Ballad Book

Produced by Tiffany Vergon, Dave Maddock and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. BALLAD BOOK EDITED BY KATHARINE LEE BATES, WELLESLEY COLLEGE. “The plaintive numbers flow For old, unhappy, far-off things, And battles long ago.” –WILLIAM WORDSWORTH PREFACE Probably no teacher of English literature in our schools or colleges would gainsay the statement that the chief
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Produced by Tiffany Vergon, Dave Maddock and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.




“The plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago.”



Probably no teacher of English literature in our schools or colleges would gainsay the statement that the chief aim of such instruction is to awaken in the student a genuine love and enthusiasm for the higher forms of prose, and more especially for poetry. For love is the surest guarantee of extended and independent study, and we teachers are the first to admit that the class-room is but the vestibule to education. So in beginning the critical study of English poetry it seems reasonable to use as a starting-point the early ballads, belonging as they do to the youth of our literature, to the youth of our English race, and hence appealing with especial power to the youth of the human heart. Every man of letters who still retains the boy-element in his nature–and most men, Sir Philip Sidney tells us, are “children in the best things, till they be cradled in their graves”–has a tenderness for these rough, frank, spirited old poems, while the actual boy in years, or the actual girl, rarely fails to respond to their charm. What Shakespeare knew, and Scott loved, and Bossetti echoes, can hardly be beneath the admiration of high school and university students. Rugged language, broken metres, absurd plots, dubious morals, are impotent to destroy the vital beauty that underlies all these. There is a philosophical propriety, too, in beginning poetic study with ballad lore, for the ballad is the germ of all poem varieties.

This volume attempts to present such a selection from the old ballads as shall represent them fairly in their three main classes,–those derived from superstition, whether fairy-lore, witch-lore, ghost-lore, or demon-lore; those derived from tradition, Scotch and English; and those derived from romance and from domestic life in general. The Scottish ballads, because of their far superior poetic value, are found here in greater number than the English. The notes state in each case what version has been followed. The notes aim, moreover, to give such facts of historical or bibliographical importance as may attach to each ballad, with any indispensable explanation of outworn or dialectic phrases, although here much is left to the mother-wit of the student.

It is hoped that this selection may meet a definite need in connection with classes not so fortunate as to have access to a ballad library, and that even where such access is procurable, it may prove a friendly companion in the private study and the recitation-room.


March, 1904.







The development of poetry, the articulate life of man, is hidden in that mist which overhangs the morning of history. Yet the indications are that this art of arts had its origin, as far back as the days of savagery, in the ideal element of life rather than the utilitarian. There came a time, undoubtedly, when the mnemonic value of verse was recognized in the transmission of laws and records and the hard-won wealth of experience. Our own Anglo-Saxon ancestors, whose rhyme, it will be remembered, was initial rhyme, or alliteration, have bequeathed to our modern speech many such devices for “the knitting up of the memory,” largely legal or popular phrases, as _bed and board_, _to have and to hold_, _to give and to grant_, _time and tide_, _wind and wave_, _gold and gear_; or proverbs, as, for example: _When bale is highest, boon is nighest_, better known to the present age under the still alliterative form: _The darkest hour’s before the dawn_. But if we may trust the signs of poetic evolution in barbarous tribes to-day, if we may draw inferences from the sacred character attached to the Muses in the myths of all races, with the old Norsemen, for instance, SagAc being the daughter of Odin, we may rest a reasonable confidence upon the theory that poetry, the world over, finds its first utterance at the bidding of the religious instinct and in connection with religious rites.

Yet the wild-eyed warriors, keeping time by a rude triumphal chant to the dance about the watch-fire, were mentally as children, with keen senses and eager imagination, but feeble reason, with fresh and vigorous emotions, but without elaborate language for these emotions. Swaying and shouting in rhythmic consent, they came slowly to the use of ordered words and, even then, could but have repeated the same phrases over and over. The burden–sometimes senseless to our modern understanding–to be found in the present form of many of our ballads may be the survival of a survival from those primitive iterations. The “Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw” of _The Elfin Knight_ is not, in this instance, inappropriate to the theme, yet we can almost hear shrilling through it a far cry from days when men called directly upon the powers of nature. Such refrains as “Binnorie, O Binnorie,” “Jennifer gentle an’ rosemaree,” “Down, a down, a down, a down,” have ancient secrets in them, had we ears to hear.

One of the vexed questions of criticism regarding these refrains is whether they were rendered in alternation with the narrative verses or as a continuous under-song. Early observers of Indian dances have noted that, while one leaping savage after another improvised a simple strain or two, the whole dancing company kept up a guttural cadence of “Heh, heh, heh!” or “Aw, aw, aw!” which served the office of musical accompaniment. This choral iteration of rhythmic syllables, still hinted in the refrain, but only hinted, is believed to be the original element of poetry.

In course of time, however, was evolved the individual singer. In the earlier stages of society, song was undoubtedly a common gift, and every normal member of the community bore his part in the recital of the heroic deeds that ordinarily formed the subject of these primeval lays. Were it the praise of a god, of a feasting champion, or of a slain comrade, the natural utterance was narrative. Later on, the more fluent and inventive improvisers came to the front, and finally the professional bard appeared. Somewhere in the process, too, the burden may have shifted its part from under-song to alternating chorus, thus allowing the soloist opportunity for rest and recollection.

