Robert Henryson

(1425 - 1505 / Scotland)

Biography of Robert Henryson

Robert Henryson poet

Little is known about Robert Henryson's life, who was a very well-known Scottish author much admired by his contemporories (often described as the 'greatest' Scottish medieval author); who wrote in middle-scots in the second half of the fifteenth century, and mainly during the reign of James III. He 'possibly' attended and taught at the University of Glasgow, and is associated with the town of Dunfermline, where -inasmuch as can be ascertained from his work and sixteenth century tradition- he may have worked as a teacher, lawyer, or public notary. He was not a court poet, unlike his younger contemporary, William Dunbar.

Henryson's main works include a version of Aesop's Fables (usually entitled The Morall fabillis of Esope the Phrygian), The Testament of Cresseid, a follow-on to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (but also seen as his own, original 'masterpiece', a poem in its own right) , Robene and Makyne, and Orpheus and Eurydice, a version of the classic tale.

Pricilla Bawcutt describes Henryson in Discovering Scottish Writers as excelling as 'a narrative poet' who handled the fable genre 'brilliantly.'

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The Cock And The Fox

Thogh brutal beestes be irrational,
That is to say, wantand, discretioun,
Yit ilk ane in their kindes natural
Has many divers inclinatioun:
The bair busteous, the wold, the wylde lyoun,
The fox fenyeit, craftie and cautelous,
The dog to bark on night and keep the hous.

Sa different they are in properteis

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