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Robert Henryson (Роберт Хенрисон)

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
Unknawin unto man and infinite,
In kind havand sa fel diversiteis,
My cunning it excides for to dyte.
Forthy as now, I purpose for to wryte
Ane case I fand whilk fell this other yeer
Betwix ane fox and gentil Chauntecleer.

Ane widow dwelt intill ane drop they dayis
Whilk wan hir food off spinning on hir rok,
And na mair had, forsooth, as the fabill sayis,
Except of hennes scho had ane lyttel flok,
And them to keep scho had one jolie cok,
Right corageous, that to this widow ay
Divided night, and crew before the day.

Ane lyttel fra this foresaid widow's hous,
Ane thornie schaw there was of greet defence,
Wherein ane foxe, craftie and cautelous,
Made his repair and daylie residence,
Whilk to this widow did greet violence
In pyking off pultrie baith day and night,
And na way be revengit on him scho might.

This wylie tod, when that the lark couth sing,
Full sair and hungrie unto the toun him drest,
Were Chauntecleer, in to the gray dawing,
Werie for night, was flowen fra hist nest.
Lowrence this saw and in his mind he kest
The jeperdies, the wayes, and the wyle,
By what menis he might this cok begyle.

Dissimuland in to countenance and cheer,
On knees fell and simuland thus he said,
'Gude morne, my maister, gentil Chantecleer!'
With that the cok start bakwart in ane braid.
'Schir, by my saul, ye need not be effraid,
Nor yit for me to start nor flee abak;
I come bot here service to you to mak.'

'Wald I not serve to you, it wer bot blame,
As I have done to your progenitouris.
Your father oft fullfillit has my wame,
And sent me meit fra midding to the muris,
And at his end I did my besie curis
To held his heed and gif him drinkis warme,
Syne at the last, the sweit swelt in my arme!'

'Knew ye my father?' quad the cok, and leuch.
'Yea, my fair son, forsooth I held his heed
When that he deit under ane birkin beuch,
Syne said that Dirgie when that he was deed.
Betwixt us twa how suld there be ane feid?
Wham suld ye traist bot me, your servitour
That to your father did so greet honour?

When I beheld your fedderis fair and gent,
Your beck, your breast, your hekill, and your kame-
Schir, by my saul, and the blissit sacrament,
My heart warmis, me think I am at hame.
You for to serve, I wald creep on my wame
In froist and snaw, in wedder wan and weit
And lay my lyart lokkes under your feit.'

This fenyeit fox, fals and dissimulate,
Made to this cok ane cavillatioun:
'Ye are, me think, changed and degenerate
Fra your father and his conditioun,
Of craftie crawing he might beer the croun,
For he weld on his tais stand and craw.
This is no le; I stude beside and saw.'

With that the cok, upon his tais hie,
Kest up his beek and sang with all his might.
Quod schir Lowrence, 'Well said, sa mot I the.
Ye are your fatheris son and heir upright,
Bot of his cunning yit ye want ane slight.'
'What?' quad the cok. 'He wald, and have na doubt,
Baith wink, and craw, and turne him thryis about.'

The cok, inflate with wind and fals vanegloir,
That mony puttes unto confusioun,
Traisting to win ane greet worship therefoir,
Unwarlie winkand walkit up and doun,
And syne to chant and craw he made him boun-
And suddandlie, by he had crawin ane note
The fox was war, and hent him by the throte.

Syne to the wood but tarie with him hyit,
Of countermand havand but lytil dout.
With that Pertok, Sprutok, and Coppok cryit,
The widow heard, and with ane cry come out.
Seand and case scho sighit and gaif ane schout,
'How, murther, reylok!' with ane hiddeous beir,
'Allas, now lost is gentil Chauntecleer!'

As scho were wod with mony yell and cry,
Ryvand hir hair, upon hir breist can beit,
Syne pale of hew, half in ane extasy,
Fell doun for care in swoning and in sweit.
With that the selie hennes left their meit,
And whyle this wyfe was lyand thus in swoon,
Fell of that case in disputacioun.

'Allas,' quod Pertok, makand sair murning,
With teeris greet attour hir cheekis fell,
'Yon was our drowrie and our day's darling,
Our nightingal, and als our orlege bell,
Our walkrife watch, us for to warne and tell
When that Aurora with hir curcheis gray
Put up hir heid betwixt the night and day.

'Wha sall our lemman be? Who sall us leid?
When we are sad wha sall unto us sing?
With his sweet bill he wald breke us the breid;
In all this warld was there ane kynder thing?
In paramouris he wald do us plesing.
At his power, as nature list him geif.
Now efter him, allas, how sall we leif?'