English ballads, as we have them in print to-day, took form in a far later and more sophisticated period than those just suggested; yet even thus our ballads stand nearest of anything in our literature to the primitive poetry that was born out of the social life of the community rather than made by the solitary thought of the artist. Even so comparatively small a group as that comprehended within this volume shows how truly the ballad is the parent stock of all other poetic varieties. In the ballad of plain narrative, as _The Hunting of the Cheviot,_ the epic is hinted. We go a step further in _A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode,_–too long for insertion in this collection, but peculiarly interesting from the antiquarian point of view, having been printed, in part, as early as 1489,–and find at least a rough foundation for a genuine hero-lay, the _Lytell Geste_ being made up of a number of ballads rudely woven into one. A poem like this, though hardly “an epic in miniature,”–a phrase which has been proposed as the definition of a ballad,–is truly an epic in germ, lacking the finish of a miniature, but holding the promise of a seed. Where the narrative is highly colored by emotion, as in _Helen of Kirconnell_ or _Waly Waly,_ the ballad merges into the lyric. It is difficult here to draw the line of distinction. _A Lyke-Wake Dirge_ is almost purely lyric in quality, while _The Lawlands o’ Holland, Gilderoy, The Twa Corbies, Bonny Barbara Allan,_ have each a pronounced lyric element. From the ballad of dialogue we look forward to the drama, not only from the ballad of pure dialogue, as _Lord Ronald,_ or _Edward, Edward,_ or that sweet old English folk-song, too long for insertion here, _The Not-Browne Mayd,_ but more remotely from the ballad of mingled dialogue and narrative, as _The Gardener or Fine Flowers i’ the Valley._

The beginnings of English balladry are far out of sight. From the date when the race first had deeds to praise and words with which to praise them, it is all but certain that ballads were in the air. But even the mediteval ballads are lost to us. It was the written literature, the work of clerks, fixed upon the parchment, that survived, while the songs of the people, passing from lip to lip down the generations, continually reshaped themselves to the changing times. But they were never hushed. While Chaucer, his genius fed by Norman and Italian streams, was making the fourteenth century reecho with that laughter which “comes never to an end” of the Canterbury story-tellers; while Langland, even his Teutonic spirit swayed by French example, was brooding the gloomy _Vision of Piers the Plowman,_–gloom with a star at its centre; while those “courtly makers,” Wyatt and Surrey, were smoothing English song, which in the hands of Skelton had become so

“Tatter’d and jagged,
Rudely raine-beaten,
Rusty and moth-eaten,”

into the exquisite lyrical measures of Italy; while the mysteries and miracle-plays, also of Continental impulse, were striving to do God service by impressing the Scripture stories upon their rustic audiences,–the ballads were being sung and told from Scottish loch to English lowland, in hamlet and in hall. Heartily enjoyed in the baronial castle, scandalously well known in the monastery, they were dearest to the peasants.

“Lewd peple loven tales olde;
Swiche thinges can they wel report and holde.”

The versions in which we possess such ballads to-day are comparatively modern. Few can be dated further back than the reign of Elizabeth; the language of some is that of the eighteenth century. But the number and variety of these versions–the ballad of _Lord Ronald,_ for instance, being given in fifteen forms by Professor Child in his monumental edition of _The English and Scottish Popular Ballads;_ where “Lord Ronald, my son,” appears variously as “Lord Randal, my son,” “Lord Donald, my son,” “King Henrie, my son,” “Lairde Rowlande, my son,” “Billy, my son,” “Tiranti, my son,” “my own pretty boy,” “my bonnie wee croodlin dow,” “my little wee croudlin doo,” “Willie doo, Willie doo,” “my wee wee croodlin doo doo”–are sure evidence of oral transmission, and oral transmission is in itself evidence of antiquity. Many of our ballads, moreover,–nearly a third of the present collection, as the notes will show,–are akin to ancient ballads of Continental Europe, or of Asia, or both, which set forth the outlines of the same stories in something the same way.

It should be stated that there is another theory altogether as to the origin of ballads. Instead of regarding them as a slow, shadowed, natural growth, finally fossilized in print, from the rhythmic cries of a barbaric dance-circle in its festal hour, there is a weighty school of critics who hold them to be the mere rag-tag camp-followers of mediaeval romance. See, for instance, the clownish ballad of _Tom Thumbe,_ with its confused Arthurian echoes. Some of the events recorded in our ballads, moreover, are placed by definite local tradition at a comparatively recent date, as _Otterburne, Edom o’ Gordon, Kinmont Willie._ What becomes, then, of their claims to long descent? If these do not fall, it is because they are based less on the general theme and course of the story, matters that seem to necessitate an individual composer, than on the so-called communal elements of refrain, iteration, stock stanzas, stock epithets, stock numbers, stock situations, the frank objectivity of the point of view, the sudden glimpses into a pagan world.

