John Barbour (c.1320 – 13 March 1395 / Aberdeenshire or Galloway, Scotland)
The Brus Book VII
[The king escapes from the hound]
The king towart the wod is gane
Wery forswayt and will of wane
Intill the wod sone entryt he
And held doun towart a vale
5 Quhar throu the woid a watter ran.
Thidder in gret hy wend he than
And begouth for to rest him thar
And said he mycht no forthirmar.
His man said, 'Schyr, it may nocht be.
10 Abyd ye her ye sall son se
Fyve hunder yarnand you to sla,
And thai ar fele aganys us twa.
And sen we may nocht dele with mycht
Help us all that we may with slycht.'
15 The king said, 'Sen that thou will sua,
Ga furth, and I sall with the ga.
Bot Ik haiff herd oftymys say
That quha endlang a watter ay
Wald waid a bow-draucht he suld ger
20 Bathe the slouth-hund and his leder
Tyne the sleuth men gert him ta.
Prove we giff it will now do sa,
For war yone devillis hund away
I roucht nocht off the lave perfay.'
25 As he dyvisyt thai haiff doyn
And entryt in the watter sone
And held down endlang thar way,
And syne to the land yeid thai
And held thar way as thai did er.
30 And Jhone off Lorn with gret affer
Come with hys rout rycht to the place
Quhar that his fyve men slane was.
He menyt thaim quhen he thaim saw
And said eftre a litill thraw
35 That he suld veng thar bloude,
Bot otherwayis the gamyn youde.
Thar wald he mak na mar dwelling
Bot furth in hy folowit the king.
Rycht to the burn thai passyt war,
40 Bot the sleuth-hund maid styntyn thar
And waveryt lang tyme to and fra
That he na certane gate couth ga,
Till at the last that Jhon of Lorn
Persavyt the hund the slouth had lorn
45 And said, 'We haiff tynt this travaill.
To pas forthyr may nocht availe
For the void is bath braid and wid
And he is weill fer be this tid,
Tharfor is gud we turn agayn
50 And waist no mar travaill in vayne.'
With that relyit he his mengye
And his way to the ost tuk he.
[An alternative account of the escape]
Thus eschapyt the nobill king,
Bot sum men sayis this eschaping
55 Apon ane other maner fell
Than throu the wading, for thai tell
That the king a gud archer had,
And quhen he saw his lord sua stad
That he wes left sa anerly
60 He ran on sid alwayis him by
Till he into the woude wes gane.
Than said he till him selff allane
That he arest rycht thar wald ma
To luk giff he the hund mycht sla,
65 For giff the hund mycht lest in lyve
He wyst rycht weile that thai wald dryve
The kingis trace till thai him ta,
Than wyst he weile thai wald him sla.
And for bhe wald his lord succur
70 He put his liff in aventur,
And stud intill a busk lurkand
Till that the hund come at his hand
And with ane arow sone him slew
And throu the woud syne him withdrew.
75 Bot quhether this eschaping fell
As I tauld fyrst or I now tell,
I wate weill without lesing
That at the burn eschapyt the king.
[Three men with a wethertry to kill the king
and kill his foster-brother]
The king has furth his wayis tane,
80 And Jhon of Lorn agayne is gane
To Schyr Aymer that fra the chace
With his men repayryt was
That sped lytill in thar chassyng
Thoucht at thai maid gret folowing
85 Full egrely thai wan bot small,
Thar fayis ner eschapyt all.
Men sayis Schyr Thomas Randell than
Chassand the kingis baner wan,
Quharthrou in Ingland with the king
90 He had rycht gret price and loving.
Quhen the chasseris relyit war
And Jhon of Lorn had met thaim thar
He tauld Schyr Aymer all the cas,
How that the king eschapyt was
95 And how that he his fyve men slew
And syne to the wode him drew.
Quhen Schyr Aymer herd this, in hy
He sanyt him for the ferly
And said, 'He is gretly to prys,
100 For I knaw nane that liffand is
That at myscheyff gan help him sua.
I trow he suld be hard to sla
And he war bodyn evynly.'
