Commentary notes can be accessed by clicking on a blue square. The Latin text can be accessed by clicking on a green square.
1. FOR JOHN GORDON, VISCOUNT KENMURE, LORD LOCHINVAR, A MAN OF MOST DISTINGUISHED LINEAGE AND GLORIOUS FOR HIS GIFTS AND PIETY, TAKEN AWAY, TO THE DEEP GRIEF OF THE FAITHFUL OF THIS AGE
Kenmure, laden with riches of intellect and spirit,
Grim death has taken from us before his time.
To him a welcome death, unwelcome to the devout; yet leave off weeping,
For he whose final date is set by Christ falls not before his time.
2. THE DEVOUT CONFESSION OF THE DECEASED
God chose me, third son of my mother’s womb,
He loved me, nourished with his love
Imbued my early years with his divine precepts
And taught me the true dogmas of the devout life.
While I strove as an adult to follow them in purity and holiness, 5
The flesh, the world, the devil himself sought me.
The flesh swayed me‘ I felt sin sweet and bitter
(Dear father, behold, I execrate my fault)
Deceitfully the world’s glory bereaved me of light,
Dear father, behold, I execrate my fault 10
While zealous for the king, the honour of heaven’s king
I did neglect: behold, I execrate my fault.
Christ deigned to allow me to bear witness to Ηim, honour
Than which no greater can be bestowed on living man.
Prompt to go with Peter to the court, there Christ 15
I did abandon (this fault I execrate, dear father).
From the depths of my heart with Peter I pour forth
Floods of tears (as on Peter, have mercy on me).
Having been deserted, do not desert me myself as I deserve.
With you as guide, let me sing glad songs of victory over death, 20
And with the denizens of heaven I shall celebrate the name of Jesus,
Who for me endured the savage wound of death.
3. AN EXHORTATION OF THE DECEASED TO THE MOST NOBLE ROTHES, CASSILIS, LOTHIAN, LOUDON, BALMERINOCH, AND THE OTHERS WHO, WHILE THE GREATER PART FEARED THE KING’S DISPLEASURE, ASSENTED BY THEIR TESTIMONY TO THE PURE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST AND OUR KIRK DISCIPLINE, AS ESTABISHED BY THE COMMUNAL AND PUBLICLY SWORN OATH OF OUR KING AND HIS SUBJECTS
O thrice-blest are those whom terror has not deflected from the right path, nor honour’s evil persuasions! O thrice-blest are as many as have followed in Christ’s footsteps, and have not feared Christ’s cross! O thrice-blest are they, to whom Christ’s cause is dearest, his cross that evil men avoid, that good men embrace! Hence, heroic Rothes, you are blest, truly blest, flower of nobles, glory of your forebears, honour of your race. Hence, Cassilis, you are truly blest, second to none for virtue, your life ennobled by piety. Hence Lothian condemns riches and leaves the court to courtiers, since brighter to him was the court of Christ. Hence Loudon, that vigorous partisan, awaits true honours, since he proves false to earthly honour. Hence Balmerino, outstanding for wisdom, devotion and faith, exults in his solitary confinement. It was these men’s greatest honour, their greatest glory, that they cast their votes for the persecuted cause of Christ. But I, oh I was in dread of the anger of an earthly king, I, o I had been taken captive by the pointless court’s puff of wind, but now, the king cannot save me, thrown on the spears of death. As the anger of the god of heaven terrifies me, I exhort and beseech you all, in the bowels of Christ, let not earth’s fleeting glory seduce you. He who restored everything, children and goods, to wretched Job, destitute of children and wealth, He who, innocent, for the guilty overthrew death and the torments of hell, will He not carry your cross? Continue, ye great hearted ones, to speak up for Christ, and may Christ speak up for all of you, and snatch you from wicked men. Continue, then, to follow the pure teachings of Christ. Continue, then, in Christ to overcome the proud enemies. Continue, then, to frighten the wolves away from the sheepfolds, until the coming of the True Shepherd whose care is for his flock, Who guards his sheep and tears the wolves in pieces.
The words of the people of Sion lie drowned
in Cimmerian shadow, boast the lips of lying Kimchi.
What you rabbis want to be tortuous dark enigmas,
I ask you now to say is an easy, sacred tongue.
Hippocrates, you are deceived: you are wrong to call
the threads of niggardly life short, and shout that art is long.
Let death be as swift as it likes, the hour more fleeting than the rushing southwest wind,
and life than the flying course of the horse that pulls Bellerophon’s car.
Death gets no welcome from Rowe’s Hebrew Muses.
Peruse them, and you will say that art is short.
YOURS IN THE LORD, S. RUTHERFORD