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The King's Quire (excerpt)

James I of Scotland 1394 (Dunfermline Abbey) – 1437 (Blackfriars)

  Bewailing in my chamber thus allone,
  Despeir{.e}d of all joye and remedye,
  For-tirit of my thoght, and wo begone,
  Unto the wyndow gan I walk in hye,
  To se the warld and folk that went forby;
  As for the tyme, though I of mirthis fude
  Myght have no more, to luke it did me gude.

  Now was there maid fast by the touris wall
  A gardyn faire, and in the corneris set
  Ane herbere grene:--with wandis long and small
  Railit about; and so with treis set
  Was all the place, and hawthorn hegis knet,
  That lyf was none walking there forby,
  That myght within scarse ony wight aspye;

  So thik the bewis and the lev{.e}s grene
  Beschadit all the aleyes that there were.
  And myddis every herbere myght be sene
  The scharp{.e} gren{.e} suet{.e} jenepere,
  Growing so faire with branchis here and there,
  That, as it semyt to a lyf without,
  The bewis spred the herbere all about;

  And on the small{.e} gren{.e} twistis sat
  The lytill suet{.e} nyghtingale, and song
  So loud and clere, the ympnis consecrat
  Off lufis use, now soft, now lowd among,
  That all the gardyng and the wallis rong
  Ryght of thaire song and of the copill next
  Off thaire suete armony, and lo the text:

  "Worschippe, ye that loveris bene, this May,
  For of your blisse the kalendis are begonne,
  And sing with us, 'Away, winter, away!
  Cum, somer, cum, the suete sesoun and sonne!'
  Awake for schame! that have your hevynnis wonne,
  And amorously lift up your hedis all,
  Thank lufe that list you to his merci call."

  Quhen thai this song had song a lytill thrawe,
  Thai stent a quhile, and therewith unaffraid,
  As I beheld and kest myn eyne a-lawe,
  From beugh to beugh thay hippit and thai plaid,
  And freschly in thaire birdis kynd arraid
  Thaire fetheris new, and fret thame in the sonne,
  And thankit lufe, that had thaire makis wonne.

  This was the plan{.e} ditee of thaire note,
  And there-with-all unto my self I thoght,
  "Quhat lyf is this that makis birdis dote?
  Quhat may this be, how cummyth it of ought?
  Quhat nedith it to be so dere ybought?
  It is nothing, trowe I, bot feynit chere,
  And that men list to counterfeten chere."

  Eft wald I think; "O Lord, quhat may this be?
  That Lufe is of so noble myght and kynde,
  Lufing his folk, and suich prosperitee
  Is it of him, as we in bukis fynd?
  May he oure hert{.e}s setten and unbynd?
  Hath he upon oure hertis suich maistrye?
  Or all this is bot feynyt fantasye!

  "For gif he be of so grete excellence,
  That he of every wight hath cure and charge,
  Quhat have I gilt to him or doon offense,
  That I am thrall, and birdis gone at large,
  Sen him to serve he myght set my corage?
  And gif he be noght so, than may I seyne,
  'Quhat makis folk to jangill of him in veyne?'

  "Can I noght ell{.e}s fynd, bot gif that he
  Be lord, and as a god may lyve and regne,
  To bynd and louse, and maken thrallis free,
  Than wold I pray his blisfull grace benigne,
  To hable me unto his service digne;
  And evermore for to be one of tho
  Him trewly for to serve in wele and wo."

  And there-with kest I doun myn eye ageyne,
  Quhare as I sawe, walking under the toure,
  Full secretly, new cummyn hir to pleyne,
  The fairest or the freschest yong{.e} floure
  That ever I sawe, me thoght, before that houre,
  For quhich sodayn abate, anon astert
  The blude of all my body to my hert.

  And though I stude abaisit tho a lyte,
  No wonder was; for-quhy my wittis all
  Were so overcom with plesance and delyte,
  Onely throu latting of myn eyen fall,
  That sudaynly my hert became hir thrall
  For ever, of free will; for of manace
  There was no takyn in hir suete face.

  And in my hede I drewe ryght hastily,
  And eft-son{.e}s I lent it forth ageyne,
  And sawe hir walk, that verray womanly,
  With no wight mo, bot onely wommen tueyne.
  Than gan I studye in my-self, and seyne,
  "A! suete, ar ye a warldly cr{.e}ature,
  Or hevinly thing in likenesse of nature?

  "Or ar ye god Cupidis owin princesse,
  And cummyn are to louse me out of band?
  Or ar ye verray Nature the goddesse,
  That have depaynted with your hevinly hand
  This gardyn full of flouris, as they stand?
  Quhat sall I think, allace! quhat reverence
  Sall I minister to yo
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:53 min read

James I of Scotland

James I was King of Scotland from 1406 to 1437. The youngest of three sons, he was born in Dunfermline Abbey to King Robert III and his wife Annabella Drummond. His older brother David, Duke of Rothesay, died under suspicious circumstances while being detained by their uncle, Robert, Duke of Albany. His other brother, Robert, died young. Fears for James's safety grew through the winter of 1405/6 and plans were made to send him to France. In February 1406, James was forced to take refuge in the castle of the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth after his escort was attacked by supporters of Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas. He remained there until mid-March when he boarded a vessel bound for France. On 22 March English pirates captured the ship and delivered the prince to Henry IV of England. The ailing Robert III died on 4 April and the 11-year-old James, now the uncrowned King of Scotland, would not regain his freedom for another eighteen years. James was educated well at the English Court where he developed respect for English methods of governance and for Henry V. more…

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    "The King's Quire (excerpt)" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/20146/the-king's-quire-(excerpt)>.

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