On this wis spak Schyr Aymery,
105 And the gud king held furth his way
Betwix him and his man quhill thai
Passyt out throu the forest war.
Syne in the more thai entryt ar
That wes bathe hey and lang and braid,
110 And or thai halff it passyt had
Thai saw on syd the men cummand
Lik to lycht men and waverand,
Swerdis thai had and axiys als
And ane off thaim apon his hals
115 A mekill boundyn wether bar.
Thai met the king and halist him thar,
And the king tthaim thar hailsing yauld
And askyt thaim quhether thai wauld.
Thai said Robert the Bruys thai socht,
120 For mete with him giff that thai moucht
Thar dwelling with him wauld thai ma.
The king said, 'Giff that ye will sua,
Haldys furth your way with me
And I sall ger you sone him se.'
125 Thai persavyt be his speking
That he wes the selvyn Robert king,
And chaungyt contenance and late
And held nocht in the fyrst state,
For thai war fayis to the king
130 And thocht to cum into Sculking
And dwell with him quhill that thai saw
Thar poynt, and bryng him than off daw.
Thai grantyt till his spek forthi,
Bot the king that wes witty
135 Persavyt weill be thar having
that thai luffyt him nathing
And said, 'Falowis, ye mon all thre,
Forthir aquent till that we be,
All be yourselvyn forrouth ga,
140 And on the samyn wys we twa
Sall folow behind weill ner.'
Quod thai, 'Schyr, it is na myster
To trow in us ony ill.'
'Nane do I,' said he, 'bot I will
145 That yhe ga forrourth thus quhill we
Better with othyr knawin be.'
'We grant,' thai said, 'sen ye will sua.'
And furth apon thar gate gan ga.
Thus yeid thai till the nycht wes ner,
150 And than the formast cummyn wer
Till a waist husbandis hous, and thar
Thai slew the wethir that thai bar
And slew fyr for to rost thar mete,
And askyt the king giff he wald ete
155 And rest him till the mete war dycht.
The king that hungry was, Ik hycht,
Assentyt till thar spek in hy,
Bot he said he wald anerly
Betwix him and his fallow be
160 At a fyr, and thai all thre
In the end off the hous suld ma
Ane other fyr, and thai did sua.
Thai drew thaim in the hous end
And halff the wethir till him send.
165 And thai rostyt in hy thar mete
And fell rycht freschly for till ete,
For the king weill lang fastyt had
And had rycht mekill travaill mad,
Tharfor he eyt full egrely
170 And quhen he had etyn hastily
He had to slep sa mekill will
That he mocht set na let thartill,
For quhen the vanys fillyt ar
Men worthys hevy evermar
175 And to slepe drawys hevynes.
The king that all fortravaillyt wes
Saw that him worthyt slep nedwayis.
Till his foser-broder he sayis,
'May I traist in the me to waik
180 Till Ik a litill sleping tak.'
'Ya, schyr,' he said, 'till I may dre.'
The kingbthen wynkyt a litill wey,
And slepyt nocht full encrely
Bot gliffnyt up oft sodanly,
185 For he had dreid of thai thre men
That at the tother fyr war then.
That thai his fais war he wyst,
Tharfor he slepyt as foule on twyst.
The king slepyt bot a litill than
190 Quhen sic slep fell on his man
That he mycht nocht hald up his ey,
Bot fell in slep and rowtyt hey.
Now is the king in gret perile
For slep he sua a litill quhile
195 He sall be ded fotoutyn dreid,
For the thre tratouris tuk gud heid
that he on slep wes and his man.
In full gret hy thai rais up than
And drew thar swerdis hastily
200 And went towart the king in hy
Quhen that thai saw him sleip sua,
And slepand thocht thai wald him sla.
Till him thai yeid a full gret pas, 203*
Bot in that tym throu Goddis grace 204*
205 The king up blenkit hastily 203
And saw his man slepand him by
And saw cummand the tother thre.
Deliverly on fut gat he
And drew his swerd out and thaim mete,
210 And as he yude his fute he set 208
Apon his man weill hevily.
He waknyt and rais disily,
For the slep maistryt hym sway
That or he gat up ane off thai
215 That com for to sla the king 213
Gaiff hym a strak in his rysing
Sua that he mycht help him no mar.
