Conscience by Gavin Douglas (with rough translation by flusteredduck)

Quhen halie Kirk first flurist in Ȝouthheid,
Prelatis wer chosin of all perfectioun;
For Conscience than the brydill had to leid,
And Conscience maid the hale electioun,
Syne eftir that come schrewit correctioun,
And thocht that Conscience had our large ane weid,
And of his habite out cuttit thay ane skreid.

And fra Conscience the Con thay clip away,
And maid of Conscience Science and na mair;
Bot ȝit the Kirk stude weill, full mony day,
For it wes rewlit be mene of wit and layre;
Syn eftir that Sciens began to payr,
And thocht at Sciens was our lang ane jaip,
The Sci away fast can thay rub and scraip;

And fra Sci of Science wes adew,
Than left thai nocht bot this sillab Ens,
Quhilk in our language singnifies that schrew
Riches and geir, that gart all grace go hens;
For Sciens baith and faythfull Consciens
Sa corruptit ar with this warldis gude,
That falset joukis in everie clerkis hude.

O hungrie Ens! cursit with cairis calde,
All kynd of folk constrenis thow to wirk;
For thé that thief Judas his Maister said;
For thé Symon infectit Halie Kirk;
To poysoun Justice thow dois nevir irk;
Thow fals Ens, go hens, thou monsture peralous,
God send Defens with Conscience in till ws!

Conscience by Gavin Douglas (roughly translated by flusteredduck)

When the Holy* Church first flourished in its youth-head,
Prelates were chosen of all perfection;
For Conscience then the bridle had to lead,
And Conscience made the whole election,
Since then came wicked correction,
And thought that Conscience had an overlarge robe,
And of his habit they cut out a fragment.

And from Conscience the Con they clipped away,
And made of Conscience Science and no more;
But yet the Church stood well, full many a day,
For it was ruled by men of wit and lore:
Afterwards Science began to wane,
And it was thought that Science was one long jape,
The Sci away as fast as can they rub and scrape.

And from Sci of Science was adieu,
Then left they nought but this syllable Ence,
Which in our language signifies that which shows
Riches and gear, that made all grace go hence;
For Science drowned and faithful Conscience
So corrupted with this world’s goods,
That falsehood plays tricks in every clerk’s hood.

Oh, hungry Ence! cursed with cares cold,
All kind of folk constrain thee to work;
For thee that thief Judas his Master foreswore;
For thee Symon infected the Holy* Church;
To poison Justice thou does never shirk;
Thou false Ence, go hence, thou monster perilous,
God send Defence with Conscience unto us!

*Halie (which I have translated as Holy) can also mean devilish – given the wordplay of the rest of the poem, this double meaning was quite likely deliberate.


Date: 151?

By: Gavin Douglas (c1474-1522)


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