The Answer Quhilk Schir David Lindesay Maid to the Kingis Flyting by David Lyndsay with rough rendering into more modern English and notes by flusteredduck

Redoutit roy, your ragment I have red,
Quhilk dois perturb my dull intendement:
From your flyting, wald God that I wer fred,
Or ellis sum tygerris toung wer to me lent.
Schir, pardone me thocht I be impacient,
Quhilk bene so with your prunyeand pen detractit,
And rude report, from Venus court dejectit.

Lustie ladyis, that your libellis lukis
My cumpanie dois hald abhominable,
Commandand me beir cumpanie to the cukis;
Moist lyke ane devill, thay hald me detestable.
Thay banis me, sayand I am nocht able
Thame to compleis, or preis to thare presence.
Apon your pen I cry ane loud vengeance!

Wer I ane poeit, I suld preis with my pen
To wreik me on your vennemous wryting.
Bot I man do as dog dois in his den —
Fald baith my feit, or fle fast frome your flyting.
The mekle devil may nocht indure your dyting.
Quharefor cor mundum crea in me I cry,
Proclamand yow the prince of poetry.

Schir, with my prince pertenit me nocht to pley.
Bot sen your grace hes gevin me sic command
To mak answer, it must neidis me obey.
Thocht ye be now strang lyke ane elephand,
And in till Venus werkis maist vailyeand,
The day wyll cum, and that within few yeiris,
That ye wyll draw at laiser with your feiris.

Quhat can ye say forther, bot I am failyeit
In Venus werkis, I grant schir, that is trew;
The tyme hes bene, I wes better artailyeit
Nor I am now, bot yit full sair I rew
That ever I did mouth thankles so persew.
Quharefor tak tent and your fyne powder spair,
And waist it nocht bot gyf ye wit weill quhair.

Thocht ye rin rudelie, lyke ane restles ram,
Schutand your bolt at mony sindrie schellis,
Beleif richt weill, it is ane bydand gam.
Quharefore bewar with dowbling of the bellis,
For many ane dois haist thair awin saule knellis,
And speciallie quhen that the well gois dry,
Syne can nocht get agane sic stufe to by.

I give your counsale to the feynd of hell
That wald nocht of ane princes yow provide,
Tholand yow rin schutand frome schell to schell,
Waistand your corps, lettand the tyme overslyde.6
For lyke ane boisteous bull ye rin and ryde
Royatouslie, lyke ane rude rubeatour,
Ay fukkand lyke ane furious fornicatour.

On ladronis for to loip ye wyll nocht lat,
Howbeit the caribaldis cry the corinoch.
Remember how, besyde the masking fat,
Ye caist ane quene overthort ane stinking troch?
That feynd, with fuffilling of hir roistit hoch,
Caist doun the fat, quharthrow drink, draf and juggis
Come rudely rinnand doun about your luggis.

Wald God the lady that luffit yow best
Had sene yow thair ly swetterand lyke twa swyne!
Bot to indyte how that duddroun wes drest —
Drowkit with dreggis, quhimperand with mony quhryne —
That proces to report, it wer ane pyne.
On your behalf, I thank God tymes ten score
That yow preservit from gut and frome grandgore.

Now schir, fairwell, because I can nocht flyte,
And thocht I could, I wer nocht tyll avance
Aganis your ornate meter to indyte.

Bot yit, be war with lawbouring of your lance:
Sum sayis thar cummis ane bukler furth of France,
Quhilk wyll indure your dintis, thocht thay be dour.
Fairweill, of flowand rethorik the flour!

Quod Lindesay in his flyting
Aganis the Kingis dyting.

The Answer which Sir David Lindsay made to the King’s Scolding

Redoubtable king, your composition I have read,
Which does perturb my dull understanding:
From your scolding, would God that I were freed,
Or else that a tiger’s tongue were to me lent.
Sir, pardon me though I be impatient,
Who is being with your sharpened pen detracted,
And rude report, from Venus’ court dejected.

