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Medieval and Classical Library

The Testament of Cresseid
by Robert Henryson

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #6

This electronic version is based on that edition published in THE POEMS AND FABLES OF ROBERT HENRYSON, ed. David Laing (Edinburgh, 1865). This work is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN.

This electronic text prepared by Diane M. Brendan, February 1995. Additional assistance provided by Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@AOL.COM).

NOTE: To better facilitate understanding of the poem, the following changes have been made from the Laing edition of the text:

"f" has been replaced with "s" at all places where it is understood that "s" should be read instead of "f".

"qu" has been replaced with "w" at all places where it is understood that "w" should be read instead of "qu".

     Ane doolie sessoun to ane cairful dyte
     Suld correspond, and be equivalent.
     Richt sa it wes when I began to wryte
     This tragedie, the wedder richt fervent,
5    When Aries in middis of the Lent,
     Schouris of haill can fra the North discend,
     That scantlie fra the cauld I micht defend.

     Yit nevertheles within myne oratur
     I stude, when Titan had his bemis bricht
10   Withdrawin doun, and sylit under cure,
     And fair Venus, the bewtie of the nicht,
     Uprais, and set unto the west full richt
     Hir goldin face, in oppositioun
     Of god Phebus direct discending doun.

15   Throwout the glas hir bemis brast sa fair,
     That I micht se on everic syde me by,
     The northin wind had purifyit the air,
     And sched the mistie cloudis fra the sky;
     The froist freisit, the blastis bitterly
20   Fra Pole Artick come whisling loud and schill,
     And causit me remufe aganis my will.

     For I traisit that Venus, luifis quene,
     To whome sum tyme I hecht obedience,
     My faidit hart of lufe scho wald mak grene;
25   And therupon with humbill reverence,
     I thocht to pray hir hie magnificence;
     Bot for greit cald as than I lattit was,
     And in my chalmer to the fyre can pas.

     Thocht lufe be hait, yit in ane man of age
30   It kendillis nocht sa sone as in youtheid,
     Of whome the blude is flowing in ane rage,
     And in the auld the curage doif and deid;
     Of whilk the fire outward is best remeid,
     To help be phisike whair that nature faillit
35   I am expert, for baith I have assailit.

     I mend the fyre, and beikit me about,
     Than tuik ane drink my spreitis to comfort,
     And armit me weill fra the cauld thairout:
     To cut the winter nicht, and mak it schort,
40   I tuik ane Quair, and left all uther sport,
     Writtin be worthie Chaucer glorious,
     Of fair Cresseid and lustie Troylus.

     And thair I fand, efter that Diomeid
     Ressavit had that Lady bricht of hew,
45   How Troilus neir out of wit abraid,
     And weipit soir, with visage paill of hew;
     For whilk wanhope his teiris can renew,
     Whill Esperus rejoisit him agane:
     Thus whyle in joy he levit, while in pane.

50   Of hir behest he had greit comforting,
     Traisting to Troy that scho suld mak retour,
     Whilk he desyrit maist of eirdly thing;
     For why? Scho was his only paramour:
     Bot when he saw passit baith day and hour
55   Of hir ganecome, than sorrow can oppres
     His wofull hart, in cair and hevines.

     Of his distres me neidis nocht reheirs,
     For worthie Chauceir in the samin buik,
     In gudelie termis, and in joly veirs,
60   Compylit hes his cairis, wha will luik.
     To brek my sleip ane uther wair I tuik,
     In whilk I fand the fatall destenie
     Of fair Cresseid, that endit wretchitlie.

     Wha wait, gif all that Chauceir wrait was trew?
65   Nor I wait nocht gif this narratioun
     Be authoreist, or fenyeit of the new,
     Be sum Poeit, throw his inventioun,
     Maid to report the Lamentatioun
     And wofull end of this lustie Creisseid;
70   And what distres scho thoillit, and what deid!

