William Dunbar (1459?-1530)

Lament for the Makars

I that in health was and gladness
Am troubled now with great sickness
And feebled with infirmity:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Our pleasance here is all vain glory,
This false world is but transitory,
The flesh is bruckle, the fiend is slee:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

The state of man does change and vary,
Now sound, now sick, now blithe, now sary,
Now dansing merry, now like to die:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

No state in earth here standis sicker;
As with the wind wavis the wicker
So wannis this world’s vanity:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Unto the Death goes all Estatis,
Princis, Prelattis, and Potestatis,
Both rich and poor of all degree:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He takis the knightis in to the field
Enarmoured under helm and shield;
Victor he is at all mellée:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

That strong unmerciful tyrant
Takis, on the motheris breast sowkand,
The babe full of benignity:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He takis the champion in the stour,
The captain closit in the tower,
The lady in bower full of beauty:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He spairis no lord for his piscence
Nor clerk for his intelligence;
His awful strike may no man flee.
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Art-magicianis and astrologis,
Rethoris, logicianis, and theologis,
Them helpis no conclusionis slee:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

In medicine the most practicianis,
Leechis, surrigianis and physicianis,
Themself from Death may not supplee:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

I see that makaris among the lave
Playis is here their padyanis, syne gods to grave;
Sparit is not their faculty:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has done petuously devour
The noble Chaucer, of makaris flower,
The Monk of Bury, and Gower, all three:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

The good Sir Hew of Eglinton,
Ettrick, Heriot, and Winton,
He has ta’en out of this country:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

That scorpion fell has done infeck
Master John Clerk, and James Affleck,
From ballad-making and tragedy:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Holland and Barbour he has berevit ;
Alas! that he not with us levit
Sir Mungo Lockart of the Lee:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Clerk of Tranent eke he has ta’en,
That made the aventeris of Gawaine;
Sir Gilbert Hay ended has he:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has Blind Harry and Sandy Traill
Slain with his shower of mortal hail,
Quick Patrick Johnston might not flee:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has reft Mersar his endite
That did in love so lively write,
So short, so quick, of sentence he:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has ta’en Rowll of Aberdeen,
And gentle Rowll of Cortorphine;
Two better fallowis did no man see:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

In Dunfermline he has ta’en Brown
With Maister Robert Henryson;
Sir John the Ross embraced has he:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

And he has now ta’en, last of all,
Good gentil Stobo and Quintin Shaw.
Of whom all wichtis his pitie:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Good Maister Walter Kennedy
In point of Death lies verily;
Great ruth it were that so should be:
Timor Mortis conturbat me

Since he has all my brothers ta’en,
He will not let me live alane;
Of force I might his next prey be:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Since for the Death remeid is none,
Best is that we for Death dispone
After our death that live may we:
   Timor Mortis conturbat me.

On the Nativity of Christ

Orate coeli de super!
Heavens, distill your balmy showers!
For now is risen the bright day-star,
From the rose Mary, flower of flowers:
The clear Son, whom no cloud devours,
Surmounting Phebus in the East,
Is comen of his heavenly towers:
Et noblis Puer natus est.

Archangelis, angelis, and domnationis,
Tronis, potestatis, and marteiris seir,
And all ye heavenly operationis,
Star, planet, firmament and sphere,
Fire, earth, air, and water clear,
To Him give loving, most and lest,
That come in to so meek maneir;
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Sinneris be glad, and penance do,
And thank your Maker heartfully;
For he that ye might not come to
To you is comen full humbly
Your soulis with his blood to buy
And loose you of the fiendis arrest–
And only of his own mercy;
Pro nobis Puer natus est.

All clergy do to him incline,
And bow unto that bairn benign,
And do your observance divine
To him that is of kingis King:
Encense his altar, read and sing
In holy kirk, with mind digest,
Him honouring attour all thing
Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Celestial fowlis in the air,
Sing with your notis upon hight,
In firthis and in forestis fair
Be mirthful now at all your might;
For passed is your dully night,
Aurora has the cloudis perst,
The Son is risen with gladsum light,
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Now spring up flowers from the root,
Revert you upward naturally,
In honour of the blessed fruit
That raised up from the rose Mary;
Lay out your leavis lustily,
Fro death take life now at the lest
In worship of the Prince worthy
Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Sing, heaven imperial, most of hight!
Regions of air make harmony!
All fish in flood and fowl of flight
Be mirthful and make melody!
All Gloria in excelsis cry!
Heaven, earth, sea, man, bird, and beast,–
He that is crowned above the sky
Pro nobis Puer natus est!