John Barbour (c.1320 – 13 March 1395 / Aberdeenshire or Galloway, Scotland)
The Brus Book VI
[Sir Ingram Umfraville praises the king;
the men of Galloway pursue him with a tracker dog]
The king is went till his logyng
And off this deid sone come tithing
Till Schyr Ingrame the Umfravill
That thocht his sutelte and gyle
5 Haid al failyeit in that place.
Tharfor anoyit sua he was
That he agayne to Lothyane
Till Schyr Amer his gate has tane
And till him tauld all hale the cas,
10 That tharoff all forwonderyt was
How ony man sa sodanly
Mycht do so gret chevalry
As did the king that him allane
Vengeance off thre traytouris has tane,
15 And said, 'Certis, I may weill se
That it is all certante
That ure helpys hardy men
As be this deid we may ken.
War he nocht outrageous hardy
20 He had nocht unabasytly
Sa smertly sene his avantage.
I drede that his gret vassalag
And his travaill may bring till end
That at men quhile full litill wend.'
25 Sik speking maid he off the king
That ay foroutyn sojournyng
Travaillit in Carrik her and thar.
His men fra him sa scalit war
To purches thar necessite
30 And als the countre for to se
That thai left nocht with him sexty.
And quhen the Gallowais wyst suthli
That he wes with sa few mengye
Thai maid a preve assemble
35 Off wele twa hunder men and ma,
And slewth-hundis with thaim gan ta,
For thai thocht him for to suppris
And giff he fled on ony wys
To folow him with the hundis sua
40 That he suld nocht eschaip thaim fra.
Thai schup thaim in ane evynnyng
To suppris sodanly the king
And tillhim held thai straucht thar way,
Bot he, that had his wachis ay
45 On ilk sid, off thar cummyng
Lang or thai come had wyttering
And how fele that thai mycht be,
Tharfor he thocht with his menye
To withdraw him out off the place,
50 For the nycht weill fallyn was
And for the nycht he thocht that thai
Suld nocht haiff sycht to hald the way
That he war passyt with his menye.
And as he thocht rycht sua did he
55 And went him down till a morras
Our awatter that rynnand was,
And in the bog he fand a place
Weill strait that weill twa bow-draucht was
Fra the watter thai passit haid.
60 He said, 'Her may ye mak abaid
And rest you all a quhile and ly,
I will ga wach all prevely.
Giff Ik her oucht off thar cummyng
And giff I may her onything
65 Isall ger warn you sa that we
Sall ay at our avantage be.'
[The king alone defends the ford]
The king now takys his gate to ga
And with him tuk he sergandis twa
And Schyr Gilbert de le Hay left he
70 Thar for to rest with his menye.
To the watter he come in hy
And lysnyt full ententily
Giff he herd oucht off thar cummyng
Bot yeit then mocht he her na thing.
75 Endlang the watter then yeid he
On ather syd a gret quantite
And saw the brayis hey standand,
The watter holl throu slik rynnand
And fand na furd that men mycht pas
80 Bot quhar himselvyn passit was,
And sua strait wes the up-cumming
That twa men mycht nocht samyn thring
Na on na maner pres thaim sua
That thai togidder mycht land ta.
85 His twa men bad he than in hy 85
Ga to thair feris to rest and ly 86
For he wald wach thar com to se. 87
'Schyr,' said thai, 'Quha sall with you be?' 88
'God,' he said, 'forouten ma 89
90 Pas on, for I will it be sua.' 90
Thai did as he thame biddin had 91
And he thar all allane abaid, 92
And quhen he a lang quhile had bene thar 85
He herknyt and herd as it war
95 A hundis questyng on fer 87
That ay come till him ner and ner.
He stud still for till herkyn mar
And ay the langer he wes thar
He herd it ner and ner cummand,
100 Bot he thocht he thar still wald stand 92
Tyll that he herd mar takynnyng.
Than for ane hundis questyng
He wald nocht wakyn his menye,
Tharfor he wald abid and se
105 Quhat folk thai war and quhethir thai 97
Held towart him the rycht way
Or passyt ane other way fer by.
