Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
The Night Is near Gone
By Alexander Montgomerie (1545?–1598)
 
HEY! 1 now the day dawis;
The jolly cock crawis;
Now shroudis the shawis
  Thro’ Nature anon.
The thissel-cock cryis        5
On lovers wha lyis:
Now skaillis the skyis;
  The nicht is neir gone.
 
The fieldis ouerflowis
With gowans that growis,        10
Quhair lilies like low is
  As red as the rone.
The turtle that true is, 2
With notes that renewis,
Her pairty pursuis:        15
  The nicht is neir gone.
 
Now hairtis with hindis
Conform to their kindis,
Hie tursis their tyndis
  On ground quhair they grone.        20
Now hurchonis, with hairis,
Aye passis in pairis;
Quhilk duly declaris
  The nicht is neir gone.
 
The season excellis        25
Through sweetness that smellis;
Now Cupid compellis
  Our hairtis echone
On Venus wha waikis,
To muse on our maikis,        30
Syne sing for their saikis—
  “The nicht is neir gone!”
 
All courageous knichtis
Aganis the day dichtis
The breist-plate that bright is        35
  To fight with their fone. 3
The stonèd steed stampis
Through courage, and crampis,
Syne on the land lampis:
  The nicht is neir gone.        40
 
The friekis on feildis
That wight wapins weildis
With shyning bright shieldis
  At Titan in trone;
Stiff speiris in reistis        45
Ouer corseris crestis
Are broke on their breistis:
  The nicht is neir gone.
 
So hard are their hittis,
Some sweyis, some sittis,        50
And some perforce flittis
  On ground quhile they grone.
Syne groomis that gay is
On blonkis that brayis
With swordis assayis:—        55
  The nicht is neir gone.
 
Note 1. “This lovely poem,” says Crantoun, “is one of the happiest efforts of Montgomerie’s Muse, and shows his lyric genius at its best. It is perhaps the oldest set of words extant, to the air, ‘Hey tuttie taittie’—the war-note sounded for the Bruce on the field of Bannockburn and familiarized to every one by Burns’s Scots wha hae.’ From allusions to the tune, Dunbar and other poets prior to Montgomerie, we conclude that it enjoyed a rare popularity. Gavin Douglas bears testimony to the favour in which it was held by the ‘menstralis’ of his day in the following lines of ‘The Proloug of the Threttene Buik of Eneados:’
  The dewy grene, pulderit with daseis gay,
Schew on the sward a cullout dapill gray;
The mysty vapouris springand up full sweit,
Waist confortabill to glaid all mannis spreit;
Tharto, thir byrdis singis in the schawis,
As menstrallis playing, The joly day now dawis.”
Note 2. The turtle that true is.  Compare, “As doth the turtle for her make,” in Montgomerie’s poem He Bids Adieu to His Mistress. The turtle-dove became celebrated for the constancy of its affection. Indeed, the “billing and cooing” of the pigeon has passed into a proverb. Compare Catullus:
  Nec tantum niveo gavisa est ulla columbo
Compar.
—Carm. lxviii., 125, 126.    
Propertius:
  Exemplo junctæ tibi sint in amore columbæ
  Masculus et totum femina conjugium,
Errat qui finem vesani quærit amoris:
  Verus amor nullum novit habere modum.
—Eleg. II xv. 27–30.    
And Martial:
  Basia me capiunt blandas imitata columbas.
—Epigr. Bk. xi. civ. 9.    
Amplexa collum basioque tam longo
Blandita, quam sunt nuptiæ columbarum.
—Epigr. Bk. xii. lxv. 7.    
Note 3. Fone: foes. The form is also found as singular. See Roland’s Court of Venus:
  Fra that they knew that he wa Venus fone.
—Bk. ii. l. 331.    
 
 
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