Home >> Encyclopedia-britannica-volume-15-maryborough-mushet-steel >> 18th And 19th Centuries to And Of The Prime >> Alexander Montgomerie

Alexander Montgomerie

scottish, poems and text

MONTGOMERIE, ALEXANDER (c. 1550–c. 161o), Scottish poet, son of Hugh Montgomerie of Hessilhead, Ayrshire, spent some part of his youth in Argyleshire and afterwards lived for a time at Compston Castle, in Galloway. He was in the service of the regent Morton; thereafter, on the regent's demission of office in 1578, in that of King James VI. In 1583 the grant by the Crown of a pension of 500 marks was confirmed; three years later he set out on a tour through France, Flanders and other countries. He appears to have been imprisoned abroad, and to have lost favour at the Scottish court, and (for a time) his pension. We have no record of his closing years.

Montgomerie's chief poem is the Cherry and the Slae, first printed in 1597 (two impressions). It was frequently reprinted in the 17th and 18th centuries, and appeared twice in Latin guise in 1631, in Dempster's Cerasum et sylvestre prunum, opus poe maticum. It is included in the collected edition of Montgomerie's Poems, by David Irving (1821), and by James Cranstoun, for the Scottish Text Society (1887). A better text, from a ms. in

the Laing collection in the University of Edinburgh, was prepared (1907) for the Scottish Text Society by Mr. George Stevenson.

The poem, written in the complicated alliterative fourteen-lined stanza, is a confused allegory—the confusion being due to the fact that sections of the poem were written at different times— on Youth's choice between a richly laden cherry-tree on a high crag and a sloe "bush" at his feet. His other poems are: The Flyting betwixt Montgomery and Polwart (1629; ist ed., 1621); a series of 7o sonnets; a large number of miscellaneous poems, amatory and devotional; and The Mindes Melodie, Contayning certayne Psalmes of the Kinglie Prophete Dayvid, applyed to a new pleasant tune (Edinburgh, 1605).