The moyne wes schynand clerly, 100
[no no.] [Sa lang he stude that he mycht her 101
[no no.] The noyis off thaim that cummand wer 102
[no no.] Than his twa men in hy send he 103
[no no.] To warn and wakyn and walkyn his menye 104
[no no.] And thai ar furth thar wayis gane 105
[no no.] And he left thar all hym allane] 106
109 And sua stude he herknand 107
110 Till that he saw cum at his hand 108
The hale rout intill full gret hy.
Then he umbethocht him hastily
Giff he held towart his menye
That or he mycht reparyt be
115 Thai suld be passit the furd ilkan, 113
And then behuffyt him ches ane
Off thir twa, other to fley or dey.
Bot his hart that wes stout and hey
Consaillyt hym allane to bid
120 And kepe thaim at the furd syde 118
And defend weill the upcummyng
Sen he wes warnyst of armyng
That thar arowys thurth nocht dreid,
And gyff he war off gret manheid
125 He mycht stunay thaim everilkane 123
Sen thai ne mycht cum bot ane and ane,
And did rycht as hys hart hym bad.
Strang utrageous curage he had
Quhen he sa stoutly him allane
130 For litill strenth off erd has tane 128
To fecht with twa hunder and ma.
Tharwith he to the furd gan ga,
And thai apon the tother party
That saw him stand thar anyrly
135 Thringand intill the water rad 133
For off him litill dout thai had
And raid till him in full gret hy.
He smate the fyrst sua vygorusly
With his sper that rycht scharp schar
140 Till he doun till the erd him bar. 138
The lave come then intill a randoun,
Bot his hors that wes born doun
Combryt thaim the upgang to ta,
And quhen the king saw it wes sua
145 He stekyt the hors and he gan flyng 143
And syne fell at the upcummyng.
The layff with that come with a schout,
And he that stalwart wes and stout
Met thaim rycht stoutly at the bra
150 And sa gud payment gan thaim ma 148
That fyvesum in the furd he slew.
The lave then sumdell thaim withdrew
That dred his strakys wondre sar
For he in na thing thaim forbar.
155 Then said ane, 'Certis we ar to blame. 153
Quhat sall we say quhen we cum ham
Quhen a man fechtis agane us all.
Quha wyst ever men sa foully fall
As us gyff that we thusgat leve.'
160 With that all haile a schoute thai geve 158
And cryit, 'On him, he may nocht last.'
With that thai pressyt him sa fast
That had he nocht the better bene
He had bene dede withoutyn wen,
165 Bot he sa gret defence gan mak 163
That quhar he hyt evyn a strak
Thar mycht nathing agane-stand.
In litill space he left liand
Sa fele that the upcummyng wes then
170 Dyttyt with slayn hors and men 168
Sua that his fayis for that stopping
Mycht nocht cum to the upcummyng.
A! Der God, quha had then bene by
And sene howe he sa hardyly
175 Adressyt hym agane thaim all 173
I wate weile that thai suld him call
The best that levyt in his day,
And giff I the suth sall say
I herd never in na tym gane
180 Ane stynt sa mony him allane. 178
[The story of Tydeus of Thebes]
Suth is, quhen till Ethiocles
Fra his brother Polnices
Wes send Thedeus in message
To ask haly the heritage
185 Off Thebes till hald for a yer, 183
For thai twynnys off a byrth wer,
Thai strave, for ather king wald be.
Bot the barnage off thar cuntre
Gert thaim assent on this maner,
190 That the tane suld be king a yer, 188
And then the tother and his mengye
Suld nocht be fundyn in the countre
Quhill the fyrst brother regnand wer,
Syne suld the tother renge a yer
195 And then the fyrst suld leve the land 193
Quhill that the tother war regnaND.
Thus ay a yer suld regne the tane,
The tother a yer fra that war gane.
To ask haldyn off this assent
200 Wes Thedeus to Thebes sent, 198
And sua spake for Polnices
That off Thebes Ethiocles
Bad his constabill with him ta
Men armyt weill and forouth ga
205 To mete Thedeus in the way 203
And slay him but langer delay.
The constable his way is gane
And nyne and fourty with him tane
Sua that he with thaim maid fyfty.
210 Intill the evynnyng prevely 208
Thai set enbuschement in the way
Quhar Thedeus behovyt away
Betuix ane hey crag and the se,
And he that off thar mavyte
215 Wyst na thing his way has tane 213
And towart Grece agane is gane.
