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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XI. The Middle Scots Anthologies: Anonymous Verse and Early Prose

§ 13. Love Poetry; Tayis Bank

In all these pieces the literary interest yields to the historical and anitquarian: but in the love poems and lyrics it is of more account. Some of these are hardly inferior to the known work of Alexander Scott and others represented in these collecitons; and they may, indeed, prove to be theirs. The love lay Tayis Bank, in the common ballad measure, arranged in eight-lined stanzas, is curiously deliberate in its mixture of the alliterative and aureate styles. The “mansuet Mergrit, this perle polist most quhyt,” who is the object of the poet’s admiration, has been identified with Margaret Drummond, the mistress of James IV before his marriage with Margaret Tudor. The nature-setting, though happy, is conventional; and the poet’s praise of the lady is always ceremonious and distant.

  • This myld, meik, mansuet Mergrit,
  • This perle polist most quhyt,
  • Dame Natouris deir dochter discreit,
  • The dyamant of delyt,
  • Neuir formit wes to found on feit
  • Ane figour moir perfyte,
  • Nor non on mold that did hir meit
  • Mycht mend hir wirth a myte.
  • When she departs, the poet is not sorrowful as the author of the Kingis Quair was. He appears to take comfor tfrom the artistic propriety of her going into a wane “most hevinly to behold.” He tells us that he admired the beauty of that place “as parradyce but peir,” and adds
  • And I to heir thir birdis gay
  • Did in a bonk abyd.