Gavin Douglas

Scottish Churchman, Scholar, Poet

Gavin (or Gawin) Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld (c. 14761522) was a Scottish Chaucerian poet or makar. His Eneados, a translation of Virgil's Aeneid, was the first complete rendering of any major work of classical antiquity into English.

The battellis and the man I will discriue.

Quotes edit

Eneados edit

  • Fyrst I protest, beaw schirris, by зour leif
    Beis weill avisit my wark or зhe reprief;
    Consider it warly, reid oftar than anys,
    Weill at a blenk sle poetry nocht tayn is.
    • Bk. 1, prologue, line 105.
  • Bot a sentens to follow may suffice me:
    Sum tyme I follow the text als neir I may,
    Sum tyme I am constrenyt ane other way.
    • Bk. 1, prologue, line 356.
  • The battellis and the man I will discriue,
    Fra Troyis boundis first that fugitiue
    By fate to Italie come and coist lauyne,
    Ouer land and se cachit with meikill pyne
    By force of goddis aboue fra euery stede
    Of cruel luno throw auld remembrit feid:
    Grete payne in batelles sufferit he also,
    Or he his goddis brocht in Latio
    And belt the ciete, fra quham of nobil fame
    The latyne peopill taken has thare name,
    And eke the faderis, princis of Alba,
    Come, and the walleris of grete Rome alsua.
    • The battles and the man I will describe
      From Troy's bounds first that fugitive
      By fate to Italy came and coast Lavinia,
      Over land and sea driven with great pain
      By force of gods above from every stead,
      Of cruel Juno through old remembered wrath:
      Great pain in battles suffered he also,
      Or he his gods brought in Latium
      And built the city, from which of noble fame
      The Latin people taken have their name,
      And also the fathers, princes of Alba,
      Came, and the wall-builders of great Rome also.
      • Bk. 1, line 1.
It is richt facil and eith gait, I the tell,
Forto discend and pas on down to hell.
  • It is richt facil and eith gait, I the tell,
    Forto discend and pas on down to hell:
    The blak gettis of Pluto, and that dirk way,
    Standis evir oppin and patent nycht and day;
    Bot tharfra to return agane on hyght,
    And heir abufe recovir this aris licht,
    That is difficil wark, thar lawbour lyis.
    • Bk. 6, line 265.
  • Ryveris ran reid on spait with watir broune,
    And burnys hurlys all thar bankis doune.
    • Bk. 7, prologue, line 19.
  • Woddis, forrestis, with nakyt bewis blowt,
    Stude strippyt of thar weid in every howt.
    So bustuusly Boreas his bugill blew,
    The deyr full dern doun in the dalis drew;
    Smale byrdis, flokkand throu thik ronys thrang,
    In chyrmyng and with cheping changit thar sang,
    Sekand hidlis and hyrnys thame to hyde
    Fra feirfull thuddis of the tempestuus tyde.
    • Bk. 7, prologue, line 65.
  • And al smail fowlys syngis on the spray:
    Welcum the lord of lycht, and lamp of day.
    • Bk. 12, prologue, line 251.
  • As to the text accordyng never a deill,
    Mair than langis to the cart the fift quheill.
    • Bk. 13, prologue, line 117.

About edit

  • Gavin Douglas, set on a particular labour, with his mind full of Latin quantitative metre, attains a robuster versification than you are likely to find in Chaucer…the texture of Gavin's verse is stronger, the resilience greater.
    • Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934), p. 103.
  • About Douglas as a translator there may be two opinions; about his Aeneid (Prologues and all) as an English book there can be only one. Here a great story is greatly told and set off with original embellishments which are all good – all either delightful or interesting – in their diverse ways.
    • C. S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 90.
  • Arguably the best version of Virgil in English poetry.
    • Douglas Gray, in W. F. Bolton (ed.) The Middle Ages (London: Sphere, 1970), p. 366.

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