And as he raid into the nycht
Sa saw he with the monys lycht
Schynyng off scheldys gret plente,
220 And had wondre quhat it mycht be. 218
With that all hale thai gaiff a cry
And he that hard sa suddanly
Sic noyis sumdele affrayit was,
Bot in schort time he till him tais
225 His spyritis full hardely, 223
For his gentill hart and worthy
Assuryt hym into that nede.
Then with te spuris he strak the sted
And ruschyt in amang thaim all.
230 The fyrst he met he gert him fall, 228
And syne his sword he swapyt out
And roucht about him mony rout
And slew sexsum swill sone and ma.
Then undre him his hors thai sla
235 And he fell, bot he smertly ras 233
And strykand rowm about him mas
And slew off thaim a quantite
Bot woundyt wondre sar wes he.
With that a litill rod he fand
240 Up towart the crag strekand. 238
Thidder went he in full gret hy
Defendand him full douchtely
Till in the crag he clam sumdell
And fand a place enclosyt weill
245 Quhar nane bot ane mycht him assail, 243
Thar stud he and gaiff thaim bataill
And thai assaylyt everilkane
And oft fell quhen that he slew ane
As he doun to the erd wald dryve
250 He wald ber doun weill four or fyve. 248
Thar stud he and defendyt sua
Till he had slayne thaim halff and ma.
A gret stane then by him saw he
That throu the gret anciente
255 Wes lowsyt redy for to fall, 253
And quhen he saw thaim cummand all
He tumblyt doun on thaim the stane,
And aucht men thar with it has slayn
And sua stonayit the remanand
260 That thai war weile ner recreand. 258
Then wald he presone hald no mar
Bot on thaim ran with swerd all bar
And hewyt and slew with all his mayn
Till he has nyne and fourty slayne.
265 The constabill syne gan he ta 263
And gert him swer that he suld ga
Till King Ethiocles and tell
The aventur that thaim befell.
Thedeus bar him douchtely
270 That him allane ourcome fyfty. 268
Ye that this redys, cheys yhe
Quhether that mar suld prysit be
The king, that with avisement
Undertuk sic hardyment
275 As for to stynt him ane but fer 273
The folk that twa hunder wer,
Or Thedeus, that suddanly
For thai had raysyt on him the cry
Throu hardyment that he had tane
280 Wane fyfty men allhim allane. 278
Thai did thar deid bath on the nycht
And faucht bath with the mone-lycht,
Bot the king discomfyt ma
And Thedeus then ma gan sla.
285 Now demys quhether mar loving 283
Suld Thedeus haiff or the king?
[His men find the king]
On this maner that Ik haiff tauld
The king that stout wes and bauld
Wes fechtand on the furd syd
290 Giffand and takand rowtis rid 288
Till he sic martyrdom thar has maid
That he the ford all stoppyt haid
That nane of thaim mycht till him rid.
Thaim thocht than foly for to byd
295 And halely the flycht gan ta 293
And went hamewartis quhar thai come fra,
For the kingis men with the cry
Walknyt full effrayitly
And com to sek thar lord the king.
300 The Galloway men hard thar cummyng 298
And fled and durst abid no mar.
The kingis men that dredand war
For thar lord full spedyly
Come to the furd and sone in hy
305 Thai fand the king syttand allane, 303
That off his bassynet has tane
Till avent him for he wes hate.
Than speryt thai at him off his state
And he tauld thaim all hale the case
310 Howgate that he assailyt was 308
And how that God him helpyt sua
That he eschapyt hale thaim fra.
Than lukyt thai how fele war ded,
And thai fand lyand in that sted
315 Fourtene that war slayne with his hand. 313
Than lovyt thai God fast all-weildand
That thai thar lord fand hale and fer,
And said thaim byrd on na maner
Drede thar fayis sen thar chyftane
320 Wes off sic hart and off sic mayn 318
That he for thaim had undretan
With sua fele for to fecht him ane.
[A comment on valour]
Syk wordis spak thai of the king,
And for his hey undretaking
325 Farlyit and yarnyt hym for to se 323
That with hym ay wes wont to be.
