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To a Ladye

To a Ladye
William Dunbar

SWEET rois of vertew and of gentilness,
Delytsum lily of everie lustynes,
    Richest in bontie and in bewtie clear,
    And everie vertew that is wenit dear,
Except onlie that ye are mercyless.

Into your garth this day I did persew;
There saw I flowris that fresche were of hew;
    Baith quhyte and reid most lusty were to seyne,
    And halesome herbis upon stalkis greene;
Yet leaf nor flowr find could I nane of rew.

I doubt that Merche, with his cauld blastis keyne,
Has slain this gentil herb, that I of mene;
    Quhois piteous death dois to my heart sic paine
    That I would make to plant his root againe,—
So confortand his levis unto me bene.


Erica said…
I think I got the general idea of the poem but I'd still like to see a modern English translation...
And it took me this long to realize your background picture is Gandalf at Bag End...
Rick said…
It is modern English! Late 1400s. Well after Chaucer.
But I suppose... ;)

Sweet rose of virtue and gentleness,
Delightsome lily of every lustiness,
Richest in bounty and in beauty clear,
And every virtue that is held dear,
Except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden this day I did pursue;
There saw I flowers that fresh were of hue;
Both white and red most lustly were to be seen;
And wholesome herbs upon stalks green;
Yet leaf nor flower find could I non of rue.

I doubt that March, with his cold blasts keen,
Has slain this gentle herb, that complain of;
Whose piteous death does to my heart such pain,
That I would make to plant his root again,
So comforting his leaves unto me have been.
Erica said…
You know what I mean ;-)