t-note)
took no account; enmity
expected; gain power; reign
sins led him
that sudden death
snatched by the fox
When; out of her swoon
Jumped; called to her dogs
Ho! Birchy; Clumsy Brown; (see note); (t-note)
Tear-thicket, Run-well, Bobtail
without complaining; hasten
else; see that; never return
delay; raced; ground; (see note)
flew across the fields
did not stop; while
hounds; in a row; (t-note)
in his mind; God grant
spoke; by some; inspired; (see note); (t-note)
and tired after great effort
low in energy; flee further
Turn back at once
Have made friends; year
Then; quit; promise it; move
to cover up his scheme
Deceived; means; amazing
falsehood fails always
called out; taught
shot up onto a bough; (t-note)
judge; at what sir; laughed
Fell to [his] knees
without food or wages
murderer; rustler, stand back; (t-note)
so lividly bruised
broken affection; two; (t-note)
closed my eyes; wish
Because of which; lost
the bigger fool; [who] could; (t-note)
make my prey a matter for legal negotiation; (see note); (t-note)
Go your way; from; enmity
took his flight; (see note)
louver he landed; (t-note)
Moralization; (see note)
covered over; figurative images
a very suitable lesson
fictional language of the text
For; we may well term
Conceited; crazy; vain
About family; lineage, who; arrogant; (t-note)
puffed-up; very poisonous
Whoever; needs must have
nothing; stool; (see note)
Take as an example the devils of hell
Who were hounded down
compared; (see note)
pleasant, shining words
meaning; most toxic; (t-note)
flatter; lie; commit; whole
for such [people]; contempt
a more dangerous plague
Than [to] give; liars hastily; (t-note)
sweet sugar having; likeness
deadly poison; (t-note)
Therefore for now, briefly
Let us leave; glad widow; (see note); (t-note)
About; more blithe
dared not get more mixed up in pilfering; (t-note)
awaiting night very; hiding
Until Thetis; goddess; sea; (see note); (t-note)
Had called Phoebus home
took off his cloudy hood; (t-note)
Showing; handsome face
looked; from the place where
placed; over his upturned eyes
the night had come
stars; (see note)
orbits and also; celestial hemisphere
Some moving backward; stationary
They each were; taught
moved forward in Sagittarius
was ascendent in the Ram’s head (Aries)
hastened ahead in Leo
in Cancer; Moon; Aquarius; (see note)
Resided in Virgo
Without; astronomical calendar; (see note)
Taught by the instruction of nature
fox did perceive
What; stellar power
likely; descend down to earth
May good befall; who sent; school; (t-note)
also my fate I know; (see note); (t-note)
misadventure mixed; fate; (t-note)
sinful life; sooner unless; (t-note)
Death; and a shameful end; (t-note)
go seek some confessor
purge myself; (t-note)
utterly accursed; thieves
placed each night at risk; (t-note)
brings very many a man to grief
steal; always are just as poor; (t-note)
Noose-neck; Crack-rope; too
for our reward; throat
Upon; crag; directed; eyesight
coming; a little way from there; (t-note)
doctor; theology; (see note); (t-note)
Friar Do-harm; learning most expert
newly arrived; cloister; (t-note)
prayer beads; saying
wily traitor fox
knees; hood [down] around
many a servile bow; nod
[Do] you put on such an act
do it; (see note)
dependable path; (see note); (t-note)
[That] should guide such
homespun, undyed cowl
lean; pale; compassionate
[it] were well for him [who]
opportunity; you; confess
O, poor; said; laughed; (t-note)
plunder; pilfering, sir; plenty
stay; here in the open
get down on thy knees
“Give blessing”; (see note)
withdrew a little away
is fitting neither; listen
reveal; vow of secrecy
in this way; did speak; (see note); (t-note)
sin?” "O, sir; do it
hens; so honey-sweet
Except for; have slain
Since; feel regret [for]
If; shall I live
to support myself
Necessity; steal wherever; go
am ashamed; beg; work; know; (see note)
gladly lay claim; rank
lack two elements; (see note)
third; proceed; (t-note)
submit to a penalty
my physical constitution; (t-note)
Sickly and weak; (t-note)
would, if; easy; (see note)
if I could carry it out
refrain; meat from now; Easter; (t-note)
body; accursed carrion
as long as you give me leave
eat sausage; sip a little blood
head; feet; entrails; taste
case I lack flesh in my diet; (t-note)
In sore necessity; leave to do it
Twice; week; need; have; (see note)
reward; I know well
went on his way
proceeded towards the water; (see note)
get himself [some]; wholly was
wild, heaving waves; (see note); (t-note)
discouraged motionless; horror; stood; (t-note)
stayed at home
Than [to have] been a fisher
must I scrape my food
neither boats; (t-note)
While; lack; grumbling
Seeking around to find his sustenance
a herd of goats
happy; hid himself in a ravine
from the goats; stole
Then; sea; hastens
took; by; two horns
either twice or thrice
dunked; to him did he say
sir; salmon; (see note)
Until; dead; then; dragged
nicely stuffed; meat
secret spot; made his way
bush; the sun shone brightly
warm; thought; (see note)
Outstretching; belly in
it would be very fitting to place an arrow
Aggrieved at heart
every; carefully did he peer
drew; before he moved
woe is me
Punctured; can no further go; (t-note)
It seems to me; say; in jest
goatherd seized him; pulled his arrow; (t-note)
other violent offenses
unprepared-for; (see note)
exhorting; reform; (t-note)
such a similar; (t-note)
many now go; (t-note)
Some [there] are; custom and habit
Although; for a while
[They] cannot forbear; flee from their sins
Habit pulls; in such a way; (see note)
have been accustomed
That smites hard; opposition
Pay attention; take note
no one can mount a defense
Desist from; penitently examine
willing; shall go; (t-note)
child [who]; legally sired
a son; which in illicit love; (t-note)
begotten in clandestine appropriation
Who for; Father-worse
loved; poultry tussle; tease; (t-note)
according to natural reason
step by; by proper analogy
From illegitimate offspring; (t-note)
By true nature had to be
demands; seeking; food by scent
By chance; found; corpse
Flayed; freshly slain; to him has he gone; (t-note)
possess, since; heir
territories where thou; resort
Shame on covetousness, unnatural
pleased; found; dead
By sudden; hateful deeds
reign; grow strong in; stead
Fearing; to lead the same life
filching; plunder as his [father]; (t-note)
he paid no further heed
I certainly find; true
The fox keeps going; has; (see note)
goes to a pool in the peat bog
amass wrongful possessions; (t-note)
subject; soul; pain; anguish
enrich; heir; have deceased; (see note)
When he has; small pains
recite [a dirge]; (t-note)
Once; dead; finished; (t-note)
In order to rest, this fox went to a crag; (t-note)
heard; blaring bugle blow; (see note)
[it] seemed to him; rock; (t-note)
Then he leapt; (t-note)
bounding; hill; (see note)
proper pursuivant [herald of junior rank]
could look around
every; did betake himself
Projected; voice out high; gave