In the lands of the schoolhouse, the newspaper, and the public library, the conditions of ballad-production are past and gone. Yet there are still a few isolated communities in Europe where genuine folk-songs of spontaneous composition may be heard by the eavesdropper and jotted down with a surreptitious pencil; for the rustics shrink from the curiosity of the learned and are silent in the presence of strangers. The most precious contribution to our literature from such a, source is _The Bard of the Dimbovitza_, an English translation of folk-songs and ballads peculiar to a certain district of Roumania. They were gathered by a native gentlewoman from among the peasants on her father’s estate. “She was forced,” writes Carmen Sylva, Queen of Roumania, one of the two translators, “to affect a desire to learn spinning, that she might join the girls at their spinning parties, and so overhear their songs more easily; she hid in the tall maize to hear the reapers crooning them, … she listened for them by death-beds, by cradles, at the dance, and in the tavern, with inexhaustible patience…. Most of them are improvisations. They usually begin and end with a refrain.”

The Celtic revival, too, is discovering not only the love of song, but, to some extent, the power of improvisation in the more remote corners of the British Isles. Instances of popular balladry in the west of Ireland are givrn by Lady Gregory in her _Poets and Dreamers._

The Roumanians still have their lute-players; old people in Galway still remember the last of their wandering folk-bards; but the Ettrick Shepherd, a century ago, had to call upon imagination for the picture of

“Each Caledonian minstrel true,
Dressed in his plaid and bonnet blue, With harp across his shoulders slung,
And music murmuring round his tongue.”

Fearless children of nature these strolling poets were, even as the songs they sang.

“Little recked they, our bards of old, Of autumn’s showers, or winter’s cold. Sound slept they on the ‘nighted hill, Lulled by the winds, or bubbling rill, Curtained within the winter cloud,
The heath their couch, the sky their shroud; Yet theirs the strains that touch the heart,– Bold, rapid, wild, and void of art.”

The value and hence the dignity of the minstrel’s profession declined with the progress of the printing-press in popular favor, and the character of the gleemen suffered in consequence. This was more marked in England than in Scotland. Indeed, the question has been raised as to whether there ever existed a class of Englishmen who were both ballad-singers and ballad-makers. This was one of the points at issue between those eminent antiquarians, Bishop Percy and Mr. Ritson, in the eighteenth century. Dr. Percy had defined the English minstrels as an “order of men in the middle ages, who subsisted by the arts of poetry and music, and sung to the harp the verses which they themselves composed.” The inflammable Joseph Ritson, whose love of an honest ballad goes far to excuse him for his lack of gentle demeanor toward the unfaithful editor of the _Reliques,_ pounced down so fiercely upon this definition, contending that, however applicable to Icelandic skalds or Norman trouveres or ProvenASal troubadours, it was altogether too flattering for the vagabond fiddlers of England, roughly trolling over to tavern audiences the ballads borrowed from their betters, that the dismayed bishop altered his last clause to read, “verses composed by themselves or others.”

Sir Walter Scott sums up this famous quarrel with his characteristic good-humor. “The debate,” he says, “resembles the apologue of the gold and silver shield. Dr. Percy looked on the minstrel in the palmy and exalted state to which, no doubt, many were elevated by their talents, like those who possess excellence in the fine arts in the present day; and Ritson considered the reverse of the medal, when the poor and wandering gleeman was glad to purchase his bread by singing his ballads at the ale-house, wearing a fantastic habit, and latterly sinking into a mere crowder upon an untuned fiddle, accompanying his rude strains with a ruder ditty, the helpless associate of drunken revellers, and marvellously afraid of the constable and parish beadle.”

There is proof enough that, by the reign of Elizabeth, the printer was elbowing the minstrel out into the gutter. In Scotland the strolling bard was still not without honor, but in the sister country we find him denounced by ordinance together with “rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars.” The London stalls were fed by Grub-street authors with penny ballads–trash for the greater part–printed in black-letter on broadsides. Many of these doggerel productions were collected into small miscellanies, known as _Garlands,_ in the reign of James I.; but few of the genuine old folk-songs found a refuge in print. Yet they still lived on in corners of England and Scotland, where “the spinsters and the knitters in the sun” crooned over half-remembered lays to peasant children playing at their feet.

In 1723 a collection of English ballads, made up largely, though not entirely, of stall-copies, was issued by an anonymous editor, not a little ashamed of himself because of his interest in so unworthy a subject; for although Dryden and Addison had played the man and given kindly entertainment–the one in his _Miscellany Poems,_ the other in _The Spectator_–to a few ballad-gypsies, yet poetry in general, that most “flat, stale, and unprofitable” poetry of the early and middle eighteenth century, disdained all fellowship with the unkempt, wandering tribe.

In the latter half of that century, however, occurred the great event in the history of our ballad literature. A country clergyman of a literary turn of mind, resident in the north of England, being on a visit to his “worthy friend, Humphrey Pitt, Esq., then living at Shiffnal in Shropshire,” had the glorious good luck to hit upon an old folio manuscript of ballads and romances. “I saw it,” writes Percy, “lying dirty on the floor under a Bureau in ye Parlour; being used by the Maids to light the fire.”

