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Quhen Merche wes with variand windis past,
And Appryll had, with hir siluer schouris
Tane leif at nature with ane orient blast;
And lusty May, that mvddir is of flouris,
Had maid the birdis to begyn thair houris
Amang the tendir odouris reid and quhyt,
Quhois armony to heir it wes delyt;


In bed at morrow, sleiping as I lay,
Me thocht Aurora, with hir cristall ene,
In at the window lukit by the day
And halsit me, with visage paill and grene;
On quhois hand a lark sang fro the splene,
Awalk, luvaris, out of your slomering,
Se how the lusty morrow dois vp spring.


Me thocht fresche May befoir my bed vpstude,
In weid depaynt of mony diuerss hew,
Sobir, benyng, and full of mansuetude,
In brycht atteir of flouris forgit new,
Hevinly of color, quhyt, reid, broun and blew,
Balmit in dew, and gilt with Phebus bemys,
Quhill all the houss illumynit of hir lemys.


'Slugird,' scho said, 'Awalk annone, for schame,
And in my honour sum thing thow go wryt;
The lark hes done the mirry day proclame,
To raiss vp luvaris with confort and delyt,
Yit nocht incressis thy curage to indyt,
Quhois hairt sum tyme hes glaid and blisfull bene,
Sangis to mak vndir the levis grene.'


'Quhairto,' quod I, 'sall I vpryss at morrow,
For in this May few birdis herd I sing?
Thai haif moir causs to weip and plane thair sorrow,
Thy air it is nocht holsum nor benyng;
Lord Eolus dois in thy sessone ring;
So busteous ar the blastis of his horne,
Amang thy bewis to walk I haif forborne.'


With that this lady sobirly did smyll,
And said, 'Vpryss and do thy observance;
Thow did promyt, in Mayis lusty quhyle,
For to discryve the Roiss of most plesance.
Go se the birdis how thay sing and dance,
Illumynit our with orient skyis brycht,
Annamyllit richely with new asur lycht.'


Quhen this wes said, depairtit scho, this quene,
And enterit in a lusty gairding gent;
And than, me thocht, full hestely besene,
In serk and mantill [eftir hir] I went
Into this garth, most dulce and redolent
Off herb and flour, and tendir plantis sueit,
And grene levis doing of dew doun fleit.


The purpour sone, with tendir bemys reid,
In orient bricht as angell did appeir,
Throw goldin skyis putting vp his heid,
Quhois gilt tressis schone so wondir cleir,
That all the world tuke confort, fer and neir,
To luke vpone his fresche and blisfull face,
Doing all sable fro the hevynnis chace.


And as the blisfull soune of cherarchy
The fowlis song throw confort of the licht;
The birdis did with oppin vocis cry,
O luvaris fo, away thow dully nycht,
And welcum day that confortis every wicht;
Haill May, haill Flora, haill Aurora schene,
Haill princes Natur, haill Venus luvis quene!


Dame Nature gaif ane inhibitioun thair
To ferss Neptunus, and Eolus the bawld,
Nocht to perturb the wattir nor the air,
And that no schouris [scharp,] nor blastis cawld,
Effray suld flouris nor fowlis on the fold;
Scho bad eik Juno, goddes of the sky,
That scho the hevin suld keip amene and dry.


Scho ordand eik that every bird and beist
Befoir hir hienes suld annone compeir,
And every flour of vertew, most and leist,
And every herb be feild fer and neir,
As thay had wont in May, fro yeir to yeir,
To hir thair makar to mak obediens,
Full law inclynnand with all dew reuerens.


With that annone scho send the swyft[e] Ro
To bring in beistis of all conditioun;
The restles Suallow commandit scho also
To feche all fowll of small and greit renown;
And to gar flouris compeir of all fassoun,
Full craftely conjurit scho the Yarrow,
Quhilk did furth swirk als swift as ony arrow.


All present wer in twynkling of ane e,
Baith beist, and bird and flour, befoir the quene,
And first the lyone, gretast of degre,
Was callid thair, and he, most fair to sene,
With a full hardy contenance and kene,
Befoir Dame Natur come, and did inclyne,
With visage bawld, and curage leonyne.


This awfull beist full terrible wes of cheir,
Persing of luke, and stout of countenance,
Rycht strong of corpis, of fassoun fair, but feir,
Lusty of schaip, lycht of deliuerance,
Reid of his cullour, as is the ruby glance;
On feild of gold he stude full mychtely,
With flour delycis sirculit lustely.


