John Barbour Poems >>
The Brus Book VI

[Sir Ingram Umfraville praises the king;
the men of Galloway pursue him with a tracker dog]

The king is went till his logyng
And off this deid sone come tithing
Till Schyr Ingrame the Umfravill
That thocht his sutelte and gyle
Haid al failyeit in that place.
Tharfor anoyit sua he was
That he agayne to Lothyane
Till Schyr Amer his gate has tane
And till him tauld all hale the cas,
That tharoff all forwonderyt was
How ony man sa sodanly
Mycht do so gret chevalry
As did the king that him allane
Vengeance off thre traytouris has tane,
And said, 'Certis, I may weill se
That it is all certante
That ure helpys hardy men
As be this deid we may ken.
War he nocht outrageous hardy
He had nocht unabasytly
Sa smertly sene his avantage.
I drede that his gret vassalag
And his travaill may bring till end
That at men quhile full litill wend.'
Sik speking maid he off the king
That ay foroutyn sojournyng
Travaillit in Carrik her and thar.
His men fra him sa scalit war
To purches thar necessite
And als the countre for to se
That thai left nocht with him sexty.
And quhen the Gallowais wyst suthli
That he wes with sa few mengye
Thai maid a preve assemble
Off wele twa hunder men and ma,
And slewth-hundis with thaim gan ta,
For thai thocht him for to suppris
And giff he fled on ony wys
To folow him with the hundis sua
That he suld nocht eschaip thaim fra.
Thai schup thaim in ane evynnyng
To suppris sodanly the king
And tillhim held thai straucht thar way,
Bot he, that had his wachis ay
On ilk sid, off thar cummyng
Lang or thai come had wyttering
And how fele that thai mycht be,
Tharfor he thocht with his menye
To withdraw him out off the place,
For the nycht weill fallyn was
And for the nycht he thocht that thai
Suld nocht haiff sycht to hald the way
That he war passyt with his menye.
And as he thocht rycht sua did he
And went him down till a morras
Our awatter that rynnand was,
And in the bog he fand a place
Weill strait that weill twa bow-draucht was
Fra the watter thai passit haid.
He said, 'Her may ye mak abaid
And rest you all a quhile and ly,
I will ga wach all prevely.
Giff Ik her oucht off thar cummyng
And giff I may her onything
Isall ger warn you sa that we
Sall ay at our avantage be.'

[The king alone defends the ford]