     When Diomed had all his appetyte,
     And mair, fulfillit of this fair Ladie,
     Upon ane uther he set his haill delyte,
     And send to hir ane lybell of repudie;
75   And hir excludit fra his companie.
     Than desolait scho walkit up and doun,
     And, sum men sayis, in to the Court commoun.

     O, fair Cresseid! The floure and A per se
     Of Troy and Grece, how was thow fortunait!
80   To change in filth all thy feminitie,
     And be with fleschelie lust sa maculait,
     And go amang the Greikis air and lait,
     Sa giglotlike, takand thy foull plesance;
     I have pietie thow suld fall sic mischance!

85   Yit nevertheles, what ever men deme or say
     In scornefull language of thy brukkilnes,
     I shall excuse, als far furth as I may,
     Thy womanheid, thy wisdome, and fairnes;
     The whilk Fortoun hes put to sic distres
90   As hir pleisit, and na thing throw the gilt
     Of thee, throw wickit langage to be spilt.

     This fair Lady, in this wyse destitute
     Of all comfort and consolatioun,
     Richt privelie, but fellowschip, on fute
95   Disagysit passit far out of the toun
     Ane myle or twa, unto ane mansioun,
     Beildit full gay, whair hir father Calchas
     Whilk than amang the Greikis dwelland was.

     Whan he hir saw, the caus he can inquyre
100  Of hir cumming? Scho said, siching full soir,
     "Fra Diomeid had gottin his desyre
     He wox werie, and wald of me no moir."
     Quod Calchas, "Douchter, weip thow not thairfoir,
     Peraventure all cummis for the best,
105  Welcum to me, thow art full deir ane gest."

     This auld Calchus, efter the Law was tho,
     Wes keeper of the tempill as ane preist,
     In whilk Venus and hir sone Cupido
     War honourit, and his chalmer was thame neist,
110  To whilk Cresseid, with baill aneuch in breist,
     Usit to pas, hir prayeris for to say;
     Whill at the last, upon ane solempne day,

     As custome was, the pepill far and neir,
     Befoir the none, unto the tempill went
115  With sacrifice devoit in thair maneir:
     But still Cresseid, hevie in hir intent,
     In to the kirk wald not hir self present,
     For givin of the pepill ony deming,
     Of hir expuls fra Diomeid the king;

120  Bot past into ane secreit orature,
     Whair scho might weip hir wofull desteny;
     Behind hir bak scho cloisit fast the dure,
     And on hir kneis bair fell down in hy,
     Upon Venus and Cupide angerly
125  Scho cryit out, and said on this same wyse,
     "Allace! that ever I maid you sacrifice.

     "Ye gave me anis ane devine responsaill,
     That I suld be the flour of luif in Troy,
     Now am I maid an unworthie outwaill,
130  And all in cair translatit is my joy,
     Wha sall me gyde? wha sall me now convoy,
     Sen I fra Diomeid, and nobill Troylus,
     Am clene excludit, as abject odious?

     "O fals Cupide, is nane to wyte bot thow,
135  And thy mother, of lufe, the blind Goddes!
     Ye causit me alwayis understand and trow
     The seid of lufe was sawin in my face,
     And ay grew grene throw your supplie and grace.
     Bot now, allace! that seid with froist is slane,
140  And I fra luifferis left, and all forlane."

     When this was said, doun in ane extasie,
     Ravischit in spreit, intill ane dreame scho fell,
     And he apperance hard whair scho did ly
     Cupide the king ringand ane silver bell,
145  Whilk men micht heir fra hevin unto hell;
     At whais sound befoir Cupide appeiris
     The sevin Planetis discending fra thair spheiris,

     Whilk hes power of all thing generabill
     To reull and steir be thair greit influence,
150  Wedder and wind, and coursis variabill:
     And first of all Saturne gave his sentance,
     Whilk gave to Cupide litill reverence,
     Bot as ane busteous churle on his maneir,
     Come crabitlie with auster luik and cheir.

