Robert Henryson

Here you will find the Long Poem The Testament of Cressida (excerpt) of poet Robert Henryson

The Testament of Cressida (excerpt)

 Thus chydand with her drerie destenye,
 Weiping, scho woik the nicht fra end to end;
 Bot all in vane; hir dule, hir cairfull cry,
 Micht not remeid, nor yit hir murning mend.
 Ane lipper lady rais, and till hir wend,
 And said, "Quhy spurnis thow aganis the wall,
 To sla thyself, and mend nathing at all?

 "Sen thy weiping dowbillis bot thy wo,
 I counsall the mak vertew of ane neid;
 To leir to clap thy clapper to and fro,
 And leir efter the law of lipper leid."
 Thair was na buit, bot furth with thame scho yeid,
 Fra place to place, quhill cauld and hounger sair
 Compellit hir to be ane rank beggair.

 That samin tyme of Troy the garnisoun,
 Quhilk had to chiftane worthie Troylus,
 Throw jeopardie of weir had strikken down
 Knichtis of Grece in number marvellous:
 With greit tryumphe and laude victorious
 Agane to Troy richt royallie they raid,
 The way quhair Cresseid with the lipper baid.

 Seing that companie, thai come all with ane stevin;
 Thay gaif ane cry, and schuik coppis gude speid;
 Said, "Worthie lordis, for Goddis lufe of hevin,
 To us lipper part of your almous deid."
 Than to thair cry nobill Troylus tuik heid,
 Having pietie, neir by the place can pas
 Quhair Cresseid sat, not witting quhat scho was.

 Than upon him scho kest up baith her ene,
 And with ane blenk it come into his thocht
 That he sumtime hir face befoir had sene;
 But scho was in sic plye he knew hir nocht;
 Yit than hir luik into his mynd it brocht
 The sweit visage and amorous blenking
 Of fair Cresseid, sumtyme his awin darling.

 Na wonder was, suppois in mynd that he
 Tuik hir figure sa sone, and lo! now quhy!
 The idole of ane thing in cace may be
 Sa deip imprentit in the fantasy,
 That it deludis the wittis outwardly,
 And sa appeiris in forme and lyke estait
 Within the mynd, as it was figurait.

 Ane spark of lufe than till his hart culd spring,
 And kendlit all his bodie in ane fyre,
 With hait fevir ane sweit and trimbling
 Him tuik, quhill he was reddie to expyre;
 To beir his scheild his breist began to tyre;
 Within ane quhyle he changit mony hew,
 And, nevertheles, not ane ane uther knew.

 For knichtlie pietie and memoriall
 Of fair Cresseid, ane gyrdill can he tak,
 Ane purs of gold, and mony gay jowall,
 And in the skirt of Cresseid doun can swak:
 Than raid away, and not ane word he spak,
 Pensive in hart, quhill he come to the toun,
 And for greit cair oft syis almaist fell doun.

 The lipper folk to Cresseid than can draw,
 To se the equall distributioun
 Of the almous; but quhan the gold they saw,
 Ilk ane to uther prevelie can roun,
 And said, "Yone lord hes mair affectioun,
 How ever it be, unto yone lazarous,
 Than to us all; we knaw be his almous."

 "Quhat lord is yone," (quod scho), "have ye na feill,
 Hes done to us so greit humanitie?"
 "Yes," (quod a lipper man), "I knaw him weill;
 Schir Troylus it is, gentill and fre."
 Quhen Cresseid understude that it was he,
 Stiffer than steill thair stert ane bitter stound
 Throwout hir hart, and fell doun to the ground.

 Quhen scho, ouircome with siching sair and sad,
 With many cairfull cry and cald "Ochane!
 Now is my breist with stormie stoundis stad,
 Wrappit in wo, ane wretch full will of wane:"
 Than swounit scho oft or scho culd refrane,
 And ever in hir swouning cryit scho thus:
 "O, fals Cresseid, and trew knicht Troylus!

 "Thy lufe, thy lawtie, and thy gentilnes
 I countit small in my prosperitie;
 Sa elevait I was in wantones,
 And clam upon the fickill quheill sa hie;
 All faith and lufe I promissit to the
 Was in the self fickill and frivolous:
 O, fals Cresseid, and trew knicht Troilus!

 "For lufe of me thow keipt gude continence,
 Honest and chaist in conversatioun;
 Of all wemen protectour and defence
 Thou was, and helpit thair opinioun:
 My mynd in fleschelie foull affectioun
 Was inclynit to lustis lecherous:
 Fy, fals Cresseid! O, trew knicht Troylus!

 "Lovers, be war, and tak gude heid about
 Quhome that ye lufe, for quhome ye suffer paine;
 I lat yow wit, thair is richt few thairout
 Quhome ye may traist to have trew lufe agane:
 Preif quhen ye will, your labour is in vaine;
 Thairfoir, I reid ye tak thame as ye find,
 For thay ar sad as widdercock in wind,

 "Becaus I knaw the greit unstabilnes,
 Brukkil as glas, into my self, I say,
 Traisting in uther als greit unfaithfulnes,
 Als unconstant, and als untrew of fay;
 Thocht sum be trew, I wait richt few are thay;
 Quha findis treuth, lat him his lady ruse:
 Nane but my self, as now, I will accuse."

 Quhen this was said, with paper scho sat doun,
 And on this maneir maid hir testament:
 "Heir I beteiche