Reference > Cambridge History > The End of the Middle Ages > The Middle Scots Anthologies: Anonymous Verse and Early Prose > King Berdok
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XI. The Middle Scots Anthologies: Anonymous Verse and Early Prose.

§ 8. King Berdok.

Another love-tale of fairyland is told in King Berdok. This “grit king of Babylon”
dwelt in symmer in till ane bowkaill  40 stok;
And in to winter, quhen the frostis ar fell,
He dwelt for cauld in till a cokkill schell.
A “stalwart man of hairt and hand,” he wooed for seven years Mayiola, or Mayok, the “golk  41 of Maryland”; and yet “scho wes bos [char]eiris thre.” This “bony bird” had but one eye, and her ”foirfute wes langar than hir heill.” Berdok set out to ravish the “golk,” and, finding her milking her mother’s kine, cast her in a creel on his back. On his return, his load proved to be but a “howlat nest, full of skait birdis. 42 1”
And than this Berdok grett
And ran agane Meyok for to gett.
But the king of Faery was now in pursuit, and the lover took refuge in a “killogy.”  43 2 With the assistance of the kings of the Picts and Portugal, Naples and NAvern (Strathnaver), the lord of Faery laid siege. The attackers mounted guns and fired at Berdok with bullets of raw dough. Jupiter prayed saturn to ssave the lover by truning him inot a toad; but Mercury transfromed him into a brackent bush.
And Quhen thay saw the buss waig to and fra,
Thay trowd it wes ane gaist, and thay to ga;
Thir fell kingis thus Berdok wald haif slane;
All this for lufe, luveris sufferis pane;
Boece said, of poyettis that wes flour,
Thoucht lufe be sweit, oft syiss it is full sour.
It is not necessary to hold with Laing that this piece was intended as a burlesque of some popular “gest” or romance: the comic elfin intention may be accepted on its own merits.

Note 40. cabbage. [ back ]
Note 41. cuckoo. [ back ]
Note 42. “Dungbirds,” name applied to the Arctic gull. [ back ]
Note 43. The entrance or recess of a kiln, to help the draught. [ back ]

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