155  His face frosnit, his lyre was lyke the leid,
     His teith chatterit, and cheverit with the chin,
     His ene drowpit, how, sonkin in his heid,
     Out of his nois the meldrop fast can rin,
     With lippis bla, and cheikis leine and thin,
160  The iceschoklis that fra his hair doun hang,
     Was wonder greit, and as ane speir als lang.

     Atouir his belt his lyart lokkis lay
     Felterit unfair, ouirfret with froistis hoir,
     His garmound and his gyis full gay of gray,
165  His widderit weid fra him the wind out woir,
     Ane busteous bow within his hand he boir,
     Under his girdill ane flasche of felloun flanis,
     Fedderit with ice, and heidit with hailstanis.

     Than Juppiter richt fair and amiabill,
170  God of the starnis in the firmament,
     And nureis to all thing generabill,
     Fra his father Saturne far different,
     With burelie face, and browis bricht and brent,
     Upon his heid ane garland wonder gay
175  Of flouris fair, as it had bene in May.

     His voice was cleir, as cristall wer his ene,
     As goldin wyre sa glitterand was his hair,
     His garmound and his gyis full gay of gre,e,
     With golden listis gilt on everie gair;
180  Ane burelie brand about his middill bair,
     In his right hand he had ane groundin speir,
     Of his father the wraith fra us to weir.

     Nixt efter him come Mars the god of ire,
     Of strife, debait, and all dissensioun,
185  To chide and fecht, als feirs as ony fyre,
     In hard harnes, hewmound, and habirgeoun,
     And on his hanche ane roustie fell fachioun,
     And in his hand he had ane roustie sword,
     Wrything his face, with mony angrie word,

190  Schaikand his sword, befoir Cupide he come
     With reid visage, and grislie glowrand ene,
     And at his mouth ane bullar stude of fome,
     Lyke to ane bair whetting his tuskis kene,
     Richt tuitlyeour lyke, but temperance in tene,
195  Ane horne he blew with mony bosteous brag,
     Whilk all this warld with weir hes maid to wag.

     Than fair Phebus, lanterne and lamp of licht
     Of man and beist, baith frute and flourisching,
     Tender nureis, and banischer of nicht,
200  And of the warld causing be his moving
     And influence lyfe in all eirdlie thing,
     Without comfort of whome, of force to nocht
     Must all ga die that in this warld is wrocht.

     As king royall he raid upon his chair,
205  The whilk Phaeton gydit sum tyme upricht,
     The brichtnefs of his face, when it was bair,
     Nane micht behald for peirsing of his sicht;
     This goldin cart with fyrie bemis bricht
     Four yokkit steidis, full different of hew,
210  But bait or tyring, throw the spheiris drew.

     The first was soyr, with mane als reid as rois,
     Callit Eoye in to the Orient;
     The secund steid to name hecht Ethios,
     Whitlie and paill, and sum deill ascendent;
215  The thrid Peros, right hait and richt fervent;
     The feird was blak, callit Phlegonie,
     Whilk rollis Phebus down in to the sey.

     Venus was thair present, that goddes gay,
     Hir Sonnis querrel for to defend, and mak
220  Hir awin complaint, cled in ane nyce array,
     The ane half grene, the uther half sabill blak,
     Whyte hair as gold, kemmit and sched abak,
     Bot in hir face semit greit variance,
     Whyles perfyte treuth, and whyles inconstance

225  Under smyling scho was dissimulait,
     Provocative with blenkis amorous,
     And suddanely changit and alterait,
     Angrie as ony serpent vennemous,
     Richt pungitive with wordis odious:
230  Thus variant scho was, wha list tak keip,
     With ane eye lauch, and with the uther weip.

     In taikning that all fleschelie paramour
     Whilk Venus hes in reull and governance,
     Is sum tyme sweit, sum tyme bitter and sour,
235  Richt unstabill, and full of variance,
     Mingit with cairfull joy, and fals plesance,
     Now hait, now cault, now blyith, now full of wo,
     Now grene as leif, now widderit and ago.

