A POEM IN HONOUR OF
HENRY VII. OF ENGLAND,
JAMES IV. KING OF SCOTS.
BY WILLIAM DUNBAR.
The Thistle and the Rose,
O'er flowers and herbage green,
By Lady Nature chose,
Brave King and lovely Queen.
When March with varying winds was overpast,
And sweet April had with his silver showers
Ta'n leave of Nature with an orient blast,
And lusty May, that mother is of flowers,
Had made the birds begin by tymous hours;
Among the tender odours red and white,
Whose harmony to her was great delight.
In bed at morrow, sleeping as I lay,
Methought Aurora with her ruby ene,
In at my window looked by the day,
And halsit me with visage pale and green;
Upon her hand a lark sang frae the spleen,
"Lovers, awake out of your slumbering.
"See how the lusty morning does upspring."
Methought fresh May before my bed upstood,
In weed depainted of ilk diverse hue,
Sober, benign, and full of mansuetude,
In bright attire of flowers, all forged new,
Of heavenly colour, white, red, brown and blue,
Balmit in dew, and gilt with Phebus' beams,
While all the house illumin'd with her leams.
Sluggard, she said, awake anon for shame,
And in mine honour something thou go write;
The lark has done, the merry day proclaim,
Lovers to raise with comfort and delight;
Will nought increase thy courage to indite,
Whose heart sometime has glad and blissful been,
Songs oft to make, under the branches green?
Whereto, quoth I, shall I uprise at morrow,
For in thy month few birds have I heard sing,
They have mare cause to weep and plain their sorrow:
Thy air it is not wholsome nor benign,
Lord Eolus does in thy season ring,
So bousteous are the blasts of his shrill horn,
Among thy boughs to walk I have forborn.
With that the lady soberly did smile,
And said, uprise and do thy observance:
Thou did promise in May's lusty while,
Then to describe the ROSE of most pleasance
Go see the birdis how they sing and dance,
And how the skies illumined are bright,
Enamell'd richly with new azure light.
When this was said, away then went the Queen,
And enter'd in a lusty garden gent;
And then methought, full hastily beseen,
In sark and mantle after her I went
Into this garth most dulce and redolent,
Of herb and flower, and tender plants most sweet,
And the green leaves doing of dew down fleit.
The purple sun, with tender rayis red,
In orient bright as angel did appear,
Through golden skies advancing up his head,
Whose gilded tresses shone so wondrous clear,
That all the world took comfort far and near,
To look upon his fresh and blissful face,
Doing all sable frae the Heavens chace.
And as the blissful sun drove up the sky,
All nature sang through comfort of the light,
The minstrels wing'd, with open voices cry,
"O Lovers now is fled the dully night,
"Come welcome day, that comforts ev'ry wight;
"Hail May! hail Flora! hail Aurora sheen,
"Hail Princess Nature! hail love's hartsome Queen!
Dame Nature gave an inhibition there,
To Neptune fierce, and Eolus the bold,
Not to perturb the water or the air,
That neither blashy shower, nor blasts more cold
Should flowers affray nor fowls upon the fold.
She bade eke Juno, Goddess of the sky,
That she the heaven should keep amene and dry.
Also ordain'd that every bird and beast
Before her Highness should anon compear;
And every flower of virtue most and least,
And every herb of fair field far and near,
As they had wont in May from year to year;
To her their Queen to make obedience,
Full low inclining with due reverence.
With that anon she sent the swift foot Roe,
To bring in alkind beast from dale and down;
The restless swallow order'd she to go,
And fetch all fowl of great and small renown,
And to gar flowers appear of all fassoun:
Full craftily conjured she the Yarrow,
Which did forth swirk as swift as any arrow.
All brought in were in twinkling of an eye,
Both beast and bird and flower before the Queen;
And first the Lion, greatest of degree,
Was summon'd there; and he, fair to be seen,
With a full hardy countenance and keen,
Before Dame Nature came, and did incline,
With visage bold, and courage leonine.