A! Quhat worschip is prisit thing,
For it mays men till haiff loving
Gyff it be folowit ythenly,
330 For pryce off worschip nocht-forthi 328
Is hard to wyn, for gret travaill
Offt to defend and oft assaill
And to be in thar dedis wys
Gerris men off worschip wyn the price,
335 And may na man haiff worthyhed 333
Bot he haiff wyt to ster his deid
And se quhat ys to leve or ta.
Worschip extremyteys has twa,
Fule-hardyment the formast is
340 And the tother is cowartys, 338
And thai ar bath for to forsak.
Fule-hardyment all will undertak,
Als weill thingis to leve as ta,
Bot cowardys dois na thing sua
345 But uttrely forsakis all, 343
Bot that war derer for to fal
Na war faute of discretioun.
Forthi has worschip sic renoun,
That it is mene betuix tha twa
350 And takys that is till underta 348
And levys that is to leve, for it
Has sa gret warnysing of wyt
That it all perellis weile gan se
And all avantagis that may be.
355 I wald till hardyment heyld haly 353
With-thi away war the foly
For hardyment with foly is vice
Bot hardyment that mellyt is
With wyt is worschip ay perde,
360 For but wyt worschip may nocht be. 358
This nobile king that we off red
Mellyt all tyme with wit manheid,
That may men by this melle se.
His wyt schawyt him the strait entre
365 Off the furd and the uschyng alsua 363
That as him thocht war hard to ta
Apon a man that war worthy,
Tharfor his hardyment hastily
Thocht it mycht be weill undretan
370 Sen at anys mycht assail bot ane. 368
Thus hardyment governyt with wyt
That he all tyme wald samyn knyt
Gert him off worschip haiff the price
And oft ourcum his ennymyis.
[Douglas attacks Thirlwall at Douglas Castle]
375 The king in Carrik dwellyt ay still, 373
Hys men assemblyt fast him till
That in the land war travailland
Quhen thai off this deid herd tithand
For thai thar ure wald with him ta
380 Gyff that he eft war assaylyt sua. 378
Bot yeit than James of Douglas
In Douglas daile travailland was
Or ellysweill ner-hand tharby
In hydillys sumdeill prevely,
385 For he wald se his governyng 383
That had the castell in keping,
And gert mak mony juperty
To se quhether he wald ische blythly.
And quhen he persavyt that he
390 Wald blthly ische with his menye, 388
He maid a gadring prevely
Of thaim that war on his party,
That war sa fele that thai durst fycht
With Thyrwall and all the mycht
395 Of thaim that in the castell war. 393
He schupe him in the nycht to far
To Sandylandis, and ner tharby
He him enbuschyt prevely
And send a few a trane to ma,
400 That sone in the mornyng gan ta 398
Catell that wes the castell by
And syne withdrew thaim hastily
Towart thaim that enbuschit war.
Than Thyrwall foroutyn mar
405 Gert arme his men foroutyn baid 403
And ischyt with all the men he haid
And folowyt fast efter the ky.
He wes armyt at poynt clenly
Outane his hede wes bar.
410 Than with the men that with him war 408
The catell folowit he gud speid
Rycht as a man that had na dreid
Till that he gat off thaim a sycht.
Than prekyt thai with all thar mycht
415 Folowand thaim out off aray, 413
And thai sped thaim fleand quhill thai
Fer by thar buschement war past,
And Thyrwall ay chassyt fast.
And than thai that enbuschyt war
420 Ischyt till him bath les and mar 418
And rayssyt sudanly the cry,
And thai that saw sa sudandly
That folk come egyrly prekand
Rycht betwix thaim and thar warand,
425 Thai war into full gret effray 423
And for thai war out off aray
Sum off thaim fled and sum abad,
And the Douglas that thar with him had
A gret mengye full egrely
430 Assaylyt and scalyt thaim hastyly 428
And in schort tyme ourraid thaim sua
That weile nane eschapyyt thaim fra.
Thyrwall that wes thar capitane
Wes thar in the bargane slane
435 And off his men the mast party, 433
The lave fled full effraytly.
Douglas his menye fast gan chas,
And the flearis thar wayis tays
Till the castell in full gret hy.
440 The formast entryt spedyly 438
Bot the chaseris sped thaim sa fast
That thai ourtuk sum of the last
And thaim foroutyn mercy gan sla.