“A scrubby, shabby paper book” it may have been, with some leaves torn half away and others lacking altogether, but it was a genuine ballad manuscript, in handwriting of about the year 1650, and Percy, realizing that the worthy Mr. Pitt was feeding his parlor fire with very precious fuel, begged the tattered volume of his host and bore it proudly home, where with presumptuous pen he revised and embellished and otherwise, all innocently, maltreated the noble old ballads until he deemed, although with grave misgivings, that they would not too violently shock the polite taste of the eighteenth century. The eighteenth century, wearied to death of its own politeness, worn out by the heartless elegance of Pope and the insipid sentimentality of Prior, gave these fresh, simple melodies an unexpected welcome, even in the face of the reigning king of letters, Dr. Johnson, who forbade them to come to court. But good poems are not slain by bad critics, and the old ballads, despite the burly doctor’s displeasure, took henceforth a recognized place in English literature. Herd’s delightful collection of Scottish songs and ballads, wherein are gathered so many of those magical refrains, the rough ore of Burns’ fine gold,–“Green grow the rashes O,” “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,” “For the sake o’ somebody,”–soon followed, and Ritson, while ever slashing away at poor Percy, often for his minstrel theories, more often for his ballad emendations, and most often for his holding back the original folio manuscript from publication, appeared himself as a collector and antiquarian of admirable quality. Meanwhile Walter Scott, still in his schoolboy days, had chanced upon a copy of the _Reliques_, and had fallen in love with ballads at first sight. All the morning long he lay reading the book beneath a huge platanus-tree in his aunt’s garden. “The summer day sped onward so fast,” he says, “that notwithstanding the sharp appetite of thirteen, I forgot the hour of dinner, was sought for with anxiety, and was found still entranced in my intellectual banquet. To read and to remember was in this instance the same thing, and henceforth I overwhelmed my school-fellows and all who would hearken to me, with tragical recitations from the ballads of Bishop Percy. The first time, too, I could scrape a few shillings together, which were not common occurrences with me, I bought unto myself a copy of these beloved volumes, nor do I believe I ever read a book half so frequently, or with half the enthusiasm.”

The later fruits of that schoolboy passion were garnered in Scott’s original ballads, metrical romances, and no less romantic novels, all so picturesque with feudal lights and shadows, so pure with chivalric sentiment; but an earlier result was _The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,_ a collection of folk-songs gleaned in vacation excursions from pipers and shepherds and old peasant women of the border districts, and containing, with other ballads, full forty-three previously unknown to print, among them some of our very best. Other poet collectors–Motherwell and Aytoun–followed where Scott had led, Scott having been himself preceded by Allan Ramsay, who so early as 1724 had included several old ballads, freely retouched, in his _Evergreen and Tea-Table Miscellany._ Nor were there lacking others, poets in ear and heart if not in pen, who went up and down the country-side, seeking to gather into books the old heroic lays that were already on the point of perishing from the memories of the people. Meanwhile Ritson’s shrill cry for the publication of the original Percy manuscript was taken up in varying keys again and again, until in our own generation the echoes on our own side of the water grew so persistent that with no small difficulty the much-desired end was actually attained. The owners of the folio having been brought to yield their slow consent, our richest treasure of Old English song, for so perilously long a period exposed to all the hazards that beset a single manuscript, is safe in print at last and open to the inspection of us all. The late Professor Child of Harvard, our first American authority on ballad-lore, and Dr. Furnivall of London, would each yield the other the honor of this achievement for which no ballad-lover can speak too many thanks.

A list of our principal ballad collections may be found of practical convenience, as well as of literary interest. Passing by the _Miscellanies,_ Percy, as becomes one of the gallant lineage to which he set up a somewhat doubtful claim, leads the van.

Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. 1765.

Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc. 1769.

Ritson’s Ancient Popular Poetry. 1791.

Ritson’s Ancient Songs and Ballads. 1792.

Ritson’s Robin Hood. 1795.

Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. 1802-1803.

Jamieson’s Popular Ballads and Songs. 1806.

Finlay’s Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads. 1808.

Sharpe’s Ballad Book. 1824.

Maidment’s North Countrie Garland. 1824.

Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads. 1827.

Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, Ancient and Modern. 1827.

Buchan’s Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland. 1828.

Chambers’ Scottish Ballads. 1829.

Whitelaw’s Book of Scottish Ballads. 1845.

Child’s English and Scottish Ballads. 1857-1858.

Aytoun’s Ballads of Scotland. 1858.

Maidment’s Scottish Ballads and Songs. 1868.

Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript. 1868.

Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads (issued in parts). 1882-98.


The methods of ballad-work in the class-room must of course vary with the amount of time at disposal, the extent of library privilege, and the attainment of the students. Where the requisite books are at hand, it may be found a profitable exercise to commit a ballad to each member of the class, who shall hunt down the various English versions, and, as far as his power reaches, the foreign equivalents. But specific topical study can be put to advantage on the ballads themselves, the fifty collected here furnishing abundant data for discussion and illustration in regard to such subjects as the following:–

/ Teutonic.
Ballad Language | Dialectic.
\ Idiomatic.

/ / Description.
/ Ballad Stanza | Peculiar Fitness. | \ Variations.
Ballad Music | / Metre. | Irregularities in | Accent.
| \ Rhyme.
\ Significance of
\ Irregularities.

/ Introduction.
/ Dramatic Element.
Ballad Structure | Involution of Plot. \ Proportion of Element.
\ Conclusion.

/ Government.
Early English and Scottish | Family. Life as reflected in the | Employments. Ballads | Pastimes.
\ Manners.

Early English and Scottish / Aspirations. Character as reflected | Principles.
in the Ballads \ Tastes.

Democracy in the Ballads.

Nature in the Ballads.

Color in the Ballads.

History and Science in the Ballads.

Manhood in the Ballads.

Womanhood in the Ballads.

Childhood in the Ballads.

Standards of Morality in the Ballads.

