florist flowris schene

Gavin Douglas wrote the lines below about a May morning 500 years ago, as part of his Prologue to Book XI of Eneados, his translation of Virgil’s Aeneid.

I read it beneath a cedar in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens at the weekend, as part of the ‘Spring Blossoms’ walks.

But it also seems a good match to this picture of me at Stonefield Castle, near Tarbert in Kintyre, taken by ~in the fields while I was visiting them there last week (even if rhododendrons hadn’t yet reached Scotland in 1513).

ken_stonefieldcastle

Dame naturis menstralis, on that other part,
Thayr blyssfull bay entonyng euery art,
To beyt thar amouris of thar nychtis baill,
The merll, the mavys, and the nychtingale,
[…]
And al small fowlys singis on the spray :
Welcum the lord of lycht, and lamp of day,
Welcum fostyr of tendir herbys grene,
Welcum quyknar of florist flowris schene,
Welcum support of euery rute and vane,
Welcum confort of alkynd fruyt and grane,
Welcum the byrdis beyld apon the breyr,
Welcum maister and rewlar of the yeyr,
Welcum weilfar of husbandis at the plewis,
Welcum reparar of woddis, treis, and bewis,
Welcum depayntar of the blomyt medis,
Welcum the lyfe of euery thing that spredis,
Welcum stourour of alkynd bestiall,
Welcum be thi brycht bemys, glading all,
Welcum celestiall myrrour and aspy,
Attechyng all that hantis sluggardy!

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2 thoughts on “florist flowris schene”

  1. I hope the general mood comes across. Sometimes it’s a case of old spelling / pronunciation, grene for green, and breyr for briar, other times the words are obselete. The last line means something like, ‘Reproving all those who practise laziness’, so sluggardy is linked to modern words like sluggish. It’s good fun trying to read it out too – it works best slowly, and aim for five beats or stresses to a line.

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