by William Dunbar (1465 - 1520?)

Sweit rois of vertew and of gentilnes
Language: Scottish (Scots) 
Sweit rois of vertew and of gentilnes,
Delytsum lyllie of everie lustynes,
Richest in bontie and in bewtie cleir
And everie vertew that is deir,
Except onlie that ye are mercyles.

Into your garthe this day I did persew.
Thair saw I flowris that fresche wer of hew,
Baithe quhyte and rid, moist lusty wer to seyne,
And halsum herbis upone stalkis grene,
Yit leif nor flour fynd could I nane of rew.

I dout that Merche with his caild blastis keyne
Hes slane this gentill herbe that I of mene,
Quhois petewous deithe dois to my hart sic pane
That I wald mak to plant his rute agane,
So that confortand his levis unto me bene.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with, William Dunbar: The Complete Poems, edited by John Conlee. Robbins Library Digital Projects, TEAMS Middle English Texts. Item 61.

Modernised version (as set by Scott)
Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
Delight some lily of ev’ry lustiness
Richest in bounty, and in beauty clear
And ev’ry virtue that is held most dear,
Except only that ye are merciless.

Into your garth this day I did pursue,
There saw I floeris that were fresh of hue,
Baith white and reid maist lusty were to seen,
and hale some herbis up on stalk is green:
Yet leaf nor floe’er find could I nane of rue.

I doubt that Merch with his cauld blast is keen,
Has slain that gentle herb that I of mean,
Whose piteous death does to my hert sic pain
That I would mak to plant his root again,
Sae comfort and his leaves unto me been.


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Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2019-04-04
Line count: 15
Word count: 117