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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Lady Jane

By James I. of Scotland

  • James the First of Scotland, a prisoner at Windsor, sees from his window the Lady Jane Beaufort, who afterwards became his Queen.

  • BEWAILING in my chamber, thus alone,

    Despaired of all joy and remedy,

    For-tired of my thought, and woe-begone,

    And to the window gan I walk in hy

    To see the world and folk that went forbye,

    As, for the time, though I of mirthis food

    Might have no more, to look it did me good.

    Now was there made, fast by the towris wall,

    A garden fair; and in the corners set

    Ane arbour green, with wandis long and small

    Railed about, and so with trees set

    Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet

    That lyf was none walking there forbye,

    That might within scarce any wight espy.

    So thick the boughis and the leavis green

    Beshaded all the alleys that there were,

    And mids of every arbour might be seen

    The sharpe greene sweete juniper,

    Growing so fair with branches here and there,

    That as it seemed to a lyf without,

    The boughis spread the arbour all about.

    And on the smalle greene twistis sat,

    The little sweete nightingale, and sung

    So loud and clear, the hymnis consecrat

    Of lovis use, now soft, now loud among,

    That all the gardens and the wallis rung

    Right of their song.


    And therewith cast I down mine eyes again,

    Where as I saw, walking under the tower,

    Full secretly, new comen here to plain,

    The fairist or the freshest younge flower

    That ever I saw, methought, before that hour,

    For which sudden abate, anon astart,

    The blood of all my body to my heart.

    And though I stood abasit tho a lite,

    No wonder was; for why? my wittis all

    Were so overcome with pleasance and delight,

    Only through letting of my eyen fall,

    That suddenly my heart became her thrall,

    For ever of free will,—for of menace

    There was no token in her sweete face.

    And in my head I drew right hastily,

    And eftesoons I leant it out again,

    And saw her walk that very womanly,

    With no wight mo’, but only women twain.

    Then gan I study in myself, and sayn,

    “Ah, sweet! are ye a worldly creature,

    Or heavenly thing in likeness of nature?

    “Or are ye god Cupidis own princess,

    And comin are to loose me out of band?

    Or are ye very Nature the goddess,

    That have depainted with your heavenly hand,

    This garden full of flowers as they stand?

    What shall I think, alas! what reverence

    Shall I mister unto your excellence?

    “If ye a goddess be, and that ye like

    To do me pain, I may it not astart:

    If ye be warldly wight, that doth me sike,

    Why list God make you so, my dearest heart,

    To do a seely prisoner this smart,

    That loves you all, and wot of nought but wo?

    And therefore mercy, sweet! sin’ it is so.”

    Of her array the form if I shall write,

    Towards her golden hair and rich attire,

    In fretwise couchit with pearlis white

    And great balas leaming as the fire,

    With mony ane emeraut and fair sapphire;

    And on her head a chaplet fresh of hue,

    Of plumis parted red, and white, and blue.

    Full of quaking spangis bright as gold,

    Forged of shape like to the amorets,

    So new, so fresh, so pleasant to behold,

    The plumis eke like to the flower jonets;

    And other of shape like to the flower jonets;

    And above all this, there was, well I wot,

    Beauty enough to make a world to doat.

    About her neck, white as the fire amail,

    A goodly chain of small orfevory,

    Whereby there hung a ruby, without fail,

    Like to ane heart shapen verily,

    That as asp ark of low, so wantonly

    Seemed burning upon her white throat,

    Now if there was good party, God it wot.

    And for to walk that fresh May’s morrow,

    Ane hook she had upon her tissue white,

    That goodlier had not been seen to-forow,

    As I suppose; and girt she was alite,

    Thus halflings loose for haste, to such delight

    It was to see her youth in goodlihede,

    That for rudeness to speak thereof I dread.

    In her was youth, beauty, with humble aport,

    Bounty, riches, and womanly feature,

    God better wot than my pen can report:

    Wisdom, largess, estate, and cunning sure,

    In every point so guided her measure,

    In word, in deed, in shape, in countenance,

    That nature might no more her child avance!


    And when she walked had a little thraw

    Under the sweete greene boughis bent,

    Her fair fresh face, as white as any snaw,

    She turned has, and furth her wayis went;

    But then began mine aches and torment,

    To see her part and follow I na might;

    Methought the day was turned into night.