The king sa straitly stad wes thar
That he wes never yeit sa stad,
220 Ne war the armyng that he had 218
He had bene dede foroutyn wer.
Bot nocht-forthi on sic maner
He helpyt him in that bargane
That thai thre tratouris he has slan
225 Throu Goddis grace and his manheid. 223
Hys fostyr brother thar wes dede,
Then wes he wondre will of wayn
Quhen he saw him left allane.
His foster broder meny he
230 And waryit all the tother thre, 228
And syne his way tuk him allane
And rycht towart his tryst is gane.
[The king goes to a house, where the goodwife gives him her two sons;
he meets his companions and they take an enemy force in a
village by surprise]
The king went furth way and angri
Menand his man full tenderly
235 And held his way all him allane, 233
And rycht towart the hous is gan
Quhar he set tryst to meit his men.
It wes weill inwyth nycht be then,
He come sone in the hous and fand
240 The houswyff on the benk sittand 238
That askit him quhat he was
And quhen he come and quethir he gais.
'A travailland man, dame,' said he,
'That travaillys throu the contre.'
245 Scho said, 'All that travailland er 243
For ane his sak ar welcum her.'
The king said, 'Gud dame, quhat is he
That gerris you haiff sik specialte
To men that travaillis?' 'Schyr, perfay,'
250 Quod the gud-wyff, 'Isall you say, 248
The King Robert the Bruys is he,
That is rycht lord off this countre.
His fayis now haldis him in thrang,
Bot I think to se or ocht lang
255 Him lord and king our all the land 253
That na fayis sall him withstand.'
'Dame, luffis thou him sa weil,' said he.
'Ya, schyr,' said scho, 'sa God me se.'
'Dame,' said he, 'hym her the by,
260 For Ik am he, I say the soithly, 258
Yha certis, dame.' 'And quhar ar gane
Your men quhen ye ar thus allane?'
'At this tyme, dame, Ik haiff no ma.'
Scho said, 'It may na wys be swa.
265 Ik haiff twa sonnys wycht and hardy, 263
Thai sall becum your men in hy.'
As scho divisyt thai haiff done,
His sworn men become thai sone.
The wyff syn gert him syt and ete,
270 Bot he has schort quhile at the mete 268
Syttyn quhen he hard gret stamping
About the hous, then but letting
Thai stert up the hous for to defende,
Bot sone eftre the king has kend
275 James off Douglas. Than wes he blyth 273
And bad oppyn the durris swyth
And thai come in all that thar war.
Schyr Edward the Bruce wes thar,
And James alsua off Douglas
280 That wes eschapyt fra the chace 278
And with the kingis brother met,
Syn to the tryst that thaim wes set
Thai sped thaim with thar cumpany
That wer ane hunder and weile fyfty.
285 And quhen that thai haiff sene the king 283
Thai war joyfull of thar meting
And askyt how that he eschapyt was,
And he thaim tauld all hale the cas.
How the fyve men him pressyt fast,
290 And how he throu the water past, 288
And how he met the thevis thre
And how he slepand slane suld be
Quhen he waknyt throu Goddis grace
And how his foster brodyr was
295 Slayne he tauld thaim all haly. 293
Than lovyt thai God commounly
That tthar lord wes eschapyt sua,
Than spak thai wordis to and fra
Till at the last the king gan say
300 'Fortoun us travaillyt fast today 298
That scalyt us sa sodanly.
Our fayis tonycht sall ly traistly
For thai trow we so scalit ar *301
And fled to-waverand her and thar *302
305 That we sall nocht thir dayis thre *303
All togiddir assemblit be. *304
Tharfor this nycht thai sall trastly *305
But wachys tak thar ese and ly. 301
Quharfor quha knew thar herbery
310 And wald cum on thaim sodanly 303
With few mengye mycht thaim scaith
And eschape foroutyn waith.'
'Perfay,' quod James of Douglas,
'As I come hyddyrwart per cas
315 I come sa ner thar herbery 308
That I can bring you quhar thai ly,
And wald ye speid you yeit or day
It may sua happin that we may
Do thaim a gretar scaith weile sone
320 Than thai us all day has done, 313
For thai ly scalyt as thaim lest.'
