William Dunbar’s Lament For The Makers – 1

[William Dunbar (1460-1520)]

AG: (searching through his anthology) (Is (Robert) Creeley ….in the Norton book?… yeah, one-two-two-five..yeah, I think that might be… One-two-two-five, that might’ve been it?…No. I’ll find it, there is some poem of his that’s like that.

So we have (William) Dunbar’s “Lament for the Poets” or “Lament for theMakers” – You remember poesis was making, making – “makeles” here – 15th-16th century. It’s (this poem’s) like my own poem, “Howl”, in theme and subject . It’s a lament for all the poets that he knew that lived and died, that he knew of.

So, actually, it’s his.. it’s a recitation of his lineage, an outline of who the poets were that influenced him, William Dunbar.

Is Pat O’Brien here ? – [to Pat O’Brien – Student] – (You want to try to read it? You have a good.. you got a good.. is this a good text? I have a couple of texts here that.. maybe the one we have in the Oxford bookis better?

Pat O’Brien: (.. (Norton) – page seventy-two)
AG: I’ll be up here tho’ – Can you help out (since you know the language)?

Student (P O’B) I can just do this in common Middle English. I’m not very good at Middle Scots
AG: Well, is it Middle Scots?
Student (P O’B) Yeah, you’ve got to give it the Scots, roll the “r”s and so forth, and I can’t do any of that.
AG: Okay
Student (P O’B): “Lament to the Makers”
AG: Is that makers and not muckers?
Student (P O’B): Yeah
AG: Makers?
Student (P O’B): Right, well, you might say mucker
AG: Muckers?
Student (P O’B): But in general, you don’t pronounce the “i-s” after a vowel in Middle Scots (except when you feel it!)
AG: Okay ..and it’s “while he was sek?” – right?
Student (P O’B): Right
AG: In our book, we don’t have that. The full title is “Lament to the Makers When He Was Sek” – Q-W-H-E-N – “Qwhen he was Sek” (S-E-K} – You might write that in – Q-W-H-E-N… Q-W-H-..
Student (PO’B): Q-U?
AG: I have “Q-W” here in the.. What do you have? Do they have that one?
Student (PO’B): Q-U-H-E..
AG: Q -U-H-E-N – he has Q-U-H-E-N, I have Q-W-H-E-N, so we take a choice – “Whan he was sek” – S-E-K
Student – S-E-I-K
AG: S-E-I-K? – I have S-E-K here. What have you got?
Student (PO’B): – S-E-I-K
AG: Do it strong, oratorical
Student: Oratorical?

AG: Yeah

[P O’B (Pat O’Brien) begins reading Dunbar’s poem approximately three-and-a-half minutes in]

I THAT in heill was and gladnèss
Am trublit now with great sickness
And feblit with infirmitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Our plesance here is all vain glory,
This fals world is but transitory,
The flesh is bruckle, the Feynd is slee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
The state of man does change and vary,
Now sound, now sick, now blyth, now sary,
Now dansand mirry, now like to die:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
No state in Erd here standis sicker;
As with the wynd wavis the wicker
So wannis this world’s vanitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Unto the Death gois all Estatis,
Princis, Prelatis, and Potestatis,
Baith rich and poor of all degree:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He takis the knichtis in to the field
Enarmit under helm and scheild;
Victor he is at all mellie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
That strong unmerciful tyrand
Takis, on the motheris breast sowkand,
The babe full of benignitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He takis the campion in the stour,
The captain closit in the tour,
The lady in bour full of bewtie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He spairis no lord for his piscence,
Na clerk for his intelligence;
His awful straik may no man flee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Art-magicianis and astrologgis,
Rethoris, logicianis, and theologgis,
Them helpis no conclusionis slee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
In medecine the most practicianis,
Leechis, surrigianis, and physicianis,
Themself from Death may not supplee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
I see that makaris amang the lave
Playis here their padyanis, syne gois to grave;
Sparit is nocht their facultie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He has done petuously devour
The noble Chaucer, of makaris flour,
The Monk of Bury, and Gower, all three:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
The good Sir Hew of Eglintoun,
Ettrick, Heriot, and Wintoun,
He has tane out of this cuntrie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
That scorpion fell has done infeck
Maister John Clerk, and James Afflek,
Fra ballat-making and tragedie:—
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 tane,
That made the anteris of Gawaine;
Sir Gilbert Hay endit has he:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He has Blind Harry and Sandy Traill
Slain with his schour of mortal hail,
Quhilk Patrick Johnstoun might nought flee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He has reft Merseir his endite,
That did in luve so lively write,
So short, so quick, of sentence hie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
He has tane Rowll of Aberdene,
And gentill Rowll of Corstorphine;
Two better fallowis did no man see:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
In Dunfermline he has tane Broun
With Maister Robert Henrysoun;
Sir John the Ross enbrast has he:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
And he has now tane, last of a,
Good gentil Stobo and Quintin Shaw,
Of quhom all wichtis hes pitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Good Maister Walter Kennedy
In point of Death lies verily;
Great ruth it were that so suld be:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Sen he has all my brether tane,
He will naught let me live alane;
Of force I man 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.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and continuing to approximately eight-and-a-half minutes in]


 

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