Robert Henryson

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Robert Henryson or Robert Henderson (c. 1430 – c. 1490) was a Scottish Chaucerian poet or makar, best known for his Morall Fabillis and The Testament of Cresseid.


  • For to be yong I wald not, for my wis
    Off all this warld to mak me lord et king:
    The more of age the nerar hevynnis blis.
    • "The Praise of Age", line 6
  • The man that will nocht quhen he may
    Sall haif nocht quhen he wald.

Morall Fabillis[edit]

  • The nuttes schell, thocht it be hard and teuch,
    Haldis the kirnill, and is delectabill.
    Sa lyis thair ane doctrine wyse aneuch,
    And full of fruit, under ane fenyeit Fabill.
    • Line 15
  • Ane Bow that is ay bent
    Worthis unsmart, and dullis on the string;
    Sa dois the mynd that is ay diligent,
    In ernistfull thochtis, and in studying.
    • Line 22.
  • Quha hes aneuch, of na mair hes he neid.
    • Line 375.
  • Best thing in eird, thairfoir, I say, for me,
    Is blyithnes in hart, with small possessioun.
    • Line 387.

The Testament of Cresseid[edit]

  • In breif Sermone ane pregnant sentence wryte.
    • Line 270.
  • Nocht is your fairnes bot ane faiding flour,
    Nocht is your famous laud and hie honour
    Bot wind Inflat in uther mennis eiris.
    • Line 461.
  • Than upon him scho kest up baith hir Ene,
    And with ane blenk it come into his thocht,
    That he sumtime hir face befoir had sene.
    Bot scho was in sic plye he knew hir nocht,
    Yit than hir luik into his mynd it brocht
    The sweit visage and amorous blenking
    Of fair Cresseid sumtyme his awin darling.
    • Line 498.
  • Lovers be war and tak gude heid about
    Quhome that ye lufe, for quhome ye suffer paine.
    I lat yow wit, thair is richt few thairout
    Quhome ye may traist to have trew lufe agane.
    • Line 561.


  • Of Henryson as of Chaucer it can be said that the picturesque detail owes its effectiveness to the solidity and seriousness of what it grows from. Henryson's Fables (like La Fontaine’s – they deserve the comparison) do more than present types of human beings in animal guises and animals comically behaving like human beings; they build up a total and consistent society, both rendered and criticized.
    • Patrick Cruttwell, in Boris Ford (ed.) Medieval Literature: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982) p. 326.
  • His background is not simply the Abbey School of Dunfermline (where he is reputed to have been a schoolmaster), but the surrounding Scottish countryside and community to which he belonged. His wisdom – and his poems are very wise about life – evidently came from his having lived long and profoundly as a member of that whole Scottish community.
    • John Speirs, in Boris Ford (ed.) Medieval Literature: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982) p. 85.
  • Henryson's greatness is most plainly to be seen in the range of general principles and ideas which informs his poetry and which allows it to encompass tragedy and comedy alike. He is the most Shakespearian of the early Scottish poets.

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