“Hear ye, hear ye” twice; (see note); (t-note)
At that [sign]; nearby
wondering what such
Staring; gathered; field; (t-note)
box; quickly did; pull; (t-note)
read; without hesitation
[the “royal We”]; the king of all the beasts; (see note); (t-note)
Greetings; everlasting without; (t-note)
[And] to brute; unreasoning
Permits; know; exactly now
Subject to; befall
came; sunbeams; (see note)
grasses growing; tall; (t-note)
spices spread; bud; each twig
thrush; blackbird; loud
came; solid; (see note); (t-note)
Carrying; brought; summit
jasper stones attached; adorned
diverse; decked out
poles; pavilion; pitched
All beasts that go on foot; (t-note)
what; as Lowrence the fox taught me
recite a sample of each
Chimera; beast; illegitimate birth
werewolf; dangerous flying horse
lynx; of cruelty
also the dromedary
neck like a crane’s; hurried on; (see note)
have mentioned before
antelope hastened forth the ax(?); (see note)
colorfully marked panther
river, thicket; reeds
small Spanish horse; noble stallion; (t-note)
doe; roe-deer; antlered male red deer
bear; wild ox; wild boar
wild man; she-wolf; (t-note)
hedgehog; limping hare; (see note)
Both; ape; spiny
foolish goat; harmless sheep
bison(?); tumbling badger; (see note); (t-note)
bloodhound; did lope forth; (t-note)
rat; dormouse; (t-note)
squeaking stoat; weasel
ferret; furred; gown
marten; rabbit; squirrel
[unidentified animal]; also the garden dormouse; (see note); (t-note)
did guide the mole
not given her sight
proceeded; fear of death
she trudged towards that hilltop; (t-note)
did not know
these; ready at his command
sudden movement; glanced around him; (t-note)
stretched out flat; feet
all sank in fear
noticed; bow; (t-note)
commanded them; gentle
afraid; (see note)
know [that] my power; merciful
troubles none who; prostrate
severe, and also unloving
who are in opposition to my exalted rank
tug, I rend
Against; authority; grandeur
See [that]; lay claim to status
shall be conjoined always
lowest; very quickly exalt
I have the power
if he wants to make trouble
Ensure; within; miles where; (see note)
walks safely alongside the goat
not look; lamb; (t-note)
Nor [any] predatory; neither run nor go raiding
lay down; announced
judge; to prepare to begin
call the suits; condemn; (t-note)
painted coat of arms
Constituted; by law was proper; (see note)
Lowrie the fox looked; was skulking; (t-note)
leapt; astonished; upset
Tearing; howled; loud voice; (t-note)
know; assembly; see
made to harm such evildoers
if; show myself; punished
looked for if; declared
stay or flee; provides; solution
there; nothing but death
did he consider
over his eyes; (t-note)
with the one eye shut; went; (t-note)
Limping; came; recognized
terror; suffer detention; (t-note)
blindman’s buff; [moving] from beast
defiled spirit; cankered; (t-note)
Summoned with justice before a king
Pale cheeks; ashamed face
Goodbye to your good reputation
In; repulsive and disfigured
cowed, dull-witted; oafish
If you are accused of
criminal misdeed; bad faith
expression; must look
status in this world is gone
Consider this fox; terror
flee; falsehood; counsel you
Through which there
Placed as befit their rank; (t-note)
each; had; brought forth
awe-inspiringly; spoke; asked
If; any beast in this world; (t-note)
made them solemnly swear to that
breeding mare; (see note); (t-note)
who shall [the messenger] be; (t-note)
only one eye
far more learned in the clerkly disciplines
Rearing up [the lion] said; wretches; (t-note)
they [proceeded] to go; delay
thicket; root; quickly
called; in contempt; (see note)
Cease; legal jargon
Mistress; you must
has indeed commanded this
you undergo; mockery; folly
letter permitting absence; if
said; so God help me
Here; scholar in every way
duly qualified; maturity; (see note)
experience; chancellor’s office
serve as a witness here with you
document; in haste
struck; the top of his skull right off his head
life; there he lay crumpled over
learning; deserved; payment
gain nothing from that [letter]
by Saint Bridget; it seems to me
sleep in an undamaged rather than a
scroll; found; written in [it]; (see note)
shillings; once disobey it
Aiming to get some remedy from his folk
the situation was
stay in this place
from; wash; blood
Along; searched for; stream; (t-note)
By chance; coming; moor
flock; dancing; embankment
has struck down
ate; then; goes
then make their way
that mare; in contempt
do not ask me
newly-made; theology; (see note); (t-note)
red; well enough
clever; scholar of mature age
ordered; mare appear
cited a special right
near; shall have
read her letter of permission
true, whoever pays heed to it
greatest scholars; (see note)
of one makes the other lucky
chatting; witty comments
uproar; playfulness; (t-note)
Just then came; ewe
in this way
rascal son of a whore
has dismembered; doggishly; (t-note)
love; enact for my sake
Upon; drew back
If; truth; poor ewe
to have played with him; (see note)
Without cause; afraid
broke; You lie; cur
by observation; proven easily
are still sticking; teeth
enough, without doubt
choose; jury; (t-note)
partly treason as well; (see note); (t-note)
bound; tight; ordered promptly
The sentence to be pronounced; clothes; (see note)
did give him confession
led him forth; goes
foot of the ladder; says farewell
ape; executioner; at once; (t-note)
from; lead; extract
Serious meaning; seek; refine
teachers of theology; (see note)
Explicitly according to our lives; apply a moralization; (see note); (t-note)
demonstrate their; by means of a poetical composition; (t-note)
likeness; (see note); (t-note)
whom bow both emperors and kings
expect from; more favor; (t-note)
desire daily; more livelihood; (t-note)
Some govern; prevail; reign
gather possessions; goods
gain; work as if; insane
liken; (see note); (t-note)
brute beasts; reconcile
Wishing; extol [the world]
Flee; from that; rightly repent
gain power, and reign
mare; people of the contemplative life; (see note); (t-note)
For; walking; (t-note)
Such as; (t-note)
Who seek to please God; every; (t-note)
willing; away from vainglory; (t-note)
are made as if dead
hoof; thought; death
thou must die
shall flee away from you
Wise; says; (t-note)
So that; can save thy sorry soul; (t-note)
Consider thy death; willingly
Bringing; vain thoughts
daily besieges members of religious orders; (t-note)
Come back to the world; (t-note)
see; nearly killed
incessant, grievous pains; (t-note)
pull back; tempt themselves
kindly intermediary of gentle mercy; (t-note)
in front of thy heavenly son; (t-note)
beseech his highness; (t-note)
To defend us
story; (see note)
poor; (see note)
bishop’s court; (see note); (t-note)
loaf of bread; recover
penalties of; deprival of rights
Sir Sheep; strictly; appear in court; (t-note)
designated summoner; (see note)
had pecked out; eye
[he] has taken; forth; carried
Without delay; three; (t-note)
subject to the penalties
hear what; wishes to say to you; (see note)
