De amore suo (n.d.)

James Halkerston (c.1540-1615) holds the distinction of making the smallest contribution to the DPS - just seven short epigrams over two pages. Described by the editors as a 'commander of soldiers' ('tribuni militum'), Halkerston served as a captain on the Marian side of the civil war between 1570 and 1572, and by 1573 had fled to Antwerp where he was involved in abortive negotiations for a marriage between Mary Stewart and Don John of Austria. Halkerston's poems on Henri III and his election as king of Poland (see d1_HalJ_002 to d1_HalJ_006) suggest that he was in France around 1574. He may have been the 'Haultayn' fighting as a mercenary for the Dutch against the Spanish in June 1576. However, this seems unlikely as a letter by John Hamilton, written on 1 August, reveals that Halkerston was engaged around the same period in Catholic intrigues in Paris and Normandy on the behalf of Hamilton's family. Halkerston's career over the next two decades saw him serve as an agent for his third cousin Henri d'Angoulême, the grand prieur of Provence (between c.1580 and c.1585), Patrick, master of Gray (c. 1585 to c.1587), and Francis Stewart, earl of Bothwell (c. 1588 to c.1595), usually but not always in relation to plots to re-establish the Catholic faith in Scotland, and also as part of Bothwell's various assaults against the king. Halkerston's poem on the flooding of the Tiber suggests he was personally present in Rome when the river burst its banks in 1600 (see d1_HalJ_007), and the last account of him (though possibly spurious) was recorded by Thomas Dempster, who apparently found him living in abject poverty in London in 1615. In addition to the short epigram published in the DPS, Halkerston produced Latin paraphrases of James VI's sonnet on the death of Sir Philip Sidney, printed in Academiae Cantabrigiensis Lachrymae Tumulo Nobilissimi Equitis, D. Phillipi Sidneij Sacratae, ed. Alexander Neville (London, 1587), sig. k2r-v. For a full account of Halkerston's life, along with the text and a translation of the verses to Sidney, see Roderick J. Lyall, 'Kinship, kingship and Latinity: the suprising career of James Halkerston', in Alasdair A. MacDonald and Julian Goodare (eds), Sixteenth-Century Scotland: Essays in Honour of Michael Lynch (Leiden, 2008), pp. 237-255.

Halkerston's contribution to the DPS includes the poems noted above and this short but lovely piece on the pleasing pain caused by love. Collectively, they show that he had a talent for pithy epigrams which seems slightly at odds with the image of a man who spent most of his life in military service. Metre: elegiac couplets.

Link to an image of this page  [p376]

De Amore suo

Vulnera grata mihi, fax grata, et grata catena est,
me quibus adstringit, laedit, et urit, Amor.
Nam flammam extingui, sanari vulnera, solvi
vincla, etiam ut possim, non ego posse velim.
Mirum equidem genus est morbi, nam spicula, et ignes,
et laqueos, vinctus, laesus, et ustus, amo.

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On his own Love

The blows, the brand and the fetter with which Love binds, harms and burns me are grateful to me. For even if I could have the flame put out, be healed of the wounds, and be freed from the chains, I would not wish to be able to. This is indeed a wondrous type of illness, for I who have been chained, beaten and burned love barbs, and fires, and snares.