Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MORAL FABLES: THE TALE OF THE TWO MICE, by AESOP

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE MORAL FABLES: THE TALE OF THE TWO MICE, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Esope, myne authour, makis mentioun
Last Line: Blyithnes in hart, with small possessioun.
Subject(s): Scottish Translations

Esope, myne Authour, makis mentioun
Of twa myis, and thay wer Sisteris deir,
Of quham the eldest dwelt in ane Borous toun,
The uther wynnit uponland weill neir;
Soliter, quhyle under busk, quhyle under breir,
Quhilis in the corne, and uther mennis skaith,
As outlawis dois, and levis on their waith.
This rurall mous in to the wynter tyde,
Had hunger, cauld, and tholit grit distress;
The uther Mous, that in the Burgh can byde,
Was Gild brother and made ane fre Burges;
Toll fre als, but custom mair or les,
And fredome had to ga quhair ever scho list,
Amang the cheis in Ark, and meill in kist.

Ane tyme when scho was full and unfute sair,
Scho tuke in mynd hir sister uponland,
And langit for to heir of hir weilfair,
To se quhat lyfe scho had under the wand.
Bairfute, allone, with pykestaf in hir hand,
As pure pylgryme scho passit out off town,
To seik hir sister baith oure daill and down.

Furth mony wilsum wayis can scho walk,
Throw mosse and mure, throw bankis, busk & breir,
Scho ran cryand, quhill scho came to a balk:
'Cum furth to me, my awin Sister deir,
Cry peip anis!' With that the Mous culd heir,
And knew hir voce as kinnisman will do,
Be verray kynd; and furth scho come hir to.

The hartlie joy, God! geve ye had sene,
Beis kith quhen that thir Sisteris met;
And grit kyndnes wes schawin thame betwene,
For quhylis thay leuch, and quhylis for joy thay gret,
Quhyle(s) kissit sweit, quhylis in armis plet;
And thus thay fure quhill soberit wes thair mude,
Syne ffute ffor ffute unto the chalmer yude.

As I hard say, it was ane sober wane,
Off fog & farne ffull febilie wes maid,
Ane sillie scheill under ane steidfast stane,
Off quhilk the entres wes not hie nor braid.
And in the samin thay went but mair abaid,
Without fyre or candill birnand bricht,
For comonly sic pykeris luffis not lycht.

Quhen thay wer lugit thus, thir sely Myse,
The youngest sister into hir butterie glyde,
And brocht furth nuttis, & candill in steid off spyce;
Giff this wes gude ffair I do it on thame besyde.
The Burges Mous prompit forth in pryde,
And said, 'sister, is this your dayly fude?'
'Quhy not,' quod scho, 'is not this meit rycht gude?'

'Na, be my saull, I think it bot ane scorne.'
'Madame' (quod scho), 'ye be the mair to blame;
My mother sayd, sister, quhen we wer borne,
That I and ye lay baith within ane wame.
I keip the rate and custome off my dame,
And off my leving into povertie,
For landis have we nane in propertie.'

'My fair sister' (quod scho),' have me excusit.
This rude dyat and I can not accord.
To tender meit my stomok is ay usit,
For quhylis I fair alsweill as ony Lord.
Thir wydderit peis, and nuttis, or thay be bord,
Wil brek my teith, and mak my wame fful sklender,
Quhilk wes before usit to meitis tender.'

'Weil, weil, sister' (quod the rurall Mous),
'Geve it pleis yow, sic thing as ye se heir,
Baith meit and dreink, harberie and hous,
Salbe your awin, will ye remane al yeir.
Ye sall it have wyth blyith and mery cheir,
And that suld mak the maissis that ar rude,
Amang freindis, richt tender and wonder gude.

'Quhat plesure is in the ffeistis delicate,
The quhilkis ar gevin with ane glowmand brow?
Ane gentill hart is better recreate
With blyith curage, than seith to him ane Kow.
Ane modicum is mair ffor till allow,
Swa that gude will be kerver at the dais,
Than thrawin vult and mony spycit mais.'

For all hir mery exhortatioun,
This Burges Mous had littill will to sing.
Bot hevilie scho kest hir browis doun,
For all the daynteis that scho culd hir bring.
Yit at the last scho said, halff in hething,
'Sister, this victuall and your royall feist,
May weill suffice unto ane rurall beist.

'Lat be this hole and cum into my place;
I sall to you schaw be experience
My gude friday is better nor your pace;
My dische likingis is worth your haill expence.
I have housis anew off grit defence;
Off Cat, nor fall trap, I have na dreid.'
'I grant,' quod scho; and on togidder thay yeid.

In stubbill array throw gers and corne,
And under buskis prevelie couth thay creip,
The eldest wes the gyde and went beforne,
The younger to hir wayis tuke gude keip.
On nicht thay ran, and on the day can sleip,
Quhill in the morning, or the Laverok sang,
Thay fand the town, and in blythlie couth gang.

Not fer fra thyne unto ane worthie Wane,
This Burges brocht thame sone quhare thay suld be.
Without God speid thair herberie wes tane,
In to ane spence with vittell grit plentie;
Baith Cheis and Butter upon thair skelfis hie,
And flesche and fische aneuch, baith fresche and salt,
And sekkis full off meill and eik off malt.

Eftir quhen thay disposit wer to dyne,
Withowtin grace thay wesche and went to meit,
With all coursis that Cukis culd devyne,
Muttoun and beif, strikin in tailyeis greit.
Ane Lordis fair thus couth thay counterfeit,
Except ane thing, thay drank the watter cleir
In steid off wyne, bot yit thay maid gude cheir.

