Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MORAL FABLES: THE LION AND THE MOUSE, by AESOP

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE MORAL FABLES: THE LION AND THE MOUSE, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: In middis of june, that sweit seasoun
Last Line: Syne throw the schaw my journey hamewart tuke.
Subject(s): Scottish Translations

In middis of June, that sweit seasoun,
Quhen that fair Phebus, with his bemis bricht,
Had dryit up the dew ffra daill and doun,
And all the land maid with his bemis licht,
In ane mornyng betwix mid day and nicht,
I rais, and put all sleuth and sleip asyde,
And to ane wod I went allone but gyde.

Sweit wes the smell off flouris, quhyte and reid,
The noyes off birdis richt delitious,
The bewis braid blomit abone my heid,
The ground growand with gers gratious;
Off all plesance that place wes plenteous,
With sweit odouris, and birdis harmony,
The Morning Myld: my mirth wes mair for thy.

The Rosis reid arrayit on Rone and Ryce,
The Prymeros, and the Purpour violat bla;
To heir it wes ane poynt off Paradice,
Sic Mirth the Mavis and the Merle couth ma.
The blossummis blythe brak up on bank and bra;
The smell off Herbis and off fowlis cry,
Contending wha suld have the victory.

Me to conserve than ffra the sonis heit,
Under the schaddow off ane Hawthorne grene,
I lenit doun amang the flouris sweit,
Syne cled my heid, and closit baith my Ene.
On sleip I fell amang thir bewis bene,
And in my dreme me thocht come throw the schaw
The fairest man that ever befoir I saw.

His gowne wes off ane claith als quhyte as milk;
His Chemeis wes off Chambelate Purpour Broun;
His hude off Scarlet, bordourit weill with silk,
On hekillit wyis, untill his girdill doun;
His Bonat round, and off the auld fassoun;
His beird wes quhyte; his Ene wes grit and gray,
With lokker hair, quhilk over his schulderis lay.

Ane Roll off paper in his hand he bair;
Ane swannis pen stikand under his eir;
Ane Inkhorne, with ane prettie gilt Pennair,
Ane bag off silk, all at his belt can beir:
Thus wes he gudelie grathit in his geir.
Off stature large, and with ane feirfull face:
Evin quhair I lay he come ane sturdie pace,

And said,' God speid, my sone'; and I wes fane
Off that couth word, and off his cumpany;
With reverence I salusit him agane:
'Welcome, Father'; and he sat doun me by.
'Displeis you not, my gude maister, thocht I
Demand your birth, your facultye, and name,
Quhy ye come heir, or quhair ye dwell at hame?'

'My sone' (said he), 'I am off gentill blude;
My native land is Rome withoutin nay;
And in that Towne first to the Sculis I yude,
In Civile Law studyit full mony ane day;
And now my winning is in Hevin ffor ay:
Esope I hecht; my writing and my werk
Is couth and kend to mony cunning Clerk.'

'O Maister Esope, Poet Lawriate,
God wait, ye ar full deir welcum to me;
Ar ye not he that all thir Fabillis wrate,
Quhilk in effect, suppois thay fenyeit be,
Ar full off prudence and moralitie?'
'Fair sone' (said he), 'I am the samin man.'
God wait, gif that my hert wes merie than.

I said, 'Esope, my maister venerabill,
I yow beseik hartlie, ffor cheritie,
Ye wald not disdayne to tell ane prettie Fabill,
Concludand with ane gude Moralitie.'
Schaikand his heid, he said, 'my sone lat be,
For quhat is it worth to tell ane fenyeit taill,
Quhen haly preiching may na thing availl?

'Now in this warld, me think, richt few or nane
To Goddis word that hes devotioun;
The eir is deif, the hart is hard as stane,
Now oppin sin without correctioun,
The hart Inclynand to the eirth ay doun;
Sa roustie is the warld with canker blak,
That now my taillis may lytill succour mak.'
'Yis, gentill Schir' (said I), 'for my requeist,
Not to displeis your Fatherheid, I pray,
Under the figure off ane brutall beist,
Ane morall Fabill ye wald denye to say:
Quha wait, nor I may leir and beir away
Sum thing thairby heirefter may availl?'
'I grant' (quod he), and thus begouth ane taill.

The end of the Prolog, & beginis the Taill:

Ane Lyoun at his Pray war foirrun,
To recreat his limmis and to rest,
Beikand his breist and belly at the Sun,
Under ane tre lay in the fair forest;
Swa come ane trip off Myis out off thair nest,
Richt tait and trig, all dansand in ane gyis,
And over the Lyoun lansit twyis or thryis.

He lay so still, the Myis wes not effeird,
Bot to and fro out over him tuke thair trace;
Sum tirlit at the Campis off his beird,
Sum spairit not to claw him on the face;
Merie and glaid thus dansit thay ane space,
Till at the last the Nobill Lyoun woke,
And with his pow the maister Mous he tuke.

