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The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
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DIMEV 6235
IMEV 3908.5
NIMEV Dunbar
What is this life but one straight way to death
William Dunbar, ‘Of lyfe’ — one stanza rhyme royal
Author(s): William Dunbar
Title(s): ‘Of lyfe’
Subjects: human life
Versification: — seven-line — ababbcc



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Cambridge UK, Magdalene College Pepys 2553, p. 310
First Lines:
Quhat is þis lyfe bot ane straucht way to deid
Quhilk hes a tyme to pas and name to duell…
Last Lines:
…A schoirt torment for infineit glaidnes
Als schort ane Ioy for lestand hevynes
Attributed Author: Quod dumbar (p. 310)
Editions:
Laing, David. The Poems of William Dunbar. 2 vols. Edinburgh: Laing and Forbes, 1834; Supplement, 1865: 1.235.
Paterson, James. The Works of William Dunbar. Edinburgh: Stillie, 1863: 87.
Small, John, Ae. James George Mackay, George Powell McNeill, and Walter Gregor, eds. The Poems of William Dunbar. 5 pts. Scottish Text Society 2, 4, 16, 21, 29. Edinburgh, 1884-93: 2.250.
Schipper, Jakob. The Poems of William Dunbar. Vienna: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1894: 336.
Schipper, Jakob, ed. The Poems of William Dunbar. 4 vols. Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophische-Historische Klasse 40/2; 40/4; 41/4; 42/4. Vienna, 1892-93: 83-4.
Baildon, Henry Bellyse. The Poems of William Dunbar. Cambridge: University Press, 1907: 207.
Craigie, William Alexander. The Maitland Folio Manuscript, Containing Poems by Sir Richard Maitland, Dunbar, Douglas, Henryson, and others. 2 vols. Scottish Text Society n.s. 7 (1919), 20 (1927); Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1919, 1927: 1.350.
MacKenzie, William Mackay. The Poems of William Dunbar. Edinburgh, 1932: 151.
Kinsley, James. William Dunbar, Poems. Oxford: Clarendon, 1958; repr. 1979: 67.
Bawcutt, Priscilla J., and Felicity Riddy, eds. Selected Poems of Henryson and Dunbar. Edinburgh: 1992: 161.
2.Source: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ 1.1.6 [Bannatyne MS], f. 75v
First Lines:
Quhat is this lyfe Ane draucht way to þe deid
quhilk hes tyme to pas and nane to dwell…
Last Lines:
…And schort torment for infinit glaidnes
als schort ane Ioy for lestand hevines
Facsimiles:
Fox, Denton, and William A. Ringler. The Bannatyne Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates’ MS. 1.1.6 London: Scolar Press, in Association with The National Library of Scotland, 1980.
Editions:
Murdoch, James Barclay. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 vols. in 11 parts, paged continuously. Hunterian Club 16, 32, 40, 46, 50, 55-56, 64-67 Glasgow: Anderson, 1873-1896: 2.204.
Ritchie, W. Tod, ed. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 parts in 4 vols. Scottish Text Society 3rd ser. 5 (1928); n.s. 22 (1928); n.s. 23 (1930); n.s. 26 (1934) Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1928-34; ed. by Ritchie et al: 2.186.