before sufficient witnesses
poor; did not dare; earth
When the Evening Star; show
notary; case; (see note)
kite; vulture; did stand; (see note); (t-note)
plea together [they]
Who; allied strictly; pact
in this style did state the plea
owe; of which [debt]; expired
On his own behalf, without
Judiciously [the sheep]; (t-note)
case; purpose; intent
very dangerous; (see note)
plea; biased judge; (t-note)
have been very hateful
Have slain; kinsmen
biased judge; reject you; (t-note)
in short, all you members of this court
my [friends and kin]
always; been; many a shepherd knows
remote; out of session; (see note)
During which; judges; court; (t-note)
late in the evening; therefore
in this way
commanded; parties choose; (see note)
arbitrators; customarily done
give [an] arbitration
Whether; had to
whom; you shall hear now; (t-note)
bear; badger; matter; in
decide whether; objection
a debate [for] a long while
Researching; decrees of canon law; (t-note)
Very many volumes of civil law; study; (see note); (t-note)
codes [of Justinian]; digests
For and against, precise; (t-note)
one opinion; (t-note)
entreaty; bribe; compromise; (t-note)
gloss; decrees; (see note); (t-note)
curse; lie; (t-note)
Quickly; bring this dispute to a conclusion
summarily; plainly; (t-note)
issued the summons
had to go before
cease his plea; in no way pleased
from; he could not appeal
leave it [to prove] if; legal
The dog got up; against; complained
A sum; in advance
witness’ statement; produced
had contested this lawsuit
[The fox]; record; proceedings wrote
they progress to the outcome
In favor of
to put it into
Subject to the penalty of a prohibition; (see note)
sum of money
About; alas what
fearing more; (t-note)
Submitting; did take; (t-note)
sold; wool; bore
Then bought; did make
as he was legally required; (t-note)
Naked; bare; did go
poor commoners; oppressed
cruel; who exert; their effort
evil methods; unjust
belief; last forever
utterly mistaken; die
go to everlasting torments
liken; oppressive sheriff; (see note)
buys; power of forfeiture
accursed judicial panel convened
indicts; poor; in the outlying countryside
Once; coroner; laid on [a poor man]; (see note)
Even if he [the poor man]; honest; (t-note)
make payment to the judge
Who; a list of those named in; (t-note)
goes; sitting of circuit court
consider whether; (t-note)
thus exacts a bribe from both sides; (t-note)
fox of whom; spoke; (see note)
According to their; say; more
Where; by chance; looked
heard him make [a] bitter lament
bishop’s court; (see note)
[the] midst; held
the north wind; gusts
harsh frosts these; wither; (t-note)
bare; can; delay
cave he crept
icy weather; to protect himself; (t-note)
Shivering; mourning all along
Raised; eyes; height
why do you sleep; (t-note)
Wake; perceive; based; justice
See; by; oppression; trickery
Stripped utterly bare
very shockingly miserable
accursed sin; covetousness; (t-note)
Has exiled; loyalty; (t-note)
none; carry out
lack; whom; overthrown
Even if the judges were to know the truth; (t-note)
blinded; selfishness; (t-note)
Do you not see; is turned upside-down
As [if] one; into lead; tin
fleeced; can do no wrong; (see note)
considered to be no sin
happy [who] can profit most from usury
Gentility; slain; pity; gone
tolerate even this [injustice] because of; (see note)
their lives for this reason
at this time can do no more
Upon; earth; good
midst; sweet time of year; (see note); (t-note)
Phoebus; bright sunbeams
dried; valley and hill
made light with his rays; (t-note)
On a; between noon; nightfall
arose; set aside all sloth and sleep
forest; without a guide
Sweet; flowers white; red
noise; utterly delightful
broad branches bloomed above
flourishing; pleasant grasses; (t-note)
Of; pleasure; was plentiful
sweet fragrances; birdsong
joy was greater therefore
red roses; bush; stem; (t-note)
primrose; purple violet; (t-note)
hear; a foretaste of
Such; thrush; blackbird did make
merrily opened; hillside
plants; song; (t-note)
Competing [to see] who
To protect myself; from; sun’s heat
lay down among
Then; sign of the cross; closed both; eyes; (t-note)
these fine boughs
[made] of; cloth; white; (see note)
robe; deep purple camel’s hair; (t-note)
hood; edged well
In a fringed style down to his waist
cap [was] round and in the old style
eyes were large
curling; which; shoulders
swan’s quill sticking
inkwell; an artfully gilded pen-case
ready at; wore; (t-note)
finely dressed; apparel
an awe-inspiring face
Up to where; [at] a brisk pace
save [you]; son; gladdened; (see note)
By; familiar; by
greeted him in return
down beside me
Do not be displeased; though
Ask about; profession (learning)
Why; here; where; home
noble lineage; (see note)
native; without doubt
I went to the schools
[I] studied Roman law very many
dwelling; heaven for always
am named; work
known and familiar; learned scholar
knows; most dearly welcome
who wrote all these fables
Which; even if they are fictional
knows if; then
beseech sincerely; good will
would deign; (t-note)
Shaking; let [it] be
what; made-up story
When holy preaching
who have reverence
ear; deaf; heart; stone
Now [there is] blatant sin
eye directed; always down; (t-note)
So rotten; black
tales can bring little help
noble sir; request; (see note); (t-note)
likeness of a brute beast
you would deign
Who knows if; learn; carry
thereby [that] hereafter
agree; began; tale
prey; exhausted by running; (t-note)
relax his limbs
Warming; breast; in
Lay under a tree
Just then; troupe of mice; their
Very glad; nimble; dancing; masquerade
hopped twice; thrice
were not afraid
across; took; dance-steps
plucked; whiskers; beard
did not refrain from clawing
paw; master; grabbed
She; all the rest, terrified
themselves soon everywhere
who was captured; wept incessantly
alas often; she [had]; there
taken; woeful prisoner
guilt expects at once
Overly rude; also
make across; dancing
well; was both
Of all beasts; know; (see note)
was fooled; low
Hear what; receive [it]
then; mighty high
See also; through
Neither from; treason; (t-note)
Sooner; receive; forgiveness; (t-note)
full of food; great
all sorts of; such; suited
as nature taught us
by; soul; thought; been dead
Otherwise we would; head
help [even] a little; assert
pose; hypothesis; slain; (see note)
then; stuffed; straw
Even though; lying thus
bore the image
ought; fear; knees
offense; make no
treat with contempt
your companions; own
you can offer no defense
death such; decreed
gallows dragged; feet; (see note); (t-note)
Ah; from; noble mercy; ask; (see note); (t-note)
Calm; wrath; ire pass away; (t-note)
Because of which; death
Unless your; offer help
judge; pity should exist
the canon laws; (t-note)
who can uphold
Very; unless mercy intervene
Also; know; (see note)
depends on the strength
captives who; (t-note)
Through the peril of war maintain a long defense
prize; praise when the battle is over
Who neither may nor can defend himself?