This awful beast was terrible of chear,
Piercing of look, and stout of countenance,
Right strong of corps, of fashion fair, but fear,
Lusty of shape, light of deliverance,
Red of his colour, as the ruby glance:
In field of gold he stood full rampantly,
With flower-de-lyces circled pleasantly.
This Lady lifted up his claws so clear,
And lute him listly lean upon her knee,
And crowned him with diadem full dear,
Of radious stones most royal there to see,
Saying the King of all beasts make I thee;
And the protector chief in woods and shaws,
Go forth, and to thy lieges keep the laws.
Justice exerce, with mercy and conscience,
And let no small beast suffer skaith or scorns
Of greater beasts, that been of more puissance;
Do law alike to Apes and Unicorns,
And let no Bugle with his bousteous horns
Oppress the meek plough Ox, for all his pride,
But in the yoke go quietly him beside.
When this was said, with noise and sound of joy,
All kind of Quadrupeds in their degree,
At once cry'd
laud, and then
vive le roy,
Then at his feet fell with humility;
To him they all paid homage and fealty;
And he did them receive with princely laits,
Whose noble ire his greatness mitigates.
Then crowned she the Eagle King of fowls;
And sharp as darts of steel she made his pens,
And bade him be as just to Whawps and Owls,
As unto Peacocks, Papingoes, or Cranes,
And make one law for Wicht Fowls, and for Wrens,
And let no fowl of rapine do affray,
Nor birds devour, but his own proper prey.
Then called she all flowers grew in the field,
Describing all their fashions and effeirs,
Upon the awful THISTLE she beheld.
And saw him guarded with a bush of spears,
Considering him so able for the wars,
A radiant crown of rubies she him gave,
And said, in field go forth, and fend the laif.
And since thou art a King, be thou discreet,
Herb without value hold not of such price,
As herb of virtue and of odour sweet;
And let no nettle vile, and full of vice,
Her fellow with the goodly Flower-de-lyce;
Nor let no wild weed full of churlishness,
Compare her to the Lilly's nobleness.
Nor hold none other flower in such dainty
As the fresh ROSE, of colour red and white;
For if thou dost, hurt is thine honesty,
Considering that no flower is so perfyte,
So full of pleasaunce, virtue and delight;
So full of blissful angelic beauty,
Imperial birth, honour and dignity.
Then to the ROSE she did her visage turn,
And said, O lusty daughter most benign,
Above the Lilly thou art illustrious born,
From royal lineage rising fresh and young,
But any spot, or macul doing sprung;
Come bloom of joy, with richest gems becrown'd,
For o'er the laif thy beauty is renown'd.
A costly crown with stones clarified bright,
This comely Queen did in her head inclose,
While all the land illumined of light;
Wherefore methought, the flowers did all rejoyce,
Crying at once, Hail to the fragrant ROSE!
Hail Empress of the herbs! fresh Queen of flowers!
To thee be glore and honour at all hours.
Then all the birds they sang with voice on height,
Whose mirthful sound was marvellous to hear:
The Mavys sang, Hail ROSE most rich and right,
That does upflourish under Phebus' sphere,
Hail plant of youth, hail Prince's daughter dear,
Hail blossom breaking out of blood royal,
Whose precious virtue is imperial.
The Merle she sang, Hail ROSE of most delight,
Hail of all flowers the sweet and sovereign Queen:
The lark she sang, hail ROSE both red and white,
Most pleasant flower of mighty colours twain:
Nightingals sang, hail Natures suffragan,
In beauty, nurture, and each nobleness,
In rich array, renown, and gentleness.
The common voice uprose of warblers small,
Upon this wise, "O blessed be the hour
"That thou wast chose to be our principal,
"Welcome to be our Princess crown'd with pow'r,
"Our pearl, our pleasance, and our paramour,
"Our peace, our play, our plain felicity:
"Christ thee conserve from all adversity."
Then all the concert sang with such a shout,
That I anon awaken'd where I lay,
And with a braid I turned me about
To see this court, but all were gone away;
Then up I lean'd me, halflings in affray,
Call'd to my Muse, and for my subject chose
To sing the royal THISTLE and the ROSE.