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‘Done is a Battell on the Dragon Blak’: A Poem by William Dunbar

‘Done is a Battell on the Dragon Blak’, a poem by the medieval Scottish poet William Dunbar (c. 1465-c. 1530), boasts one of the finest opening lines in all medieval poetry. The rest of the poem is pretty good, too. It takes as its theme the Resurrection, and casts Christ as a crusading knight.

Done is a Battell on the Dragon Blak

1
Done is a battell on the dragon blak,
Our campioun Chryst confoundit hes his force,
The yettis of hell ar brokin with a crak,
The signe trivmphall rasit is of the croce.
The diuillis trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The saulis ar borrowit and to the blis can go.
Chryst with his blud our ransonis dois indoce:
Surrexit dominus de sepulchro.

2
Dungin is the deidly dragon Lucifer,
The crewall serpent with the mortall stang,
The auld kene tegir, with his teith on char,
Quhilk in a wait hes lyne for ws so lang,
Thinking to grip ws in his clowis strang.
The mercifull lord wald nocht that it wer so.
He maid him for to felye of that fang:
Surrexit dominus de sepulchro.

3
He for our saik that sufferit to be slane
And lyk a lamb in sacrifice wes dicht,
Is lyk a lyone rissin vp agane
And as a gyane raxit him on hicht.
Sprungin is Aurora, radius and bricht,
On loft is gone the glorius Appollo,
The blisfull day departit fro the nycht:
Surrexit dominus de sepulchro.

4
The grit victour agane is rissin on hicht,
That for our querrell to the deth wes woundit.
The sone that vox all paill now schynis bricht,
And, dirknes clerit, our fayth is now refoundit.
The knell of mercy fra the hevin is soundit,
The Cristin ar deliuerit of thair wo,
The Iowis and thair errour ar confoundit:
Surrexit dominus de sepulchro.

5
The fo is chasit, the battell is done ceis,
The presone brokin, the ievellouris fleit and flemit,
The weir is gon, confermit is the peis,
The fetteris lowsit and the dungeoun temit,
The ransoun maid, the presoneris redemit,
The feild is win, ourcumin is the fo,
Dispulit of the tresur that he yemit:
Surrexit dominus de sepulchro.

If you enjoyed ‘Done is a Battell on the Dragon Blak’, you might also like this piece of medieval bawdiness.

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About interestingliterature

A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

Posted on February 1, 2019, in Literature and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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