Than thocht thaim all it wes the best
To sped thaim to thaim hastily,
And thai did sua in full gret hy
325 And come on thaim in the dawing 318
Rycht as the day begouth to spryng.
Sa fell it that a cumpany
Had in a toun tane thar herbery
Weile fra the ost a myle or mar,
330 Men said that thai twa hunder war. 323
Thar assemblyt the nobill king,
And sone eftre thar assembling
Thai that slepand assaylyt war
Rycht hidwysly gan cry and rar,
335 And other sum that herd the cry 328
Ras sa rycht effrayitly
That sum of thaim nakit war
Fleand to warand her and thar,
and sum his armys with him drew,
340 And thai foroutyn mercy thaim slew 333
And sa evyll vengeance can ta
That the twa partis of thaim and ma
War slayn rycht in that ilk sted,
Till thar oist the remanand fled.
345 The oyst that hard the noyis and cry 338
And saw thar men sua wrechytly
Sum nakit fleand her and thar,
Sum all hale, sum woundyt sar,
Into full gret effray thai rais
350 And ilk man till his baner gays 343
Sua that tthe oyst wes all on ster.
The king and thai that with him wer
Quhen on ster the oyst saw sua
Towart thar warand gan thai ga,
355 And thar in savete com thai 348
And quhen Schyr Aymer herd say
How that the king thar men had slayn
And how that thai turnyt war agayn
He said, 'Now may we clerly se
360 That nobill hart quharever it be 353
It is hard till ourcum throu maystri,
For quhar ane hart is rycht worthy
Agayne stoutnes it is ay stoute,
Na as I trow thar may na doute
365 Ger it all-out dis cumfyt be 358
Quhill body levand is and fre,
As be this melle may be sene.
We wend Robert the Bruce had bene
Sua discomfyt that be gud skill
370 He suld nother haiff haid hart ne will 363
Swilk juperty till undreta
For he put was at undre sua
That he wes left all him allane
And all his folk war fra him gayn,
375 And he sagat fortravaillyt 368
To put thaim off that him assaylit
That he suld haiff yarnyt resting
This nycht atour all other thing.
Bot his hart fillyt is off bounte
380 Sua that it vencusyt may nocht be.' 373
[The king goes hunting and is attacked by three men beside a wood]
On this wys spak Schyr Aymery,
And quhen thai off his cumpany
Saw how thai travaillit had in vayn
And how the king thar men had slayn
385 And that his wes gane all fre, 378
Thaim thocht it wes a nycete
For to mak thar langer dwelling
Sen thai mycht nocht anoy the king,
And said that to Schyr Amery,
390 That umbethocht him hastily 383
That he to Carlele wald ga
And a quhill tharin sojourn ma
And haff his spyis on the king
To knaw alwayis his contenyng,
395 And quhen that he his poynt mycht se 388
He thocht that with a gret menye
He suld schute apon him sudanly.
Tharfor with all his cumpany
Till Ingland he the way has tane,
400 And ilk man till his hous is gane. 393
In hy till Carlele wesnt is he
And tharin thinkys for till be
Till he his poynt saw off the king,
That then with all his gaderring
405 Wes in Carryk quhar umbestount 398
He wald went with his men til hunt.
Sa happynyt that on a day
He went till hunt for till assay
Quhat gamyn was in that countre,
410 And sua hapnyt that day that he 403
By a woud-syd to sett is gane
With his twa hundys him allane,
Bot his swerd ay with him bar.
He had bot schort quhile syttyn thar
415 Quhen he saw fra the woud cummand 408
Thre men with bowys in thar hand
That towart him come spedely,
And he that persayvyt in hy
Be thar affer and thar having
420 That thai luffyt him nakyn thing, 413
He rais and his leysche till him drew he
And leyte hys hundis gang all fre.
God help the king now for his mycht,
For bot he now be wys and wycht
425 He sall be set in mekill pres, 418
For thai thre men foroutyn les
War his fayis all utrely,
And wachyt him sa bysyly
To se quhen thai vengeance mycht tak
430 Off the king for Jhon Comyn his sak 423
That thai thocht than thai layser had.
