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Robert Henryson

(1425 - 1505 / Scotland)

Biography of Robert Henryson

Robert Henryson poet

Little is known about Robert Henryson's life, who was a very well-known Scottish author much admired by his contemporories (often described as the 'greatest' Scottish medieval author); who wrote in middle-scots in the second half of the fifteenth century, and mainly during the reign of James III. He 'possibly' attended and taught at the University of Glasgow, and is associated with the town of Dunfermline, where -inasmuch as can be ascertained from his work and sixteenth century tradition- he may have worked as a teacher, lawyer, or public notary. He was not a court poet, unlike his younger contemporary, William Dunbar.

Henryson's main works include a version of Aesop's Fables (usually entitled The Morall fabillis of Esope the Phrygian), The Testament of Cresseid, a follow-on to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (but also seen as his own, original 'masterpiece', a poem in its own right) , Robene and Makyne, and Orpheus and Eurydice, a version of the classic tale.

Pricilla Bawcutt describes Henryson in Discovering Scottish Writers as excelling as 'a narrative poet' who handled the fable genre 'brilliantly.'

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Robin and Malkin

Robene sat on gud grene hill,
Kepand a flok of fe;
Mirry Makyne said him till,
"Robene, thow rew on me;
I haif the luvit lowd and still,
Thir yeiris two or thre;
My dule in dern bot gif thow dill,
Dowtless but dreid I de."

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