The Dance Of The Seven Deadly Sins

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  Of Februar the fiftene nicht
  Full lang before the dayis licht
  I lay intill a trance
  And then I saw baith Heaven and Hell
  Me thocht, amang the fiendis fell
  Mahoun gart cry ane dance
  Of shrews that were never shriven,
  Agains the feast of Fastern's even,
  To mak their observance.
  He bad gallants gae graith a gyis,
  And cast up gamountis in the skies,
  As varlets do in France.


  Helie harlots on hawtane wise,
  Come in with mony sundry guise,
  But yet leuch never Mahoun,
  While priests come in with bare shaven necks;
  Then all the fiends leuch, and made gecks,
  Black-Belly and Bawsy Brown.


  Let see, quoth he, now wha begins:
  With that the foul Seven Deadly Sins
  Begoud to leap at anis.
  And first of all in Dance was Pride,
  With hair wyld back, and bonnet on side,
  Like to make vaistie wanis;
  And round about him, as a wheel,
  Hang all in rumples to the heel
  His kethat for the nanis:7
  Mony proud trumpour with him trippit;
  Through scalding fire, aye as they skippit
  They girned with hideous granis.


  Then Ire came in with sturt and strife;
  His hand was aye upon his knife,
  He brandished like a beir:
  Boasters, braggars, and bargainers,
  After him passit in to pairs,
  All bodin in feir of weir;
  In jacks, and scryppis, and bonnets of steel,
  Their legs were chainit to the heel,
  Frawart was their affeir:
  Some upon other with brands beft,
  Some jaggit others to the heft,
  With knives that sharp could shear.


  Next in the Dance followit Envy,
  Filled full of feud and felony,
  Hid malice and despite:
  For privy hatred that traitor tremlit;
  Him followit mony freik dissemlit,
  With fenyeit wordis quhyte:
  And flatterers in to men's faces;
  And backbiters in secret places,
  To lie that had delight;
  And rownaris of false lesings,
  Alace! that courts of noble kings
  Of them can never be quit.


  Next him in Dance came Covetyce,
  Root of all evil, and ground of vice,
  That never could be content:
  Catives, wretches, and ockeraris,
  Hudpikes, hoarders, gatheraris,
  All with that warlock went:
  Out of their throats they shot on other
  Het, molten gold, me thocht, a futher
  As fire-flaucht maist fervent;
  Aye as they toomit them of shot,
  Fiends filled them new up to the throat
  With gold of all kind prent.


  Syne Sweirness, at the second bidding,
  Came like a sow out of a midding,
  Full sleepy was his grunyie:
  Mony swear bumbard belly huddroun,
  Mony slut, daw, and sleepy duddroun,
  Him servit aye with sonnyie;
  He drew them furth intill a chain,
  And Belial with a bridle rein
  Ever lashed them on the lunyie:
  In Daunce they were so slaw of feet,
  They gave them in the fire a heat,
  And made them quicker of cunyie.


  Then Lechery, that laithly corpse,
  Came berand like ane baggit horse,
  And Idleness did him lead;
  There was with him ane ugly sort,
  And mony stinking foul tramort,
  That had in sin been dead:
  When they were enterit in the Dance,
  They were full strange of countenance,
  Like torches burning red.


  Then the foul monster, Gluttony,
  Of wame insatiable and greedy,
  To Dance he did him dress:
  Him followit mony foul drunkart,
  With can and collop, cup and quart,
  In surfit and excess;
  Full mony a waistless wally-drag,
  With wames unweildable, did furth wag,
  In creesh that did incress:
  Drink! aye they cried, with mony a gaip,
  The fiends gave them het lead to laip,
  Their leveray was na less.


  Nae minstrels played to them but doubt,
  For gleemen there were halden out,
  Be day, and eke by nicht;
  Except a minstrel that slew a man,
  So to his heritage he wan,
  And enterit by brieve of richt.
  Then cried Mahoun for a Hieland Padyane:
  Syne ran a fiend to fetch Makfadyane,
  Far northwast in a neuck;
  Be he the coronach had done shout,
  Ersche men so gatherit him about,
  In hell great room they took:
  Thae tarmigants, with tag and tatter,
  Full loud in Ersche begoud to clatter,
  And roup like raven and rook.
  The Devil sae deaved was with their yell;
  That in the deepest pot of hell
  He smorit them with smoke!

© William Dunbar