The king now takys his gate to ga
And with him tuk he sergandis twa
And Schyr Gilbert de le Hay left he
Thar for to rest with his menye.
To the watter he come in hy
And lysnyt full ententily
Giff he herd oucht off thar cummyng
Bot yeit then mocht he her na thing.
Endlang the watter then yeid he
On ather syd a gret quantite
And saw the brayis hey standand,
The watter holl throu slik rynnand
And fand na furd that men mycht pas
Bot quhar himselvyn passit was,
And sua strait wes the up-cumming
That twa men mycht nocht samyn thring
Na on na maner pres thaim sua
That thai togidder mycht land ta.
His twa men bad he than in hy
Ga to thair feris to rest and ly
For he wald wach thar com to se.
'Schyr,' said thai, 'Quha sall with you be?'
'God,' he said, 'forouten ma
Pas on, for I will it be sua.'
Thai did as he thame biddin had
And he thar all allane abaid,
And quhen he a lang quhile had bene thar
He herknyt and herd as it war
A hundis questyng on fer
That ay come till him ner and ner.
He stud still for till herkyn mar
And ay the langer he wes thar
He herd it ner and ner cummand,
Bot he thocht he thar still wald stand
Tyll that he herd mar takynnyng.
Than for ane hundis questyng
He wald nocht wakyn his menye,
Tharfor he wald abid and se
Quhat folk  thai war and quhethir thai
Held towart him the rycht way
Or passyt ane other way fer by.
The moyne wes schynand clerly,
[no no.] [Sa lang he stude that he mycht her
[no no.] The noyis off thaim that cummand wer
[no no.] Than his twa men in hy send he
[no no.] To warn and wakyn and walkyn his menye
[no no.] And thai ar furth thar wayis gane
[no no.] And he left thar all hym allane]
And sua stude he herknand
Till that he saw cum at his hand
The hale rout intill full gret hy.
Then he umbethocht him hastily
Giff he held towart his menye
That or he mycht reparyt be
Thai suld be passit the furd ilkan,
And then behuffyt him ches ane
Off thir twa, other to fley or dey.
Bot his hart that wes stout and hey
Consaillyt hym allane to bid
And kepe thaim at the furd syde
And defend weill the upcummyng
Sen he wes warnyst of armyng
That thar arowys thurth nocht dreid,
And gyff he war off gret manheid
He mycht stunay thaim everilkane
Sen thai ne mycht cum bot ane and ane,
And did rycht as hys hart hym bad.
Strang utrageous curage he had
Quhen he sa stoutly him allane
For litill strenth off erd has tane
To fecht with twa hunder and ma.
Tharwith he to the furd gan ga,
And thai apon the tother party
That saw him stand thar anyrly
Thringand intill the water rad
For off him litill dout thai had
And raid till him in full gret hy.
He smate the fyrst sua vygorusly
With his sper that rycht scharp schar
Till he doun till the erd him bar.
The lave come then intill a randoun,
Bot his hors that wes born doun
Combryt thaim the upgang to ta,
And quhen the king saw it wes sua
He stekyt the hors and he gan flyng
And syne fell at the upcummyng.
The layff with that come with a schout,
And he that stalwart wes and stout
Met thaim rycht stoutly at the bra
And sa gud payment gan thaim ma
That fyvesum in the furd he slew.
The lave then sumdell thaim withdrew
That dred his strakys wondre sar
For he in na thing thaim forbar.
Then said ane, 'Certis we ar to blame.
Quhat sall we say quhen we cum ham
Quhen a man fechtis agane us all.
Quha wyst ever men sa foully fall
As us gyff that we thusgat leve.'
With that all haile a schoute thai geve
And cryit, 'On him, he may nocht last.'
With that thai pressyt him sa fast
That had he nocht the better bene
He had bene dede withoutyn wen,
Bot he sa gret defence gan mak
That quhar he hyt evyn a strak
Thar mycht nathing agane-stand.
In litill space he left liand
Sa fele that the upcummyng wes then
Dyttyt with slayn hors and men
Sua that his fayis for that stopping
Mycht nocht cum to the upcummyng.
A! Der God, quha had then bene by
And  sene howe he sa hardyly
Adressyt hym agane thaim all
I wate weile that thai suld him call
The best that levyt in his day,
And giff I the suth sall say
I herd never in na tym gane
Ane stynt sa mony him allane.

[The story of Tydeus of Thebes]

