Elizabeth Melville


Contributor: Associate Professor Sarah Ross

Material: MSS

Description: Other MS contents: this poem also occurs in the extensive papers of Robert Wodrow, but in this case it is not in Wodrow's hand. A poor-quality text in a late-seventeenth-century hand, attributed in the MS's contents page to one Thomas Melville.

Source: National Library of Scotland, MS Wod. Qu. XXVII, fols 199v - 206r

Permissions: Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Images Transcription

Page of Melville manuscript.

The Transcribere to the Reader his friends


My friends to yow I wish a meace; a meace*

of that choise chear this ^peene^ Implyes

That so your soules may swime in peace in peace

And soare in praise above the skse skyes

The subject of this short sweet song

Is yt for Christ asoul doth long

And braiths wt him to be

Mourne for your Sin and follow on

Still longing to be cloathed vpon

With glorie from on high

O let him be our hearts delight

In whom alone we are perfyte

—— —— —— ——

Who are acquant wt Christ this peace esteeme

Who know him not, will looke ^ont^ as adreame

[^ont^ has been added in a different scribal hand]

*meace a portion, serving


Loves Lament for Christs Absence


Alace what gripping Grief have I have I

What can put end vnto my care

I weep I wail I call I cry I cry

my Soul is slaine with weeping saire*

Through poureing out my piteous plaint

With greivous groans my heart groues faint

My bodie poore and weake

Yet none alace can send relief

  +         Bot he whose absence bears me greif      makes my

maks my


What marvell though I make. my moane. my moane

My mourning muse cannot be still.

What marvell though to sigh & groane and groane

I long for to lament my fill

ffor love alace I most lament.

This mynde of myne is mal-content

And cannot hold her peace

Alace I lake both life and light

My Lord hath ^tane^ along good night

How should my sorrow cease

Drop downe myne eyes and never tyre

Wntill I have myne hearts desyre


Oh for afountaine in my head my head

In streams of love then bath should I



*saire sore

Page of Melville manuscript.

Then should I mourne without remeed: remeed*

My eyes should dreip and never dry

Vntill his presence made me glade

Whose absence makes my soull so sad

Alace alace how long

My martyrd mynd doth turne and tosse

Oh if I could lament my losse

And sing alovers song

The night is com all joy’s away

Vntill I see my wished day


My hope my help my strentght. my stay my stay

My lord my light my love my life

My Christ most sweet is now away away

Which is the cause of all my strife

What wonder though I droupe alone

My only joy is from me gone

Who wont my soull to chear.

What wonder though I ever mourne

My sweetest son will not returne

Who once did shyne so clear

Since he alace did first depart

Who can inflame this frozen heart


Forsaken Soull alace for wo for wo

Wher shall I run to seek releif

What course is best wher shall I go I go

What shall I get to ease my greife



*remeed cure


What can I doe bot die and dwine*

Oh who shall ease this heart of myne

That wounded is so sore

Alace alace I live in paine

Vntill I see that sight againe

That shall my joye restore

The sweetest sight yt ever was seene

Most cure the wound where of I mean.


My soull is wounded to the death the death

Whom shall I seeke to salve my sore

My deep desyre doth stope my breath my breath

I have no heart for to say more

I cannot end nor yet begine

Ah shall I be aslaue to sin

Which is so ferce afoe

Alace what pleasor can it be

Vnto asoull yt wold be free

ffor to be snaired so

The strenght of Sin doth so prevaill

That heart and hand and all doth faill.


Oh lord this life to me thow lent thow lent

To honour here thine holye name

Which now alace I have mispent mispent

How can I strive against the streame

ffaine wold I fight to wine the Croune

    But such aspait* doth ding* me downe

That I ame dead and gone


*dwine (v.) pine

*spait a flood, outpouring of emotion

*ding strike, beat

Page of Melville manuscript.

