Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extracts from The Thrissill and the Rois
By William Dunbar (1460?–1520?)
QUHEN Merche wes with variand windis past
  And Appryle had, with her silver schouris,
Tane leif at Nature with ane orient blast,
  And lusty May, that muddir is of flouris,
  Had maid the birdis to begyn thair houris 1        5
Amang the tendir flouris reid and quhyt,
Quhois armony to heir it wes delyt:
In bed at morrow, sleiping as I lay,
  Me thocht Aurora, with hir cristall ene
In at the window lukit by the day,        10
  And halsit 2 me, with visage paill and grene;
  On quhois hand a lark sang fro the splene, 3
Awalk, luvaris, out of your slomering
Sé hou the lusty morrow dois up-spring.
Me thocht fresch May befoir my bed up stude,        15
  In weid depaynt of mony diverss hew,
Sobir, benyng, and full of mansuetude
  In brycht atteir of flouris forgit new
  Hevinly of color, quhyt, reid, broun and blew,
Balmit in dew, and gilt with Phebus bemys;        20
Quhyll all the house illumynit of her lemys. 4
Slugird, scho said, awak annone for schame,
  And in my honour sum thing thou go wryt;
The lark hes done the mirry day proclame,
  To raise up luvaris with confort and delyt;        25
  Yit nocht incressis thy curage to indyt,
Quhois hairt sum tyme hes glaid and blisfull bene,
Sangis to mak undir the levis grene.
*        *        *        *        *
Than callit scho all flouris that grew on feild
  Discirnyng all thair fassionis and effeiris:        30
Upone the awfull Thrissil scho beheld
  And saw him kepit with a busche of speiris;
  Considering him so able for the weiris 5
A radius 6 croun of rubeis scho him gaif,
And said, In feild go furth and fend the laif: 7        35
And sen thou art a King, thou be discreit;
  Herb without vertew thow hald nocht of sic pryce
As herb of vertew and of odour sueit;
  And lat no nettill vyle, and full of vyce,
  Hir fallow 8 to the gudly flour-de-lyce;        40
Nor latt no wyld weid, full of churlicheness,
Compair hir till the lilleis nobilness.
Nor hald non udir flour in sic denty 9
  As the fresche Rois, of cullour reid and quhyt:
For gife thow dois, hurt is thyne honesty;        45
  Considring that no flour is so perfyt,
  So full of vertew, plesans, and delyt,
So full of blisful angeilik bewty,
Imperiall birth, honour and dignité.
Note 1. morning orisons. [back]
Note 2. embraced. [back]
Note 3. from the heart. [back]
Note 4. rays. [back]
Note 5. wars. [back]
Note 6. radiant. [back]
Note 7. rest. [back]
Note 8. match herself. [back]
Note 9. favour. [back]

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