Praise of Age by Robert Henryson (with modern verse translation by Patrick Fraser Tytler)

Wythin a garth, under a rede rosere,
Ane ald man and decrepit herd I syng;
Gay was the note, suete was the voce and clere;
It was grete joy to here of sik a thing.
“And to my dome,” he said in his dytyng,
“For to be yong I wald not, for my wis,
Off all this warld to mak me lord and king:
The more of age, the nerar hevynnis blis.

“False is this warld and full of variance,
Besoucht with syn and othir sytis mo;
Treuth is all tynt, gyle has the gouvernance,
Wrechitnes has wroht all welthis wele to wo,
Fredome is tynt and flemyt the lordis fro,
And covatise is all the cause of this;
I am content that youthede is ago:
The more of age, the nerar hevynnis blisse.

“The state of youth I repute for na gude,
For in that state sik perilis now I see
Bot full smal grace; the regeing of his blude
Can none gaynstand quhill that he agit be;
Syne of the thing that tofore joyit he
Nothing remaynis for to be callit his,
For quhy it were bot veray vanitee:
The more of age, the nerar hevynnis blisse.

“Suld no man traist this wrechit warld, for quhy
Of erdly joy ay sorow is the end,
The state of it can noman certify;
This day a king, to morne na gude to spend.
Quhat have we here bot grace us to defend?
The quhilk God grant us, for to mend oure mys,
That to His glore He may oure saulis send:
The more of age, the nerar hevynnis blisse.”

Praise of Age (modern verse translation by Patrick Fraser Tytler)

In garden green, beneath a sweet rose-tree,
I heard an aged man serenely sing;
Gay was the note, his voice was full and free,
It gave me joy to see so strange a thing.
And thus he sang: – I would not, to be a king
Of all this world, live o’er a life like this.
Oh Youth! thy sweetest flowers have a sharpest sting:
The more of age the nearer heavenly bliss.

False is the world, and full of changes vile;
O’errun with sin, and penury, and pain:
Truth is all fled – the helm is held by guile –
Fell coward treason hath high honour slain,
And freedom languisheth in iron chain.
‘Tis the low love of power hath brought all this.
Ah! weep not then that youth is on the wane:
The more of age the nearer heavenly bliss.

Trust then no more this wretched world – for why?
All earthly joy doth still in sorrow end;
His mortal state can no man certify:
To-day a king – to-morrow none will lend
Thy regal head a shelter: – may God mend,
With his sweet grace, so sad a wreck as this;
And to his glory soon our spirits send:
The more of age the nearer heavenly bliss.

From: Tytler, Patrick Fraser, Lives of Scottish Worthies: James 1 [pt. 2]. Robert Henryson. William Dunbar. Gavin Douglas. Sir David Lindsay. Antiquarian Illustrations, 1833, John Murray: London, pp. 83-84.
(http://books.google.com.au/books?id=P___tKO-eC4C)

Date: 1508 (published), 1833 (translation)

By: Robert Henryson (c1460-1500)

Translation by: Patrick Fraser Tytler (1791-1849)

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