Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MORAL FABLES: THE SWALLOW, AND THE OTHER BIRDS, by AESOP

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: The hie prudence, and wirking mervelous
Last Line: And thus endis the preiching of the swallow.
Subject(s): Scottish Translations

The hie prudence, and wirking mervelous,
The profound wit off God omnipotent,
Is sa perfyte, and sa Ingenious,
Excellent ffar all mannis Jugement;
For quhy to him all thing is ay present,
Rycht as it is, or ony tyme sall be,
Befoir the sicht off his Divinitie.

Thairfoir our Saull with Sensualitie
So fetterit is in presoun Corporall,
We may not cleirlie understand nor se
God as he is, nor thingis Celestiall:
Our mirk and deidlie corps Naturall
Blindis the Spirituall operatioun,
Lyke as ane man wer bundin in presoun.

In Metaphisik Aristotell sayis
That mannis Saull is lyke ane Bakkis Ee,
Quhilk lurkis still als lang as licht off day is,
And in the gloming cummis furth to fle;
Hir Ene ar waik, the Sone scho may not se:
Sa is our Saull with fantasie opprest,
To knaw the thingis in nature manifest.

For God is in his power Infinite,
And mannis Saull is febill and over small,
Off understanding waik and unperfite,
To comprehend him that contenis all.
Nane suld presume, be ressoun naturall,
To seirche the secreitis off the Trinitie,
Bot trow fermelie, and lat all ressoun be.

Yit nevertheles we may haif knawlegeing
Off God almychtie, be his Creatouris,
That he is gude, ffair, wyis and bening;
Exempill tak be thir Jolie flouris,
Rycht sweit off smell, and plesant off colouris.
Sum grene, sum blew, sum purpour, quhyte, and reid,
Thus distribute be gift off his Godheid.

The firmament payntit with sternis cleir,
From eist to west rolland in cirkill round,
And everilk Planet in his proper Spheir,
In moving makand Harmonie and sound;
The fyre, the Air, the watter, and the ground --
Till understand it is aneuch, I wis,
That God in all his werkis wittie is.

Luke weill the fische that swimmis in the se;
Luke weill in eirth all kynd off bestiall;
The foulis ffair, sa forcelie thay fle,
Scheddand the air with pennis grit and small;
Syne luke to man, that he maid last off all,
Lyke to his Image and his similitude:
Be thir we knaw, that God is ffair and gude.

All Creature he maid ffor the behufe
Off man, and to his supportatioun
In to this eirth, baith under and abufe,
In number, wecht, and dew proportioun;
The difference off tyme, and ilk seasoun,
Concorddand till our opurtunitie,
As daylie by experience we may se.

The Somer with his Jolie mantill off grene,
With flouris fair furrit on everilk fent,
Quhilk Flora Goddes, off the flouris Quene,
Hes to that Lord as ffor his seasoun sent,
And Phebus with his goldin bemis gent
Hes purfellit and payntit plesandly,
With heit and moysture stilland ffrom the sky.

Syne Harvest hait, quhen Ceres that Goddes
Hir barnis benit hes with abundance;
And Bachus, God off wyne, renewit hes
The tume Pyipis in Italie and France,
With wynis wicht, and liquour off plesance;
And Copia temporis to fill hir horne,
That never wes full off quheit nor uther corne.

Syne wynter wan, quhen Austerne Eolus,
God off the wynd, with blastis boreall,
The grent garment off Somer glorious
Hes all to rent and revin in pecis small;
Than flouris fair faidit with froist man fall,
And birdis blyith changit thair noitis sweit
In styll murning, neir slane with snaw and sleit.

Thir dalis deip with dubbis drounit is,
Baith hill and holt heillit with frostis hair;
And bewis bene laifit bair off blis,
Be wickit windis off the winter wair.
All wyld beistis than ffrom the bentis bair
Drawis ffor dreid unto thair dennis deip,
Coucheand ffor cauld in coifis thame to keip.

