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

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THE MORAL FABLES: THE FOX, THE WOLF, AND THE HUSBANDMAN, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: In elderis dayis, as esope can declair
Last Line: Christ keip all christianis from that wickit well!
Subject(s): Scottish Translations

In elderis dayis, as Esope can declair,
Thair wes ane Husband, quhilk had ane pleuch to steir.
His use wes ay in morning to ryse air;
Sa happinnit him in streiking tyme off yeir
Airlie in the morning to follow ffurth his feir,
Unto the pleuch, bot his gadman and he;
His stottis he straucht with 'Benedicite.'

The Caller cryit: 'how, haik, upon hicht;
Hald draucht, my dowis;' syne broddit thame ffull sair.
The Oxin wes unusit, young and licht,
And ffor fersnes thay couth the fur fforfair.
The Husband than woxe angrie as ane hair,
Syne cryit, and caist his Patill and grit stanis:
'The Wolff' (quod he) 'mot have yow all at anis.'

Bot yit the Wolff wes neirar nor he wend,
For in ane busk he lay, and Lowrence baith,
In ane Rouch Rone, wes at the furris end,
And hard the hecht; than Lowrence leuch full raith:
'To tak yone bud' (quod he)' it wer na skaith.'
'Weill'(quod the Wolff), 'I hecht the be my hand;
Yone Carllis word, as he wer King, sall stand.'

The Oxin waxit mair reullie at the last;
Syne efter thay lousit, ffra that it worthit weill lait;
The Husband hamewart with his cattell past.
Than sone the Wolff come hirpilland in his gait,
Befoir the Oxin, and schupe to mak debait.
The Husband saw him, and worthit sumdeill agast,
And bakwart with his beistis wald haif past.

The Wolff said, 'quhether dryvis thou this Pray?
I chalenge it, ffor nane off thame ar thyne.'
The man thairoff wes in ane felloun fray,
And soberlie to the Wolff answerit syne;
'Schir, be my Saull, thir oxin ar all myne;
Thairfoir I studdie quhy ye suld stop me,
Sen that I faltit never to you, trewlie.'

The Wolff said, 'Carle, gaif thou not me this drift
Airlie, quhen thou wes eirrand on yone bank?
And is thair oucht (sayis thou) frear than gift?
This tarying wyll tyne the all thy thank;
Far better is frelie ffor to giff ane plank
Nor be compellit on force to giff ane mart.
Fy on the fredome that cummis not with hart!'

'Schir' (quod the husband), 'ane man may say in greif,
And syne ganesay, fra he avise and se:
I hecht to steill, am I thairfoir ane theif?'
'God forbid, Schir, all hechtis suld haldin be!'
'Gaif I my hand or oblissing'(quod he),
'Or have ye witnes, or writ ffor to schaw?
Schir, reif me not, but go and seik the Law!'

'Carll' (quod the Wolff), 'ane Lord, and he be leill,
That schrinkis for schame, or doutis to be repruvit,
His saw is ay als sickker as his Seill.
Fy on the Leid that is not leill and lufit!
Thy argument is fals, and eik contrufit,
For it is said in Proverb: "But lawte
All uther vertewis ar nocht worth ane fle."'

'Schir,' said the husband, 'remember of this thing:
Ane leill man is not tane at halff ane taill.
I may say, and ganesay, I am na King:
Quhair is your witnes that hard I hecht thame haill?'
Than said the Wolff, 'thairfoir it sall nocht faill;
Lowrence' (quod he), 'cum hidder of that Schaw,
And say na thing bot as thow hard and saw.'

Lowrence come louand, for he lufit never licht,
And sone appeirit befoir thame in that place:
The man leuch na thing, quhen he saw that sicht.
'Lowrence' (quod the Wolff), 'thow man declair this cace,
Quhairof we sall schaw the suith in schort space;
I callit on the leill witnes for to beir:
Quhat hard thow that this man hecht me lang eir?'