mice; also devour
paltry prowess for; strong
Very little honor; won
Since to your strength [there]
slay; who can
Except for begging; from
is not fitting to your majesty
consumes; delicious foods
Unwholesome food; from; vile; (see note)
Accustomed to; noble venison
Yet if I live; perhaps
Assist; highness being
it is often seen; low rank
Imprisoned who was about
Through; Such a situation; own
When; way of speaking
Calmed; thought; reason
made; assuage his cruel ire
both; raised up
Crying, “May Almighty God reward you!”
owned nothing but lived; prey
both tame; accustomed
made; great disturbance
Out of hemp; strong; did
strong ropes from tree; bound it
sent; line [of beaters]; row in the forest
fanfare; hounds eagerly calling
running through the bushes
entangled feet; head
did not make any progress
Now; until he could get relief; (see note)
vain; availed; not at all
more; jerked; tighter; tied; (t-note)
were so twisted around him
lying; lamenting; complaint; (t-note)
lamed; lying here; low; (see note)
whom; on earth stood in awe
bonds; here must
see no other relief
no person who; avenge
Who shall help me; break
get me out of the pain
By chance; came near
heard the sad voice of the lion
this had to be; [that] showed
disloyal; very wicked
Unless; repaid part of; (t-note)
eagerly did call
here tied up tightly; prison
Breaking; bitter; lament
Unless; he expects none
loose; at once; Yes; (see note)
brought; sharp enough; (see note)
see; indeed; great wonder
among; tough ropes
went above; (t-note)
cut; meshes asunder; (t-note)
Then told; got up at once
free from; (see note)
Loose; rescued into
heard; showed clemency
[a] very good [one]
ask; sir; [If] you would
suppose; powerful splendid; (see note)
ruler; or else
Who should; vigilant guide
exerts no effort; (t-note)
relaxes always; sloth; sleep
sheltered and restful leaves; (see note)
birds’ song; wonderfully
pleasure mixed; ample grief
Just; rose; wintry storm
Fades, so; deceives those
Who; pleasures; have most confidence
mice; only; common folk
Unruly; [if] lacking
when they [the commons] see
exact no penalty
They are not at all afraid
because; have no respect
causes them; to disregard
By; prudent rulers
cruelty by means of mercy
Often; seen; low rank; (see note)
compensated an injury both; (t-note)
shown severity; mercy to him
Who knows; soon
Abounding; vain pleasure
Through; which; mutability
For unjust; them so utterly
can prepare for no danger
have outstretched; (see note)
which; suddenly; taken
Watched; to get restitution
[To record] injury; write
More; explain; I leave unsaid; (t-note)
well perceive what; mean
Examples of this often have
When; said; (see note)
clergy continually; (t-note)
from this country
reign; maintain their loyalty; (see note)
both night; (t-note)
Then; wood; took homeward
exalted; wonderful operation
intellect of; (see note)
so perfect; discerning
Exceeding; human reasoning; (t-note)
Because; everything is always; (see note)
In the perception of
Therefore; soul; (see note)
fettered; bodily prison
a heavenly being; (t-note)
dark; mortal material body; (t-note)
Just as if a; confined; prison
Metaphysics; (see note)
the eye of a bat
Which hides; daylight lasts
dusk comes out to fly
Her eyes; weak; she cannot see the sun
hampered by delusion
From knowing; manifested
infinite in power
No one should; by
believe firmly; cease arcane speculations; (t-note)
have knowledge; (see note)
through his creations
good; wise; benevolent
Take the example of these pretty flowers; (t-note)
Very sweet of
blue; purple, white, and red
distributed by; from; divine being
sphere of heaven painted; bright stars; (see note)
east; revolving; a complete revolution
each; own orbit
earth; (see note)
To; certainly enough
works is wise; (see note)
Let us study; sea; (t-note)
earth; kinds of animals; (t-note)
birds; vigorously; fly
Cleaving; feathers large
Then look; made
In his; resemblance
By these [things]; know
created things; benefit; (see note)
for his support
On; as well as below and above
diversity of; each; (see note)
Suited to; needs
daily by; see
lovely green robe; (t-note)
like fur on each opening in the garment
Which; goddess; flowers queen
lovely golden sunbeams
Then hot autumn when
Has blessed her children
Her empty casks; (t-note)
strong wines; pleasing liquor
the bounty of the season
wheat nor other grain
dismal winter when grim Aeolus; (see note)
wind; northern gusts
Has; torn up; ripped; pieces
flowers; faded; must
changed their sweet tunes; (see note)
Into ceaseless; nearly slain; sleet
These valleys; puddles
wood covered; hoary frosts
fine branches; dried bare of bliss; (t-note)
By wicked; warned
Withdraw; fear; deep dens
Crouching; caves themselves
Then comes spring when
confidential servant; seal; (see note)
the columbine peers out
was scared; by grim frosts
thrush; blackbird; sing; (see note)
aloft; other little birds; (t-note)
comes out; hiding; hill; dale
same; on a fine; (see note)
Very happy; winds were gone
wood; see; flowers bud
hear; other birds
went out, then looked
was very seasonable
Moist, and ready to receive all seeds; (see note)
in this way; took
laborers; see; hard work
digging ditches; guide the plow
harrow hopping; track
loved grain; (see note)
them; both at evening
rested; very pleasant hillside
greatly delighted by; sight
Into; green hawthorn tree; (see note)
came a marvelous flock
down suddenly; did alight on the leaves
where I stood
Among; which; did cry aloud; (see note)
high; treetop sitting
branches here beside me
shall well know; wisely
get ready in advance
To avoid it; fear; you more
said; in reply; laughed; (see note)
What; seen; causes; dread
Do you see that; plow
sowing hemp there, see; flax seed; (t-note)
flax; in a little while indeed
from it; that; make his nets
which; intends to catch us
advise [that]; go when
sharp little claws
earth we scrape that; at once
eat; if; shall
reason; weep hereafter one
We must remedy this; at once
(see note); (t-note)
scholars; not; (see note)
think about what; before; eye
inner mental process
causes; get ready in advance; (t-note)
What good; likely to emerge
Of all things [to come to pass] at the time of death; (t-note)
thus from; more readily; (t-note)
laughing; did mock
fished far ahead of; (see note)
baby; easy; dress
Not everything grows
bend when; blow shall
soon enough; most fated
her beneficial advice
birds fiercely took; at once; (t-note)
rush; hastened; field
again are; greenwood
staff; homeward did; hurry
Just as astonished as if; supernatural vision
time passed until; lovely time
hares could hide themselves
also; quail clucking; grain
went out between
stood, by luck; chance
same; have told; earlier
suppose; their usual place to go
More sheltered; quiet
promptly let out; plaintive cry
Woe; look out
sight; take good notice
flax; that pasture
When; uproot out; ground
high in first growth
yet while; (t-note)
grow no bigger
flesh shudders; trembles
about; cannot sleep in peace
later on; good
food for little birds
those; pods; ripe
make ourselves a feast; seed
In spite of that; peep
friends, by all means be it so
wish; certainly I sorely dread
What comes; just as; sweet
When; split open; churl’s spit
owner; bird catcher
Very tricky; cunning
prey; few times; miss
Unless; be all the warier
Very many; caused to die
thought; merely a game
protect; from; holy cross
These; having only little care