In mightie fetters are my feet

Except thow draw me by thy spirit

How can I ryse alone

My Spirit is willing Lord thow knowes

My soull shall run when once thow drawes


Alace my lord what shall I say I say

how can I live in Langour here

Dishonouring thee from to day to day to day

Whose glorie to me should be so dear

Thy presence is my onely joy

Thy absence breids me such annoy

That now my spirit is slaine

yet wold I spend these dolefull dayes

In penning out thy precious praise

I love to live in paine

Bot Sin and absence both at once

doth burst my heart and bruise my bones


This soull doth soare and wold ascend ascend

Alace she loaths to live below

This pating* spirit doth bray and bend and bend

Oh dearest day when wilt thow daw*

When shall I see that blessed sight

That Lord of Love that Lamb of Light

My treasure and my Joy

Come thow yt heaven and earth commands

Come come and break these dolefull bands

This sink of sin destroy


[new leaf]

Then shall I flie and never rest

Vntill I be where I love best


Lord give me leave my mynd to say to say

Bear with me though I be this bold

Except thow call me from this clay this clay

I cannot doe the good I wold

OV’rcome with ill qch* most I hate

Since this alace is myne estate

How can I be content

Into thy word I see thy will

To fellow good and flee from ill

and though my soull consent

This masse of sin abacke doth draw

My flesh doth feight against thy law


Bot when I see that Blessed sight yt sight

Then shall my knouledge be perfyte

Then shall I live wt all my might my might

Then shall I praise thee with delight

Lord jesus come oh come to ane

  or else receave my soull to thee

That breaths to be aboue

Thow craves yt I should love ye best

 I crave my heart to be possest

And ladned with thy love



*pating throbbing

*daw dawn

*qch which

Page of Melville manuscript.


Could I thee serve in this exile exile

My languor then should be the lesse

Ah well were I to stay awhyle awhyle

Thy Grace and goodnesse to expresse

If ought in earth to me were deare

Or could I live wtout thee here

Or could the world me fill

Or could I once from sining cease

Vntill I sawe thy blessed face

Then should my soull be still

But since I know it cannot <..> be

Lord give me leave to longe for thee


ffor whom I have I in heaven but thee but thee

Or whom on earth de[s]yre I mor

No other thing is meet for me for me

Thow art my treasure strength and store

All is in the[e] that I doe laike

What wold I not doe for thy sake

If thow wold give me strength

I cannot live out of thy sight

My soull shall seek both day and night

Vntill thow hear at length

Let worldlings seek what cure they will

Nothing but thow my soull can fill


Alace shee lakes* that Lord of love of love

Her blessed life by whom shee breathes


[new leaf]

What marvell though shee mount aboue aboue

  Since here shee dies ten thowsand deaths

Then soaring Soull mount up and flie

Cannot thes cloulds be perecd by thee

What holds thee here so long

weight This wofull wight this lumpe of lead [annotation on l.h. side]

It draws me downe it dings me dead

Help Lord. the strife is stronge

I want the wings alace for woe

How Long olord shall it be so


O Lord wilt thow d

O lord how Long wilt thou delay delay

To pluck me from this prison strong

My strength is gone. how can I stay I stay

This Loathsome lif alace is Long

I long to see yt pleasent pleac

That shining sun yt blessed face

That weight of Grace and Glore

Alace I die. for deepe desyre

oh come wt sweet inflaming fire

and wound me mor and mor

heart o heire make hast thow art not myne [annotation on l.h.side]

Yeald to thy lord thy last propyne*. *propine gift


Lord since thow seeks to have this heart this heart

Who darr presume to reive* thy right *reive steal, take away


*lakes i.e. lacks

Page of Melville manuscript.

Come cut thir cords and strick thy dart thy dart

and syne* my soull shall take the flight

Thow dantound* death and wan the feild

Then with my hand this heart I yeild

which with thy blood thow bought

Should not thy glore be dear to me

alace what shall I render the[e]

for that qch* thow hast wrought

Thow craves my part take soull and lif

Take heart and all and end the strife .