     With buik in hand, than come Mercurius,
240  Richt eloquent and full of rethorie,
     With polite termis, and delicious,
     With pen and ink to report al reddie,
     Setting sangis, and singand merilie;
     His hude was reid heklit atouir his croun
245  Lyke to ane Poeit of the auld fassoun.

     Boxis he bair with fine electuairis,
     And sugerit syropis for digestioun,
     Spycis belangand to the pothecairis,
     With mony hailsum sweit confectioun,
250  Doctour in phisick cled in skarlot goun,
     And furrit weill, as sic ane aucht to be,
     Honest and gude, and not ane word culd le.

     Nixt efter him come Lady Cynthia,
     The last of all, and swiftest in hir spheir,
255  Of colour blak, buskit with hornis twa,
     And in the nicht scho listis best appeir,
     Haw as the leid, of colour na thing cleir;
     For all hir licht scho borrowis at hir brother
     Titan, for of hir self scho hes nane uhter.

260  Hir gyse was gray, and full of spottis blak,
     And on hir breist ane churle paintit full evin,
     Beirand ane bunche of thornis on his bak,
     Whilk for his thift micht elim na nar the hevin.
     Thus when thay gadderit war, thir Goddis sevin,
265  Mercurius they cheisit with ane assent,
     To be foir-speikar in the Parliament.

     Wha had bene thair, and lyking for to heir
     His facound toung, and termis exquisite,
     Of Rethorick the prettick he micht leir,
270  In breif sermone ane pregnant sentence wryte:
     Befoir Cupide veiling his cap alyte,
     Speiris the caus of that vocatioun?
     And he anone schew his intentioun.

     "Lo! (quod Cupide) wha will blaspheme the name
275  Of his awin God, outher in word or deid,
     To all Goddis he dois baith lak and schame,
     And suld have bitter panis to his meid;
     I say this by yone wretchit Cresseid,
     The wilk throw me was sum tyme flour of lufe,
280  Me and my mother starlie can reprufe.

     "Saying, of hir greit infelicitie
     I was the caus, and my mother Venus,
     Ane blind Goddes hir cald that micht not se,
     With sclander and defame injurious;
285  Thus hir leving unclene and lecherous,
     Scho wald returne on me and my mother,
     To whome I schew my grace abone all uther.

     "And sen ye at all sevin deificait,
     Participant of devyne sapience,
290  This greit injurie done to our hie estait,
     Me think with pane we suld mak recompence;
     Was never to Goddes done sic violence,
     Asweill for yow, as for myself I say,
     Thairfoir ga help to revenge, I yow pray."

295  Mercurius to Cupide gave answeir,
     And said, "Schir King, my counsall is that ye
     Refer yow to the hiest planeit heir,
     And tak to him the lawest of degre,
     The pane of Cresseid for to modifie:
300  As God Saturne, with him tak Cynthia."
     "I am content (quod he) to tak thay twa."

     Than thus proceidit Saturne and the Mone,
     When thay the mater rypelie had degest,
     For the dispyte to Cupide scho had done,
305  And to Venus oppin and manifest,
     In all hir lyfe with pane to be opprest,
     And torment sair, with seiknes incurabill,
     And to all lovers be abhominabill.

     This duleful sentance Saturne tuik on hand,
310  And passit doun whair cairfull Cresseid lay,
     And on hir heid he laid ane frostie wand,
     Than lawfullie on this wyse can he say:
     "Thy greit fairnes, and all thy bewtie gay,
     Thy wantoun blude, and eik thy goldin hair,
315  Heir I exclude fra thee for evermair:

     "I change thy mirth into melancholy,
     Whilk is the mother of all pensivenes,
     Thy moisture and thy heit in cald and dry,
     Thyne insolence, thy play and wantones
320  To greit diseis, thy pomp and thy riches
     In mortall neid, and greit penuritie
     Thow suffer sall, and as ane beggar die."

