Home  »  Volume II: English THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES  »  § 9. Burlesque Poems

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

§ 9. Burlesque Poems

There is more of direct parody in the interlude of the Laying of Lord Fergus’s Gaist, beginning

  • Listis lordis, I sall [char]3 ow tell
  • Off ane verry grit mervell,
  • Off Lord Ferguss gaist,
  • How mekle Schir Andro it chest
  • vnto Beittokis bour.
  • It indulges, amid its satire of the ritual of exorcism, in the quaintest fancy.
  • Suppois the gaist wes littill
  • [char]3 it it stall Godis quhittill;
  • It stall fra peteouss Abrahame
  • Ane quhorle and ane quhum quhame;
  • It stall fra the carle of the mone
  • Ane pair of auld yrn schone;
  • It ran to Pencaitlane
  • And wirreit ane auld chaplane.
  • Its allusions to “Colkelbeis Feist” and “St. Bettokis Bour” would establish its kinship, even if it manner did not make this evident.

    Lichtounis Dreme helps us a little to the secret of this “skimblw-skamble” verse. the rimer asks “Quha douttis dremis ar bot phantasye?” and proceeds:

  • My spreit was reft, and had in extasye,
  • My heid lay laich into this dreme but dout;
  • At my foirtop my fyve wittis flew out,
  • I murnit, and I maid a felloun mane:
  • Me thocht the King of Farye had me tane,
  • And band me in ane presoun, fute and hand,
  • Withoutin reuth, in ane lang raip of sand:
  • To pers the presoun wall it was nocht eith,
  • For it was mingit and maid with mussill teith,
  • And in the middis of it ane myir of flynt;
  • I sank thairin, quhill I wes neir hand tynt;
  • And quhen I saw thair wes none uthir remeid,
  • I flychterit vp with ane feddrem of leid.
  • He rambles on, telling of his escape to “mony divers place,” and at last to Peebles and Portjafe. Then he sailed in a barge of draff to Paradise.
  • Be we approchit inot that port in hye,
  • We ware weill ware of Enoch and Elye,
  • Sittand, on Yule evin, in ane fresch grene schaw,
  • rostand straberreis at ane fyre of snaw.
  • Like Gog Magog’s kin in Dunbar’s interlude, he makes free with the interlunar spaces. Later in the poem, when telling how he desired to leave the moon, he says:
  • Bot than I tuke the sone beme in my neif
  • And wald haif clumin, bot it was in ane clipss;
  • Schortlie I slaid, and fell upoun my hips,
  • Doun in ane midow, besyde ane busk of mynt;
  • I socht my self, and I was sevin yeir tynt,
  • Yit in ane mist I fand me on the morne.
  • We need not follow his adventure with the Pundler and the three white whales which appeared at the blast of the “elriche horne.” The conclusion is suggestive. When Lichtoun monicus awakes, he asks:
  • Quhair, trow ye, that I was?
  • Doun in ane henslaik, and gat ane felloun fall,
  • And aly betuix ane picher and the wall.
  • And he adds:
  • As wyffis commandis, this dreme I will conclude;
  • God and the rude mot turn it all to gud!
  • Gar fill the cop, for thir auld carlingis clames
  • That gentill aill is oft the causs of dremes.
  • Another wife, in later verse, warned her Tam how by “bousing at the nappy” he would be “catch’d wi’s warlocks in the mirk.”