Robert Henryson ( )

The Wolf and the Wether

Quhylum thair wes, as Esope can report,
Ane scheipheird dwelland be ane forrest neir
Quhilk had ane hound that did him grit comfort.
Full war he wes to walk his fauld but weir,
That nouther wolf nor wildcat durst appeir
Nor foxe on feild nor yit no uther beist
Bot he thame slew or chaissit at the leist.

Sa happinnit it, as everilk beist man de,
This hound of suddand seiknes to be deid,
Bot than, God wait, the keipar of the fe
For verray wo woxe wanner nor the weid.
Allace, quod he, now se I na remeid
To saif the selie beistis that I keip
For with the wolf weryit beis all my scheip.

It wald have maid ane mannis hart sair to se
The selie scheiphirdis lamentatioun.
Now is my darling deid allace, quod he,
For now to beg my breid I may be boun,
With pyikstaff and with scrip to fair off toun
For all the beistis befoir that bandonit bene
Will schute upon my beistis with ire and tene.

With that ane wedder wichtlie wan on fute.
Maister, quod he, mak merie and be blyith.
To brek your hart for baill it is na bute.
For ane deid dog ye na cair on yow kyith.
Ga fetche him hither and fla his skyn off swyth,
Syne sew it on me and luke that it be meit,
Baith heid and crag, bodie, taill, and feit.

Than will the wolf trow that I am he
For I sall follow him fast quharever he fair.
All haill the cure I tak it upon me
Your scheip to keip at midday, lait, and air;
And he persew, be God I sall not spair
To follow him as fast as did your doig
Swa that I warrand ye sall not want ane hoig.

Than said the scheipheird, This come of ane gude wit.
Thy counsall is baith sicker, leill, and trew.
Quha sayis ane scheip is daft, thay lieit of it.
With that in hy the doggis skyn off he flew
And on the scheip rycht softlie couth it sew.
Than worth the wedder wantoun of his weid:
Now of the wolff, quod he, I have na dreid.

In all thingis he counterfait the dog
For all the nycht he stude and tuke na sleip
Swa that weill lang thair wantit not ane hog.
Swa war he wes and walkryfe thame to keip
That Lowrence durst not luke upon ane scheip
For and he did, he followit him sa fast
That of his lyfe he maid him all agast.

Was nowther wolff, wildcat, nor yit tod
Durst cum within thay boundis all about
Bot he wald chase thame baith throw rouch and snod.
Thay bailfull beistis had of thair lyvis sic dout,
For he wes mekill and semit to be stout,
That everilk beist thay dred him as the deid,
Within that woid that nane durst hald thair heid.

Yit happinnit thair ane hungrie wolff to slyde
Out-throw his scheip quhair thay lay on ane le:
I sall have ane, quod he, quhatever betyde,
Thocht I be werryit, for hunger or I de.
With that ane lamb intill his cluke hint he.
The laif start up for thay wer all agast
Bot God wait gif the wedder followit fast.

Went never hound mair haistelie fra the hand
Quhen he wes rynnand maist raklie at the ra
Nor went this wedder baith over mois and strand,
And stoppit nouther at bank, busk, nor bra,
Bot followit ay sa ferslie on his fa
With sic ane drift quhill dust and dirt over-draif him,
And maid ane vow to God that he suld have him.

With that the wolff let out his taill on lenth
For he wes hungrie and it drew neir the ene
And schupe him for to ryn with all his strenth.
Fra he the wedder sa neir cummand had sene,
He dred his lyfe, and he overtane had bene;
Thairfoir he spairit nowther busk nor boig,
For weill he kennit the kenenes of the doig.

To mak him lycht, he kest the lamb him fra,
Syne lap over leis and draif throw dub and myre.
Na, quod the wedder, in faith we part not swa.
It is not the lamb bot thee that I desyre.
I sall cum neir for now I se thee tyre.
The wolf ran till ane rekill stude behind him
Bot ay the neirar the wedder he couth bind him.

Sone efter that, he followit him sa neir
Quhill that the wolf for fleidnes fylit the feild,
Syne left the gait and ran throw busk and breir
And schupe him fra the schawis for to scheild.
He ran restles for he wist of na beild.
The wedder followit him baith out and in
Quhill that ane breir busk raif rudelie off the skyn.

The wolff wes wer and blenkit him behind
And saw the wedder come thrawand throw the breir,
Syne saw the doggis skyn hingand on his lind.
Na! quod he, Is this ye that is sa neir,
Richt now ane hound and now quhyte as ane freir?
I fled over fer and I had kennit the cais.
To God I vow that ye sall rew this rais.

Quhat wes the cause ye gaif me sic ane katche?
With that in hy he hint him be the horne.
For all your mowis, ye met anis with your matche,
Suppois ye leuch me all this yeir to scorne.
For quhat enchessoun this doggis skyn have ye borne?
Maister, quod he, bot to have playit with yow.
I yow requyre that ye nane uther trow.

Is this your bourding in ernist than? quod he,
For I am verray effeirit and on flocht;
Cum bak agane and I sall let yow se.
Than quhar the gait wes grimmit he him brocht.
Quhether call ye this fair play or nocht
To set your maister in sa fell effray,
Quhill he for feiritnes hes fylit up the way?

Thryis, be my saull, ye gart me schute behind:
Upon my hoichis the senyeis may be sene;
For feiritnes full oft I fylit the wind.
Now is this ye? Na, bot ane hound, I wene!
Me think your teith over schort to be sa kene.
Blissit be the busk that reft yow your array,
Ellis, fleand, bursin had I bene this day.

Schir, quod the wedder, suppois I ran in hy,
My mynd wes never to do your persoun ill.
Ane flear gettis ane follower commounly
In play or ernist, preif quha sa ever will.
Sen I bot playit, be gracious me till
And I sall gar my freindis blis your banis.
Ane full gude servand will crab his maister anis.

I have bene oftymis set in grit effray
Bot be the rude, sa rad yit wes I never
As thow hes maid me with thy prettie play.
I schot behind quhen thow overtuke me ever
Bot sikkerlie now sall we not dissever.
Than be the crag bane smertlie he him tuke
Or ever he ceissit, and it in schunder schuke.


Esope that poet, first father of this fabill,
Wrait this parabole quhilk is convenient
Because the sentence wes fructuous and agreabill,
In moralitie exemplative prudent
Quhais problemes bene verray excellent
Throw similitude of figuris to this day,
Gevis doctrine to the redaris of it ay.

Heir may thow se that riches of array
Will cause pure men presumpteous for to be.
Thay think thay hald of nane, be thay als gay,
Bot counterfute ane lord in all degree.
Out of thair cais in pryde thay clym sa hie
That thay forbeir thair better in na steid
Quhill sum man tit thair heillis over thair heid.

Richt swa in service uther sum exceidis;
And thay haif withgang, welth, and cherising
That thay will lychtlie lordis in thair deidis
And lukis not to thair blude nor thair ofspring
Bot yit nane wait how lang that reull will ring.
Bot he was wyse that bad his sone considder,
Bewar in welth, for hall benkis ar rycht slidder.

Thairfoir I counsell men of everilk stait
To knaw thameself and quhome thay suld forbeir,
And fall not with thair better in debait,
Suppois thay be als galland in thair geir.
It settis na servand for to uphald weir
Nor clym sa hie quhill he fall off the ledder
Bot think upon the wolf and on the wedder.

Robert Henryson's other poems:
  1. The Wolf and the Lamb
  2. Orpheus and Eurydice
  3. The Ressoning betwix Aige and Yowth
  4. The Preaching of the Swallow
  5. The Bludy Serk

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