David Lyndsay

Scottish noble and poet (c. 1490 – c. 1555)

Sir David Lyndsay (or Lindsay) of the Mount, Lord Lyon King of Arms (c. 1490 – c. 1555) was the leading Scottish poet and playwright of the mid-16th century; also a courtier, a diplomat, and his country's highest-ranking herald.

To colliers, carters, and to cooks,
To Jock and Tom my rhyme shall be directed.


  • Unthrift, sweirnes, falset, povertie, and stryfe
    Pat polacey in dainger of hir lyfe.
    • The Dreme (c. 1528), line 965
  • That nicht he sleipit never ane wink,
    Bot still did on the Ladie think.
    • The Historie of ane Nobil and Wailyeand Squyer, William Meldrum (1550), line 899
  • Quhowbeit that divers devote cunnyng Clerkis
    In Latyne toung hes wryttin syndrie bukis,
    Our unlernit knawis lytill of thare werkis,
    More than thay do the rauyng of the Rukis.
    Quharefore to Colyearis, Cairtaris, & to Cukis,
    To Jok and Thome, my Ryme sall be diractit,
    With cunnyng men quhowbeit it wylbe lactit.
    • Ane Dialog Betuix Experience and ane Courteour, off the Miserabyll Estait of the Warld (1554), line 545
  • Quhen the Sonne is at the hycht,
    Att nonne quhen it doith schyne most brycht,
    The schaddow of that hydduous strength
    Sax myle and more it is of lenth.
    Thus maye ye Juge, in to your thocht,
    Gyfe Babilone be heych, or nocht.
    • Ane Dialog Betuix Experience and ane Courteour, off the Miserabyll Estait of the Warld, line 1752

Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis

  • Heir sall Wantones ga spy them and cum agane to the king
    • Stage direction, line 326
  • Heir entirs Flattery new landit owt of France
    • Stage direction, line 601
  • Brother Wantonness, what thinks thou?
    Yon are the Three Estates I trow
    Gangand backwart.
    • Solace, lines 2023-20281599-1601
  • Sir, I wald speir at ȝow ane questioun.
    Behauld sum Prelats of this Regioun:
    Manifestlie during thair lustie lyvfis,
    Thay swyfe Ladies, Madinis and vther mens wyfis.
    And sa thair cunts thay haue in consuetude.
    Quhidder say ȝe that law is evill or gude?
    • Pauper, lines 2023-2028
  • Ere I depart this natioun, I shall mak Reformatioun!
    • Divine Correctioun
  • And to the Devill of hell condemne this mein3e;
    For quhy sic reformatioune, as I weine
    Into Scotland was never hard nor seine.
    • Lines 3720-3722


  • But in the glances of his eye,
    A penetrating, keen, and sly
    Expression found its home;
    The flash of that satiric rage,
    Which, bursting on the early stage,
    Branded the vices of the age,
    And broke the keys of Rome.
              *          *          *
    Still is thy name in high account,
    And still thy verse has charms,
    Sir David Lindesay of the Mount,
    Lord Lion King-at-arms!
  • Lyndsay, with all his ancient coarseness…maintained for two centuries, even among the precise, his position as the popular poet of Scotland.
    • George Gordon The Discipline of Letters (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946) p. 91.
  • He usually lacks the originality of Henryson and the brilliance of Dunbar and Douglas. But what there is of him is good all through.
    • C. S. Lewis English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954) p. 100.
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