And sen he hym allane wes stad
In hy thai thocht thai suld him sla,
And gyff that thai mycht chevys sua
435 Fra that thai the king had slayn 428
THat thai mycht wyn the woud agayn,
His men thaim thocht thai suld nocht dred.
In hy towart the king thai yeid
and bent thar bowys quhen thai war ner,
440 And he that dred on gret maner 433
thar arowys, for he nakyt was,
In hy a speking to thaim mais
And said, 'You aucht to schame perde
Sen ik am ane and ye ar thre
445 For to schute at me apon fer. 438
Bot had ye hardyment to cum ner
And with your swerdis till assay,
Wyn me apon sic wys giff ye may,
Ye sall wele oute mar prisyt be.'
450 'Perfay,' quod ane than off the thre 443
'Sall na man say we dred the sua
That we with arowys sall the sla.'
With that thar bowys away thai kest
And come on fast but langer frest.
455 The king thaim met full hardyly 448
And smate the fyrst sa vygorusly
that he fell dede doun on the gren.
And quhen the kingis hund has sene
Thai men assailye his maister sua
460 He lap till ane and gan him ta 453
Rycht be the nek full sturdyly.
Till top our tale he gert him ly,
And the king that his swerd out had
Saw he sa fayr succour him maid.
465 Or he that fallyn wes mycht rys 458
He him assayllyt on sic wys
That he the bak strak evyn in twa.
The thrid that saw his falowis sua
Foroutyn recoveryng be slayne
470 Tok to the wod his way agane, 463
Bot the king folowit spedyly,
And als the hund that wes him by
Wquhen he the man saw fle him fra
Schot till him sone and gan him ta
475 Rycht be the nek and till him dreuch 468
And the king that wes ner yneucht
In his ryssing sik rowt him gaff
That stane-dede to the erd he draff.
The kingis men that wer than ner
480 Quhen that thai saw on sic maner 473
The king assailyt sa sodanly
Thai sped towart him in hy
And askyt how that cas befell,
And he all haly gan thaim tell
485 How thai assaillyt him all thre 478
'Perfay,' quod thai, 'we may wele se
That it is hard till undretak
Sic melling with you to mak
That sua smertly has slayn tthir thre
490 Foroutyn hurt.' 'Perfay,' said he, 483
I slew bot ane forouten ma
God and my hund has slayn the twa.
Thar tresoun combryt thaim perfay
For rycht wycht men all thre war thai.'
[The king goes to Glen Trool; Valence follows him there]
495 Quhen that the king throu Goddis grace 488
On this maner eschapyt was
He blew his horn and then in hy
His gud men till him gan rely,
tthen hamwartis buskyt he to far
500 For that day wald he hunt no mar. 493
In Glentruell all a quhile he lay,
And went weyle oft to hunt and play
For to purches thaim venesoun,
For than der war in sesoun.
505 In all that tyme Schyr Aymery 498
With nobill men in cumpany
Lay in Carlele hys poynt to se,
And quhen he hard the certante
That in Glentrewle wes the king
510 And went till hunt and till playing, 503
He thocht with hys chevalry
To cum apon him sodanly
And fra Carlele on nychtys ryd
And in covert on dayis bid,
515 And swagate with sic tranonting 508
He thocht he suld suppris the king.
He assemblyt a gret mengne
Off folk off full gud renomme
Bath off Scottis and Inglis-men.
520 Thar way all samyn held thai then 513
And raid on nycht sa prevely
Till thai come in a wod ner by
Glentruele, quhar logyt wes the king
That wyst rycht nocht off thar cummyng.
525 Into gret perile now is he, 518
For bot God throu his gret powste
Save him he sall be slayne or tane,
For thai war sex quhar he wes ane.
[Valence sends a woman ahead to spy, but she is discovered;
Valence attacks and is discumfitted; his captains quarrel]
Quhen Schyr Amery, as Ik haiff tauld
530 With his men that war stout and bauld 523
Wes cummyn sa ner the king that thai
War bot a myle fra him away
He tuk avisement with his menm
On quhat maner thai suld do then.