Suth is, quhen till Ethiocles
Fra his brother Polnices
Wes send Thedeus in message
To ask haly the heritage
Off Thebes till hald for a yer,
For thai twynnys off a byrth wer,
Thai strave, for ather king wald be.
Bot the barnage off thar cuntre
Gert thaim assent on this maner,
That the tane suld be king a yer,
And then the tother and his mengye
Suld nocht be fundyn in the countre
Quhill the fyrst brother regnand wer,
Syne suld the tother renge a yer
And then the fyrst suld leve the land
Quhill that the tother war regnaND.
Thus ay a yer suld regne the tane,
The tother a yer fra that war gane.
To ask haldyn off this assent
Wes Thedeus to Thebes sent,
And sua spake for Polnices
That off Thebes Ethiocles
Bad his constabill with him ta
Men armyt weill and forouth ga
To mete Thedeus in the way
And slay him but langer delay.
The constable his way is gane
And nyne and fourty with him tane
Sua that he with thaim maid fyfty.
Intill the evynnyng prevely
Thai set enbuschement in the way
Quhar Thedeus behovyt away
Betuix ane hey crag and the se,
And he that off thar mavyte
Wyst na thing his way has tane
And towart Grece agane is gane.
And as he raid into the nycht
Sa saw he with the monys lycht
Schynyng off scheldys gret plente,
And had wondre quhat it mycht be.
With that all hale thai gaiff a cry
And he that hard sa suddanly
Sic noyis sumdele affrayit was,
Bot in schort time he till him tais
His spyritis full hardely,
For his gentill hart and worthy
Assuryt hym into that nede.
Then with te spuris he strak the sted
And ruschyt in amang thaim all.
The fyrst he met he gert him fall,
And syne his sword he swapyt out
And roucht about him mony rout
And slew sexsum swill sone and ma.
Then undre him his hors thai sla
And he fell, bot he smertly ras
And strykand rowm about him mas
And slew off thaim a quantite
Bot woundyt wondre sar wes he.
With that a litill rod he fand
Up towart the crag strekand.
Thidder went he in full gret hy
Defendand him full douchtely
Till in the crag he clam sumdell
And fand a place enclosyt weill
Quhar nane bot ane mycht him assail,
Thar stud he and gaiff thaim bataill
And thai assaylyt everilkane
And oft fell quhen that he slew ane
As he doun to the erd wald dryve
He wald ber doun weill four or fyve.
Thar stud he and defendyt sua
Till he had slayne thaim halff and ma.
A gret stane then by him saw he
That throu the gret anciente
Wes lowsyt redy for to fall,
And quhen he saw thaim cummand all
He tumblyt doun on thaim the stane,
And aucht men thar with it has slayn
And sua stonayit the remanand
That thai war weile ner recreand.
Then wald he presone hald no mar
Bot on thaim ran with swerd all bar
And hewyt and slew with all his mayn
Till he has nyne and fourty slayne.
The constabill syne gan he ta
And gert him swer that he suld ga
Till King Ethiocles and tell
The aventur that thaim befell.
Thedeus bar him douchtely
That him allane ourcome fyfty.
Ye that this redys, cheys yhe
Quhether that mar suld prysit be
The king, that with avisement
Undertuk sic hardyment
As for to stynt him ane but fer
The folk that twa hunder wer,
Or Thedeus, that suddanly
For thai had raysyt on him the cry
Throu hardyment that he had tane
Wane fyfty men allhim allane.
Thai did thar deid bath on the nycht
And faucht bath with the mone-lycht,
Bot the king discomfyt ma
And Thedeus then ma gan sla.
Now demys quhether mar loving
Suld Thedeus haiff or the king?

[His men find the king]

On this maner that Ik haiff tauld
The king that stout wes and bauld
Wes fechtand on the furd syd
Giffand and takand rowtis rid
Till he sic martyrdom thar has maid
That he the ford all stoppyt haid
That nane of thaim mycht till him rid.
Thaim thocht than foly for to byd
And halely the flycht gan ta
And went hamewartis quhar thai come fra,
For the kingis men with the cry
Walknyt full effrayitly
And com to sek thar lord the king.
The Galloway men hard thar cummyng
And fled and durst abid no mar.
The kingis men that dredand war
For thar lord full spedyly
Come to the furd and sone in hy
Thai fand the king syttand allane,
That off his bassynet has tane
Till avent him for he wes hate.
Than speryt thai at him off his state
And he tauld thaim all hale the case
Howgate that he assailyt was
And how that God him helpyt sua
That he eschapyt hale thaim fra.
Than lukyt thai how fele war ded,
And thai fand lyand in that sted
Fourtene that war slayne with his hand.
Than lovyt thai God fast all-weildand
That thai thar lord fand hale and fer,
And said thaim byrd on na maner
Drede thar fayis sen thar chyftane
Wes off sic hart and off sic mayn
That he for thaim had undretan
With sua fele for to fecht him ane.

