Gavin Douglas

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Gawin or Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld (c. 14761522) was a Scottish Chaucerian poet or makar. His Eneados, a loose translation of Virgil's Aeneid, was the first complete rendering of any major work of classical antiquity into English.



  • Fyrst I protest, beaw schirris, by зour leif
    Beis weill avisit my wark or зhe reprief;
    Consider it warly, reid oftar than anys,
    Weill at a blenk sle poetry nocht tayn is.
    • Bk. 1, prologue, line 105.
  • Bot a sentens to follow may suffice me:
    Sum tyme I follow the text als neir I may,
    Sum tyme I am constrenyt ane other way.
    • Bk. 1, prologue, line 356.
  • It is richt facil and eith gait, I the tell,
    Forto discend and pas on down to hell.
    • Bk. 6, line 265.
  • Ryveris ran reid on spait with watir broune,
    And burnys hurlys all thar bankis doune.
    • Bk. 7, prologue, line 19.
  • Woddis, forrestis, with nakyt bewis blowt,
    Stude strippyt of thar weid in every howt.
    So bustuusly Boreas his bugill blew,
    The deyr full dern doun in the dalis drew;
    Smale byrdis, flokkand throu thik ronys thrang,
    In chyrmyng and with cheping changit thar sang,
    Sekand hidlis and hyrnys thame to hyde
    Fra feirfull thuddis of the tempestuus tyde.
    • Bk. 7, prologue, line 65.
  • And al smail fowlys syngis on the spray:
    Welcum the lord of lycht, and lamp of day.
    • Bk. 12, prologue, line 251.
  • As to the text accordyng never a deill,
    Mair than langis to the cart the fift quheill.
    • Bk. 13, prologue, line 117.


  • Gavin Douglas, set on a particular labour, with his mind full of Latin quantitative metre, attains a robuster versification than you are likely to find in Chaucer…the texture of Gavin's verse is stronger, the resilience greater.
    • Ezra Pound ABC of Reading (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934) p. 103.
  • About Douglas as a translator there may be two opinions; about his Aeneid (Prologues and all) as an English book there can be only one. Here a great story is greatly told and set off with original embellishments which are all good – all either delightful or interesting – in their diverse ways.
    • C. S. Lewis English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954) p. 90.
  • Arguably the best version of Virgil in English poetry.
    • Douglas Gray, in W. F. Bolton (ed.) The Middle Ages (London: Sphere, 1970) p. 366.

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