Elizabeth Melville

Two Sonnets to Andrew Melville

Contributor: Associate Professor Sarah Ross

Material: MSS

Description: Other MS contents: the sonnets occur alongside three unascribed sonnets (?by James Melville) and an unascribed Latin epigram (by Andrew Melville).

Source: National Library of Scotland, Crawford Collections, Acc. 9769, Personal Papers 84/1/1, p. 174

Permissions: By permission of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.

Images Transcription

Page of Melville manuscript.


Now baalamis band ar blindit with balakis wadge*

the ass is dumb becaus hir stripes ar small

bot quhen that lord sall meit thame in his raige

and schaik his sword than sall he teach thame all

the ass sall speik and spur against the wall

the propheit proud sall preis* to turne agane

bot all to[o] lait a wecht* of wraith sall fall

and balak wt the cursed king is slaine

then turne in tyme curss not for greid of gaine

leave af yor lustis* and gaip not for sic glor

Ye wishe to die the iust manis death in vaine

except ye live as thy hev* lived befoir


Balaam the biblical prophet who ‘loved the wages of unrighteousness’, and his band are here a figures for the Scottish bishops. See 2 Peter 2:15; Numbers 22; Revelation 2:14.

wadge pledge, payment

preis beset or harass

wecht weight

lustis lusts, pleasures or enjoyments

hev have




My lady culros to

mr andro Meluill


Meik* men ar wexed* Iust saullis ar taine avay

And weill war myne to flit* among the rest

Now lord mak haist and call me frome this clay

Deir Iesus cum how long sall troubill lest

Resave* my spreit wt paine it is opprest

Evill is this aige the faithfull now dois faill

Wp lord how long thy sancttis* ar soir distressed

Mainteine thy trouth let not ye proud prevaill

End out my fecht*, how can this hart be har haill

Lord sall I leive to sie thy spous in paine

Vuhy* sleipis thow so, thow seis thy secreit seill*

In the[e] we trust althocht we sould be slaine

Now soullis do schyne* quho luik vnto thy licht

And weill var myne to sie yat blissed sicht.


Anagrame And weill war myne is a loose anagram of Andrew Mellwyn; the poem also incorporates an acrostic on the same name, M ANDREW MELVIN.

meik meek; wexed afflicted

flit to leave or move

Resave Receive

sancttis saints

fecht fight

Vuhy adjusted by the scribe from Quhy (Why), to serve the purposes of the acrostic

seill prosperity

schyne shine


Cast cair on chryst wt courage bair his cross

And heir his woyce, quho* for thy sin was slaine

pance* not for paine, defy this dunge and dross

Licht is thy loss, quhen god sall be thy gaine

frome feir refraine, his treuth sall still remaine

do not complaine, to suffer heir a space

A schour* of grace vnto thy saullis sall raine

This vorld in vaine sall seik to spoill thy pace*

blissed is thy caice*, sweit is that plesand place

fair is that face yat schortlie thow sall sie

Thy howp* is hie quho sall thy soull embrace

end out thy raice and blissed sall thow be

reioyce and sing thocht sathan sift ye sor soir

fecht for thy king and gaine ane crowne of glor


quho who

pance consider, ponder

schour shower

pace peace

caice case

howp hope


Page of Melville manuscript.


Ane Sonnet on [illegible text crossed out]

Vill nocht godis vord the[e] frome thy courss recall.

vill nocht thy bretherine, best adwyse the[e] move

will nocht thy predecessouris pryde and fall

mak the[e] to wy the best for thy behoue

thoucht thow aspyre thy fallow meittis aboue

thoucht smoithlie in thy sattaines nov thov schines

thoucht princes thy supremasie approue

Yit god in end sall lauche at thy ruwynes

becaus thov dreims and foolischlie dewynes

in wealth in rest and ease to dryue thy dayis

and at Jeheuahis preceptis still repynis

quahirfoir thy ass is wirie of thy vayis

quha did the[e] doun intill ane dung hill cast

Ane presage of ane filthie fall at last.


Ane Sonnet on The name of the subject and addressee of this bitterly political sonnet has been deliberately blacked out.



Cum balamitarum sic tanta frequentia valum

cur loquitur toto Nullus in orbe assinus

Non yemus stat contra assinus non creditur ora

quj reserrat Muta non dedit ora deus

For a translation, see the Textual Introduction.




I can not tell quhat all thir Muisis meinis

parnasus pen I neuer tuik in hand

sic practisse as to poesie pertenis

I neuer learnd nor yit culd vndirstand

I am nocht ane of bright appollos band

for feir to fall I dar nocht clyme so hie

in helicon I neuer fauour fand

the sisteris Nymphes ar not acquent vith me

in simpill songis of plainest poesie

I loue my loue in waiknes as I can

my styll is bass my matter mair nor hie

giue glore to god na praiss pertenis to man

he is my Muise my treasure strenth and stoir

giue him his dew and I desyre no moir [?R]