John Maitland of Thirlestane, the royal chancellor, married Janet Fleming, the only child of James, fourth Lord Fleming, on 16 January 1583. Maitland, then 39, was eleven years his bride's senior, and here Rollock pokes ribald fun at the match. The word 'torus' means 'bed' or 'couch', but it also has a more general meaning of 'bulge', 'swelling', or 'protuberance', a pun that Rollock crudely plays on here but which is lost in the English translation. The poem appears to have been written after a visit to Maitland's home (l.1-2), providing evidence of another connection of Rollock with the court in the years 1583-4. In the same period Rollock also produced an epigram for the king's Essays of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie (Edinburgh, 1584: the poem can be found on fo.*iiii verso). Metre: elegiac couplets.
De immani lecto D. Cancellarii Metellani ad ornatissimam ipsius conjugem (c.1583)
De immani lecto D. Cancellarii Metellani, ad ornatissimam ipsius conjugem
1Teque tuumque virum ut vidi, gazamque, laremque,
atque torum, quid sint omnia visa loquar?
(Da veniam absenti: vos coram ancepsque tremensque
suspicio, ut nebulam lumina tanta decet.)
5Amplus honos vobis, domus ampla est, ampla supellex:
amplus et ampla tori corpora campus habet.
Caetera ut ampla probem, torus amplus displicet: hoc sors
nostra inopum est vobis nomine namque prior.
Nos amplexu arcte collisi haeremus amico,
10basiaque angustum crebra cubile facit.
Vos spondae arbitrium spatiosae abjungit amantes.
12Contrahe: nam pauci es pignoris inde parens.
To the most beautiful wife of Lord Chancellor Maitland, regarding his immense bed
What can I say about all the things that were seen when I saw you and your man, and your wealth, and your dwelling, and your bed? (Be favourable to he who is absent: I look upon you before me, wavering and trembling like the kind of light suited to shadows.) You have ample honour, an ample home, ample stuff: and the ample surface of your bed has ample bodies. As I inspect other ample bodies, your ample bed is displeasing: for my condition of wretchedness stands out more in this regard. After we have clashed in war, we cling tightly in a friendly embrace, and a narrow bed makes for frequent kisses. Free will joins you lovers together to a spacious bedstead. Draw in close together: for from there you become the parents of a few children.