'Schir' (said the Tod), 'I can not hastelie
Swa sone as now gif sentence finall;
Bot wald ye baith submit yow heir to me,
To stand at my decreit perpetuall,
To pleis baith I suld preif, gif it may fall.'
'Weill' (quod the Wolff), 'I am content for me:'
The man said, 'swa am I, how ever it be.'

Than schew thay furth thair allegeance but fabill,
And baith proponit thair pley to him compleit.
(Quod Lowrence): 'now I am ane Juge amycabill:
Ye sall be sworne to stand at my decreit,
Quhether heirefter ye think it soure or sweit.'
The Wolff braid furth his fute, the man his hand,
And on the Toddis Taill sworne thay ar to stand.

Than tuke the Tod the man furth till ane syde,
And said him, 'friend, thow art in blunder brocht;
The Wolff will not forgif the ane Oxe hyde,
Yit wald my self fane help the, and I mocht;
Bot I am laith to hurt my conscience ocht.
Tyne nocht thy querrell in thy awin defence;
This will not throw but grit coist and expence.

'Seis thow not Buddis beiris Bernis throw,
And giftis garris crukit materis hald ffull evin?
Sumtymis ane hen haldis ane man in ane Kow.
All ar not halie that heifis thair handis to hevin.'
'Schir' (said the man), 'ye sall have sex or sevin,
Richt off the fattest hennis off all the floik:
I compt not all the laif, leif me the Coik.'

'I am ane Juge' (quod Lowrence than), and leuch;
'Thair is na Buddis suld beir me by the rycht;
I may tak hennis and Caponis weill aneuch,
For God is gane to sleip; as ffor this nycht,
Sic small thingis ar not sene in to his sicht;
Thir hennis' (quod he) 'sall mak thy querrell sure,
With emptie hand na man suld Halkis lure.'

Concordit thus, than Lowrence tuke his leiff,
And to the Wolff he went in to ane ling;
Syne prevelie he plukkit him be the sleiff:
'Is this in ernist' (quod he) 'ye ask sic thing?
Na, be my Saull, I trow it be in heithing.'
Than saith the Wolff, 'Lowrence, quhy sayis thow sa?
Thow hard the hecht thy selff that he couth ma.'

'The hecht' (quod he) 'yone man maid at the pleuch,
Is that the cause quhy ye the cattell craif?'
Halff in to heithing (said Lowrence than), and leuch;
'Schir, be the Rude, unroikit now ye raif;
The Devill ane stirk taill thairfoir sall ye haif;
Wald I tak it upon my conscience
To do sa pure ane man as yone offence?

'Yit haif I communit with the Carll' (quod he);
'We ar concordit upon this cunnand:
Quyte off all clamis, swa ye will mak him fre,
Ye sall ane Cabok have in to your hand,
That sic ane sall not be in all this land;
For it is Somer Cheis, baith fresche and ffair;
He sayis it weyis ane stane, and sumdeill mair.'
'Is that thy counsell' (quod the Wolff), 'I do,
That yone Carll ffor ane Cabok suld be fre?'
'Ye, be my Saull, and I wer sworne yow to,
Ye suld nane uther counsell have for me;
For gang ye to the maist extremitie,
It will not wyn yow worth ane widderit neip;
Schir, trow ye not, I have ane Saull to keip?'

'Weill' (quod the Wolff), 'it is aganis my will
That yone Carll for ane Cabok suld ga quyte.'
'Schir' (quod the Tod), 'ye tak it in nane evill,
For, be my Saull, your self had all the wyte.'
'Than' (said the Wolf) 'I bid na mair to flyte,
Bot I wald se yone Cabok off sic pryis.'
'Schir' (said the Tod), 'he tauld me quhar it lyis.'

Than hand in hand thay held unto ane hill;
The Husband till his hors hes tane the way,
For he wes fane; he schaipit ffrom thair ill,
And on his feit woke the dure quhill day.
Now will we turne vnto the uther tway.
Throw woddis waist thir Freikis on fute can fair,
Fra busk to busk, quhill neir midnycht and mair.