Scho gave ane cry, and all the laif agast
Thair dansing left, and hid thame sone alquhair;
Scho that wes tane cryit and weipit fast,
And said allace oftymes that scho come thair:
'Now am I tane ane wofull presonair,
And ffor my gilt traistis Incontinent
Off lyfe and deith to thoill the Jugement.

Than spak the Lyoun to that cairfull Mous:
'Thow Cative wretche, and vile unworthie thing,
Over malapart and eik presumpteous
Thow wes, to mak out over me thy tripping.
Knew thow not weill I wes baith Lord and King
Off beistis all?' 'Yes' (quod the Mous), 'I knaw;
Bot I misknew, because ye lay so law.

'Lord! I beseik thy Kinglie Royaltie,
Heir quhat I say, and tak in patience;
Considder first my simple povertie,
And syne thy mychtie hie Magnyfycence;
Se als how thingis done off Neglygence,
Nouther off malice nor of presumptioun,
The rather suld have grace and Remissioun.

'We wer repleit and had grit aboundance
Off alkin thingis, sic as to us effeird;
The sweit sesoun provokit us to dance,
And mak sic mirth as nature to us leird.
Ye lay so still, and law upon the eird
That, be my sawll, we weind ye had bene deid,
Elles wald we not have dancit ouer your heid.'

'Thy fals excuse,' the Lyoun said agane,
'Sall not availl ane myte I underta;
I put the cace, I had bene deid or slane,
And syne my skyn bene stoppit full off stra,
Thocht thow had found my figure lyand swa,
Because it bare the prent off my persoun,
Thow suld ffor ffeir on kneis have fallin doun.

'For thy trespas thow can mak na defence,
My Nobill persoun thus to vilipend;
Off thy feiris, nor thy awin negligence,
For to excuse thow can na cause pretend;
Thairfoir thow suffer sall ane schamefull end,
And deith, sic as to tressoun is decreit,
Upon the Gallous harlit be the feit.'

'Na, mercie, Lord, at thy gentrice I ase,
As thow art King off beistis Coronate,
Sober thy wraith, and let it overpas,
And mak thy mynd to mercy Inclynate.
I grant offence is done to thyne estate,
Quhairfoir I worthie am to suffer deid,
Bot gif thy Kinglie mercie reik remeid.

'In everie Juge mercy and reuth suld be,
As Assessouris, and Collaterall;
Without mercie Justice is crueltie,
As said is in the Lawis speciall:
Quhen Rigour sittis in the Tribunall,
The equitie off Law quha may sustene?
Richt few or nane, but mercie gang betwene.

'Alswa ye knaw the honour Triumphall
Off all victour upon the strenth dependis
Off his conqueist, quhilk manlie in battell
Throw Jeopardie of weir lang defendis.
Quhat pryce or loving, quhen the battell endis,
Is said off him that overcummis ane man,
Him to defend quhilk nouther may nor can?

'Ane thowsand Myis to kill, and eik devoir,
Is lytill manheid to ane strang Lyoun;
Full lytill worschip have ye wyn thairfoir,
To quhais strenth is na comparisoun;
It will degraid sum part off your renoun
To sla ane mous, quhilk may mak na defence,
Bot askand mercie at your excellence.

'Also it semis not your Celsitude,
Quhilk usis daylie meittis delitious,
To fyle your teith or lippis with my blude,
Quhilk to your stomok is contagious;
Unhailsum meit is of ane sarie Mous,
And that namelie untill ane strang Lyoun,
Wont till be fed with gentill vennesoun.

'My lyfe is lytill worth, my deith is les,
Yit and I leif, I may peradventure
Supple your hienes beand in distres;
For oft is sene ane man off small stature
Reskewit hes ane Lord off hie honour,
Keipit that wes in poynt to be overthrawin
Throw misfortoun: sic cace may be your awin.'

Quhen this wes said, the Lyoun his langage
Paissit, and thocht according to ressoun,
And gart mercie his cruell Ire asswage,
And to the Mous grantit Remissioun;
Oppinnit his pow, and scho on kneis fell doun,
And baith hir handis unto the hevin upheild,
Cryand: 'Almichty God mot yow fforyeild!'

Quhen Scho wes gone, the Lyoun held to hunt,
For he had nocht, bot levit on his Pray,
And slew baith tayme and wyld, as he wes wont,
And in the cuntrie maid ane grit deray;
Till at the last the pepill fand the way
This cruell Lyoun how that thay mycht tak:
Off Hempyn cordis strang Nettis couth thay mak.

