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The Brus Book XVIII

John Barbour 1320 – 1395 (Aberdeen)



Only Berwick remains in English hands; a burgess offers to betray it]

The lordis off the land war fayne
Quhen thai wist he wes cummyn agan
And till him went in full gret hy,
And he ressavit thaim hamlyly
5 And maid thaim fest and glaidsum cher,
And thai sa wonderly blyth wer
Off his come that na man mycht say,
Gret fest and fayr till him maid thai.
Quharever he raid all the countre
10 Gaderyt in daynte him to se,
Gret glaidschip than wes in the land.
All than wes wonnyn till his hand,
Fra the Red Swyre to Orknay
Wes nocht off Scotland fra his fay
15 Outakyn Berwik it allane.
That tym tharin wonnyt ane
That capitane wes of the toun,
All Scottismen in suspicioun
He had and tretyt thaim tycht ill.
20 He had ay to thaim hevy will
And held thaim fast at undre ay,
Quhill that it fell apon a day
That a burges Syme of Spalding
Thocht that it wes rycht angry thing
25 Suagate ay to rebutyt be.
Tharfor intill his hart thocht he
That he wald slely mak covyne
With the marchall, quhays cosyne
He had weddyt till him wiff,
30 And as he thocht he did belyff.
Lettrys till him he send in hy
With a traist man all prively,
And set him tym to cum a nycht
With leddrys and with gud men wicht
35 Till the kow yet all prively,
And bad him hald his trist trewly
And he suld mete thaim at the wall,
For his walk thar that nycht suld fall.

[The marischal shows the letter to the king,
who seeks to avoid jealousy between Douglas and Moray]

Quhen the marchell the lettre saw
40 He umbethocht him than a thraw,
For he wist be himselvyn he
Mycht nocht off mycht no power be
For till escheyff sa gret a thing,
And giff he tuk till his helping
45 Ane, other suld wrethit be.
Tharfor rycht to the king yeid he
And schawyt him betwix thaim twa
The letter and the charge alsua.
Quhen that the king hard that this trane
50 Spokyn wes intill certayne
That him thocht tharin na fantis
He said him, 'Certis thou wrocht as wis
That has discoveryt the fryst to me,
For giff thou had discoveryt the
55 To my nevo the Erle Thomas
Thou suld disples the lord Douglas,
And him alsua in the contrer,
Bot I sall wyrk on sic maner
That thou at thine entent sall be
60 And haff of nane of thaim mawgre.
Thou sall tak kep weill to the day,
And with thaim that thou purches may
At evyn thou sall enbuschit be
In Duns Park, bot be preve,
65 And I sall ger the Erle Thomas
And the lord alsua of Douglas
Ather with a soume of men
Be thar to do as thou sall ken.'
The marchell but mar delay
70 Tuk leve and held furth on his way
And held his spek preve and still
Quhill the day that wes set him till.
Than of the bast of Lothiane
He with hym till his tryst has tane
75 For schyrreff tharoff than wes he.

[The Scots take the wall of Berwick, but discipline breaks down]

To Duns Park with his menye
He come at evyn prively,
And syne with a gud cumpany
Sone eftyr come the Erle Thomas
80 That wes met with the lord Douglas.
A rycht fayr cumpany thai war
Quhen thai war met togidder thar,
And quhen the marchell the covyn
To bath the lordis lyne be lyne
85 Had tauld, thai went furth on thar way.
Fer fra the toun thar hors left thai,
To mak it schort sua wrocht thai then
That but seyng off ony men
Outane Sym of Spaldyn allane
90 That gert that deid be undertane
Thai set thar leddrys to the wall,
And but persaving come up all
And held thaim in a nuk preve
Quhill that the nycht suld passit be,
95 And ordanyt that the maist party
Off thar men suld gang sarraly
With thar lordis and hald a stale,
And the remanand suld all hale
Skaill throu the toun and tak or sla
100 The men that thai mycht ourta.
Bot sone this ordynance brak thai,
For alsone as it dawyt day
The twa partis off thar men and ma
All scalyt throu the toun gan ga.
105 Sa gredy war thai to the gud
That thai ran rycht as thai war woud
And sesyt housis and slew men,
And thai that saw thar fayis then
Cum apon thaim sa suddanly
110 Throu-out the toun thai raissyt the cry
And schot togidder her and thar,
As ay as thai assemblyt war
Thai wald abid and mak debate.
Had thai bene warnyt wele I wate
115 Thai suld haiff sauld thar dedis der
For thai war gud men and thai wer
Fer ma than thai were that thaim socht,
Bot thai war scalyt that thai mocht
On na maner assemblyt be.
120 Thar war gret melleys twa or
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Barbour

John Barbour, was a Scottish poet and the first major named literary figure to write in Scots. more…

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