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The Bludy Serk

This hindir yeir I hard be tald
Thair was a worthy king;
Dukis, erlis, and barronis bald
He had at his bidding;
The lord was anceane and ald
And sexty yeiris cowth ring,
He had a dochter fair to fald,
A lusty lady ying.

Off all fairheid scho bur the flour,
And eik hir faderis air,
Off lusty laitis and he honour,
Meik bot and debonair;
Scho wynnit in a bigly bour,
On fold wes none so fair,
Princis luvit hir paramour
In cuntreis our-allquhair.

Thair dwelt alyt besyde the king
A fowll gyane of ane;
Stollin he hes the lady ying,
Away with hir is gane,
And kest hir in his dungering
Quhair licht scho micht se nane;
Hungir and cauld and grit thristing
Scho fand in to hir wane.

He wes the laithliest on to luk
That on the grund mycht gang,
His nailis wes lyk ane hellis cruk,
Thairwith fyve quarteris lang;
Thair wes nane that he ovrtuk,
In rycht or yit in wrang,
Bot all in schondir he thame schuke,
The gyane wes so strang.

He held the lady day and nycht
Within his deip dungeoun,
He wald nocht gif of hir a sicht
For gold nor yit ransoun,
Bot gife the king mycht get a knycht
To fecht with his persoun,
To fecht with him both day and nycht
Quhill ane wer dungin doun.

The king gart seik baith fer and neir,
Beth be se and land,
Off ony knycht gife he micht heir
Wald fecht with that gyand;
A worthy prince that had no peir
Hes tane the deid on hand,
For the luve of the lady cleir,
And held full trew cunnand.

That prince come prowdly to the toun,
Of that gyane to heir,
And fawcht with him his awin persoun
And tuke him presoneir,
And kest him in his awin dungeoun
Allane withouttin feir,
With hungir, cauld, and confusioun,
As full weill worthy weir.

Syne brak the bour, had hame the bricht
Unto hir fadir deir;
Sa evill wondit was the knycht
That he behuvit to de;
Unlusum was his likame dicht,
His sark was all bludy;
In all the warld was thair a wicht
So peteous for to sy?

The lady murnyt and maid grit mone
With all hir mekle micht,
“I luvit nevir lufe bot one
That dulfully now is dicht.
God sen my lyfe wer fra me tone
Or I had sene yone sicht,
Or ellis in begging evir to gone
Furth with yone curtas knycht!”

He said, “Fair lady, now mone I de,
Trestly ye me trow;
Tak ye my sark that is bludy,
And hing it forrow yow;
First think on it and syne on me
Quhen men cumis yow to wow.”
The lady said, “Be Mary fre,
Thairto I mak a wow!”

Quhen that scho lukit to the serk
Scho thocht on the persoun,
And prayit for him with all hir harte
That lowsd hir of bandoun,
Quhair scho was wont to sit full merk
In that deip dungeoun;
And evir quhill scho wes in quert
That was hir a lessoun.

Sa weill the lady luvit the knycht
That no man wald scho tak;
Sa suld we do our God of micht
That did all for us mak,
Quhilk fullely to deid wes dicht
For sinfull manis saik;
Sa suld we do both day and nycht,
With prayaris to him mak.

Moralitas

This king is lyk the Trinitie,
Baith in hevin and heir,
The manis saule to the lady,
The gyane to Lucefeir,
The knycht to Chryst that deit on tre
And coft our synnis deir,
The pit to hell with panis fell,
The syn to the woweir.

The lady was wowd, bot scho said nay
With men that wald hir wed;
Sa suld we wryth all syn away,
That in our breist is bred.
I pray to Jesu Chryst verrey,
For us His blud that bled,
To be our help on domysday
Quhair lawis ar straitly led.

The saule is Godis dochtir deir,
And eik his handewerk,
That was betrasit with Lucifeir
Quha sittis in hell full merk,
Borrowit with Chrystis angell cleir;
Hend men, will ye nocht herk?
For His lufe that bocht us deir,
Think on the bludy serk.

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The Bludy Serk - ROBERT HENRYSON