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The Thissil and the Rois

Quhen Merche wes with variand windis past,
And Appryll had with hir silver schouris
Tane leif at Nature with ane orient blast,
And lusty May, that muddir is of flouris,
Had maid the birdis to begyn thair houris
Amang the tendir odouris reid and quhyt,
Quhois armony to heir it wes delyt,

In bed at morrow sleiping as I lay,
Me thocht Aurora with hir cristall ene
In at the window lukit by the day
And halsit me, with visage paill and grene,
On quhois hand a lark sang fro the splene:
“Awalk, luvaris, out of your slomering;
Se how the lusty morrow dois up spring!”

Me thocht fresche May befoir my bed upstude
In weid depaynt of mony divers hew,
Sobir, benyng, and full of mansuetude,
In brycht atteir of flouris forgit new,
Hevinly of color, quhyt, reid, broun, and blew,
Balmit in dew and gilt with Phebus bemys
Quhill all the hous illumynit of hir lemys.

“Slugird,” scho said, “Awalk annone, for schame,
And in my honour sumthing thow go wryt;
The lork hes done the mirry day proclame
To rais up luvaris with confort and delyt,
Yit nocht incress thy curage to indyt,
Quhois hairt sumtyme hes glaid and blisfull bene
Sangis to mak undir the levis grene.”

“Quhairto,” quod I, “Sall I uprys at morrow,
For in this May few birdis herd I sing?
Thai haif moir caus to weip and plane thair sorrow,
Thy air it is nocht holsum nor benyng;
Lord Eolus dois in thy sessone ring;
So busteous ar the blastis of his horne,
Amang thy bewis to walk I haif forborne.”

With that this lady sobirly did smyll
And said, “Uprys and do thy observance;
Thow did promyt in Mayis lusty quhyle
For to discryve the ros of most plesance.
Go se the birdis how thay sing and dance,
Illumynit our with orient skyis brycht
Annamyllit richely with new asur lycht.”

Quhen this wes said depairtit scho, this quene,
And enterit in a lusty gairding gent.
And than, me thocht, sa listely besene
In serk and mantill, full haistely I went
Into this garth, most dulce and redolent
Of herb and flour and tendir plantis sueit
And grene levis doing of dew doun fleit.

The purpour sone with tendir bemys reid
In orient bricht as angell did appeir,
Throw goldin skyis putting up his heid,
Quhois gilt tressis schone so wondir cleir
That all the world tuke confort, fer and neir,
To luke upone his fresche and blisfull face,
Doing all sable fro the hevynnis chace.

And as the blisfull soune of cherarchy,
The fowlis song throw confort of the licht;
The birdis did with oppin vocis cry,
“O luvaris fo, away thow dully nycht,
And welcum day that confortis every wicht;
Haill May, haill Flora, haill Aurora schene!
Haill princes Natur, haill Venus luvis quene!”

Dame Nature gaif ane inhibitioun thair
To fers Neptunus and Eolus the bawld
Nocht to perturb the wattir nor the air,
And that no schouris scharp nor blastis cawld
Effray suld flouris nor fowlis on the fold;
Scho bad eik Juno, goddas of the sky,
That scho the hevin suld keip amene and dry.

Scho ordand eik that every bird and beist
Befoir hir hienes suld annone compeir,
And every flour of vertew, most and leist,
And every herb be feild, fer and neir,
As thay had wont in May fro yeir to yeir
To hir thair makar to mak obediens,
Full law inclynnand with all dew reverens.

With that annone scho send the swyfte ro
To bring in beistis of all conditioun;
The restles swallow commandit scho also
To seche all fowll of small and greit renown;
And to gar flouris compeir of all fassoun,
Full craftely conjurit scho the yarrow,
Quhilk did furth swirk als swift as ony arrow.

All present wer in twynkling of ane e,
Baith beist and bird and flour, befoir the quene.
And first the lyone, gretast of degrй,
Was callid thair, and he most fair to sene,
With a full hardy contenance and kene,
Befoir Dame Natur come and did inclyne,
With visage bawld and curage leonyne.

This awfull beist full terrible wes of cheir,
Persing of luke and stout of countenance,
Rycht strong of corpis, of fassoun fair but feir,
Lusty of schaip, lycht of deliverance,
Reid of his cullour as is the ruby glance;
On feild of gold he stude full mychtely
With flour delycis sirculit lustely.