Religion in the Ballads / Pagan Element. \ Christian Element. / Catholic. \ Protestant.
Figures of Speech / Enumeration
in the Ballads | General Character. \ Proportion.

/ Epithets.
/ Numbers.
Stock Material | Refrains.
of the Ballads | Similes.
| Metaphors.
\ Stanzas.
\ Situations.

Humor of the Ballads. / In what consisting. \ At what directed.

Pathos of the Ballads. / By what elicited. \ How expressed.

/ In Form.
Beauty of the Ballads. | In Matter. \ In Spirit.

A more delicate, difficult, and valuable variety of study may be put upon the ballads, taken one by one, with the aim of impression upon a class the very simplicity of strength and sweetness in this wild minstrelsy. The mere recitation or reading of the ballad, with such unacademic and living comment as shall help the imagination of the hearer to leap into a vivid realization of the swiftly shifted scenes, the sympathy to follow with eager comprehension the crowded, changing passions, the whole nature to thrill with the warm pulse of the rough old poem, is perhaps the surest way to drive the ballad home, trusting it to work within the student toward that spirit–development which is more truly the end of education than mental storage. For these primitive folk-songs which have done so much to educate the poetic sense in the fine peasantry of Scotland,–that peasantry which has produced an Ettrick Shepherd and an Ayrshire Ploughman,–are assuredly,

“Thanks to the human heart by which we live,”

among the best educators that can be brought into our schoolrooms.



As I was wa’king all alane,
Between a water and a wa’,
There I spy’d a wee wee man,
And he was the least that e’er I saw.

His legs were scant a shathmont’s length, And sma’ and limber was his thie,
Between his e’en there was a span,
And between his shoulders there was three.

‘He took up a meikle stane,
And he flang’t as far as I could see; Though I had been a Wallace wight,
I couldna liften’t to my knee.

“O wee wee man, but thou be strang!
O tell me where thy dwelling be?”
“My dwelling’s down at yon bonny bower; O will you go with me and see?”

On we lap, and awa’ we rade,
Till we cam’ to yon bonny green;
We lighted down for to bait our horse, And out there cam’ a lady sheen.

Four and twenty at her back,
And they were a’ clad out in green, Though the King o’ Scotland had been there, The warst o’ them might hae been his Queen.

On we lap, and awa’ we rade,
Till we cam’ to yon bonny ha’,
Where the roof was o’ the beaten gowd, And the floor was o’ the crystal a’.

When we cam’ to the stair foot,
Ladies were dancing, jimp and sma’; But in the twinkling of an e’e,
My wee wee man was clean awa’.

* * * * *


“O I forbid ye, maidens a’,
That bind in snood your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tamlane is there.”

Fair Janet sat within her bower,
Sewing her silken seam,
And fain would be at Carterhaugh,
Amang the leaves sae green.

She let the seam fa’ to her foot,
The needle to her tae,
And she’s awa’ to Carterhaugh,
As quickly as she may.

She’s prink’d hersell, and preen’d hersell, By the ae light o’ the moon,
And she’s awa to Carterhaugh,
As fast as she could gang.

She hadna pu’d a red red rose,
A rose but barely three,
When up and starts the young Tamlane, Says, “Lady, let a-be!

“What gars ye pu’ the rose, Janet?
What gars ye break the tree?
Or why come ye to Carterhaugh,
Without the leave o’ me?”

“O I will pu’ the flowers,” she said, “And I will break the tree;
And I will come to Carterhaugh,
And ask na leave of thee.”

But when she cam’ to her father’s ha’, She looked sae wan and pale,
They thought the lady had gotten a fright, Or with sickness sair did ail.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has snooded her yellow hair A little aboon her bree,
And she’s awa to Carterhaugh,
As fast as she can hie.

She hadna pu’d a rose, a rose,
A rose but barely twae,
When up there started young Tamlane, Says, “Lady, thou pu’s nae mae.”

“Now ye maun tell the truth,” she said, A word ye maunna lie;
O, were ye ever in haly chapel,
Or sained in Christentie?”

“The truth I’ll tell to thee, Janet,
A word I winna lie;
I was ta’en to the good church-door, And sained as well as thee.

“Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire,
Dunbar, Earl March, was thine;
We loved when we were children small, Which yet you well may mind.

“When I was a boy just turned of nine, My uncle sent for me,
To hunt, and hawk, and ride with him, And keep him companie.

“There came a wind out of the north,
A sharp wind and a snell,
And a dead sleep came over me,
And frae my horse I fell;
The Queen of Fairies she was there, And took me to hersell.

“And we, that live in Fairy-land,
Nae sickness know nor pain;
I quit my body when I will,
And take to it again.

“I quit my body when I please,
Or unto it repair;
We can inhabit at our ease
In either earth or air.

“Our shapes and size we can convert
To either large or small;
An old nut-shell’s the same to us
As is the lofty hall.

“We sleep in rose-buds soft and sweet, We revel in the stream;
We wanton lightly on the wind,
Or glide on a sunbeam.

“And never would I tire, Janet,
In fairy-land to dwell;
But aye, at every seven years,
They pay the teind to hell;
And I’m sae fat and fair of flesh,
I fear ’twill be mysell!

“The morn at e’en is Hallowe’en;
Our fairy court will ride,
Through England and through Scotland baith, And through the warld sae wide,
And if that ye wad borrow me,
At Miles Cross ye maun bide.