     O cruell Saturne! fraward and angrie,
     Hard is thy dome, and too malitious,
325  On fair Cresseid why hes thow na mercie,
     Whilk was sa sweit, gentill, and amorous?
     Withdraw thy sentance, and be gracious,
     As thow was never, so schawis thow thy deid,
     Ane wraikfull sentance gevin on fair Cresseid.

330  Than Cynthia, when Saturne past away,
     Out of hir sait discendit doun belyve,
     And red ane bill on Cresseid whair scho lay,
     Contening this sentance diffinityve,
     "Fra heile of bodie I thee now deprive,
335  And to thy seiknes sal be na recure,
     Bot in dolour thy dayis to indure.

     "Thy cristall ene minglit with blude I mak,
     Thy voice sa cleir, unplesand hoir and hace,
     Thy lustie lyre ouirspred with spottis blak,
340  And lumpis haw appeirand in thy face;
     Whair thow cumis ilk man sall fle the place.
     This sall thow go begging fra hous to hous,
     With cop and clapper lyke ane lazarous."

     This doolie dreame, this uglye visioun
345  Brocht to ane end, Cresseid fra it awoik,
     And all that court and convocatioun
     Vanischit away, than rais scho up and tuik
     Ane poleist glas, and hir schaddow culd luik;
     And when scho saw hir face sa deformait,
350  Gif scho in hart was wa aneuch, God wait!

     Weiping full sair, "Lo! what it is (quod sche)
     With fraward langage for to mufe and steir
     Our craibit Goddis, and sa is sene on me!
     My blaspheming now have I bocht full deir,
355  All eirdlie joy and mirth I set areir.
     Allace this day! allace this wofull tyde!
     When I began with my Goddis for to chyde!"

     Be this was said, ane chyld come fra the hall,
     To warne Cresseid the supper was reddy;
360  First knokkit at the dure, and syne culd call,
     "Madame, your father biddis yow cum in hy,
     He has mervell sa lang on grouf ye ly,
     And sayis, Your prayers bene too lang sum deill,
     The Goddis wait all your intent full weill."

365  Quod scho, "Fair chylde, ga to my father deir,
     And pray him cum to speik with me anone."
     And sa he did, and said: "Douchter, what cheir?"
     "Allace (quod scho), father, my mirth is gone!"
     "How sa?" quod he; and scho can all expone,
370  As I have tauld, the vengeance and the wraik,
     For hir trespas, Cupide on hir culd tak.

     He luikit on hir uglye lipper face,
     The whilk befor was white as lillie flour,
     Wringand his handis oftymes, he said, "Allace,
375  That he had levit to se that wofull hour!"
     For he knew weill that thair was na succour
     To hir seiknes, and that dowblit his pane;
     Thus was thair cair aneuch betuix thame twane.

     When thay togidder murnit had full lang,
380  Quod Cresseid, "Father, I wald not be kend,
     Theirfoir in secreit wyse ye let me gang,
     Into yone Hospitall at the tounis end;
     And thidder sum meit for cheritie me send,
     To leif upon, for all mirth in this eird
385  Is fra me gane, sic is my wickit weird."

     Than in ane mantill and ane bawer Hat,
     With cop and clapper, wonder prively
     He opnit ane secreit yett, and out thairat
     Convoyit hir, that na man suld espy,
390  Into ane village half ane myle thairby,
     Delyverit hir in at the Spittaill hous,
     And daylie sent hir part of his almous.

     Sum knew her weill, and sum had na knawledge
     Of hir, becaus scho was sa deformait
395  With bylis blak ovirspred in hir visage,
     And hir fair colour faidit and alterait;
     Yit thay presumit for her hie regrait,
     And still murning, scho was of nobill kin,
     With better will thairfoir they tuik hir in.