[A comment on valour]

Syk wordis spak thai of the king,
And for his hey undretaking
Farlyit and yarnyt hym for to se
That with hym ay wes wont to be.
A! Quhat worschip is prisit thing,
For it mays men till haiff loving
Gyff it be folowit ythenly,
For pryce off worschip nocht-forthi
Is hard to wyn, for gret travaill
Offt to defend and oft assaill
And to be in thar dedis wys
Gerris men off worschip wyn the price,
And may na man haiff worthyhed
Bot he haiff wyt to ster his deid
And se quhat ys to leve or ta.
Worschip extremyteys has twa,
Fule-hardyment the formast is
And the tother is cowartys,
And thai ar bath for to forsak.
Fule-hardyment all will undertak,
Als weill thingis to leve as ta,
Bot cowardys dois na thing sua
But uttrely forsakis all,
Bot that war derer for to fal
Na war faute of discretioun.
Forthi has worschip sic renoun,
That it is mene betuix tha twa
And takys that is till underta
And levys that is to leve, for it
Has sa gret warnysing of wyt
That it all perellis weile gan se
And all avantagis that may be.
I wald till hardyment heyld haly
With-thi away war the foly
For hardyment with foly is vice
Bot hardyment that mellyt is
With wyt is worschip ay perde,
For but wyt worschip may nocht be.
This nobile king that we off red
Mellyt all tyme with wit manheid,
That may men by this melle se.
His wyt schawyt him the strait entre
Off the furd and the uschyng alsua
That as him thocht war hard to ta
Apon a man that war worthy,
Tharfor his hardyment hastily
Thocht it mycht be weill undretan
Sen at anys mycht assail bot ane.
Thus hardyment governyt with wyt
That he all tyme wald samyn knyt
Gert him off worschip haiff the price
And oft ourcum his ennymyis.

[Douglas attacks Thirlwall at Douglas Castle]

The king in Carrik dwellyt ay still,
Hys men assemblyt fast him till
That in the land war travailland
Quhen thai off this deid herd tithand
For thai thar ure wald with him ta
Gyff that he eft war assaylyt sua.
Bot yeit than James of Douglas
In Douglas daile travailland was
Or ellysweill ner-hand tharby
In hydillys sumdeill prevely,
For he wald se his governyng
That had the castell in keping,
And gert mak mony juperty
To se quhether he wald ische blythly.
And quhen he persavyt that he
Wald blthly ische with his menye,
He maid a gadring prevely
Of thaim that war on his party,
That war sa fele that thai durst fycht
With Thyrwall and all the mycht
Of thaim that in the castell war.
He schupe him in the nycht to far
To Sandylandis, and ner tharby
He him enbuschyt prevely
And send a few a trane to ma,
That sone in the mornyng gan ta
Catell that wes the castell by
And syne withdrew thaim hastily
Towart thaim that enbuschit war.
Than Thyrwall foroutyn mar
Gert arme his men foroutyn baid
And ischyt with all the men he haid
And folowyt fast efter the ky.
He wes armyt at poynt clenly
Outane his hede wes bar.
Than with the men that with him war
The catell folowit he gud speid
Rycht as a man that had na dreid
Till that he gat off thaim a sycht.
Than prekyt thai with all thar mycht
Folowand thaim out off aray,
And thai sped thaim fleand quhill thai
Fer by thar buschement war past,
And Thyrwall ay chassyt fast.
And than thai that enbuschyt war
Ischyt till him bath les and mar
And rayssyt sudanly the cry,
And thai that saw sa sudandly
That folk come egyrly prekand
Rycht betwix thaim and thar warand,
Thai war into full gret effray
And for thai war out off aray
Sum off thaim fled and sum abad,
And the Douglas that thar with him had
A gret mengye full egrely
Assaylyt and scalyt thaim hastyly
And in schort tyme ourraid thaim sua
That weile nane eschapyyt thaim fra.
Thyrwall that wes thar capitane
Wes thar in the bargane slane
And off his men the mast party,
The lave fled full effraytly.
Douglas his menye fast gan chas,
And the flearis thar wayis tays
Till the castell in full gret hy.
The formast entryt spedyly
Bot the chaseris sped thaim sa fast
That thai ourtuk sum of the last
And thaim foroutyn mercy gan sla.
And quhen thai off the castell sua
Saw thaim sla off thar men thaim by
Thai sparyt the yattis hastily
And in hy to the wallis rane.
James off Douglas his menye than
Sesyt weile hastily in hand
That thai about the castell fand
To thair resett, syne went thar way.
Thus ischyt Thyrwall that day.

