Nocht is your fairnes bot ane faiding flour,
Nocht is your famous laud and hie honour
Bot wind Inflat in uther mennis eiris.
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.
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.
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.