befall by chance
valued at nothing
took; went away together
ripened; flax plants; (see note)
Raked off; seed pods; put [the stalks] in bundles
Soaked it; stream; then dried
mallet pounded; beat
scraped; combed; indoors on the floor; (t-note)
spun it; twisted; thread
which; bird catcher made nets
wicked; did blow
forest; hill; frosts; mottled
Hollows; valleys; slippery; sleet
fine birds; hunger; feet
bare branches; use; stay
hastened; to hide themselves
Some; stack of grain
Took their lodging; made
has sworn great oaths; (t-note)
should certainly be caught; depredations
He has laid out his nets
shoveled; flat area
covered; chaff again
seeing the chaff, were glad; (see note)
Supposing; grain; flew down
But; no expectation
bird catcher’s wicked plan
food; set themselves to work
in a sapling off to one side; (t-note)
Fearing trickery; to them did
scrape until; bleed
Do you believe that; pity; feed
laid it out here; trick; (t-note)
Get away; advise; else
Ready; pull; beware therefore
[A] great fool; (t-note)
a thing of no value
willingly pay heed to
while it might help him
nothing in mind
Except; what may occur later
of the outcome; thought
Very busily; find their food
did not want to hear
Even though; did them
understood [to be]
So stubborn; into a tree
pulled his nets over them
Alas; great pain at heart; see; (t-note)
bloody butcher beat those
they fully expected to die
Some; struck; unconscious
The heads from some; neck; (t-note)
To those who; advice
From; scholars; wise
told them [about] more
I saw her no more; (see note)
relaxed; valuable work; (see note)
many others; previous; wrote
Having; meaning accordant
bondman; void of gentility
Sowing; chaff these; slay
devil, who from angelic rank; (see note)
Exiled; traitorous rebel
Who; does not weary; go
poison; wicked thought
soul; very dearly; redeemed
when; like seed in the ground; (see note)
Gives; in delight; (t-note)
sprout; (see note)
Reason; willful emotion
fleshly desire; lush
By habit indulged; (see note)
weaves his strong and rough nets; (t-note)
secretly hides [them]
Then; sows chaff very widely
Which; empty; total vanity
These; we may term wretches
Always scraping; delight
Greedy; amass temporal goods
Which like; chaff; empty
Of little use; changeability; (t-note)
dust [that]; (see note)
that has escaped; (t-note)
Exhorting; watch; always
Who does not sleep
do scrape chaff; (t-note)
Alas, what sorrow
When soul; are parted; two; (t-note)
worms’ kitchen; (see note)
these worthless goods; (t-note)
brought; hanged; neck
concealed; perceive; see
miserable chaff wisely
[It] is best [to]; greatest
there is nothing permanent
[There]; [who] knows; state
After; death; where; go
We should pray; while
withdraw from sin
cease; conflict and strife; (t-note)
fourth; most for our benefit
bliss; angels; comrades; (see note)
Fish Peddler; (t-note)
Once there dwelt
explicitly does state
A thieving; lived; poaching
animals; himself manage well
[There] was no one; spare; (see note)
If; were; either bribe; threat; (see note)
fury; shook them to death; (t-note)
[It] so befell; poaching; (t-note)
meet; middle of the path
saw first; pretended; in awe
nod; wished good
said [the wolf]; (see note)
Then leaned; took; by
[the fox’s name]; permit
Where hast thou; out of my sight
hold office; be my steward; (see note)
knock down capons in; night; (see note)
crawling low; make hens die
Sir; that does not suit me
afraid if they see me afar
appearance; take fright
under cover crawl
belly; grab them by; head
sudden sortie; sheep
Then; teeth and claws shake; death
know; robe; red
wait for me
Even though; hide myself
across thickets; hillsides
Low; crawl; reach your goal
understand well; goes
long distance; notice; smell; (see note)
escape, unless; killed; (t-note)
ashamed; come up behind them
even though; sleeping
precaution indeed; trick
animal you could
could; escape; a mile off
trick one of them in that way
two [black-]tipped ears; two gray eyes
Makes; recognized where
hear; you lying
[you] search; risks; tricks; protect
excuses shall; (t-note)
around the bush; ruses; you beat
Falsehood; always fail; (see note)
not wait until; break
[that is] for
Lent; see; (see note)
not fish; getting my feet wet; (t-note)
catch a stickleback; should both starve; (see note)
no other; get; food
But if it were Easter, when
kids, in [fine] condition
hold; would; not refuse
wrath; Do you suppose
many tricks to defeat me
doubtless; you deceive
expect to pull; straw; (see note)
knows; do not mean
if I; were entirely proper
strong rope; tied; to a tree; (t-note)
see; he is indeed a fool
master enters into debate
did [it] only to find out what
in every respect; command
Whatever; require; nights
yet I want; [to] make; oath; (see note)
loyal; above; living being
single; makes; angry
see; hold me in suspicion
swear, even if; no need; (see note)
By; under penalty; head
shall; true; until; dead
fish peddler; horse; baskets; (see note)
proceeding along; did; see; (t-note)
aroma; fresh herring; smells
there; is carrying along
Therefore; advise; look
fish in readiness for these
Since; intend [that]; goods
sick with poverty; know very well
beg; truly boorish miser
give; from his basket
In front of; knees though; kneel
believe that very soon you shall see
If; know how to pull the wool over the churl’s eyes
there is one thing, if; some of; prize; (see note)
make an effort; give; help
that does not want to work
In these days; a flea; (see note)
intend; as busily as a bee; (see note)
shall; a short way behind
gather herring; shall; job
took a circuitous route
outstretched himself; middle
made himself seem indeed
then lay in an unnatural pose; (see note)
whites; upturned; two eyes
hung; hand’sbreadth; head
motionless; stiff as if; were
to; quietly did
next rest-stop; shall be flayed
from; make a pair of mittens
leapt very nimbly; where
way; danced; toes
As if; heard; moves
Here; said; dead; ditch; (see note)
Such a freak occurrence
suppose; attacked by; dog
makes; lie so; without motion
indeed; warmly welcome here
some wife’s curse
poaching poultry; has landed
There; peddler; purse; gloves
laces; swindle; pelt from
shall from; for my hands
To keep; hot wherever; am
To; sail the sea; (see note)
in haste; grabbed; by; heels
thud; threw; baskets
Then by; head; haste has seized
has paid close attention
stopper as quickly as he could
[He] pulled; one by one
flung down a good number
was ready; gathered [them]
in a loud voice; (see note)
But; stream; glanced behind
leapt completely free from the baskets
nothing; made it to safety; (t-note)
Then; shout; did
Wait; “neck-herring”; have; (see note)
worth my horse; all the rest
curse myself if we meet
heard what; promised
those; take warmth
Even if; hanged [for it], churl
Continue; trade, from; profit
have left for a high
Or else; not profit
shook; rage where; stood
just deserts; [that] I have lost; cur
Who; nothing; of so much use
nimbly; leapt; ditch
cut down; infuriated; (t-note)
of green holly
found; beside; where
did I not make a brave defense
strong; never lacked, if
brave heart; take by surprise
a very bold man
when wanted; let it be said
what was that; cried aloud
shook; fist; no idea
rim; thrice without doubt
weight; nearly pulled; teeth
truly; if we could; grab
God let me be hanged
there; give; clothes
if; teeth and claws could lift it
knows; wanted; often