[The king is pursued by John of Lorn and his tracker-dog;
he and his foster brother kill five men]

Quhen Thyrwall on this maner
Had ischit as I tell you her,
James off Douglas and his men
Buskit thaim all samyn then
And went thar way towart the king
In gret hy, for thai herd tything
That off Valence Schyr Amery
With full gret chevalry
Bath off Scottis and Inglis men
With gret felny war rerdy then
Assemblyt for to sek the king,
That wes that tyme with his gadring
In Cumnok quhair it straitast was.
Thidder went James of Douglas
And wes rycht welcum to the king
And quhen he had tauld that tithing,
How that schyr Amer wes cummand
For till hunt him out off the land
With hund and horne rycht as he war
A woulff, a theyff, or theyffis fer,
Than said the king, 'It may weill fall
Thocht he cum and his power all
We sall abid in this countre,
And gyff he cummys we sall him se.'
The king spake apon this maner,
And of Valence Schyr Amer
Assemblyt a gret cumpany
Off noble men and off worthy
Off Ingland and of Lowthiane,
And he has alsua with him tane
Jhone off Lorn and all his mycht
That had off worthi men and wycht
With him aucht hunder men and ma
A sleuth-hund had he thar alsua
Sa gud  that wald chang for na thing,
And sum men sayis yeit that the king
As a strecour him noryst had
And sa mekill off him he maid
That hys awyn handis wald him feid.
He folowyt him quharever he yeid
Sa tthat the hund him lovit sua
That he wald part na wys him fra.
Bot how that Jhon of Lorn him had
Ik herd never mencioun be mad,
Bot men sayis it wes certane thing
That he had him in his sesyng
And throu him thocht the king to ta,
For he wyst he him luffyt sua
That fra that he mycht anys fele
The kingis sent he wyst rycht weill
That he wald chaung it for na thing.
This Jhon off Lorne hattyt the king
For Jhon Cumyn his emys sak,
Mycht he him other sla or tak
He wald nocht prys his liff a stra
Sa that he vengeance of him mycht ta.
The wardane than Schyr Amery
With this Jhone in cumpany
And other off gud renoun alsua,
Thomas Randell was ane off tha,
Come intill Cumnok to sek the king
That wes weill war off that cummyng
And wes up in the strenthis then
And with him weill four hunder men.
His broder that tym with him was
And alsua James off Douglas.
Schyr Ameryys rowte he saw
That held the plane ay and the law
And in hale battaill alwayis raid.
The king that na supposyn had
That thai wer may then he saw thar
Till thaim and nother ellisquhar
Had ey and wrocht unwittily,
For Jhom off Lorn full sutelly
Behind thocht to supprys the king.
Tharfor with all his gadring
About ane hill he held the way
And held him into covert ay
Till he sa ner come to the king
Or he persavyt his cummyng
That he wes cummyn on him weill ner.
The tother ost and Schyr Amer
Pressyt aponthe tother party.
The king wes in gret juperty
That wes on ather sid umbeset
With fayis that to sla him thret,
And the leyst party off the twa
Was starkar than he and ma.
And quhen he saw thaim pres him to
He thocht in hy quhat was to do
And said, 'Lordis we haiff na mycht
As at this tyme to stand and fycht,
Tharfor departis us in thre,
All sall nocht sa assailyt be,
And in thre partis hald our way.'
Syne till his preve folk gan he say
Betwix thaim into prevete
In quhat sted thar repayr suld be.
With that thar gate all ar thai gane
And in thre partis thar way has tane.
Jhone of Lorne come to the place
Fra quhar the king departyt was
And in his trace the hund he set
That then foroutyn langer let
Held even the way efter the king
Rycht as he had off him knawing,
And left the tother partys twa
As he na kep to thaim wald ta.
And quhen the king saw his cummyng
Efter hys route intill a ling
He thocht thai knew that it wes he,