535 For he said thaim that the king was 528
Logyt into sa strayt a place
That horsmen mycht nocht him assaile
And giff futemen gaiff him bataile
He suld be hard to wyn giff he
540 Off thar cummyng may wytteryt be. 533
'Tharfor I rede all prevely
We send a woman him to spy
That pouerly arrayit be.
Scho may ask mete per cherite
545 And se thar convyn halily 538
And apon quhat maner thai ly,
The quhilis we and our menye
Cumand out-throu the wode may be
On fute all armyt as we ar.
550 May we do sua that we cum thar 543
On thaim or thai wyt our cummyng
We sall fynd in thaim na sturting.'
This consaill thocht thaim wes to best,
Then send thai furth but langer frest
555 The woman that suld be thar spy, 548
And scho hyr way gan hald in hy
Rycht to the logis quhar the king
That had na drede of supprising
Yheid unarmyt mery and blyth.
560 The woman has he sene alswyth, 553
He saw hyr uncouth and forthi
He beheld hyr mar encrely,
And be hyr ccontenance him thocht
That for gud cummyn was scho nocht.
565 Then gert he men in hy hyr ta, 558
And scho that dred men suld hyr sla
Tauld how that Schyr Amery
With the Cliffurd in cumpany
With the flour off Northummyrland
570 War cummand on thaim at thar hand. 563
Quhen that the king herd that tithing
He armyt him but mar dwelling,
Sa did thai all that ever wes thar,
Syne in a sop assemblyt ar,
575 I trow thai war thre hunder ner. 568
And quhen thai all assemblit wer
The king his baner gert display
And set his men in gud aray,
Bot thai had standyn bot a thraw
580 Rycht at thar hand quhen that thai saw 573
Thar fayis throu the wod cummand
Armyt on fute with sper in hand
That sped thaim full enforcely.
The noyis begouth sone and the cry,
585 For the gud king that formast was 578
Stoutly towart his fayis gays,
And hynt out off a mannys hand
That ner besyd him wes gangand
A bow and a braid arow als,
590 And hyt the formast in the hals 583
Till thropill and wesand yeid in twa
And doun till the erd gan ga.
The laiff with that maid a stopping,
Than but mar bad the nobill king
595 Hynt fra his baneour his banar 588
And said, 'Apon thaim, for thai ar
Discumfyt all.' With that word
He swappyt swiftly out his sword
And on thaim ran sa hardely
600 That all thai off his cumpany 593
Tuk hardyment off his gud deid,
For sum that fryst thar wayis yeid
Agayne come to the fycht in hy
And met thair fayis vigorusly
605 That all the formast ruschyt war, 598
And quhen thai that war hendermar
Saw that the formast left the sted
Thai tornyt sone the bak and fled
And out off the wod thaim withdrew.
610 The king a few men off thaim slew 603
For thai rycht sone thar gat gan ga.
It discomfortyt thaim all sua
That the king with his mengne was
All armyt to defend that place
615 that thai wend throu thar tranonting 608
Till haiff wonnyn foroutyn fechtin
That thai effrayit war sodanly,
And he thaim soucht sa angyrly
That thai in full gret hy agane
620 Out off the wod rane to the plane 613
For thaim faillyt off thar entent.
Thai war that tyme sa foully schent
That fyften hunder men and ma
With a few mengne war reboytyt sua
625 That thai withdrew thaim schamfully. 618
Tharfor amang thaim sodanly
Thar rais debate and gret distance,
Ilkan wytt other off thar myschance.
Cliffurd and Waus maid a melle
630 Quhar Cliffurd raucht him a cole 623
And athir syne drew till partys,
Bot Schyr Aymer that wes wys
Departyt thaim with mekill payn,
And went till Ingland hame again.
635 He wyst fra stryff ras thaim amang 628
He suld thaim nocht hals samyn lang
Foroutyn debate or melle,
Tharfor till Ingland turnyt he
Eith mar schame then he went of ton,
640 Quhen sa mony off sic renone 633
Saw sa few men bid thaim battaill
Quhair thai ne war hardy till assaile.
Comments about this poem (The Brus Book VII by John Barbour )
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