2 part

O lilie faire o rabbie rose o rose

That spreids so fair in sharon feild

O flowre of flowres thow art my choise my choise

Thy savour sweet doth comfort yeeld

O fertile tree whose fruit is fair

Whose branches bow most fresh and fair

Wher apples hings in store

Beneath on branch a shad so sweet

I long to rest my wearie spirit

The Sun hath scoarched me sore

O let me lay beneath yt tree

The smeell so sweet doth quicken me


O Lord of love at length look down look down

Lo how I lye befor thy feet


[new leaf]

My soull is sick and lik to sowne to sown

Revive me with those apples sweet

Now I ame lost without remeid

Execpt in love thow do me lead

Into the banquat hall

That blessed banner over me spred

  I cannot go I most be led

I help I faint I fall

Thow sees I have no strength to stand

Lord help me up with thy right hand


I see some dropes I feell som smell som smell

of pure perfume and liquore sweet

I see some glimring in this hell this hell

That doth refresh my fainting Spirit

Some sound into my eares doth ring

of Songes yt saints and angels sing

With musick most Divine

Blessing yt Lord whose beames so bright

Glancing in glore casts such a light

As maks ym all to shyne

Bot oh when shall I grippe fast

Thir senses shall be filled at last


When shall I feell yt fyr most fyne most fyne

which all thy saints doe sit about



*syne next, then

*dantoun to overcome

*qch which

Page of Melville manuscript.

When shall I drink yt dearest wine yt wine

Which for thy freinds is poured out

Cannot my plaints to pitie move

I must be filled wt thy Love

My soull most see thy face

Since naught can quench this burning draught

But kisses of thy sacre e d mouth

In marcie me Imbrace

In heaven and earth I crave no mor

To fill my soull yt thrists so sore


Vnworthie wretch thow art too bold to bold

    O blinded beast wher wold thow bee

O frozen heart so faint and cold and cold

Such dainties are too rare for thee

Come doune againe thow climbs too high

  Cast off thy shoes and stand abeih

flee from yt flaming fyre

Since thow hest sinnd against his Grace

How can thow seek to see his face

regard thow not his ire

Oh fears thow not to be refuised

That all his blissings hast abuised


How darr thow clame to kisse his mouth his mouth

or crave afill of angells chear

How darr thow seeke to quench thy drouth thy drouth

with waughting of yt wine so clear

[new leaf]

Content thee with adrope so small

Be glad to keep the crumes that fall

Stoup downe and kisse his feet

Beneath the table take thy place

and mint not for thy masters meace

Be<..> Befor he make ye meet

Lord pardone me this proud desyre

Since love hes learned me to aspyre


My feet is foull I most confesse confesse

Such dainties are not fit for me

Yet pitie Lord my deep distresse distresse

And let me not for hunger die

famist for fault I cannot steir

What shall I doe I most draw neir

O bathme in thy blood

I have debaushed thy grace I grant

Bot yet thow knowes I cannot want

My soull most have som food

Then if I sit not at thy feast

Relive me wt thy crumes at least


A drop of drink wold do me good me good

And help to heall this fainting heart

A crum

Page of Melville manuscript.

A crum of bread will be my food my food

I most have some or I depart

I seek it for thy mercie sake

Thow hast enough and I doe lake*

Lord let me not be lost

but hear the beggars carefull cry

So failled so faint so cold so dry

that I am dead almost

Ane ansuare sweet wnto me send

ffor at thy gate I most attend


I die oh drive me not away away

Since none bot thow can ease my grief

Lord if thow wilt I know thow may thow may

In little space send some releife

Thy beautie Lord cannot be told

Thow helps the hungrie and the cold

Thy goodnes Thow pities the opprest

Thy grace and goodnes does exceed

Wilt thow not kyth ane almous deed

On me among the rest

I cannot stirr I most lye still

Vntill I get some kynd of fill


Thy riches will not be the lesse the lesse

That thow relive me in my need

Too foull a ghwest* I most confesse confesse

Among thy Sacred saints to feed

[new opening]