And quhen thai off the castell sua
445 Saw thaim sla off thar men thaim by 443
Thai sparyt the yattis hastily
And in hy to the wallis rane.
James off Douglas his menye than
Sesyt weile hastily in hand
450 That thai about the castell fand 448
To thair resett, syne went thar way.
Thus ischyt Thyrwall that day.
[The king is pursued by John of Lorn and his tracker-dog;
he and his foster brother kill five men]
Quhen Thyrwall on this maner
Had ischit as I tell you her,
455 James off Douglas and his men 453
Buskit thaim all samyn then
And went thar way towart the king
In gret hy, for thai herd tything
That off Valence Schyr Amery
460 With full gret chevalry 458
Bath off Scottis and Inglis men
With gret felny war rerdy then
Assemblyt for to sek the king,
That wes that tyme with his gadring
465 In Cumnok quhair it straitast was. 463
Thidder went James of Douglas
And wes rycht welcum to the king
And quhen he had tauld that tithing,
How that schyr Amer wes cummand
470 For till hunt him out off the land 468
With hund and horne rycht as he war
A woulff, a theyff, or theyffis fer,
Than said the king, 'It may weill fall
Thocht he cum and his power all
475 We sall abid in this countre, 473
And gyff he cummys we sall him se.'
The king spake apon this maner,
And of Valence Schyr Amer
Assemblyt a gret cumpany
480 Off noble men and off worthy 478
Off Ingland and of Lowthiane,
And he has alsua with him tane
Jhone off Lorn and all his mycht
That had off worthi men and wycht
485 With him aucht hunder men and ma 483
A sleuth-hund had he thar alsua
Sa gud that wald chang for na thing,
And sum men sayis yeit that the king
As a strecour him noryst had
490 And sa mekill off him he maid 488
That hys awyn handis wald him feid.
He folowyt him quharever he yeid
Sa tthat the hund him lovit sua
That he wald part na wys him fra.
495 Bot how that Jhon of Lorn him had 493
Ik herd never mencioun be mad,
Bot men sayis it wes certane thing
That he had him in his sesyng
And throu him thocht the king to ta,
500 For he wyst he him luffyt sua 498
That fra that he mycht anys fele
The kingis sent he wyst rycht weill
That he wald chaung it for na thing.
This Jhon off Lorne hattyt the king
505 For Jhon Cumyn his emys sak, 503
Mycht he him other sla or tak
He wald nocht prys his liff a stra
Sa that he vengeance of him mycht ta.
The wardane than Schyr Amery
510 With this Jhone in cumpany 508
And other off gud renoun alsua,
Thomas Randell was ane off tha,
Come intill Cumnok to sek the king
That wes weill war off that cummyng
515 And wes up in the strenthis then 513
And with him weill four hunder men.
His broder that tym with him was
And alsua James off Douglas.
Schyr Ameryys rowte he saw
520 That held the plane ay and the law 518
And in hale battaill alwayis raid.
The king that na supposyn had
That thai wer may then he saw thar
Till thaim and nother ellisquhar
525 Had ey and wrocht unwittily, 523
For Jhom off Lorn full sutelly
Behind thocht to supprys the king.
Tharfor with all his gadring
About ane hill he held the way
530 And held him into covert ay 528
Till he sa ner come to the king
Or he persavyt his cummyng
That he wes cummyn on him weill ner.
The tother ost and Schyr Amer
535 Pressyt aponthe tother party. 533
The king wes in gret juperty
That wes on ather sid umbeset
With fayis that to sla him thret,
And the leyst party off the twa
540 Was starkar than he and ma. 538
And quhen he saw thaim pres him to
He thocht in hy quhat was to do
And said, 'Lordis we haiff na mycht
As at this tyme to stand and fycht,
545 Tharfor departis us in thre, 543
All sall nocht sa assailyt be,
And in thre partis hald our way.'
Syne till his preve folk gan he say
Betwix thaim into prevete
550 In quhat sted thar repayr suld be. 548
With that thar gate all ar thai gane
And in thre partis thar way has tane.
Jhone of Lorne come to the place
Fra quhar the king departyt was
555 And in his trace the hund he set 553
That then foroutyn langer let
Held even the way efter the king
Rycht as he had off him knawing,
And left the tother partys twa
560 As he na kep to thaim wald ta. 558
And quhen the king saw his cummyng
Efter hys route intill a ling
He thocht thai knew that it wes he,
Tharfor he bad till his menye
565 Yeit then in thre depart thaim sone, 563
And thai did sua foroutyn hone
And held thar way in thre partys.
