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Poem by William Dunbar

Beauty and the Prisoner

Sen that I am a presoneir
Till hir that farest is and best,
I me commend fra yeir till yeir
Intill hir bandoun for to rest.
I govit on that gudliest:
So lang to luk I tuk laseir,
Quhill I wes tane withouttin test
And led furth as a presoneir.

Hir Sweit Having and Fresche Bewté
Hes wondit me but swerd or lance.
With thame to go commandit me
Ontill the Castell of Pennance.
I said, "Is this your govirnance,
To tak men for thair luking heir?"
Fresche Bewty said, "Ya, schir, perchance
Ye be my ladeis presoneir."

Thai had me bundin to the get
Quhair Strangenes had bene portar ay,
And in deliverit me thairat
And in thir termis can thai say:
"Do wait and lat him nocht away."
Quo Strangenes unto the porteir,
"Ontill my lady, I dar lay,
Ye be to pure a presoneir."

Thai kest me in a deip dungeoun
And fetterit me but lok or cheyne.
The capitane, hecht Comparesone,
To luke on me he thocht greit deyne.
Thocht I wes wo I durst nocht pleyne,
For he had fetterit mony a feir.
With petous voce thus cuth I sene,
"Wo is a wofull presoneir."

Langour wes weche upoun the wall,
That nevir sleipit bot evir wouke.
Scorne wes bourdour in the hall
And oft on me his babill schuke,
Lukand with mony a dengerous luke.
"Quhat is he yone that methis us neir?
Ye be to townage, be this buke,
To be my ladeis presoneir."

Gud Houp rownit in my eir
And bad me baldlie breve a bill;
With Lawlines he suld it beir,
With Fair Service send it hir till.
I wouk and wret hir all my will.
Fair Service fur withouttin feir,
Sayand till hir with wirdis still,
"Haif pety of your presoneir."

Than Lawlines to Petie went
And said till hir in termis schort,
"Lat we yone presoneir be schent,
Will no man do to us support.
Gar lay ane sege unto yone fort."
Than Petie said, "I sall appeir."
Thocht sayis, "I hecht, coim I ourthort,
I houp to lows the presoneir."

Than to battell thai war arreyit all
And ay the vawart kepit Thocht.
Lust bur the benner to the wall,
And Bissines the grit gyn brocht.
Skorne cryis out, sayis, "Wald ye ocht?"
Lust sayis, "We wald haif entré heir."
Comparisone sayis, "That is for nocht.
Ye will nocht wyn the presoneir."

Thai thairin schup for to defend,
And thai thairfurth sailyeit ane hour.
Than Bissines the grit gyn bend,
Straik doun the top of the foir tour.
Comparisone began to lour
And cryit furth, "I yow requeir
Soft and fair and do favour,
And tak to yow the presoneir."

Thai fyrit the gettis deliverly
With faggottis wer grit and huge,
And Strangenes, quhair that he did ly,
Wes brint into the porter luge.
Lustely thay lakit bot a juge,
Sik straikis and stychling wes on steir.

The semeliest wes maid assege,
To quhome that he wes presoneir.

Throucht Skornes nos thai put a prik,
This he wes banist and gat a blek.
Comparisone wes erdit quik,
And Langour lap and brak his nek.
Thai sailyeit fast, all the fek.
Lust chasit my ladeis chalmirleir;
Gud Fame wes drownit in a sek:
Thus ransonit thai the presoneir.

Fra Sklandir hard Lust had undone
His ennemeis, he him aganis
Assemblit ane semely sort full sone
And rais and rowttit all the planis.
His cusing in the court remanis,
Bot jalous folkis and geangleiris
And fals Invy, that nothing lanis,
Blew out on Luvis presoneir.

Syne Matremony, that nobill king,
Was grevit and gadderit ane grit ost,
And all enermit, without lesing,
Chest Sklander to the west se cost.
Than wes he and his linege lost,
And Matremony, withouttin weir,
The band of freindschip hes indost
Betuix Bewty and the presoneir.

Be that of eild wes Gud Famis air
And cumyne to continuatioun,
And to the court maid his repair
Quhair Matremony than woir the crowne.
He gat ane confirmatioun,
All that his modir aucht but weir,
And baid still, as it wes resone,
With Bewty and the presoneir.

William Dunbar

William Dunbar's other poems:
  1. The Tretis of the Twa Mariit Women and the Wedo
  2. On the Resurrection of Christ [Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro]
  3. The Ballad of Kynd Kittock
  4. To the King [Of benefice, sir, at everie feist]
  5. Best to Be Blithe

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