Tharfor he bad till his menye
Yeit then in thre depart thaim sone,
And thai did sua foroutyn hone
And held thar way in thre partys.
The hund did thar sa gret maistrys
That held ay foroutyn changing
Eftre the rowt quhar wes the king.
And quhen the king had sene thaim sua
All in a rowt efter him ga
The way and folow nocht his men
He had a gret persaving then
That thai knew him, forthi in hy
He bad his men rycht hastily
Scaile and ilkan hald his way
All himselff, and sua did thai.
Ilk man a syndry gate is gane
And the king with him has tane
His foster broder foroutyn ma
And samyn held thar gate thai twa.
The hund folowyt alwayis the king
And changyt for na departing
Bot ay folowit the kingis trace
But waveryng as he passyt was
And quhen Jhon off Lorn saw
The hund sa hard eftre him draw
And folow strak after thai twa
He knew the king wes ane of tha,
And bad fyve off his cumpany
That war rycht wycht men and hardy
And als off fute spediast war
Off all that in thair rowt war
Ryn eftre him and him ourta
And lat him na wys pas thaim fra,
And fra thai had herd the bydding
Thai held thar way efter the king
And folowyt him sa spedely
That thai him weill sone gan ourhy.
The king that saw thaim cummand ner
Wes anoyit on gret maner,
For he thocht giff thai war worthi
Thai mycht hi, travaile and tary
And hald him swagate tariand
Till the remanand com at hand,
Bot had he dred bot anerly
Thai fyve I trow all sekyrly
He suld have had na mekill dred.
And till his falow as he yeid
He said, 'Thir fyve ar fast cummand
Thai ar weill ner now at our hand,
Sa is thar ony help at the
For we sall sone assailyt be.'
'Ya, schyr,' he said, 'all that I may.'
'Thou sayis weill,' said the king. 'Perfay
I see thaim cummand till us ner.
I will na forthyr bot rycht her
I will byd quhill Ic am in aynd
And se quhat force that thai can faynd.'
The king than stud full sturdely
And the fyvesum in full gret hy
Come with gret schor and manassing.
Then thre off thaim went to the king,
And till his man the tother twa
With swerd in hand gan stoutly ga.
The king met thaim that till him socht
And to the fyrst sic rowt he roucht
That er and chek downe in the hals
He scharnand off the schuldir als,
He ruschyt down all disyly.
The twa that saw sa sudanly
Thar falow fall effrayit war
And stert a litill ovyrmar.
The king with that blenkit him by
And saw the twasome sturdely
Agane his man gret melle ma.
With that he left his awin twa
And till thaim that faucht with his man
A loup rycht lychtly maid he than
And smate the hed off the tane,
To mete his awne syne is he gane.
Thai come on him full sturdely,
He met the fyrst sa egrely
That with the swerd that scharply schar
The arme fra the body he bar.
Quhat strakys thai gaiff I can nocht tell,
Bot to the king sa fayr befell
That thocht he travaill had and payne
He off his fa-men four has slayn,
His foster broder tharefter sone
The fyft out of dawys has done.
And quhen the king saw that all fyve
War on that wys broucht out off lyve
Till hys falow than gan he say,
'Thou has helpyt weile perfay'
'It likys you to say sua,' said he,
'Bot the gret part to you tuk ye
That slew four off the fyve you ane.'
The king said, 'As the glew is gane
Better than thou I mycht it do
For Ik had mar layser tharto,
For the twa falowys that delt with the
Quhen thai saw me assailyt with thre
Off me rycht nakyn dout thai had
For thai wend I sa straytly war stad,
And forthi that thai dred me noucht
Noy thaim fer out the mar I moucht.'
With that the king lokyt him by
And saw off Lorn the company
Weill ner with thar sleuth-hund cummand.
Than till a wod that wes ner-hand
He went with his falow in hy.
God sayff thaim for his gret mercy.