Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MORAL FABLES: THE COCK AND THE FOX, by AESOP

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE MORAL FABLES: THE COCK AND THE FOX, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Thocht brutall beistis be irrationall
Last Line: Ar vennomous; gude folk, fle thame thairfoir.
Subject(s): Scottish Translations

Thocht brutall beistis be Irrationall,
That is to say, wantand discretioun,
Yit ilk ane in thair kynd naturall
Hes mony divers inclinatioun.
The Bair busteous, the Wolff, the wylde Lyoun,
The Fox fenyeit, craftie and cawtelous,
The Dog to bark on nicht and keip the hows.

Sa different thay ar in properteis,
Unknawin to man, and sa infinite,
In kynd havand sa ffell diuersiteis,
My cunning is excludit ffor to dyte.
For thy as now I purpose ffor to wryte
Ane cais I ffand, quhilk ffell this ather yeir,
Betwix ane Foxe and ane gentill Chantecleir.

Ane wedow dwelt, in till ane drop thay dayis,
Quhilk wan hir ffude off spinning on hir Rok,
And na mair had fforsuth, as the Fabill sayis,
Except off hennis scho had ane Lyttill flok;
And thame to keip scho had ane Jolie Cok,
Richt curageous, that to this wedow ay
Devydit nicht, and crew befoir the day.

Ane lyttill ffra this ffoirsaid wedowis hows,
Ane thornie schaw thair wes off grit defence,
Quhairin ane Foxe, craftie and cautelous,
Maid his repair, and daylie residence;
Quhilk to this wedow did grit violence,
In pyking off pultrie baith day and nicht,
And na way be revengit on him scho micht.

This wylie Tod, quhen that the Lark couth sing,
Full sair hungrie unto the Toun him drest,
Quhair Chantecleir in to the gray dawing,
Werie for nicht, wes flowen ffra his nest.
Lowrence this saw, and in his mynd he kest
The Jeperdie, the wayis, and the wyle,
Be quhat menis he micht this Cok begyle.

Dissimuland in to countenance and cheir,
On kneis fell, and simuland thus he said:
'Gude morne, my maister, gentill Chantecleir!'
With that the Cok start bakwart in ane braid.
'Schir, be my Saull, ye neid not be effraid,
Nor yit ffor me to start nor fle abak,
I come bot heir service to yow to mak.

'Wald I not serve to yow, it wer bot blame,
As I have done to your progenitouris;
Your father full oft fillit hes my wame,
And send me meit ffra midding to the muris.
And at his end I did my besie curis,
To hald his heid, and gif him drinkis warme,
Syne at the last the Sweit swelt in my arme.'

'Knew ye my ffather?' (quod the Cok) and leuch.
'Yea, my ffair Sone, I held up his heid,
Quhen that he deit under ane birkin beuch;
Syne said the Dirigie quhen that he wes deid.
Betwix us twa how suld thair be ane feid?
Quhame suld ye traist bot me, your Servitour,
That to your ffather did sa grit honour?

'Quhen I behald your ffedderis ffair and gent,
Your beik, your breist, your hekill, and your kame,
Schir, be my Saull, and the blissit Sacrament,
My hart is warme; me think I am at hame:
To mak yow blyith, I wald creip on my wame,
In ffroist and snaw, in wedder wan and weit,
And lay my lyart loikkis under your feit.'

This fenyeit Foxe, ffals and dissimulate,
Maid to this Cok ane cavillatioun:
'Ye ar, me think, changit and degenerate,
Fra your ffather off his conditioun;
Off craftie crawing he micht beir the Croun,
For he wald on his tais stand and craw.
This wes na le; I stude beside and saw.'

With that the Cok upon his tais hie,
Kest up his beik, and sang with all his micht.
(Quod Schir Lowrence) 'weill said, sa mot I the,
Ye ar your ffatheris Sone and air upricht.
Bot off his cunning yit ye want ane slicht.
For' (quod the Tod) 'he wald, and haif na dout,
Baith wink, and craw, and turne him thryis about.'

The Cok, infect with wind and fals vanegloir,
That mony puttis unto confusioun,
Traisting to win ane grit worschip thairfoir,
Unwarlie winkand wawland up and doun,
And syne to chant and craw he maid him boun.
And suddandlie, be he had crawin ane note,
The Foxe wes war and hint him be the throte.

Syne to the woid but tarie with him hyit,
Off that cryme haifand bot lytill dout.
With that Pertok, Sprutok, and Toppok cryit.
The wedow hard, and with ane cry come out.
Seand the cace, scho sichit and gaif ane schout:
'How, murther, hay!' with ane hiddeous beir,
'Allace, now lost is gentill Chantecleir!'

As scho wer woid, with mony yell and cry,
Ryvand hir hair, upon hir breist can beit,
Syne, paill off hew, half in ane extasy,
Fell doun ffor cair in swoning and in sweit.
With that the selie hennis left thair meit,
And, quhill this wyfe wes lyand thus in swoun,
Fell in that cace in disputatioun.

'Allace,' quod Pertok, makand sair murning,
With teiris grit attour hir cheikis fell;
'Yone wes our drowrie, and our dayis darling,
Our nichtingall, and als our Orloge bell,
Our walkryfe watche, us for to warne and tell
Quhen that Aurora with hir curcheis gray,
Put up hir heid betwix the nicht and day.

