Saturday, March 20, 2010

Feast of Saint Cuthbert

On the feast of Saint Cuthbert (Cuthbert died March 20, 687), who has been covered in a previous post, two passages that reference him.  The first is from Scott's "The Lord of the Isles" (canto X).  The second from John Barbour's "The Brus" (Book IV, v.1), which provided reference for the Scott passage.  Barbour's work is included as an explanatory note to "The Lord of the Isles" in "The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott".  The historical reference is to Robert Bruce receiving a false signal, in the form of a bonfire on the shore near Turnberry Castle, which was his mother's ancestral home, that indicated he should re-enter Scotland.


"...'Twas I,' said Edward, 'found employ Of nobler import for the boy. Deep pondering in my anxious mind,
A fitting messenger to find,
To bear thy written mandate o'er
To Cuthbert on the Carrick shore,
I chanced, at early dawn, to pass
The chapel gate to snatch a mass.
I found the stripling on a tomb
Low-seated, weeping for the doom
That gave his youth to convent gloom.
I told my purpose, and his eyes
Flash'd joyful at the glad surprise.
He bounded to the skiff, the sail
Was spread before a prosperous gale,
And well my charge he hath obey'd ;
For, see ! the ruddy signal made,
That Clifford, with his merry-men all,
•Guards carelessly our father's hall.' 

"...Thai rowit fast, with all thair mycht,
Till that apon thaim fell the nycht,
That woux myrk. apon gret mancr,
Swa that thai wyst nocht quhar thai wer
For thai na nedill had, na stane ;
Bot rowyt alwayis in till anc,
Sterand all tyme apon the fyr,
That thai saw brynnand lycht and schyr12
It wes bot auentur 13 thaim led :
And thai in schort tyme sa thaim sped.
That at the fyr arywyt thai;
And went to land bot mar delay.
And Cuthbert, that has sene the fyr,
Was full off angyr, and off ire:
For he durst nocht do it away;
And wes alsua dowtand ay
That his lord suld pass to se.
Tharfor thair cummyn waytit he,
And met thaim at thair arywing.
He wes wele sone broucht to the King,
That speryt at him how he had done.
And he with sar hart tauld him sone.
How that he fand nane weill luffand;
Bot all war fayis, that he fand:
And that the lord the Persy,
With ner thre hundre in cumpany,
Was in the castell thar besid,
Fullfillyt off dispyt and prid.
Bot ma than twa partis off his rowt
War herberyt in the toune without;
"And dyspytyt vow mar, Schir King,
Than men may dispyt ony thing."
Than said the King, in full gret ire;
" Tratour, quhy maid thowthan the fyr?"—
" A I Schyr," said he, " sa God me se I
The fyr wes newyr maid for me.
Na, or the nycht, I wyst it nocht;
Bot fra I wyst it, weill I thocht
That ye, and haly your menye,
In hy M suld put yow to the se.
For thi I cum to mete yow her,
To tell perellys that may aper."

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