strength could; lift it up high
side of salmon as it were
fresh; speckled; partridge eye; (see note)
if; thus; three times as much
proceed according to; plan
suffer no ambush
must take a circular route
Then outstretch yourself
Both; you must stretch
do not be afraid
keep yourself still; comes
though; see; have no concern
keep yourself utterly; place
make sure; tight shut as if
in haste; grab; heels
swear to you by; luck
expect; cannot lift me; (t-note)
cause himself little strain
Only; I dare honestly
If you get; safe; some
go fishing again until Easter
“In the beginning” over you; (see note)
sign the cross on; body; toe
Go when; wish; venture to be a guarantor
die no sudden
sprang; at once; left
went a circular route around
stretched himself; path; before; near
cheek securely, firmly; heavily
feet away from; head
hung out; tongue; taught him
As; were indeed dead
Caring; kindness; enmity
But continually about
quite forgets; tricks
as furious; (t-note)
riding; cartload; light
Thinking continually about
How to avenge himself; (t-note)
caught a sight
Where; lay prone; path
Whether he got down; knows
was fooled once
If I am fooled twice; curse the both of us
wicked blow; land; bones; (t-note)
Up high; raised; furious
such purpose; head
blows; received before; feet
could; see; truly
know readily whether
watched; treatment from where
laughed out loud; sees thus
Both deaf; dazed; fainting; knees
according to reason; (see note)
covets everything; likely to lose everything
when; was beaten
These; shall; (t-note)
I lie; else; a fine steward; (t-note)
found such; to torment
took his leave
nearly thrashed quite to death
hardly; he escaped
staff his head was nearly broken
quickly withdrew himself then
betrayed his master and the cadger
lacked; from his baskets
other’s blood; running; heels
tale is mingled
show in part before; cease
may be likened
thieving; without lies
under whom everyone must hasten
came to; nature’s course; die
in the sea
you understand; steward
Who; pay no heed to death
engages; profit; they know
liken; so red [i.e., pure]
Just so; makes; cities
war; devastated; men see
Made; expect; have respect
Just so; vanity; while
Fawns upon; as if they should never fail
suddenly; see the world often part company
For those who expect; sack
Death pinches them by; neck
power; makes; so
make greed their greatest joy
So that; comes
whatever rank they hold
What; more dark; (see note)
Wherefore; advise; have
ancestors’; does declare
practice; always; rise early; (see note)
[It] so befell; plowing; of year; (see note)
Early; proceed according to his custom; (see note)
At the plow only; drover
young oxen; urged; blessing; (see note)
driver; “Hey! Move!” out loud
Pull straight; doves; goaded
from exuberance they ruined the furrow; (see note)
then grew; hare; (see note)
Then yelled; threw; spade; big rocks
said; may take; once
yet; nearer than he supposed
thicket; [the fox] also; (see note)
Under; gnarled rowan [that]; furrow’s end
heard; vow; laughed; eagerly
that offer; were no hardship
promise you by
That churl’s; were king shall; (see note)
became more disciplined
hobbling; in [the husbandman’s] path; (see note)
Ahead of; got ready; dispute
grew somewhat afraid
would have gone
Where are you driving; prey; (see note)
none of them
for that reason; great shock
gravely [he] then replied to the wolf
Sir, by; soul, these oxen
wonder why; should obstruct
Since; never defaulted; truly
Churl, gave; team
Earlier when; plowing; that slope
anything; more free than a
delay; lose; thanks
willingly; fourpenny coin; (see note)
Than; by necessity; fat ox
generosity; comes; sincerity
then contradict once; reflect
vows should be adhered to
Did I give; [a] contract
rob; take legal proceedings
if he is loyal; (see note)
shrinks from; fears; rebuked
word; always as secure; seal
Shame; man who; trustworthy; respected
also fabricated; (t-note)
Without trustworthiness; (see note)
other virtues; not; a flea
farmer; about this
honest; taken in; partial story
speak and contradict
heard; promised; entirely
For that reason; shall
come here from; thicket
crawling; loved; [the] light
did not laugh at all when
must settle; case
Of which; reveal; truth; time
called; to bear true witness
heard; promised; a while ago
As soon; give final sentence
were you both; yourselves
abide by my binding decree
please both; try if; it so turn out
Well; for my part
showed; cases without deceit
presented; entire pleas to him
benevolent judge; (t-note)
shall; pledged; abide by my ruling
Whether afterwards; sweet
extended out; foot
they have sworn to abide
took; fox; away on one side
told him; brought into trouble
forgive; ox hide
willingly; if I might
loath; in any way
Do not lose; claim; own
[go] through without
Seest; [that] bribes carry men through
make crooked; straight
a hen keeps a cow for a man
holy; raise their
Of the very; flock
do not care [about]; rest, leave; rooster
laughed; (see note)
deflect me from justice
gone; sleep; night; (see note)
Such; seen in; sight
These; shall; case assured
will lure hawks; (see note)
Agreed; then; took his leave
Then covertly; pulled; sleeve
earnest; request such
heard; vow; did make
that; made; plow
why; demand the cattle
in mockery; then
Sir, by the cross, unrocked; rave; (see note)
Would I wish to undertake it
so poor a man as that [an]
I have talked; churl; said
Clear; claims as long as; without condition
such [a] one shall
weighs; fourteen pounds; rather more
[that] I make it
that churl; should; free
Yes; if; bound to you by oath
as far as I am concerned
if you go; furthest extreme
the value of a withered turnip; (see note)
do you not suppose; keep
you [should] not take it hard
by my soul; blame
intend to quarrel no more
wish to see that; such esteem
to; taken the path; (t-note)
glad; escaped; their harm
feet [he] guarded; door until
empty woods these men; go
From bush; until near; later
always thinking; wiles
stratagems; to deceive
promised; cheese; regrets
comes up with a trick
quietly did he smile
we have almost reached it
Quiet; shall soon see it
manor; hurried; haste
round as a penny; moon
to; elders went without delay
two separate buckets did indeed hang
one; another down; go
reflection; shone; (see note)
for once; trustworthy
see; cheese clearly yourself
White; turnip; also; seal
hung; there so that; steal it
trust; see hanging
If I could get that cheese
I see it there
declare the churl free; rest
worthless(?); value; flea
That would be finer food; such
said; leap; at once
hold the [other] bucket until
sprang down both fast; nimbly
stayed above; crank
[The cheese]; big; defeats; (see note)
toes; a single claw
must give; and haul it up
come down now; give; aid
promptly; leapt; fool
weight without doubt; made
rising quickly; went down
coming down thus; hasten
goes it according to fortune; (see note)
comes; wheels another down
well-bottom at once went
leapt; blithe as any bell
hauled; do not know, from
Here; no more
liken; wicked; (see note)
Who oppresses the poor
starts quarrels with them all
I call the devil; situation
Compelling each; follow; courses; (t-note)
by that means; lock; chains
farmer; called; devout; (t-note)
whom; finds fault; scholars teach
Busy; methods; knows
[good] works; from firm; (see note)
grow; does not prosper
goes back to the wicked man
wasted; effort; displeased
empty woods; wild wolf
Whoever trusts; trash(?)