Syne cummis Ver, quhen winter is away,
The Secretar off Somer with his Sell,
Quhen Columbie up keikis throw the clay,
Quhilk fleit wes befoir with froistes fell.
The Mavis and the Merle beginnis to mell;
The Lark on loft, with uther birdis haill,
Than drawis furth ffra derne, over doun and daill.

That samin seasoun, in to ane soft morning,
Rycht blyth that bitter blastis wer ago,
Unto the wod, to se the flouris spring,
And heir the Mavis sing and birdis mo,
I passit ffurth, syne lukit to and ffro,
To se the Soill that wes richt sessonabill,
Sappie, and to resave all seidis abill.

Moving thusgait, grit myrth I tuke in mynd,
Off lauboraris to se the besines,
Sum makand dyke, and sum the pleuch can wynd,
Sum sawand seidis fast ffrome place to place,
The Harrowis hoppand in the saweris trace:
It wes grit Joy to him that luifit corne,
To se thame laubour, baith at evin and morne.

And as I baid under ane bank full bene,
In hart gritlie rejosit off that sicht,
Unto ane hedge, under ane Hawthorne grene,
Off small birdis thair come ane ferlie flicht,
And doun belyif can on the leifis licht,
On everilk syde about me quhair I stude,
Rycht mervellous, ane mekill multitude.

Amang the quhilks ane Swallow loud couth cry,
On that Hawthorne hie in the croip sittand:
'O ye Birdis on bewis, heir me by,
Ye sall weill knaw, and wyislie understand,
Quhair danger is, or perrell appeirand;
It is grit wisedome to provyde befoir,
It to deuoyd, ffor dreid it hurt yow moir.'

'Schir Swallow' (quod the Lark agane), and leuch,
'Quhat haif ye sene that causis yow to dreid?'
'Se ye yone Churll' (quod scho) 'beyond yone pleuch,
Fast sawand hemp, and gude linget seid?
Yone lint will grow in lytill tyme in deid,
And thairoff will yone Churll his Nettis mak,
Under the quhilk he thinkis us to tak.

'Thairfoir I reid we pas quhen he is gone,
At evin, and with our naillis scharp and small
Out off the eirth scraip we yone seid anone,
And eit it up; ffor, giff it growis, we sall
Have cause to weip heirefter ane and all:
Se we remeid thairfoir ffurth with Instante,
Nam leuius loedit quicquid praevidimus ante.

'For Clerkis sayis it is nocht sufficient
To considder that is befoir thyne Ee;
Bot prudence is ane inwart Argument,
That garris ane man prouyde and foirse
Quhat gude, quhat evill is liklie ffor to be,
Off everilk thing behald the fynall end,
And swa ffra perrell the better him defend.'

The Lark, lauchand, the Swallow thus couth scorne,
And said, scho fischit lang befoir the Net;
'The barne is eith to busk that is unborne;
All growis nocht that in the ground is set;
The nek to stoup, quhen it the straik sall get,
Is sone aneuch; deith on the fayest fall.' --
Thus scornit thay the Swallow ane and all.

Despysing thus hir helthsum document,
The foullis ferlie tuke thair flicht anone;
Sum with ane bir thay braidit over the bent,
And sum agane ar to the grene wod gone.
Upon the land quhair I wes left allone,
I tuke my club, and hamewart couth I carie,
Swa ferliand, as I had sene ane farie.

Thus passit furth quhill June, that Jolie tyde,
And seidis that wer sawin off beforne
Wer growin hie, that Hairis mycht thame hyde,
And als the Quailye craikand in the corne;
I movit furth, betwix midday and morne,
Unto the hedge under the Hawthorne grene,
Quhair I befoir the said birdis had sene.
And as I stude, be aventure and cace,
The samin birdis as I haif said yow air,
I hoip, because it wes thair hanting place,
Mair off succour, or yit mair solitair,
Thay lychtit doun: and, quhen thay lychtit wair,
The Swallow swyth put furth ane pietuous pyme,
Said, 'wo is him can not bewar in tyme!