“And ye maun gae to the Miles Cross,
Between twelve hours and one,
Tak’ haly water in your hand,
And cast a compass roun’.”

“But how shall I thee ken, Tamlane,
And how shall I thee knaw,
Amang the throng o’ fairy folk,
The like I never saw?”

“The first court that comes alang,
Ye’ll let them a’ pass by;
The neist court that comes alang
Salute them reverently.

“The third court that comes alang
Is clad in robes o’ green,
And it’s the head court of them a’, And in it rides the Queen.

“And I upon a milk-white steed,
Wi’ a gold star in my croun;
Because I am a christen’d knight
They give me that renoun.

‘First let pass the black, Janet,
And syne let pass the broun,
But grip ye to the milk-white steed, And pu’ the rider doun.

“My right hand will be glov’d, Janet, My left hand will be bare,
And thae’s the tokens I gie thee;
Nae doubt I will be there.

“Ye’ll seize upon me with a spring,
And to the ground I’ll fa’,
And then you’ll hear an elrish cry
That Tamlane is awa’.

“They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, An adder and a snake;
But haud me fast, let me not pass,
Gin ye would be my maik.

“They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, An adder and an aske;
They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet, A bale that burns fast.

“They’ll shape me in your arms, Janet, A dove, but and a swan:
And last they’ll shape me in your arms A mother-naked man:
Cast your green mantle over me–
And sae shall I be wan!”

Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Janet, in her green mantle, To Miles Cross she did gae.

About the dead hour o’ the night
She heard the bridles ring,
And Janet was as glad o’ that
As ony earthly thing.

There’s haly water in her hand,
She casts a compass round;
And straight she sees a fairy band
Come riding o’er the mound.

And first gaed by the black, black steed, And then gaed by the broun;
But fast she gript the milk-white steed, And pu’d the rider doun.

She pu’d him frae the milk-white steed, And loot the bridle fa’;
And up there raise an elrish cry;
“He’s won amang us a’!”

They shaped him in fair Janet’s arms
An aske, but and an adder;
She held him fast in every shape,
To be her ain true lover.

They shaped him in her arms at last
A mother-naked man,
She cuist her mantle over him,
And sae her true love wan.

Up then spake the Queen o’ Fairies,
Out of a bush o’ broom:
“She that has borrowed young Tamlane, Has gotten a stately groom!”

Up then spake the Queen o’ Fairies,
Out of a bush of rye:
“She’s ta’en away the bonniest knight In a’ my companie!

“But had I kenned, Tamlane,” she says, “A lady wad borrow thee,
I wad hae ta’en out thy twa gray e’en, Put in twa e’en o’ tree!

“Had I but kenned, Tamlane,” she says, “Before ye came frae hame,
I wad hae ta’en out your heart of flesh, Put in a heart o’ stane!

“Had I but had the wit yestreen
That I hae coft this day,
I’d hae paid my teind seven times to hell, Ere you’d been won away!”

* * * * *


True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
A ferlie he spied with his e’e;
And there he saw a ladye bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon tree.

Her skirt was o’ the grass-green silk, Her mantle o’ the velvet fine,
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane,
Hung fifty siller bells and nine.

True Thomas he pu’d aff his cap,
And louted low down to his knee;
“All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven! For thy peer on earth I never did see.”

“O no, O no, Thomas,” she said,
“That name does not belang to me;
I’m but the Queen of fair Elfland,
That hither am come to visit thee!

“Harp and carp, Thomas,” she said,
“Harp and carp alang wi’ me;
And if ye daur to kiss my lips,
Sure of your bodie I shall be!”

“Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird shall never daunton me!” Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon tree.

“Now ye maun go wi’ me,” she said,
“True Thomas, ye maun go wi’ me;
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Through weal or woe as may chance to be.”

She’s mounted on her milk-white steed, She’s ta’en True Thomas up behind;
And aye, whene’er her bridle rang,
The steed gaed swifter than the wind.

O they rade on, and further on,
The steed gaed swifter than the wind; Until they reached a desert wide,
And living land was left behind.

“Light down, light down now, Thomas,” she said, “And lean your head upon my knee;
Light down, and rest a little space, And I will show you ferlies three.

“O see ye na that braid braid road,
That stretches o’er the lily leven? That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to heaven.

“And see ye na yon narrow road,
Sae thick beset wi’ thorns and briers? That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few enquires.

“And see ye na yon bonny road,
That winds about the ferny brae?
That is the way to fair Elfland,
Where you and I this night maun gae.

“But, Thomas, ye maun hauld your tongue, Whatever you may hear or see;
For if ye speak word in Elfin land, Ye’ll ne’er win back to your ain countrie!”

O they rade on, and further on,
And they waded through rivers aboon the knee, And they saw neither sun nor moon,
But they heard the roaring of a sea.

It was mirk mirk night, there was nae stern-light, And they waded through red blude to the knee; For a’ the blude that’s shed on earth,
Kins through the springs o’ that countrie.

Syne they came to a garden green,
And she pu’d an apple frae a tree– “Take this for thy wages, True Thomas;
It will give thee the tongue that can never lie!”

“My tongue is my ain!” True Thomas he said, “A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!
I neither douglit to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryste where I may be.

“I dought neither speak to prince nor peer, Nor ask for grace from fair ladye!”
“Now hauld thy tongue, Thomas!” she said “For as I say, so must it be.”