evil wealth; called
Which Satan; all sinful people
whoever places; trust
Without exceptional; easily; get out
Which blooms broad; eye
Woe betide; source; wicked vice
all entirely; delusion
Spurring each; jump; pantry
pulls downward; torment
Once there; does report
A shepherd dwelling by; near
Who; gave him great service
Very diligent; guard; enclosure without doubt
So that neither; dared
in; nor even any other animal
Unless; killed them; least
So; every; must die
to die of a sudden sickness
then; knows; keeper; livestock
utter; grew paler than; [withered] weed; (see note)
Alas; I see no help
save; poor animals; keep
all my sheep are savaged
made a man’s heart sore; see
pitiable shepherd’s lament
dead; (see note)
bread; destined; (see note)
walking stick; bag; leave the farm
that were kept under control before; (t-note)
attack my animals; anger; rage; (see note)
valiantly approached; (t-note)
Master; make merry; blithe
break; sorrow; no use
should show no grief in your appearance
Go; here; flay; at once; (see note)
Then; check; well-fitting
Both head and neck; feet
Then; believe; I am the dog
shall; persistently wherever he goes
The complete responsibility
keep; noon, late, and early
If he goes hunting, by God; cease
So; pledge; lose; one young sheep
came from; good mind
both reliable, loyal; trustworthy
Whoever; stupid; lied about it
haste; he flayed off
very gently did sew it
the ram grew proud; clothes; (see note)
stood guard; took no sleep
So; for a long time; lacked; a young sheep
alert; watchful to guard them
[the fox] did not dare to look
if; the wether chased him so
for his life; made; afraid
Dared enter any part of that district
Lest; over rough; even [ground]
Those miserable; for; such fear
large; seemed; powerful
every; feared him like death
[So that]; forest; raise
a hungry wolf chanced to sneak there
Amongst; where; pasture
shall; whatever happens
attacked, or else I die of hunger
he seized in his claws
rest leapt; terrified
God knows if the ram
Never went; from being held; (see note)
running; speedily; roe deer
Than; bog; brook
neither; thicket, nor slope
always; fiercely; foe
such a pace; spattered over
[he] made; should capture
it was getting close to evening
gathered himself up to run
Once; coming so close; seen
feared for; if; overtaken
avoided neither thicket; bog
well; knew; fierceness
unburden himself; threw
leapt; fields; rushed; puddles; mire
will not be separated thus
that I am after
get close; see you grow weak
a pile of peats [that] lay(?); (see note); (t-note)
always; closer; did stick to
followed him so close
Until; terror befouled
Then; path; bush and brier
braced himself to ward off the thickets
without pause; knew of no safe haven
both in and out
Until; tore roughly
alert; glanced behind him
Then; hanging; buttocks; (t-note)
O!; Are you the one who
Just now; white; friar
too far if; known; situation
regret this pursuit
What; gave; such a chase
haste; seized; by
jests; have met finally; match; (see note)
Even if; laughed; year
what reason; worn
just to have played with you
ask; believe nothing else
Is then this joke in earnest
totally terrified; in a fright
Retrace the route; shall; see
where; path; befouled; brought
Do you call; or [do you] not
put; such dreadful fright
Until; fear; mucked; path
Thrice; made; defecate
haunches; evidence; seen
fear; sullied the air
is it you; without a; I think
It seems; too short; fierce
Blessed; bush; stripped; costume
Or else, fleeing, ruptured
granted that I ran at top speed
intent; do ill to your person; (see note)
An escaper; chaser
prove it whoever wishes
Since; only; merciful to me
make; pray for your bones
wholly good; annoy; once
often been put; great fear
by the cross; terrified yet
made; charming game
shat; each time; (see note)
truly; we shall not part
neck bone roughly he took him
Before he ever stopped; apart
The poet Aesop; originator; (see note)
Wrote; parable that; fitting
Wise in exemplary moral instruction
Whose analogies are truly
[And] give precepts; always
Here; see; richness; clothing
poor; to be arrogant
owe loyalty to no one; so fine
counterfeit; in every respect; (see note)
Above their rank; climb; (see note)
submit to; betters; no place
Until someone tips; heels
Just as; some outdo others
If they; free access; encouragement
pay no heed; lineage
no one knows; regime; last
who instructed his son to
hall benches are very slippery
know; whom; should respect; (see note)
Even if; as stylish; apparel
suits; keep up a dispute
climb; until; ladder
At one time went; a river
quench; thirst; clear
It so happened that a little; came
foe; he knew nothing
both; with the same idea
thought was; wickedness
poor little lamb; meek
At; river; another
Downstream from; while
While; supposing; no harm; (t-note)
saw this; raging; to him; (t-note)
gnashing; fierce look; (t-note)
[He] said; Thou miserable, wretched
dare; so bold; defile; brook; (t-note)
Where; might; slobbering
would be a good deed; to drag and hang; (see note)
shaking; utter dread
knees; by your leave
Even if; dare; you lied about that
by; soul; know; cannot prove
anything that should; annoy
know as well
Deviates from; contrary
Though; am not able; defend me
perfect knowledge of the fact
heavy; must descend from its place
Unless something forcibly
Thus can; in no way make an ascent
flow backwards; below you
Therefore; brook; worse; (see note)
Also; lips, since; was; lamb
sucked; teats of my mother
sweet; also delightful
"Well,” said; strict manner of speech
Comes to you by nature; so
in dispute; both boast; threat; (see note)
annoyed; did warn him
if I kept my head
should; avenged; child
outrageous; perverse lawsuit
shall doubtless; actions; dead
Sir; wrong; guilt; (see note)
innocent son; ruined
Have; heard; holy
own deeds each; bear; weight
torment; good deeds; (t-note)
why should; blame
Whoever; wrong, let; suffer the pain
are you arguing a legal case yet again
understand, when; (see note)
befriend none; descendants; (t-note)
from; children; compensation
intended to make a strong poison; (see note)
vomit into my drinking water; (t-note)
those two [allegations]
if you care to
There should; for injury
Punish his adversary with
legal proceedings; hearing; (t-note)
Which should have permission
to that end [be]; promptly
To put forward a countercharge, refute, or respond; (t-note)
by; pledge myself; here
undergo; impartial inquiry
present practice; (t-note)
undertake; to make
In readiness for; give and receive arguments
intrude; (see note); (t-note)
oppression; plunder; ownership
an element and aspect
By God’s wounds, false traitor; shall die; (t-note)
