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Robert Henryson (Роберт Хенрисон)

The Sheep and the Dog

Esope ane taill puttis in memorie
How that ane doig because that he wes pure
Callit ane scheip unto the consistorie
Ane certane breid fra him for to recure.
Ane fraudfull wolff wes juge that tyme and bure
Authoritie and jurisdictioun
And on the scheip send furth ane strait summoun,

For by the use and cours and commoun style
On this maner maid his citatioun,
“I, Maister Wolff, partles of fraud and gyle,
Under the panis of hie suspensioun,
Of grit cursing and interdictioun,
Schir Scheip, I charge thee straitly to compeir
And answer to ane doig befoir me heir.”

Schir Corbie Ravin wes maid apparitour
Quha pykit had full mony scheipis ee,
The charge hes tane and on the letteris bure,
Summonit the scheip befoir the wolff that he
“Peremptourlie within the dayis thre
Compeir under the panis in this bill
To heir quhat Perrie doig will say thee till.”

This summondis maid befoir witnes anew,
The ravin, as to his office weill effeird,
Indorsat hes the write and on he flew.
The selie scheip durst lay na mouth on eird
Till he befoir the awfull juge appeird
Be oure off cause quhilk that court usit than — 6
Quhen Hesperus to schaw his face began.

The foxe wes clerk and noter in the cause,
The gled, the graip up at the bar couth stand
As advocatis expert into the lawis,
The doggis pley togidder tuke on hand
Quhilk wer confidderit straitlie in ane band
Aganis the scheip to procure the sentence.
Thocht it wes fals thay had na conscience.

The clerk callit the scheip, and he wes thair.
The advocatis on this wyse couth propone:
“Ane certane breid worth fyve schilling or mair
Thow aw the doig of quhilk the terme is gone.”
Of his awin heid, but advocate, allone,
Avysitlie gaif answer in the cace:
“Heir I declyne the juge, the tyme, the place.

“This is my cause in motive and effect:
The law sayis it is richt perrillous
Till enter pley befoir ane juge suspect
And ye, schir wolff, hes bene richt odious
To me for with your tuskis ravenous
Hes slane full mony kinnismen of myne,
Thairfoir as juge suspect I yow declyne.

“And schortlie, of this court ye memberis all,
Baith assessouris, clerk, and advocate,
To me and myne ar ennemies mortall
And ay hes bene as mony scheipheird wate.
The place is fer, the tyme is feriate
In quhilk no jugeis suld sit in consistory
Sa lait at evin. I yow accuse for-thy.”

Quhen that the juge in this wyse wes accusit,
He bad the parteis cheis with ane assent
Twa arbeteris as in the law is usit
For to declair and gif arbitriment
Quhidder the scheip suld answer in jugement
Befoir the wolff and so thay did but weir,
Of quhome the namis eftir ye sall heir.

The beir, the brok, the mater tuke on hand
For to discyde gif this exceptioun
Wes of na strenth or lauchfully mycht stand,
And thairupon as jugis thay sat doun
And held ane lang quhyle disputatioun,
Seikand full mony decreitis of the law
And glosis als, the veritie to knaw.

Of civile mony volum thay revolve,
The codies and digestis new and ald,
Pro and contra, strait argumentis resolve,
Sum a doctryne and sum anothir hald.
For prayer nor price, trow ye, thay wald fald
Bot held the glose and text of the decreis
As trew jugis. I schrew thame ay that leis.

Schortlie to mak ane end of this debait,
The arbiteris than summar and plane
The sentence gave and proces fulminait:
The scheip suld pas befoir the wolff agane
And end his pley. Than wes he nathing fane
For fra thair sentence couth he not appeill.
On clerkis I do it gif this sentence wes leill.

The scheip agane befoir the wolff derenyeit,
But advocate, abasitlie couth stand.
Up rais the doig and on the scheip thus plenyeit,
“Ane soume I payit have befoir the hand
For certane breid.” Thairto ane borrow he fand
That wrangouslie the scheip did hald the breid,
Quhilk he denyit, and thair began the pleid.