'O, blind birdis! and full off negligence,
Unmyndfull of your awin prosperitie,
Lift up your sicht, and tak gude advertence;
Luke to the Lint that growis on yone le;
Yone is the thing I bad forsuith that we,
Quhill it wes seid, suld rute furth off the eird;
Now is it Lint, now is it hie on breird.

'Go yit, quhill it is tender and small,
And pull it up; let it na mair Incres;
My flesche growis, my bodie quaikis all,
Thinkand on it I may not sleip in peis.'
Thay cryit all, and bad the Swallow ceis,
And said, 'yone Lint heirefter will do gude,
For Linget is to lytill birdis fude.

'We think, quhen that yone Lint bollis ar ryip,
To mak us Feist, and fill us off the seid,
Magre yone Churll, and on it sing and pyip.'
'Weill' (quod the Swallow), 'freindes hardilie beid;
Do as ye will, bot certane sair I dreid,
Heirefter ye sall find als sour, as sweit,
Quhen ye ar speldit on yone Carlis speit.

'The awner off yone lint ane fouler is,
Richt cautelous and full off subteltie;
His pray full sendill tymis will he mis,
Bot giff we birdis all the warrer be;
Full mony off our kin he hes gart de,
And thocht it bot ane sport to spill thair blude:
God keip me ffra him, and the halie Rude.'

Thir small birdis haveand bot lytill thocht
Off perrell that micht fall be aventure,
The counsell off the Swallow set at nocht,
Bot tuke thair flicht, and furth togidder fure;
Sum to the wode, sum markit to the mure.
I tuke my staff, quhen this wes said and done,
And walkit hame, ffor it drew neir the none.

The Lint ryipit, the Carll pullit the Lyne,
Rippillit the bollis, and in beitis set,
It steipit in the burne, and dryit syne,
And with ane bittill knokkit it, and bet,
Syne swingillit it weill, and hekkillit in the flet;
His wyfe it span, and twynit it in to threid,
Of quhilk the Fowlar Nettis maid in deid.

The wynter come, the wickit wind can blaw,
The woddis grene were wallowit with the weit,
Baith firth and fell with froistys were maid faw,
Slonkis and slaik maid slidderie with the sleit;
The foulis ffair ffor falt thay ffell off feit;
On bewis bair it wes na bute to byde,
Bot hyit unto housis thame to hyde.

Sum in the barn, sum in the stak off corne
Thair lugeing tuke, and maid thair residence;
The Fowlar saw, and grit aithis hes sworne,
Thay suld be tane trewlie ffor thair expence.
His Nettis hes he set with diligence,
And in the snaw he schulit hes ane plane,
And heillit it all ouer with calf agane.

Thir small birdis seand the calff wes glaid;
Trowand it had bene corne, thay lychtit doun;
Bot of the Nettis na presume thay had,
Nor of the Fowlaris fals Intentioun;
To scraip, and seik thair meit thay maid thame boun.
The Swallow on ane lytill branche neir by,
Dreiddand for gyle, thus loud on thame couth cry:

'In to that calf scraip quhill your naillis bleid,
Thair is na corne, ye laubour all in vane;
Trow ye yone Churll for pietie will yow feid?
Na, na, he hes it heir layit for ane trane;
Remove, I reid, or ellis ye will be slane;
His Nettis he hes set full prively,
Reddie to draw; in tyme be war ffor thy.'

Grit fule is he that puttis in dangeir
His lyfe, his honour, ffor ane thing off nocht;
Grit fule is he, that will not glaidlie heir
Counsall in tyme, quhill it availl him nocht;
Grit fule is he, that hes na thing in thocht
Bot thing present, and efter quhat may fall,
Nor off the end hes na memoriall.