Lowrence wes ever remembring upon wrinkis
And subtelteis the Wolff for to begyle;
That he had hecht ane Caboik, he forthinkis,
Yit at the last he findis furth ane wyle,
Than at him selff softlie couth he smyle.
The Wolff sayis, 'Lowrence, thow playis bellie blind;
We seik all nycht, bot na thing can we find.'

'Schir' (said the Tod), 'we ar at it almaist;
Soft yow ane lytill, and ye sall se it sone.'
Than to ane Manure place thay hyit in haist:
The nicht wes lycht, and pennyfull the Mone.
Than till ane draw well thir Senyeours past but hone,
Quhair that twa bukkettis severall suithlie hang;
As ane come up, ane uther doun wald gang.

The schadow of the Mone schone in the well.
'Schir' (said Lowrence), 'anis ye sall find me leill;
Now se ye not the Caboik weill your sell,
Quhyte as ane Neip, and round als as ane seill?
He hang it yonder, that na man suld it steill:
Schir, traist ye weill, yone Caboik ye se hing
Micht be ane present to ony Lord or King.'

'Na' (quod the Wolff) 'mycht I yone Caboik haif
On the dry land, as I it yonder se,
I wald quitclame the Carll of all the laif;
His dart Oxin I compt thame not ane fle;
Yone wer mair meit for sic ane man as me.
Lowrence' (quod he), 'leip in the bukket sone,
And I sall hald the ane, quhill thow have done.'

Lowrence gird doun baith sone and subtellie;
The uther baid abufe, and held the flaill.
'It is sa mekill' (quod Lowrence) 'it maisteris me,
On all my tais it hes not left ane naill;
Ye man mak help upwart, and it haill
Leip in the uther bukket haistelie,
And cum sone doun, and make me sum supple.'

Than lychtlie in the bukket lap the loun;
His wecht but weir the uther end gart ryis;
The Tod come hailland up, the Wolf yeid doun;
Than angerlie the Wolff upon him cryis:
'I cummand thus dounwart, quhy thow upwart hyis?'
'Schir' (quod the Foxe), 'thus fairis it off Fortoun:
As ane cummis up, scho quheillis ane uther doun!'

Than to the ground sone yeid the Wolff in haist;
The Tod lap on land, als blyith as ony bell,
And left the Wolff in watter to the waist.
Quha haillit him out, I wait not, off the well.
Heir endis the Text; thair is na mair to tell.
Yit men may find ane gude moralitie
In this sentence, thocht it ane Fabill be.


This Wolff I likkin to ane wickit man,
Quhilk dois the pure oppres in everie place,
And pykis at thame all querrellis that he can,
Be Rigour, reif, and uther wickitnes.
The Foxe the Feind I call in to this cais,
Actand ilk man to ryn unrychteous rinkis,
Thinkand thairthrow to lok him in his linkis.

The Husband may be callit ane godlie man,
With quhome the Feynd falt findes (as Clerkis reids),
Besie to tempt him with all wayis that he can.
The hennis ar warkis that fra ferme faith proceidis:
Quhair sic sproutis spreidis, the evill spreit thair not speids,
Bot wendis vnto the wickit man agane;
That he hes tint his travell is full unfane.

The wodds waist, quhairin wes the Wolff wyld,
Ar wickit riches, quhilk all men gaipis to get;
Quha traistis in sic Trusterie ar oft begyld;
For Mammon may be callit the Devillis Net,
Quhilk Sathanas for all sinfull hes set.
With proud plesour quha settis his traist thairin,
But speciall grace, lychtlie can not outwin.

The Cabok may be callit Covetyce,
Quhilk blomis braid in mony mannis Ee;
Wa worth the well of that wickit vyce!
For it is all bot fraud and fantasie,
Dryvand ilk man to leip in the buttrie
That dounwart drawis unto the pane of hell. --
Christ keip all Christianis from that wickit well!

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