Behinde the door yet let me stand

And reach to me with thy right hand

Some fragments on the floure

That dish qch to ye doggs is due

Deny me not I seek and sew*

I cannot long endure

Lord let me in I crave no more

With crumes and dropes my strength restore


If with thy blood thow hast me bought me bought

Take pitie so to see me pyne

Bot if thow say I know thee nought the nought

Content I am for fault to to tyne [a word is clearly missing]

Consume me wt thy furie fell

And thrust me downe to death and hell

If hell be made for me

If thow hast cast me clean away

Thy will be done I most obey

Cut doune thy whithered tree

If I was made for such ane end

Why should I live for to offend


Why should a cative curst have dayes have dayes

To serve thy slaue yt cruell foe

O should

*lake i.e. lack

*ghwest i.e. guest

*sew seek

Page of Melville manuscript.

O should such sinners pen thy praise thy praise

It is not seemlie: it be so

Cast off the wicked in thy wrath

Bot lord alace I most be laith*

To sunder so with thee

Nay pardon me I cannot part

Thow art the treasure of my heart

and evermore shall be

Lord give me leave I most be bold

  The spirit of truth that truth hath told


Then give the hypocrits ther hyre ther hyre*

Consume the reballs in thes rage

And cast the faggotts in the fyre the fyre

That doth despyte yt precious pledge

Bot looke in love upon thy own

And let thy marcies sweet be showne

Wpon thy Children dear

Since I am one among the rest

I know thy love shall overcast

O help me to draw near

That favour I have felt befor

It most remaine for evermore


Nay man may pairt me from my parts my parts

disioynts my joynts and sunder all

And stryk me dead with dreadfull dearts wt dearts

And rent my flesh in peeces small


[new leaf]

And kill my corps wt cruell paine

    Bot yet the soull cannot be slaine

Vnlesse she twin wt thee

Let Rebells rag[e] let tirants draw

I’ll cleave to Christ need hes no Law

non hurts non helps bot hee

doe what they can my joy to hinder

My soull and thow shall never sunder


Then let this loathsome life be lost be lost

and let thir members martyr’d be

And let this heart be torne and tost & tost

Befor it please to shade with thee

Sinc soull and life and all is thyne

    No parting lord thow most be myne

What devill dare reive my right

Poure out thy love and link me fast

to thee till I com home at last

And lead me in thy light

Then shall I presse my tyme to spend

In psalms and songs that cannot end


And if thow list* to lend thire dayes thir dayes

Grant grace to glorifie thy nam

And let me live to sound thy praise thy praise

Vntill thow call thy captive hame

*laith loath

*hyre reward

*list choose, desire

Page of Melville manuscript.

And when thow will com cut this breath

Lord be my gaine in life and death

and guid me to the grave

I love to live I long to die I

  In lif and death to honour thee

Is that I can crave

  Sinc fill my soul with grace and glore

  Then shall I cease and no more [a word is clearly missing]


  Now hell and death I doe defye defye

    Sathan avoyd reive not my rest

My Loving Lord hath hard my cry my cry

    my highest hopes shall be possest

Sinc Christ is myn I crave no more

on him alon I cast my caire

This life shall not be long

My sorrow soon shall have ane end

The sobbing soull shall then ascend

And sing a joyfull song.

wait on his will trust in his strength

And thow shall try his truth at ^length^ last


All glore to God the king of kings

    That lord of lord yt ruler over all

That father that frame all things all things

[new leaf]

In heaven and Earth bot great and small

  Glore to the sone our saviour sweet

    All praise be to yt blessed spirit

That sealls our soulls wt peac

On[e] onlie god and persons three

  Which is and was and still shall be

Whose kyndnesse cannot cease

My faithfull freind who failled me never

O blessed be thy nam for ever