Lovely ladies, that your letters consult
My company do hold abominable,
Commanding me bear company to the cooks;
Most like a devil, they hold me detestable.
They banish me, saying I am not able
Them to please, or hasten to their presence.
Upon your pen I cry a loud vengeance!

Were I a poet, I should strive with my pen
To avenge me on your venomous writing.
But I must do as a dog does in his den—
Fold both my feet, or flee fast from your scolding.
The great devil may not endure your writing.
Wherefore “cor mundum crea in me” I cry,
Proclaiming you the prince of poetry.

Sir, with my prince it befits me not to contend.
But since your grace has given me such a command,
To make answer, it must needs me to obey.
Though you be now strong like an elephant,
And in all Venus’ works most valiant,
The day will come, and that within a few years,
That you will be at leisure with your friends.

What can you say further, but I am a failure
In Venus’ works, I grant, sir, that is true;
The time has been, I was better armed
Nor I am now, but yet full sore I rue
That ever I did mouth thankless so pursue.
Wherefore take heed and your fine powder spare,
And waste it not but well you know where.

Though you run rudely, like a restless ram,
Shooting your bolt at many sundry targets,
Belief right well, it is a biding game.
Wherefore beware of the doubling of the bells,
For many a one hastens their own soul’s knell,
And specially when that the well goes dry,
Such stuff cannot again be bought.

I give your council to the fiend of hell
That would not of any princess you provide,
Suffering you to run shooting from target to target,
Wasting your body, letting the time pass by.
For like a roaring bull you run and ride
Riotously, like a rude scoundrel,
Always fucking like a furious fornicator.

On whores you will not cease leaping,
Although the bitches cry out,
Remember how, beside the mashing vat,
You cast a wench across the stinking trough?
That fiend, with the jerking about of the back of her thigh,
Cast down the vat, resulting in the drink, dregs, and swill
Came rudely running down about your ears.

Would God the lady that loved you best
Had seen you there, wallowing like two swine!
But to indite how that slut was dressed
(Drenched with dregs, whimpering with many whines),
That to describe and report it were a pain.
On your behalf, I thank God times ten score
That you were preserved from gout and syphilis.

Now sir, farewell, because I cannot scold,
And though I could, I would not advance
Against your ornate meter to indite.
But yet be wary with the labouring of your lance:
Some say there comes a shield out of France,
Which will endure your strokes, though they be hard.
Farewell, of flowing rhetoric the flower!

Said Lindsay in his scolding
Against the King’s writing.

 

Notes:
Cor munum crea in me is from Psalm 50 and translates as “create in me a clean heart”.

This poem is full of sexual innuendo with only the very obvious innuendos translating easily. One innuendo that is probably very unclear is “mouth thankless” which is a reference to a vagina.

Some of the terms Lindsay has used to describe the women the king (James V of Scotland) was enjoying are of unclear and debated meaning, although the derogatory nature of them is clear. I have therefore used modern terms (like whores and bitches) in their stead.

A mashing vat was used in the creation of ales and beers.

At the time Lindsay was writing, gout was used as a term for a venereal disease. Syphilis was known to be a venereal disease and was considered separate to whatever disease was referred to as gout.

And, finally, as with all my attempts at putting very old English/Scots into a modern version, I have resisted the temptation to use less archaic words when the original word is still in use and have tried to retain the original syntax as much as possible even when a reordering or change of the words would improve the flow. I also resisted keeping “flyting” (and “dyting”) and used more modern equivalents even though some of the nuance was lost. I used the online Dictionaries of the Scots Language (https://dsl.ac.uk/) to confirm original word meanings.

From: https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/purdie-and-wingfield-answer-quhilk-schir-david-lindesay-maid-to-kingis-flyting

Date: c1536

By: David Lyndsay (c1490-c1555)

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