'Quha sall our lemman be? quha sall us leid?
Quhen we ar sad, quha sall unto us sing?
With his sweit Bill he wald brek us the breid,
In all this warld wes thair ane kynder thing?
In paramouris he wald do us plesing,
At his power, as nature did him geif.
Now efter him, allace, how sall we leif?'
Quod Sprutok than, 'Ceis sister off your sorrow;
Ye be to mad ffor him sic murning mais:
We sall ffair weill; I find, Sanct Johne to borrow,
The prouerb sayis, "als gude lufe cummis as gais."
I will put on my haly dais clais,
And mak me fresch agane this Jolie may,
Syne chant this sang, "wes never wedow sa gay!"

'He wes angry and held us ay in aw,
And woundit with the speir off Jelowsy.
Off chalmerglew, Pertok, full weill ye knaw,
Waistit he wes, off Nature cauld and dry;
Sen he is gone, thairfoir, Sister, say I,
Be blyith in baill, ffor that is best remeid:
Let quik to quik, and deid ga to the deid.'

Than Pertok spak, with feinyeit faith befoir:
'In lust but lufe he set all his delyte;
Sister, ye wait, off sic as him ane scoir
Wald not suffice to slaik our appetyte.
I hecht be my hand, sen that he is quyte,
Within ane oulk, ffor schame and I durst speik,
To get ane berne suld better claw oure breik.'

Than Toppok lyke ane Curate spak full crous:
'Yone wes ane verray vengeance from the hevin;
He wes sa lous, and sa lecherous;
He had' (quod scho) 'kittokis ma than sevin.
Bot rychteous God, haldand the balandis evin,
Smytis rycht sair, thocht he be patient,
For Adulterie, that will thame not repent.

'Prydefull he wes, and joyit off his sin,
And comptit not for Goddis favour nor feid,
Bot traistit ay to rax, and sa to rin,
Quhill at the last his sinnis can him leid
To schamefull end, and to yone suddand deid.
Thairfoir it is the verray hand off God
That causit him be werryit with the Tod.'

Quhen this wes said, this wedow ffra hir swoun
Start up on fute, and on hir kennettis cryde,
'How! berk, Berrie, Bawsie Broun,
Rype schaw, Rin weil, Curtes, Nuttieclyde,
Togidder all but grunching furth ye glyde!
Reskew my Nobill Cok, or he be slane,
Or ellis to me se ye cum never agane.'

With that but baid thay braidet over the bent;
As fyre off flint thay over the feildis flaw;
Full wichtlie thay throw wood and wateris went,
And ceissit not schir Lourence quhill thay saw.
Bot quhen he saw the Kennettis cum on raw,
Unto the Cok in mynd he said, 'God sen,
That I and thow wer fairlie in my den.'

Then said the Cok, with sum gude Spirit inspyrit,
'Do my counsall and I sall warrand the;
Hungrie thow art, and ffor grit travell tyrit,
Richt faint off force, and may not ferther fle.
Swyith turne agane, and say that I and ye
Freindis ar maid, and fellowis ffor ane yeir;
Than will thay stint, I stand ffor it, and not steir.'

This Tod, thocht he wes fals and frivolus,
And had frawdis his querrell to defend,
Desauit wes be menis richt mervelous;
For falset failyeis ay at the latter end.
He start about, and cryit as he wes kend.
With that the Cok he braid out off the bewch,
Now Juge ye all quhairat Schir Lowrence lewch.

Begylit thus, the Tod under the tre
On kneis fell, and said, 'gude Chantecleir,
Cum doun agane, and I, but meit or fe,
Salbe your man and servand ffor ane yeir.'
'Na, fals theif and revar, stand not me neir.
My bludy hekill, and my nek sa bla,
Hes partit freindschip ffor ever betwene us twa.

'I wes unwyse that winkit at thy will,
Quhairthrow almaist I loissit had my heid.'
'I was mair fule,' quod he, 'to be sa still,
Quhairthrow to put my pray in to pleid.'
'Fair on, fals theif, God keip me ffra thy feid.'
With that the Cok over the feildis tuke his fficht,
And in at the Wedowis Lewer couth he licht.


Now, worthie folk, suppose this be ane Fabill,
And overheillit wyth typis figurall,
Yit may ye find ane sentence richt agreabill,
Under thir fenyeit termis textuall:
To our purpose this Cok weill may we call
Nyse proud men, woid and vaneglorious,
Of kin and blude quhilk ar presumpteous.

Fy! puft up pryde, thow is full poysonabill;
Quha favoris the on force man haif ane fall.
Thy strenth is nocht, thy stule standis unstabill;
Tak witnes of the Feyndis Infernall,
Quhilk houndit doun wes fra that hevinlie hall
To Hellis hole, and to that hiddeous hous,
Because in pryde thay wer presumpteous.

This fenyeit Foxe may weill be figurate,
To flatteraris with plesand wordis quhyte,
With fals mening and mynd maist toxicate,
To loif and le that settes thair haill delyte.
All worthie folk at sic suld haif despyte;
For quhair is thair mair perrellous pestilence
Nor gif to learis haistelie credence?

The wickit mynd and Adullatioun,
Of sucker sweit haifand the similitude,
Bitter as gall, and full of poysoun,
To taist it is quha cleirlie understude.
For thy, as now schortlie to conclude,
Thir twa sinnis, flatterie and vaneglore,
Ar vennomous; gude folk, fle thame thairfoir.

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