offense; father’s as well
at once; grabbed; throat
nothing but bleat
beheaded; show no mercy; (t-note)
Then; did eat; (see note)
Until, went swiftly on his way; (t-note)
murder; what shall
Was this not mercy; great pity
make; poor; without guilt; die
poor people; can represent
Like renters; laborers
earn; dutifulness a living as is proper
By; skill; mental subtlety; (t-note)
Three; now reign
Who; polished; mix falsehood; (see note); (t-note)
bribe; he ruins the poor man
Smothering; right, making; succeed
For such; shall; their reward
relinquish; mental dexterity; (t-note)
trivial details; tricks
Knows the wrong and right of all thy deeds
request, reward; high or low rank
wrongful disputes see
Another; (see note)
possessing more than enough; (t-note)
allow a poor man to live in peace; (t-note)
Even though; family as well should die
lack of food; give no care
head; leased property; seize
without; what; intention
Worse; if you could
poor farmer absolutely not
Except crop; hovel; scrap; (t-note)
fear of God; dare; undertake
cowshed so fine and solid
evict; from; lease; make; beg
third; with inherited property
by God’s permission
leases; renters a single common pasture
annual fee [is] paid; received; (see note)
Then harasses; before; over
fabricated complaints; eager
decamp or else; over
mare; must lend; landlord
drag; haul; (t-note)
servant; cannot be exempted
From toiling; sweating; food
In what a way does he; remains
So that barely; afford after; rent
live; cabbage broth
no pity; make; sweat
then has; good; eat
household; evening when; home
should; afraid; reproof; (t-note)
make; without food or wage
who has wealth; property
devour the poor
Can; last forever
must; believe; firmly expect
To engage in oppression; have as
As if; poor; slain
wolf’s bite and human extortioners; (t-note)
made known; as is fitting
since you hear all righteous prayers
May; determination; strength
such wolves; banish from
Once upon a; did record
came to the edge of a river
She could; wade; legs were so
utter necessity it was incumbent on her to wait
crying; many a pitiful squeak
poor; did cry
the love of God; depth; (see note)
Raised; head; did climb
That by; dive; easily swim
very hoarse voice; in this way; (t-note)
Good morning, sir; here
Seest thou; said; grain; fine field
ripe oats; peas; wheat
eagerly want to be there
held back by; vast
to eat; (see note)
nuts that; teeth; break open
Were; feast would be much greater
boat, here; sailor
even if there; money for fare
Said; set aside; gloomy mood; (t-note)
Follow my advice; shall
bridge, boat; even galley; (t-note)
safely; afraid; (t-note)
without wetting; whiskers; beard; (t-note)
am puzzled then; (t-note)
float; feather; (t-note)
It seems to me; wade; (t-note)
therefore, what ability; skill
To explain that
two feet; webbed; wide
though; depth; dangerous
Both; at my own volition; (t-note)
because my open
Always ejects; receive
indeed I have no fear
looked at her crumpled
wrinkled; wide lips
overhanging; voice as hoarse
crooked; rough skin
recoiled; to; cried
If; know; of physiognomy
some amount; deceit; envy
thought proceeds usually
Following; combination of bodily instincts
perverse intention; twisted; (see note)
(see line 2830); (see note)
No; toad; true
beautiful; exposed as deceitful
blackberries though; dark of hue
gathered; when primroses are passed up
fail; sign of the heart
Wherefore; motto everywhere
should; judge; by
Though; repulsive; look at
I do not understand why; blamed
Were I as; handsome; (see note)
originator of; great beauty
has caused lady
imprint; fix; every
For; at peak of perfection
silken tongue; appearance; lovable
deceit; wily stratagems
Cease thy preaching
by what; make me
intend to convey; that distant
know; she [the frog] someone; need
consider many methods
a doubly twisted thread
shall teach you; afraid
try out that game; very
bound; fastened where; free
On the expectation; curse
If; thus, who; pay the damage
Unless; swear; murder oath; (see note)
Without; guile; river
Without; I will do it
She [the frog] gazed upward; did cry
god and king of nature; (see note); (t-note)
was made; without perceiving
deceitful mind; toadlike frog; (t-note)
Took; tied; directed her
foot; leapt; water
thought of; except; float; (t-note)
midst; had gone
Realizing; did cry to her
oath just now
was only “do or die”
bobbed; forced herself; swim; (t-note)
struggled onto; toad’s; climb
fear; made her strength grow
might and main
upward; pushes down
Now; submerged; (see note)
thus immersed; torment; (t-note)
Kept fighting; breath
she called; priest [for the last rites]
[While they were] fighting thus; kite; twig; (see note)
miserable; paid close attention
swoop before either; realized; (t-note)
clutched; talons between
Then; them speedily
Keen for; catch; whistling; (see note)
untied; both; without pity
disembowelled; butcher; beak; (see note)
skin over head; neatly; flayed; (see note); (t-note)
would hardly be half enough
With the guts added, for that greedy kite
when I heard settled thus
If; ask those who saw
if; pay attention; (see note)
far exceeds; plague; (see note)
An evil intent; fine and clever
whom; you associate yourself
carry a [hand-]barrow-load of stone; (t-note)
sweating; delve; can endure; (t-note)
joined up; wicked companion
malicious purpose; appearance
Has caused; die
folly; give credence too soon
everyone who speaks
silken tongue; heart
Strikes; any shot; (see note)
if thou; advise you to avoid
join yourself; bad, dishonest
also; great carelessness
thyself tight; free and clear
advice; take from; (t-note)
learn by heart; delay
without; live alone; peace
held; much; (see note)
By which these; emblematic
habituated to live in the water
swimming early and late
entangled with troubles
high; low, sometimes; (see note)
Always; liable to
sorrowful; joyous; brier
at liberty; confined; (t-note)
safe; carried on a bier
fine clothes; rags put; chest
up on the wheel [of Fortune]; thrown; (t-note)
here tied; by; shin; (see note)
soul; may well signify
Bound; from; cannot part; (t-note)
Until; come to break; thread
which; should; stay; fear
Which always attracts; drags
which; always drifting; (t-note)
Remaining divided; intention; (t-note)
very eagerly; carried; indeed; (t-note)
joys of heaven; (t-note)
kite; death; comes
does a thief; at once cuts short
strong; (see note)
good deeds; assail you; (t-note)
knowest; when; evening, morning
Adieu; if; anyone asks
About; that I end so briefly; (see note)
remainder for the friars
exemplary tale; parable; (see note); (t-note)
who died for us on the cross
to proceed; blessed
Go To The Testament of Cresseid