This lady liftit vp his cluvis cleir,
And leit him listly lene vpone hir kne,
And crownit him with dyademe full deir,
Of radyous stonis, most ryall for to se;
Saying, 'The king of beistis mak I thee,
And the chief protector in the woddis and schawis;
Onto thi leigis go furth, and keip the lawis.


'Exerce justice with mercy and conscience,
And lat no small beist suffir skaith, na skornis
Of greit beistis that bene of moir piscence;
Do law elyk to aipis and vnicornis,
And lat no bowgle, with his busteous hornis,
The meik pluch ox oppres, for all his pryd,
Bot in the yok go peciable him besyd.'


Quhen this was said, with noyis and soun of joy,
All kynd of beistis into thair degre,
At onis cryit lawd, 'Viue le roy!'
And till his feit fell with humilite,
And all thay maid him homege and fewte;
And he did thame ressaif with princely laitis,
Quhois noble yre is parcere prostratis.


Syne crownit scho the Egle King of Fowlis,
And as steill dertis scherpit scho his pennis,
And bawd him be als just to awppis and owlis,
As vnto pacokkis, papingais, or crennis,
And mak a law for wycht fowlis and for wrennis;
And lat no fowll of ravyne do efferay,
Nor devoir birdis bot his awin pray.


Than callit scho all flouris that grew on feild,
Discirnyng all thair fassionis and effeiris;
Vpone the awfull Thrissill scho beheld,
And saw him kepit with a busche of speiris;
Concedring him so able for the weiris,
A radius croun of rubeis scho him gaif,
And said, 'In feild go furth, and fend the laif;


'And, sen thow art a king, thow be discreit;
Herb without vertew thow hald nocht of sic pryce
As herb of vertew and of odor sueit;
And lat no nettill vyle, and full of vyce,
Hir fallow to the gudly flour delyce;
Nor latt no wyld weid, full of churlichenes,
Compair hir till the lilleis nobilnes.


'Nor hald non vdir flour in sic denty
As the fresche Roiss, of cullour reid and quhyt;
For gife thow dois, hurt is thyne honesty,
Conciddering that no flour is so perfyt,
So full of vertew, plesans and delyt,
So full of blisfull angelik bewty,
Imperiall birth, honour, and dignite.'


Than to the Roiss scho turnyt hir visage,
And said, 'O lusty dochtir most benyng,
Aboif the lilly, illustare of lynnage,
Fro the stok ryell rysing fresche and ying,
But ony spot or macull doing spring;
Cum blowme of joy with jemis to be cround,
For our the laif thy bewty is renownd.'


A coistly croun, with clarefeid stonis brycht,
This cumly quene did on hir heid inclois,
Quhill all the land illumynit of the licht;
Quhairfoir me thocht all flouris did reioiss,
Crying attonis, 'Haill be, thow richest Roiss!
Haill, hairbis empryce, haill, freschest quene of flouris,
To the be glory and honour at all houris.'


Thane all the birdis song with voce on hicht,
Quhois mirthfull soun wes mervelus to heir;
The mavyss song, 'Haill, Roiss most riche and richt,
That dois vp flureiss vndir Phebus speir;
Haill, plant of yowth, haill, princes dochtir deir,
Haill, blosome breking out of the blud royall,
Quhois pretius vertew is imperiall.'


The merle scho sang, 'Haill, Roiss of most delyt,
Haill, of all flouris quene and soverane;'
The lark scho song, 'Haill, Rois, both reid and quhyt,
Most plesand flour, of michty cullouris twane;'
The nychtingaill song, 'Haill, naturis suffragene,
In bewty, nurtour and every nobilness,
In riche array, renown, and gentilness.'


The commoun voce vprais of birdis small,
Apone this wyss, 'O blissit be the hour
That thow wes chosin to be our principall;
Welcome to be our princes of honour,
Our perle, our plesans and our paramour,
Our peax, our play, our plane felicite,
Chryst thee conserf frome all aduersite!'


Than all the birdis song with sic a schout,
That I annone awoilk quhair that I lay,
And with a braid I turnyt me about
To se this court; bot all wer went away:
Than vp I lenyt, halflingis in affrey,
And thuss I wret, as ye haif hard to-forrow,
Off lusty May vpone the nynt morrow.

By William Dunbar for the occasion of the marriage of King James IV of Scotland to Princess Margaret Tudor (1503)

From The Poems of William Dunbar by H. Bellyse Baildon (1907) via Google Books