Treasure Island

James I of Scotland

(July 1394 – 21 February 1437 / Edinburgh, Scotland)

The King's Quire (excerpt)


...
Bewailing in my chamber thus allone,
Despeir{.e}d of all joye and remedye,
For-tirit of my thoght, and wo begone,
Unto the wyndow gan I walk in hye,
To se the warld and folk that went forby;
As for the tyme, though I of mirthis fude
Myght have no more, to luke it did me gude.

Now was there maid fast by the touris wall
A gardyn faire, and in the corneris set
Ane herbere grene:--with wandis long and small
Railit about; and so with treis set
Was all the place, and hawthorn hegis knet,
That lyf was none walking there forby,
That myght within scarse ony wight aspye;

So thik the bewis and the lev{.e}s grene
Beschadit all the aleyes that there were.
And myddis every herbere myght be sene
The scharp{.e} gren{.e} suet{.e} jenepere,
Growing so faire with branchis here and there,
That, as it semyt to a lyf without,
The bewis spred the herbere all about;

And on the small{.e} gren{.e} twistis sat
The lytill suet{.e} nyghtingale, and song
So loud and clere, the ympnis consecrat
Off lufis use, now soft, now lowd among,
That all the gardyng and the wallis rong
Ryght of thaire song and of the copill next
Off thaire suete armony, and lo the text:


CANTUS
"Worschippe, ye that loveris bene, this May,
For of your blisse the kalendis are begonne,
And sing with us, 'Away, winter, away!
Cum, somer, cum, the suete sesoun and sonne!'
Awake for schame! that have your hevynnis wonne,
And amorously lift up your hedis all,
Thank lufe that list you to his merci call."

Quhen thai this song had song a lytill thrawe,
Thai stent a quhile, and therewith unaffraid,
As I beheld and kest myn eyne a-lawe,
From beugh to beugh thay hippit and thai plaid,
And freschly in thaire birdis kynd arraid
Thaire fetheris new, and fret thame in the sonne,
And thankit lufe, that had thaire makis wonne.

This was the plan{.e} ditee of thaire note,
And there-with-all unto my self I thoght,
"Quhat lyf is this that makis birdis dote?
Quhat may this be, how cummyth it of ought?
Quhat nedith it to be so dere ybought?
It is nothing, trowe I, bot feynit chere,
And that men list to counterfeten chere."

Eft wald I think; "O Lord, quhat may this be?
That Lufe is of so noble myght and kynde,
Lufing his folk, and suich prosperitee
Is it of him, as we in bukis fynd?
May he oure hert{.e}s setten and unbynd?
Hath he upon oure hertis suich maistrye?
Or all this is bot feynyt fantasye!

"For gif he be of so grete excellence,
That he of every wight hath cure and charge,
Quhat have I gilt to him or doon offense,
That I am thrall, and birdis gone at large,
Sen him to serve he myght set my corage?
And gif he be noght so, than may I seyne,
'Quhat makis folk to jangill of him in veyne?'

"Can I noght ell{.e}s fynd, bot gif 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 blisfull grace benigne,
To hable me unto his service digne;
And evermore for to be one of tho
Him trewly for to serve in wele and wo."

And there-with kest I doun myn eye ageyne,
Quhare as I sawe, walking under the toure,
Full secretly, new cummyn hir to pleyne,
The fairest or the freschest yong{.e} floure
That ever I sawe, me thoght, before that houre,
For quhich sodayn abate, anon astert
The blude of all my body to my hert.

And though I stude abaisit tho a lyte,
No wonder was; for-quhy my wittis all
Were so overcom with plesance and delyte,
Onely throu latting of myn eyen fall,
That sudaynly my hert became hir thrall
For ever, of free will; for of manace
There was no takyn in hir suete face.

And in my hede I drewe ryght hastily,
And eft-son{.e}s I lent it forth ageyne,
And sawe hir walk, that verray womanly,
With no wight mo, bot onely wommen tueyne.
Than gan I studye in my-self, and seyne,
"A! suete, ar ye a warldly cr{.e}ature,
Or hevinly thing in likenesse of nature?

"Or ar ye god Cupidis owin princesse,
And cummyn are to louse me out of band?
Or ar ye verray Nature the goddesse,
That have depaynted 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?

"Gif ye a goddesse be, and that ye like
To do me payne, I may it noght astert;
Gif ye be warldly wight, that dooth me sike,
Quhy lest God mak you so, my derrest hert,
To do a sely prisoner thus smert,
That lufis yow all, and wote of noght bot wo?
And therefor, merci, suete! sen it is so."

Quhen I a lytill thrawe had maid my moon,
Bewailling myn infortune and my chance,
Unknawing how or quhat was best to doon,
So ferre I fallen was in lufis dance,
That sodeynly my wit, my contenance,
My hert, my will, my nature, and my mynd,
Was changit clene ryght in an-othir kynd.

Off hir array the form gif I sall write
Toward, hir goldin haire and rich atyre
In fret-wise couchit were with perllis quhite
And grete balas lemyng as the fyre,
With mony ane emeraut and faire saphire;
And on hir hede a chaplet fresch of hewe,
Off plumys partit rede, and quhite, and blewe;

Full of quaking spangis bryght as gold,
Forgit of schap like to the amorettis,
So new, so fresch, so plesant to behold,
The plumys eke like to the floure-jonettis,
And othir of schap like to the round crokettis,
And, above all this, there was, wele I wote,
Beautee eneuch to mak a world to dote.

About hir nek, quhite as the fyre amaille,
A gudely cheyne of smale orfeverye,
Quhareby there hang a ruby, without faille,
Lyke to ane hert{.e} schapin verily,
That, as a sperk of lowe, so wantonly
Semyt birnyng upon hir quhyt{.e} throte;
Now gif there was gud partye, God it wote!

And forto walk that fresch{.e} May{.e}s morowe,
An huke sche had upon hir tissew quhite,
That gudeliare had noght bene sene toforowe,
As I suppose; and girt sche was a lyte.
Thus halflyng louse for haste, to suich delyte
It was to see hir youth in gudelihede,
That for rudenes to speke thereof I drede.

In hir was youth, beautee, with humble aport,
Bountee, richesse, and wommanly facture,
(God better wote than my pen can report)
Wisedome, largesse, estate, and connyng sure.
In every poynt so guydit hir mesure,
In word, in dede, in schap, in contenance,
That nature myght no more hir childe avance.

Throw quhich anon I knew and understude
Wele, that sche was a warldly creature;
On quhom to rest myn ey{.e}, so mich 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 ressavit have in suich a wise,
To lyve under your law and do servise;
Now help me furth, and for your merci lede
My herte to rest, that d{"e}is nere for drede."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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