With blyith upcast and merie countenance,
The eldest Sister sperit at hir gest
Giff that scho be ressone fand difference
Betwix that chalmer and hir sarie nest.
'Ye, dame' (quod scho), 'how lang will this lest?'
'For evermair, I wait, and langer to.'
'Giff it be swa, ye ar at eis' (quod scho).

Till eik thair cheir ane subcharge furth scho brocht,
Ane plait off grottis, and ane dische full off meill;
Thraf cakkis als I trow scho spairit nocht,
Aboundantlie about hir for to deill.
[And mane full fyne] scho brocht in steid off geill,
And ane quhyte candill out off ane coffer stall,
In steid off spyce to gust thair mouth withall.

This maid thay merie quhill thay micht na mair
And 'haill yule, haill!' cryit upon hie;
Yit efter joy oftymes cummis cair,
And troubill efter grit prosperitie.
Thus as thay sat in all thair jolitie,
The spenser come with keyis in his hand,
Oppinnit the dure, and thame at denner fand.

Thay taryit not to wesche, as I suppose,
Bot on to ga quha that micht fformest win.
The Burges had ane hole, and in scho gois,
Hir sister had na hole to hyde hir in:
To se that selie Mous it wes grit sin,
So desolate and will off ane gude reid,
For verray dreid scho fell in swoun neir deid.

Bot as God wald, it fell ane happie cace,
The Spenser had na laser for to byde,
Nowther to seik, nor serche, to sker nor chace,
Bot on he went, and left the dure up wyde.
The bald Burges his passing weill hes spyde,
Out off hir hole scho come, and cryit on hie,
'How fair ye, sister? cry peip, quhair ever ye be.'

This rurall Mous lay flatling on the ground,
And for the deith scho wes full sair dredand,
For till hir hart straik mony wofull stound,
As in ane fever scho trimbillit fute and hand.
And quhan her sister in sic ply hir fand,
For verray pietie scho began to greit,
Syne confort hir with wordis hunny sweit.

'Quhy ly ye thus? ryse up, my sister deir,
Cum to your meit, this perrell is overpast.'
The uther answerit hir with hevie cheir,
'I may not eit, sa sair I am agast;
I had lever thir fourty dayis fast,
With watter caill, and to gnaw benis or peis,
Than all your feist in this dreid and diseis.'

With fair tretie yit scho gart hir upryse,
And to the burde thay went and togidder sat,
And scantlie had thay drunkin anis or twyse,
Quhen in come Gib hunter, our Jolie Cat,
And bad God speid; the Burges up with that,
And till her hole scho went as fyre on flint;
Bawdronis the uther be the bak hes hint.

Fra fute to fute he kest hir to and ffra,
Quhylis up, quhylis doun, als cant as ony kid;
Quhylis wald he lat hir rin under the stra,
Quhylis wald he wink, and play with hir buk heid.
Thus to the selie Mous grit pane he did,
Quhill at the last, throw fortune and gude hap,
Betwix ane burde and the wall scho crap.
And up in haist behind ane parraling
Scho clam so hie, that Gilbert micht not get hir,
Syne be the cluke thair craftelie can hing,
Till he wes gane, hir cheir wes all the better.
Syne doun scho lap quhen thair wes nane to let hir,
And to the Burges Mous loud can scho cry,
'Fairweill, sister, thy feist heir I defy!

'Thy mangerie is mingit all with cair,
Thy guse is gude, thy gansell sour as gall.
The subcharge off thy service is bot sair,
Sa sall thow find heir efterwart na ffall.
I thank yone courtyne and yone perpall wall
Of my defence now ffra yone crewall beist.
Almichtie God, keip me fra sic ane ffeist!

'Wer I into the kith that I come ffra,
For weill nor wo, suld I never cum agane.'
With that scho tuke her leif and furth can ga,
Quhylis throw the corne, and quhylis throw the plane;
Quhen scho wes furth and fre scho wes full fane,
And merilie markit unto the mure.
I can not tell how weill thairefter scho fure.

Bot I hard say scho passit to hir den,
Als warme as woll, suppose it wes not greit,
Full beinly stuffit, baith but and ben,
Off Beinis, and Nuttis, peis, Ry, and Quheit.
Quhen ever scho list, scho had aneuch to eit,
In quyet and eis withoutin ony dreid;
Bot to hir sisteris feist na mair scho yeid.


Freindis, ye may find, and ye will tak heid,
In to this fabill ane gude moralitie.
As fitchis myngit ar with nobill seid,
Swa interminglit is adversitie
With eirdlie joy, swa that na estate is frie,
Without trubill and sum vexatioun:
And namelie thay quhilk clymmis up maist hie,
That ar not content with small possessioun.

Blissed be sempill lyfe withoutin dreid;
Blissed be sober feist in quietie;
Quha hes aneuch, of na mair hes he neid,
Thocht it be littill into quantatie.
Grit aboundance and blind prosperitie
Oftymes makis ane evill conclusioun:
The sweitest lyfe thairfoir, in this cuntrie,
Is sickernes with small possessioun.

O wanton man! that usis for to feid
Thy wambe, and makis it a God to be,
Lieke to thy self; I warne the weill but dreid,
The Cat cummis, and to the Mous hes Ee.
Quhat vaillis than thy feist and royaltie,
With dreidfull hart, and tribulatioun?
Best thing in eird, thairfoir, I say, for me,
Is blyithnes in hart, with small possessioun.

Thy awin fyre, my friend, sa it be bot ane gleid,
It warmis weill, and is worth Gold to the.
And Solomon sayis, gif that thow will reid,
'Under the hevin thair can not better be,
Than ay be blyith and leif in honestie.'
Quhairfoir I may conclude be this ressoun:
Of eirthly joy it beiris maist degre,
Blyithnes in hart, with small possessioun.

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