페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Can I not ellis fynd bot giff that he

Be lord, and, as a god, may lyve and regne,
To bynd, and louse, and maken thrallis free,

Than wold I pray his blissful grace benigne
To habled me unto his service digne,

And evermore for to be one of tho

Him trewly for to serve in wele and wo.
And therewith kest I doun myn eye ageyne,

Quhare as I saw walkyng under the Toure,
Full secretely, new cumyn hir to pleyne,

The fairest or the freschest youngë floure
That ever I sawe, methought, before that houre,
For quhich sodayne abate, anon astert

The blude of all my body to my hert.
And though I stood abaisit tho a lyte,

No wonder was; for quhy? my wittis all
Were so ouercome with plesance and delyte,

Only through latting of myn eyen fall,
That sudaynly my hert become hir thrall,
For ever of free wyll, for of manace 2

There was no takyn? in her suetë face.
And in my hede I drew rycht hastily,

And eft sonës I lent it out ageyne,
And saw hir walk that verray womanly,

With no wight mo, bot only women tueyne,
Than gan I studye in myself and seyne,

Ah ! suete, are ye a warldly creature,

Or hevinly thing in likeness of nature ?
Or ar ye god Cupidis owin princesse ?

And cumyn are to louse me out of band,
Or are ye veray Nature the goddesse,

That have depayntit with your hevinly hand
This gardyn full of flouris, as they stand?

Quhat sall I think, allace ! quhat reverence
Sall I minister to your excellence,

"enable.

o pride, lit. menace.

3 token.

to do a sely God makat, that dooistert ;

Giff ye a goddesse be, and that ye like

To do me payne, I may it not astert ;
Giff ye be warldly wight, that dooth me sike”,

Quhy lest? God mak you so, my derest hert,
To do a sely prisoner thus smert,

That lufis you all, and wote of nought but wo?
And, therefore, merci, suete! sen it is so.
Quhen I a lytill thrawe had maid my mone,

Bewailing myn infortune and my chance,
Unknawin how or quhat was best to done,

So ferre I fallyng into lufis dance,
That sodeynly my wit, my contenance,
My hert, my will, my nature, and my mynd,
Was changit clene rycht in ane other kind.

In hir was youth, beautee, with humble aport,

Bountee, richesse, and womanly faiture,
God better wote than my pen can report ;

Wisdome, largesse, estate, and conyng sure
In every point, so guydit hir mesure,

In word, in dede, in schap, in contenance,

That nature mycht no more hir childe auance.
Throw quhich anon I knew and understude

Wele that sche was a wardly creature,
On quhom to rest myn eyë, so much gude

It did my wofull hert, I yow assure
That it was to me joye without mesure,
And, at the last, my luke unto the hevin

I threwe furthwith, and said thir versis sevin :
O Venus clere ! of goddis stellifyit,

To quhom I yelde homage and sacrifise,
Fro this day forth your grace be magnifyit,

That me ressauit s have in such [a] wise,
To lyve under your law and your seruise ;

Now help me furth, and for your merci lede

My hert to rest, that deis nere* for drede. I causes me to sigh. ? did it please. 3 received. 4 nearly dies.

And et endit hadde ent

Quhen I with gude entent this orison

Thus endit had, I stynt a lytill stound,
And eft myn eye full pitously adoun

I kest, behalding unto hir lytill hound,
That with his bellis playit on the ground,

Than wold I say, and sigh therewith a lyte,

Ah! wele were him that now were in thy plyte !
An other quhile the lytill nyghtingale,

That sat upon the twiggis, wold I chide,
And say rycht thus, Quhare are thy notis smale,

That thou of love has song this morowe tyde ?
Seis thou not hir that sittis the besyde ?

For Venus' sake, the blisfull goddesse clere,
Sing on agane, and make my Lady chere.

FROM "THE GUDE AND GODLIE BALLATES' (1570).
Sen throw vertew incressis dignitie,

And vertew is flour and rute of noblés ay,
Of ony wit, or quhat estait thou be

Ris? steppis few, and dreid for none effray:

Exill al vice, and follow treuth alway;
Lufe maist thy God, that first thy lufe began,
And for ilk inche He will thé quyte ane span.
Be not ouir proude in thy prosperitie,

For as it cummis, sa will it pass away ;
The tyme to compt is schort, thou may weill se,
For of grene gress sone cummis wallowit hay.