400  The day passit, and Phebus went to rest,
     The cloudis blak ovirwhelmit all the sky,
     God wait gif Cresseid was ane sorrowfull gest,
     Seeing that uncouth fair and herbery;
     But meit or drink scho dressit hir to ly
405  In ane dark corner of the hous allone,
     And on this wyse, weiping, scho maid hir mone.


The Complaint of Cresseid.

     "O Sop of sorrow sonken into cair!
     O, cative Creisseid! now and ever mair,
     Gane is thy joy, and all thy mirth in eird,
410  Of all blyithnes now art thou blaiknit bair.
     Thair is na salve may saif thee of thy sair!
     Fell is thy fortoun, wickit is thy weird,
     Thy blys is baneist, and thy baill on breird,
     Under the eirth God gif I gravin wer,
415  Whair nane of Grece nor yit of Troy micht heird!

     Whair is thy chalmer wantounlie besene,
     With burely bed, and bankouris browderit bene,
     Spycis and wyne to thy collatioun,
     The cowpis all of gold and silver schene,
420  The sweit meitis servit in plaittis clene,
     With saipheron sals of ane gud sessoun:
     Thy gay garments with mony gudely goun,
     Thy plesand lawn pinnit with goldin prene:
     All is areir, thy greit royall renoun!

425  "Whair is thy garding with thir greissis gay,
     And fresche flowris, whilk the Quene Floray
     Had paintit plesandly in everie pane,
     Whair thou was wont full merilye in May
     To walk, and tak the dew be it was day,
430  And heir the merle and mavis mony ane,
     With ladyis fair in carrolling to gane,
     And se the royall rinks in thair array,
     In garmentis gay, garnischit on everie grane.

     "Thy greit triumphand fame and hie honour,
435  Whair thou was callit of eirdlye wichtis flour;
     All is decayit, thy weird is welterit so,
     Thy hie estait is turnit in darknes dour!
     This lipper ludge tak for thy burelie bour,
     And for thy bed tak now ane bunche of stro,
440  For waillit wyne, and meitis thou had tho,
     Tak mowlit breid, peirrie, and ceder sour;
     Bot cop and clapper now is all ago.

     "My cleir voice, and courtlie carrolling,
     Whair I was wont with ladyis for to sing,
445  Is rawk as ruik, full hiddeous hoir and hace;
     My plesand port all utheris precelling,
     Of lustines I was hald maist conding,
     Now is deformit, the figour of my face
     To luik on it na leid now lyking hes:
450  Sowpit in syte, I say with sair siching,
     Ludgeit amang the lipper leid, allace!

     "O ladyis fair of Troy and Grece attend,
     My miserie, whilk nane may comprehend,
     My frivoll fortoun, my infelicitie,
455  My greit mischeif, whilk na man can amend;
     Be war in tyme, approchis neir the end,
     And in your mynd ane mirrour mak of me;
     As I am now, peradventure that ye,
     For all your micht, may cum to that same end,
460  Or ellis war, gif ony war may be.

     "Nocht is your fairnes bot ane faiding flour,
     Nocht is your famous laud and hie honour,
     Bot wind inflat in uther mennis eiris,
     Your roising reid to rotting sall retour:
465  Exempill mak of me in your memour,
     Whilk of sic thingis wofull witnes beiris,
     All welth in eird away as wind it weiris:
     Be war, theirfoir, approchis neir the hour;
     Fortoun is fikkill, when scho beginnis and steiris."


470  Thus chydand with hir 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,
475  And said: "Why spurnis thow aganis the wall,
     To sla thyself, and mend na thing 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,
480  And leir efter the law of lipper leid."
     Thair was na buit, bot furth with thame scho yeid
     Fra place to place, whill cauld and hounger sair
     Compellit hir to be ane rank beggair.