Quod Sprutok than, 'Ceis, sister of your sorrow,
Ye be too mad, for him sic murning mais.
We sall fare well, I find Sanct John to borrow;
The proverb sayis, 'Als gude lufe cummis as gais.'
I will put my haly-dayis clais
And mak me fresch agane this jolie May,
Syne chant this sang, 'Was never widow sa gay!'

'He was angry and held us ay in aw,
And wounded with the speir of jelowsy.
Of chalmergley, Pertok, full well ye knaw,
Wasted he was, of nature cauld and dry.
Sen he is gone, therefore, sister, say I,
Be blythe in baill, for that is best remeid.
Let quik to quik, and deid ga to the deid.'

Than Pertok spak, that feinyeit faith before,
In lust but lufe that set all hir delyte,
'Sister, ye wait of sic as him ane score
Wald not suffice to slake our appetyte.
I heecht you by my hand, sen ye are quyte,
Within ane oulk, for schame and I durst speik,
To get ane berne suld better claw oure breik.'

Than Coppok like ane curate spak full crous:
'Yon was ane verray vengeance from the hevin.
He was sa lous and lecherous,
Ceis could he noght with kittokis ma than servin,
But righteous God, haldand the balance evin,
Smytis right sair, thoght he be patien,
Adulteraris that list them not repent.

'Prydeful he was, and joyit of his sin,
And comptit not for Goddis favor nor feid.
Bot traisted ay to rax and sa to rin,
Whil at the last his sinnis can him leid
To schameful end and to yon suddand deid.
Therefore it is the verray hand of God
That causit him be werryit with the tod.'

When this was said, this widow fra hir swoun
Start up on fute, and on hir kennettis cryde,
'How, Birkye, Berrie, Bell, Bawsie, Bround,
Rype Schaw, Rin Weil, Curtes, Nuttieclyde!
Togidder all but grunching furth ye glyde!
Reskew my nobil cok ere he be slane,
Or ellis to me see ye come never agane!'

With that, but baid, they braidet over the bent,
As fire off flint they over the feildis flaw,
Full wichtlie they through wood and wateris went,
And ceissit not, schir Lowrence while they saw.
But when he saw the raches come on raw,
Unto the cok in mind he said, 'God sen
That I and thou were fairlie in my den.'

Then spak the cok, with sum gude spirit inspyrit,
'Do my counsall and I shall warrand thee.
Hungrie thou art, and for greet travel tyrit,
Right faint of force and may not ferther flee:
Swyth turn agane and say that I and ye
Freindes are made and fellowis for ane yeir.
Than will they stint, I stand for it, and not steir.'

This tod, thogh he were fals and frivolous,
And had fraudis, his querrel to defend,
Desavit was by menis right marvelous,
For falset failis ay at the latter end.
He start about, and cryit as he knend-
With that the cok he braid unto a bewch.
Now juge ye all whereat schir Lowrence lewch.

Begylit thus, the tod under the tree
On knees fell, and said, 'Gude Chauntecleer,
Come doun agane, and I but meit or fee
Sall be your man and servant for ane yeir.'
'Na, murther, theif, and revar, stand on reir.
My bldy hekill and my nek sa bla
Has partit love for ever betwene us twa.

'I was unwise that winkit at thy will,
Wherethrough almaist I loissit had my heid.'
'I was mair fule,' quod he, 'could noght be still,
Bot spake to put my my pray into pleid.'
'Fare on, fals theef, God keep me fra thy feid.'
With that the cok over the feildis tuke his flight,
And in at the widow's lewer couth he light.


Now worthie folk, suppose this be ane fabill,
And overheillit with typis figural,
Yit may ye find ane sentence right agreabill
Under their fenyeit termis textual.
To our purpose this cok well may we call
Nyce proud men, woid, and vaneglorious
Of kin and blude, whilk is presumptuous.

Fy, puffed up pride, thou is full poysonabill!
Wha favoris thee, on force man have ane fall,
Thy strength is noght, thy stule standis unstabill.
Tak witnes of the feyndes infernall,
Whilk houndit doun was fra that hevinlie hall
To hellis hole and to that hiddeous house,
Because in pride they were presumptous.

This fenyeit foxe may well be figurate
To flatteraris with plesand wordis white,
With fals mening and mynd maist toxicate,
To loif and le that settis their hail delyte.
All worthie folk at sic suld haif despite-
For where is there mair perrelous pestilence?-
Nor give to learis haistelie credence.

The wickit mind and adullatioun,
Of sucker sweet haifand similitude,
Bitter as gall and full of fell poysoun
To taste it is, wha cleirlie understude,
Forthy as now schortlie to conclude,
Thir twa sinnis, flatterie and vanegloir.
Are venemous: gude folk, flee them thairfoir! 

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. Ane Prayer for the Pest

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