And quhen the scheip this stryif had contestait,
The justice in the cause furth can proceid.
Lowrence the actis and the proces wrait
And thus the pley unto the end thay speid.
This cursit court, corruptit all for meid,
Aganis gude faith, gude law, and conscience,
For this fals doig pronuncit the sentence.

And it till put to executioun,
The wolff chargit the scheip without delay
Under the panis of interdictioun
The soume of silver or the breid to pay.
Of this sentence allace quhat sall I say,
Quhilk dampnit hes the selie innocent
And justifyit the wrangous jugement?

The scheip, dreidand mair persecutioun,
Obeyand to the sentence and couth tak
His way unto ane merchand of the toun
And sauld the woll that he bure on his bak
Syne bocht the breid and to the doig couth mak
Reddie payment as he forjugeit was,
Naikit and bair syne to the feild couth pas.


This selie scheip may present the figure
Of pure commounis that daylie ar opprest
Be tirrane men quhilkis settis all thair cure
Be fals meinis to mak ane wrang conquest
In hope this present lyfe suld ever lest;
Bot all begylit thay will in schort tyme end
And efter deith to lestand panis wend.

This wolf I likkin to ane schiref stout
Quhilk byis ane forfalt at the kingis hand
And hes with him ane cursit assyis about,
And dytis all the pure men uponland.
Fra the crownar haif laid on him his wand,
Suppois he be als trew as wes Sanct Johine,
Slain sall he be or with the juge compone.

This ravin I likkin to ane fals crownair
Quhilk hes ane porteous of the inditement
And passis furth befoir the justice air
All misdoaris to bring to jugement;
Bot luke gif he be of ane trew intent
To scraip out “Johne” and wryte in “Will” or “Wat”
And swa ane bud at boith the parteis skat.

Of this fals tod of quhilk I spak befoir
And of this gled, quhat thay micht signify,
Of thair nature, as now I speik no moir,
Bot of this scheip and of his cairfull cry
I sall reheirs for as I passit by
Quhair that he lay, on cais I lukit doun
And hard him mak sair lamentatioun.

“Allace,” quod he, “this cursit consistorie
In middis of the winter now is maid
Quhen Boreas with blastis bitterlie
And frawart froistes thir flouris doun can faid.
On bankis bair now may I mak na baid,”
And with that word into ane coif he crap
Fra hair wedder and froistis him to hap.

Quaikand for cauld, sair murnand ay amang,
Kest up his ee unto the hevinnis hicht
And said, “O lord, quhy sleipis thow sa lang?
Walk and discerne my cause groundit on richt,
Se how I am be fraud, maistrie, and slicht
Peillit full bair and so is mony one
Now in this warld richt wonder wobegone.

“Se how this cursit syn of covetice
Exylit hes baith lufe, lawtie, and law.
Now few or nane will execute justice,
In falt of quhome the pure man is overthraw.
The veritie suppois the jugis knaw,
Thay ar so blindit with affectioun
But dreid for meid thay thoill the richt go doun.7

“Seis thow not, lord, this warld overturnit is
As quha wald change gude gold in leid or tyn.
The pure is peillit, the lord may do na mis,
And simonie is haldin for na syn.
Now is he blyith with okker maist may wyn.
Gentrice is slane and pietie is ago.
Allace gude lord, quhy tholis thow it so?

“Thow tholis this evin for our grit offence.
Thow sendis us troubill and plaigis soir
As hunger, derth, grit weir, or pestilence
Bot few amendis now thair lyfe thairfoir.
We pure pepill as now may do no moir
Bot pray to thee: sen that we ar opprest
Into this eirth, grant us in hevin gude rest.”

Robert Henryson's other poems:
  1. The Preaching of the Swallow
  2. The Wolf and the Wether
  3. Ane Prayer for the Pest
  4. The Testament of Cressida
  5. The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger

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