The hund did thar sa gret maistrys
That held ay foroutyn changing
570 Eftre the rowt quhar wes the king. 568
And quhen the king had sene thaim sua
All in a rowt efter him ga
The way and folow nocht his men
He had a gret persaving then
575 That thai knew him, forthi in hy 573
He bad his men rycht hastily
Scaile and ilkan hald his way
All himselff, and sua did thai.
Ilk man a syndry gate is gane
580 And the king with him has tane 578
His foster broder foroutyn ma
And samyn held thar gate thai twa.
The hund folowyt alwayis the king
And changyt for na departing
585 Bot ay folowit the kingis trace 583
But waveryng as he passyt was
And quhen Jhon off Lorn saw
The hund sa hard eftre him draw
And folow strak after thai twa
590 He knew the king wes ane of tha, 588
And bad fyve off his cumpany
That war rycht wycht men and hardy
And als off fute spediast war
Off all that in thair rowt war
595 Ryn eftre him and him ourta 593
And lat him na wys pas thaim fra,
And fra thai had herd the bydding
Thai held thar way efter the king
And folowyt him sa spedely
600 That thai him weill sone gan ourhy. 598
The king that saw thaim cummand ner
Wes anoyit on gret maner,
For he thocht giff thai war worthi
Thai mycht hi, travaile and tary
605 And hald him swagate tariand 603
Till the remanand com at hand,
Bot had he dred bot anerly
Thai fyve I trow all sekyrly
He suld have had na mekill dred.
610 And till his falow as he yeid 608
He said, 'Thir fyve ar fast cummand
Thai ar weill ner now at our hand,
Sa is thar ony help at the
For we sall sone assailyt be.'
615 'Ya, schyr,' he said, 'all that I may.' 613
'Thou sayis weill,' said the king. 'Perfay
I see thaim cummand till us ner.
I will na forthyr bot rycht her
I will byd quhill Ic am in aynd
620 And se quhat force that thai can faynd.' 618
The king than stud full sturdely
And the fyvesum in full gret hy
Come with gret schor and manassing.
Then thre off thaim went to the king,
625 And till his man the tother twa 623
With swerd in hand gan stoutly ga.
The king met thaim that till him socht
And to the fyrst sic rowt he roucht
That er and chek downe in the hals
630 He scharnand off the schuldir als, 628
He ruschyt down all disyly.
The twa that saw sa sudanly
Thar falow fall effrayit war
And stert a litill ovyrmar.
635 The king with that blenkit him by 633
And saw the twasome sturdely
Agane his man gret melle ma.
With that he left his awin twa
And till thaim that faucht with his man
640 A loup rycht lychtly maid he than 638
And smate the hed off the tane,
To mete his awne syne is he gane.
Thai come on him full sturdely,
He met the fyrst sa egrely
645 That with the swerd that scharply schar 643
The arme fra the body he bar.
Quhat strakys thai gaiff I can nocht tell,
Bot to the king sa fayr befell
That thocht he travaill had and payne
650 He off his fa-men four has slayn, 648
His foster broder tharefter sone
The fyft out of dawys has done.
And quhen the king saw that all fyve
War on that wys broucht out off lyve
655 Till hys falow than gan he say, 653
'Thou has helpyt weile perfay'
'It likys you to say sua,' said he,
'Bot the gret part to you tuk ye
That slew four off the fyve you ane.'
660 The king said, 'As the glew is gane 658
Better than thou I mycht it do
For Ik had mar layser tharto,
For the twa falowys that delt with the
Quhen thai saw me assailyt with thre
665 Off me rycht nakyn dout thai had 663
For thai wend I sa straytly war stad,
And forthi that thai dred me noucht
Noy thaim fer out the mar I moucht.'
With that the king lokyt him by
670 And saw off Lorn the company 668
Weill ner with thar sleuth-hund cummand.
Than till a wod that wes ner-hand
He went with his falow in hy.
God sayff thaim for his gret mercy.
Comments about this poem (The Brus Book VI by John Barbour )
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