He has gotten a coat of the even claith, And a pair o’ shoon of the velvet green; And till seven years were come and gane, True Thomas on earth was never seen.

* * * * *


The Elfin knight stands on yon hill;
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
Blawing his horn baith loud and shrill, (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“If I had the horn that I hear blawn, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And the bonnie knight that blaws the horn!” (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

She had na sooner thae words said;
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
Than the Elfin knight cam’ to her side: (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“Thou art too young a maid,” quoth he, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
“Married wi’ me you ill wad be.”
(And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“I hae a sister younger than me;
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And she was married yesterday.”
(And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“Married to me ye shall be nane;
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
Till ye mak’ me a sark without a seam; (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun shape it, knifeless, sheerless, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And ye maun sew it, needle-threedless; (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun wash it within a well,
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
Whaur dew never wat, nor rain ever fell, (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun dry it upon a thorn,
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
That never budded sin’ Adam was born.” (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“O gin that kindness I do for thee;
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
There’s something ye maun do for me. (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“I hae an acre o’ gude lea-land,
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
Between the saut sea and the strand; (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“Ye’ll plough it wi’ your blawing horn, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And ye will sow it wi’ pepper corn, (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun harrow’t wi’ a single tyne, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And shear it wi’ a sheep’s shank bane; (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And bigg a cart o’ lime and stane,
(Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And Robin Redbreast maun trail it hame, (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun barn it in a mouse-hole, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And ye maun thresh it in your shoe sole; (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun winnow it wi’ your loof, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And ye maun sack it in your glove;
(And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“And ye maun dry it, but candle or coal, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
And ye maun grind it, but quern or mill; (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

“When ye hae done, and finish’d your wark, (Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw,)
Then come to me, and ye’se get your sark!” (And the wind has blawn my plaid awa’.)

* * * * *


There cam’ a bird out o’ a bush,
On water for to dine,
An’ sighing sair, says the king’s daughter, “O wae’s this heart o’ mine!”

He’s taen a harp into his hand,
He’s harped them all asleep,
Except it was the king’s daughter,
Who ae wink couldna get.

He’s luppen on his berry-brown steed, Taen ‘er on behind himsell,
Then baith rede down to that water
That they ca’ Wearie’s Well.

“Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
Nae harm shall thee befall;
Aft times hae I water’d my steed
Wi’ the water o’ Wearie’s Well.”

The first step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the knee;
And sighing sair, says this lady fair, “This water’s nae for me.”

“Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
Nae harm shall thee befall;
Aft times hae I water’d my steed
Wi’ the water o’ Wearie’s Well.”

The neist step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the middle;
“O,” sighend says this lady fair,
“I’ve wat my gowden girdle.”

“Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
Nae harm shall thee befall;
Aft times hae I water’d my steed
Wi’ the water o’ Wearie’s Well.”

The neist step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the chin;
“O,” sighend says this lady fair,
“I’ll wade nae farer in.”

“Seven king’s-daughters I’ve drownd here, In the water o’ Wearie’s Well,
And I’ll mak’ you the eight o’ them, And ring the common bell.”

“Sin’ I am standing here,” she says,
“This dowie death to die,
Ae kiss o’ your comely mouth
I’m sure wad comfort me.”

He’s louted him o’er his saddle bow,
To kiss her cheek and chin;
She’s taen him in her arms twa,
An’ thrown him headlong in.

“Sin’ seven king’s-daughters ye’ve drownd here, In the water o’ Wearie’s Well,
I’ll mak’ you bridegroom to them a’, An’ ring the bell mysell.”

* * * * *


In Arthurs court Tom Thumbe did live, A man of mickle might,
The best of all the table round,
And eke a doughty knight:

His stature but an inch in height,
Or quarter of a span;
Then thinke you not this little knight, Was prov’d a valiant man?

His father was a plow-man plaine,
His mother milkt the cow,
But yet the way to get a sonne
This couple knew not how,

Untill such time this good old man
To learned Merlin goes,
And there to him his deepe desires
In secret manner showes,

How in his heart he wisht to have
A childe, in time to come,
To be his heire, though it might be No bigger than his Thumbe.

Of which old Merlin thus foretold,
That he his wish should have,
And so this sonne of stature small
The charmer to him gave.

No blood nor bones in him should be,
In shape and being such,
That men should heare him speake, but not His wandring shadow touch:

But all unseene to goe or come
Whereas it pleasd him still;
And thus King Arthurs Dwarfe was born, To fit his fathers will:

And in foure minutes grew so fast,
That he became so tall
As was the plowmans thumbe in height, And so they did him call

Tom Thumbe, the which the Fayry-Queene There gave him to his name,
Who, with her traine of Goblins grim, Unto his christning came.

Whereas she cloath’d him richly brave, In garments fine and faire,
Which lasted him for many yeares
In seemely sort to weare.

His hat made of an oaken leafe,
His shirt a spiders web,
Both light and soft for those his limbes That were so smally bred;

His hose and doublet thistle downe,
Togeather weav’d full fine;
His stockins of an apple greene,
Made of the outward rine;

His garters were two little haires,
Pull’d from his mothers eye,
His bootes and shooes a mouses skin, There tand most curiously.

Thus, like a lustie gallant, he
Adventured forth to goe,
With other children in the streets
His pretty trickes to show.

