Poem: The Twa Cummars

11 April, 2017 by katelaity


Here’s a poem from William Dunbar, whose name I’ve stolen for the serial. There really were Dunbars at the trial of Isobel Gowdie. Not sure they’re related to the medieval makar, but it’s possible. My students worked through this poem in class, so I bet you can too. Dunbar’s collected poems are available thanks to the TEAMS text project housed at the University of Rochester. It’s timely because of the Lent setting. FYI: ‘cummar originally meant “godmother” but soon came to mean “close female friend” (notes). If you want something more daring, try the poem immediate after it 😉

The Twa Cummars
[This lang Lentrin it makis me lene]

Richt arely one Ask Wedinsday
Drinkande the wyne sat cummaris tua.
The tane couthe to the tothir complene,
Granand ande suppand couth sche say:
“This lang Lentrin it makis me lene.”

One couch befor the fyir sche sat.
God wait gif sche was gret and fat,
Yet to be feble sche did hir fene,
Ay sche said, “Cummar, lat preif of that:
This lang Lentrin makis me lene.”

“My fair suet cummar,” quod the tothir,
“Ye tak that megirnes of your modir.
Ale wyne to tast sche wald disdene
Bot malwasy, and nay drink uthir:
This lang Lentryn it makis me lene.”

“Cummar, be glaid baith evin and morrow,
The gud quharevere ye beg or borrow.14
Fra our lang fasting youe refrene
And lat your husband dre the sorrow.
This lang Lentryn it makis me lene.”

“Your counsaile, commar, is gud,” quod scho.
“Ale is to tene him that I do;
In bed he is nocht wortht ane bane.
File anis the glas and drink me to:
This lang Lentryn it makis me lene.”

Of wyne out of ane chopin stoip
Thai drank tua quartis, bot soip and soip,
Of droucht sic axis did thame strene,
Be thane to mend thai hed gud hoip,
That lang Lentrin suld nocht mak thaim lene.

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