Labour in treuth, quhilk suith is of thy fay;
Traist maist in God, for He best gyde thé can,
And for ilk inche He will thé quyte ane span.
Sen word is thrall, and thocht is only fre,

Thou dant? thy toung, that power hes and may,
Thou steik thy ene 3 fra warldis vanitie,

Refraine thy lust, and harkin quhat I say ;

Graip or thou slyde“, and keip furth the hie way,
Thou hald thé fast upon thy God and man,

And for ilk inche He will thé quyte ane span. ? rise. ? daunt, i e. tame, restrain. 3 eyes. "grip ere thou slide.

ROBERT HENRYSON.

[Of ROBERT HENRYSON, the charming fabulist, Chaucer's aptest and brightest scholar, almost nothing is known. David Laing conjectures him to have been born about 1425, to have been educated at some foreign university, and to have died towards the closing years of the fifteenth century. It is certain that in 1462, being then .in Artibus Licentiatus et in Decretis Bacchalarius,' he was incorporated of the University of Glasgow; and that he was afterwards schoolmaster in Dunfermline, and worked there as a notary-public also.]

Henryson was an accomplished man and a good and genuine poet. He had studied Chaucer with the ardour and insight of an original mind, and while he has much in common with his master, he has much that is his own. His verse is usually well-minted and of full weight. Weak lines are rare in him ; he had the instinct of the refrain, and was fond of doing feats in rhythm and rhyme ; he is close, compact, and energetic. Again, he does not often let his learning or his imagination run away with him and divert him from his main issue. He subordinates himself to the matter he has in hand; he keeps himself to the point, and never seeks to develope for development's sake ; and so, as it appears to me, he approves himself a true artist. It follows that, as a storyteller, he is seen to great advantage. He narrates with a gaiety, an ease, a rapidity, not to be surpassed in English literature between Chaucer and Burns. That, moreover, he was a born dramatist, there is scarce one of his fables but will prove. It is to be noted that he uses dialogue as a good playwright would use it; it is a means with him not only of explaining a personage but of painting a situation, not only of introducing a moral but of advancing an intrigue. He had withal an abundance of wit, humour, and good sense ; he had considered life and his fellow

men, nature and religion, the fashions and abuses of his epoch, with the grave, observant amiability of a true poet; he was directly in sympathy with many things ; he loved to read and to laugh; it was his business to moralise and teach. It was natural that he should choose the fable as a means of expressing himself. It was fortunate as well ; for his fables are perhaps the best in the language, and are worthy of consideration and regard even after La Fontaine himself.

To a modern eye his dialect is distressingly quaint and crabbed. In his hands, however, it is a right instrument, narrow in compass, it may be, but with its every note sonorous and responsive. To know the use he made of it in dialogue, he must be studied in Robyne and Makyne, the earliest English pastoral; or at such moments as that of the conversation between the widows of the Cock who has just been snatched away by the Fox; or in the incomparable Taile of the Wolf that got the Nek-Herring throw the Wrinkis of the Fox that Begylit the Cadgear, which, outside La Fontaine, I conceive to be one of the high-water marks of the modern apologue. In such poems as The Three Deid Powis?, where he has anticipated a something of Hamlet at Yorick's grave, as The Abbey Walk, the Garmond of Fair Ladies, the Reasoning between Age and Youth, it is employed as a vehicle for the expression of austere thought, of quaint conceitedness, of solemn and earnest devotion, of satirical comment, with equal ease and equal success. As a specimen of classic description - as the classic appeared to the mediæval mind-I should like to quote at length his dream of Æsop. As a specimen of what may be called the choice and refined realism that informs his work, we may give a few stanzas from the prelude to his Testament of Cresseid. It was winter, he says, when he began his song, but, he adds, in despite of the cold,

• Within mine orature
I stude, when Titan with his bemis bricht
Withdrawin doun, and sylit? undercure,

And fair Venus, the beauty of the nicht,

Uprais, and set unto the west full richt
Hir goldin face, in oppositioun
Of God Phoebus, direct discending doun.

[blocks in formation]
« 이전계속 »