Thir small birdis ffor hunger famischit neir,
Full besie scraipand ffor to seik thair fude,
The counsall off the Swallow wald not heir,
Suppois thair laubour did thame lytill gude.
Quhen scho thair fulische hartis understude,
Sa Indurate, up in ane tre scho flew;
With that [this] Churll over thame his Nettis drew.

Allace! it wes grit hart sair for to se
That bludie Bowcheour beit thay birdis doun,
And ffor till heir, quhen thay wist weill to de,
Thair cairfull sang and lamentatioun:
Sum with ane staf he straik to eirth on swoun:
Off sum the heid he straik, off sum he brak the crag,
Sum half on lyfe he stoppit in his bag.

And quhen the Swallow saw that thay wer deid,
'Lo' (quod scho), 'thus it happinnis mony syis
On thame that will not tak counsall nor reid
Off Prudent men, or Clerkis that ar wyis;
This grit perrell I tauld thame mair than thryis;
Now ar thay deid, and wo is me thairfoir!'
Scho tuke hir flicht, bot I hir saw no moir.


Lo, worthie folk, Esope, that Nobill clerk,
Ane Poet worthie to be Lawreate,
Quhen that he waikit from mair autentik werk,
With uther ma, this foirsaid Fabill wrate,
Quhilk at this tyme may weill be applicate
To guid morall edificatioun,
Haifand ane sentence, according to ressoun.

This Carll and bond of gentrice spoliate,
Sawand this calf, thir small birdis to sla,
It is the Feind, quhilk fra the Angelike state
Exylit is, as fals Apostata:
Quhilk day and nycht weryis not for to ga
Sawand poysoun in mony wickit thocht
In mannis Saull, quhilk Christ full deir hes bocht.

And quhen the saull, as seid in to the eird,
Gevis consent unto delectioun,
The wickit thocht beginnis for to breird
In deidlie sin, quhilk is dampnatioun;
Ressoun is blindit with affectioun,
And carnall lust grouis full grene and gay,
Throw consuetude hantit from day to day.

Proceding furth be use and consuetude,
The sin ryipis, and schame is set on syde;
The Feynd plettis his Nettis scharp and rude,
And under plesance previlie dois hyde;
Syne on the feild he sawis calf full wyde,
Quhilk is bot tume and verray vanitie
Of fleschlie lust, and vaine prosperitie.

Thir hungrie birdis wretchis we may call,
As scraipand in this warldis vane plesance,
Greddie to gadder gudis temporall,
Quhilk as the calf ar tume without substance,
Lytill of availl, and full of variance,
Lyke to the mow befoir the face of wind
Quhiskis away and makis wretchis blind.

This Swallow, quhilk eschaipit is the snair,
The halie Preichour weill may signifie,
Exhortand folk to walk and ay be wair
Fra Nettis of our wickit enemie,
Quha sleipis not, bot ever is reddie,
Quhen wretchis in this warld calf dois scraip,
To draw his Net, that thay may not eschaip.

Allace! quhat cair, quhat weiping is and wo,
Quhen Saull and bodie departit ar in twane!
The bodie to the wormis Keitching go,
The Saull to Fyre, to everlestand pane.
Quhat helpis than calf, thir gudis vane,
Quhen thow art put in Luceferis bag,
And brocht to hell, and hangit be the crag?

Thir hid Nettis for to persave and se,
This sarie calf wyislie to understand,
Best is bewar in maist prosperite,
For in this warld thair is na thing lestand;
Is na man wait how lang his stait will stand,
His lyfe will lest, nor how that he sall end
Efter his deith, nor quhidder he sall wend.

Pray we thairfoir, quhill we ar in this lyfe,
For four thingis: the first, fra sin remufe;
The secund is fra all weir and stryfe;
The thrid is perfite cheritie and lufe;
The feird thing is, and maist for oure behufe,
That is in blis with Angellis to be fallow.
And thus endis the preiching of the Swallow.

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