     That samin tyme of Troy the garnisoun,
485  Whilk had to chiftane worthie Troylus,
     Throw jeopardie of weir and strikken down
     Knichtis of Grece in number mervellous,
     With greit tryumphe, and laude victorious,
     Agane to Troy richt royallie they raid,
490  The way whair 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."
495  Than to thair cry nobill Troylus tuik heid,
     Having pietie, neir by the place can pas,
     Whair Cresseid sat, not witting what scho was.

     Than upon him scho kest up baith her ene,
     And with ane blenk it come in to his thocht,
500  That he sum tyme 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.

505  Na wonder was, suppois in mynd that he
     Tuik hir figure sa sone, and lo! now why?
     The idole of ane thing, in cace may be
     Sa deip imprentit in the fantasy,
     That it deludis the wittis outwardly,
510  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
515  Him tuik, whill he was reddie to expyre;
     To beir his scheild, his breist began to tyre;
     Within ane whyle he changit mony hew,
     And nevertheles not ane ane uther knew.

     For knichtlie pietie and memoriall
520  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, whill he come to the toun,
525  And for greit care oft syis almaist fell doun.

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

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

540  When scho, ovircome with siching sair and sad,
     With mony 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,
545  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,
550  And clam upon the fickill wheill sa hie,
     All faith and lufe, I promissit to the,
     Was in the self fickill and frivolous:
     O, fals Cresseid! and trew knicht Troylus!

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

     "Lovers be war, and tak gude heid about
     Whome that ye lufe, for whome ye suffer paine,
     I lat you wit, thair is richt few thairout
     Whome ye may traist to have trew lufe againe:
565  Preif when 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
     Brukkill as glas, into my self I say,
570  Traisting in uther als greit unfaithfulnes,
     Als unconstant, and als untrew of fay:
     Thocht sum be trew, I wait richt few are thay,
     Wha findis treuth, lat him his lady ruse,
     Nane but myself, as now, I will accuse."

575  When this was said, with paper scho sat doun,
     And on this maneir maid hir TESTAMENT:
     "Heir I beteiche my corps and carioun
     With wormis and with taidis to be rent;
     My cop and clapper, and myne ornament,
580  And all my gold, the lipper folk sall have,
     When I am deid, to burie me in grave.

     "This royal ring, set with this rubie reid,
     Whilk Troylus in drowrie to me send,
     To him agane I leif it whan I am deid,
585  To mak my cairfull deid unto him kend:
     Thus I conclude schortlie, and mak ane end;
     My spreit I leif to Diane, whair scho dwellis,
     To walk with hir in waist woddis and wellis.

     "O, Diomeid! thou hes baith broche and belt,
590  Whilk Troylus gave me in takning
     Of his trew lufe." -- And with that word scho swelt;
     And sone ane lipper man tuik of the ring,
     Syne buryit hir withouttin tarying:
     To Troylus furthwith the ring he bair,
595  And of Cresseid the deith he can declair.

     When he had hard hir greit infirmitie,
     Hir legacie and lamentatioun,
     And how scho endit in sic povertie,
     He swelt for wo, and fell doun in ane swoun,
600  For greit sorrow his hart to birst was boun:
     Siching full sadie, said: "I can no moir,
     Scho was untrew, and wo is me thairfoir!"

     Sum said he maid ane tomb of merbell gray,
     And wrait hir name and superscriptioun,
605  And laid it on hir grave, whair that scho lay,
     In goldin letteris, conteining this ressoun:
     "Lo, fair ladyis, Cresseid of Troyis toun,
     Sumtyme countit the flour of womanheid,
     Under this stane, lait lipper, lyis deid."

610  Now, worthie Wemen, in this ballet schort,
     Made for your worschip and instructioun,
     Of cheritie I monische and exhort,
     Ming not your lufe with fals deceptioun;
     Beir in your mynd this schort conclusioun
615  Of fair Cresseid, as I have said befoir:
     Sen scho is deid, I speik of hir no moir.


     
[End of "The Testament of Cresseid"]