This lady liftit up his cluvis cleir,
And leit him listly lene upone hir kne;
And crownit him with dyademe full deir,
Of radyous stonis most ryall for to se,
Saying, “The king of beistis mak I thee,
And the chief protector in the woddis and schawis.
Onto thi leigis go furth, and keip the lawis.

“Exerce justice with mercy and conscience,
And lat no small beist suffir skaith na skornis
Of greit beistis that bene of moir piscence.
Do law elyk to aipis and unicornis,
And lat no bowgle with his busteous hornis
The meik pluch ox oppres for all his pryd,
Bot in the yok go peciable him besyd.”

Quhen this was said, with noyis and soun of joy
All kynd of beistis into thair degrй
At onis cryit lawd, “Vive le roy!”
And till his feit fell with humilitй,
And all thay maid him homege and fewtй;
And he did thame ressaif with princely laitis,
Quhois noble yre is parcere prostratis.5

Syne crownit scho the Egle, king of fowlis,
And as steill dertis scherpit scho his pennis,
And bawd him be als just to awppis and owlis
As unto pacokkis, papingais, or crennis,
And mak a law for wycht fowlis and for wrennis,
And lat no fowll of ravyne do efferay,
Nor devoir birdis bot his awin pray.

Than callit scho all flouris that grew on feild,
Discirnyng all thair fassionis and effeiris;
Upone the awfull Thrissill scho beheld
And saw him kepit with a busche of speiris.
Concedring him so able for the weiris,
A radius croun of rubeis scho him gaif
And said, “In feild go furth and fend the laif.

“And sen thow art a king, thow be discreit;
Herb without vertew hald nocht of sic pryce
As herb of vertew and of odor sueit;
And lat no nettill vyle and full of vyce
Hir fallow to the gudly flour delyce,
Nor latt no wyld weid full of churlichenes
Compair hir till the lilleis nobilnes;

“Nor hald non udir flour in sic denty
As the fresche Ros of cullour reid and quhyt;
For gife thow dois, hurt is thyne honesty,
Conciddering that no flour is so perfyt,
So full of vertew, plesans, and delyt,
So full of blisfull angelik bewty,
Imperiall birth, honour, and dignitй.”

Than to the Ros scho turnyt hir visage
And said, “O lusty dochtir most benyng,
Aboif the lilly illustare of lynnage,
Fro the stok ryell rysing fresche and ying,
But ony spot or macull doing spring,
Cum, blowme of joy, with jemis to be cround,
For our the laif thy bewty is renownd.”

A coistly croun with clarefeid stonis brycht
This cumly quene did on hir heid inclois,
Quhill all the land illumynit of the licht;
Quhairfoir me thocht all flouris did rejos,
Crying attonis, “Haill be thow richest Ros,
Haill hairbis empryce, haill freschest quene of flouris!
To thee be glory and honour at all houris!”

Thane all the birdis song with voce on hicht,
Quhois mirthfull soun wes mervelus to heir.
The mavys song, “Haill, Rois most riche and richt,
That dois up flureis undir Phebus speir;
Haill plant of yowth, haill princes dochtir deir;
Haill blosome breking out of the blud royall,
Quhois pretius vertew is imperiall!”

The merle scho sang, “Haill, Rois of most delyt,
Haill of all flouris quene and soverane!”
The lark scho song, “Haill, Rois both reid and quhyt,
Most plesand flour of michty cullouris twane!”
The nychtingaill song, “Haill, Naturis suffragene,
In bewty, nurtour, and every nobilnes,
In riche array, renown, and gentilnes!”

The commoun voce uprais of birdis small
Apone this wys: “O blissit be the hour
That thow wes chosin to be our principall;
Welcome to be our princes of honour,
Our perle, our plesans, and our paramour,
Our peax, our play, our plane felicitй:
Chryst thee conserf frome all adversitй!”

Than all the birdis song with sic a schout
That I annone awoilk quhair that I lay,
And with a braid I turnyt me about
To se this court, bot all wer went away.
Than up I lenyt, halflingis in affrey,
And thus I wret, as ye haif hard toforrow,
Of lusty May upone the nynt morrow.

The Thissil and the Rois - WILLIAM DUNBAR