And in ane Rod, quhair he wes wont to ryn,
With Raipis rude ffra tre to tre it band;
Syne kest ane Range on raw the wod within,
With hornis blast, and Kennettis fast calland.
The Lyoun fled, and, throw the Ron rynnand,
Fell in the Net, and hankit fute and heid;
For all his strenth he couth mak na remeid.

Welterand about with hiddeous rummissing,
Quhyle to, quhyle ffra, quhill he mycht succour get;
Bot all in vane, it vailyeit him na thing;
The mair he flang, the faster wes the Net;
The Raipis rude wes sa about him plet,
On everilk syde, that succour saw he nane;
Bot styll lyand and murnand maid his mane.

'O lamit Lyoun, liggand heir sa law,
Quhair is the mycht off thy Magnyfycence,
Off quhome all brutall beist in eird stude aw,
And dred to luke upon thy Excellence?
But hoip or help, but succour or defence,
In bandis strang heir may I ly (allace!)
Till I be slane, I se nane uther grace.

'Thair is na wy that will my harmis wreik,
Nor creature do confort to my Croun.
Quha sall me bute? quha sall my bandis breik?
Quha sall me put fra pane off this Presoun?'
Be he had maid this lamentatioun,
Throw aventure, the lytill Mous come neir,
And off the Lyoun hard the pietuous beir.

And suddanlie it come in till hir mynd
That it suld be the Lyoun did hir grace,
And said, 'now wer I fals, and richt unkynd,
Bot gif I quit sumpart off thy gentrace
Thow did to me:' and on this way scho gais
To hir fellowis, and on thame fast can cry,
'Cum help, cum help!' and thay come all in hy.

'Lo,' quod the Mous, 'this is the samin Lyoun
That grantit grace to me quhen I wes tane;
And now is fast heir bundin in Presoun,
Brekand his hart with sair murning and mane;
Bot we him help, off succour wait he nane;
Cum help to quyte ane gude turne for ane uther,
Go, lous him sone:' and thay said, 'ye, gude brother.'

Thay tuke na knyfe, thair teith wes sharpe anewch.
To se that sicht, forsuith it wes grit wounder,
How that thay ran amang the rapis tewch;
Befoir, behind, sum yeid about, sum under,
And schuir the raipis off the net in schunder;
Syne bad him ryse; and he start up anone,
And thankit thame; syne on his way is gone.

Now is the Lyoun fre off all danger,
Lows and delyverit to his libertie,
Be lytill beistis off ane small power,
As ye have hard, because he had pietie.
(Quod I) 'Maister, is thair ane Moralitie
In this Fabill?' 'Yea, sone' (he said), 'richt gude.'
'I pray yow, Schir' (quod I), 'ye wald conclude.'


As I suppois, this mychtie gay Lyoun
May signifie ane Prince, or Empriour,
Ane Potestate, or yit ane King with Croun,
Quhilk suld be walkrife gyde and Governour
Of his pepill, that takis na labour
To reule and steir the land, and Justice keip,
Bot lyis still in lustis, sleuth, and sleip.

The fair Forest with levis lowne and le,
With foulis sang, and flouris ferlie sweit,
Is bot the warld and his prosperitie,
As fals plesance myngit with cair repleit.
Richt as the Rois with froist and wynter weit
Faidis, swa dois the warld, and thame desavis
Quhilk in thair lustis maist confidence havis.

Thir lytill Myis ar bot the commountie,
Wantoun, unwyse, without correctioun:
Thair Lordis and Princis quhen that thay se
Of Justice mak nane executioun,
Thay dreid na thing to mak Rebellioun,
And disobey, for quhy thay stand nane aw,
That garris thame thair Soveranis misknaw.

Be this Fabill ye Lordis of Prudence
May considder the vertew of Pietie;
And to remit sumtyme ane grit offence,
And mitigate with mercy crueltie:
Oftymis is sene ane man of small degre
Hes quit ane kinbute baith of gude and ill,
As Lord hes done Rigour, or grace him till.
Quha wait how sone ane Lord of grit Renoun,
Rolland in warldle lust and vane plesance,
May be overthrawin, destroyit, and put doun
Throw fals fortoun? quhilk of all variance
Is haill maistres, and leidar of the dance
Till Injust men, and blindis thame so soir,
That thay na perrell can provyde befoir.

Thir rurall men, that stentit hes the Net,
In quhilk the Lyoun suddandlie wes tane,
Waittit alway amendis for to get
(For hurt men wrytis in the Marbill Stane).
Mair till expound as now I lett allane,
Bot King and Lord may weill wit quhat I mene:
Figure heirof oftymis hes bene sene.

Quhen this wes said (quod Esope): 'my fair child,
I the beseik and all men for to pray
That tressoun of this cuntrie be exyld,
And Justice Regne, and Lordis keip thair fay
Unto thair Soverane King, baith nycht and day.'
And with that word he vanist, and I woke;
Syne throw the Schaw my Journey hamewart tuke.

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