Where he for counters, pinns, and points, And cherry stones did play,
Till he amongst those gamesters young Had loste his stocke away,

Yet could he soone renew the same,
When as most nimbly he
Would dive into their cherry-baggs, And there partaker be,

Unseene or felt by any one,
Untill a scholler shut
This nimble youth into a boxe,
Wherein his pins he put.

Of whom to be reveng’d, he tooke
(In mirth and pleasant game)
Black pots, and glasses, which he hung Upon a bright sunne-beam.

The other boyes to doe the like,
In pieces broke them quite;
For which they were most soundly whipt, Whereat he laught outright.

And so Tom Thumbe restrained was
From these his sports and play,
And by his mother after that
Compel’d at home to stay.

Whereas about a Christmas time,
His father a hog had kil’d,
And Tom would see the puddings made, For fear they should be spil’d.

He sate upon the pudding-boule,
The candle for to hold;
Of which there is unto this day
A pretty pastime told:

For Tom fell in, and could not be
For ever after found,
For in the blood and batter he
Was strangely lost and drownd.

Where searching long, but all in vaine, His mother after that
Into a pudding thrust her sonne,
Instead of minced fat.

Which pudding of the largest size
Into the kettle throwne,
Made all the rest to fly thereout,
As with a whirle-wind blowne.

For so it tumbled up and downe,
Within the liquor there,
As if the devill had been boiled;
Such was his mothers feare,

That up she took the pudding strait.
And gave it at the door
Unto a tinker, which from thence
In his blacke budget bore.

From which Tom Thumbe got loose at last And home return’d againe:
Where he from following dangers long In safety did remaine.

Now after this, in sowing time,
His father would him have
Into the field to drive his plow,
And thereupon him gave

A whip made of a barly straw
To drive the cattle on:
Where, in a furrow’d land new sowne, Poore Tom was lost and gon.

Now by a raven of great strength
Away he thence was borne,
And carried in the carrions beake
Even like a graine of corne,

Unto a giants castle top,
In which he let him fall,
Where soone the giant swallowed up
His body, cloathes and all.

But in his stomach did Tom Thumbe
So great a rumbling make,
That neither day nor night he could The smallest quiet take,

Untill the giant had him spewd
Three miles into the sea,
Whereas a fish soone tooke him up
And bore him thence away.

Which lusty fish was after caught
And to king Arthur sent,
Where Tom was found, and made his dwarfe, Whereas his dayes he spent

Long time in lively jollity,
Belov’d of all the court,
And none like Tom was then esteem’d Among the noble sort.

Amongst his deedes of courtship done, His highnesse did command,
That he should dance a galliard brave Upon his queenes left hand.

The which he did, and for the same
The king his signet gave,
Which Tom about his middle wore
Long time a girdle brave.

Now after this the king would not
Abroad for pleasure goe,
But still Tom Thumbe must ride with him, Plac’d on his saddle-bow.

Where on a time when as it rain’d,
Tom Thumbe most nimbly crept
In at a button hole, where he
Within his bosome slept.

And being neere his highnesse heart,
He crav’d a wealthy boone,
A liberall gift, the which the king Commanded to be done,

For to relieve his fathers wants,
And mothers, being old;
Which was so much of silver coin
As well his armes could hold.

And so away goes lusty Tom,
With three pence on his backe,
A heavy burthen, which might make
His wearied limbes to cracke.

So travelling two dayes and nights,
With labour and great paine,
He came into the house whereas
His parents did remaine;

Which was but halfe a mile in space
From good king Arthurs court,
The which in eight and forty houres He went in weary sort.

But comming to his fathers doore,
He there such entrance had
As made his parents both rejoice,
And he thereat was glad.

His mother in her apron tooke
Her gentle sonne in haste,
And by the fier side, within
A walnut shell, him plac’d:

Whereas they feasted him three dayes
Upon a hazell nut,
Whereon he rioted so long
He them to charges put;

And thereupon grew wonderous sicke,
Through eating too much meate,
Which was sufficient for a month
For this great man to eate.

But now his businesse call’d him foorth, King Arthurs court to see,
Whereas no longer from the same
He could a stranger be.

But yet a few small April drops,
Which settled in the way,
His long and weary journey forth
Did hinder and so stay.

Until his carefull father tooke
A hollow straw in sport,
And with one blast blew this his sonne Into king Arthurs court.

Now he with tilts and turnaments
Was entertained so,
That all the best of Arthurs knights Did him much pleasure show.

As good Sir Lancelot of the Lake,
Sir Tristram, and sir Guy;
Yet none compar’d with brave Tom Thum, In knightly chivalry.

In honor of which noble day,
And for his ladies sake,
A challenge in king Arthurs court
Tom Thumbe did bravely make.

Gainst whom these noble knights did run, Sir Chinon and the rest,
Yet still Tom Thumbe with matchles might Did beare away the best.

He likewise cleft the smallest haire
From his faire ladies head,
Not hurting her whose even hand
Him lasting honors bred.

Such were his deeds and noble acts
In Arthurs court there showne,
As like in all the world beside
Was hardly seene or knowne.

Now at these sports he toyld himselfe That he a sicknesse tooke,
Through which all manly exercise
He carelesly forsooke.

Where lying on his bed sore sicke,
King Arthurs doctor came,
With cunning skill, by physicks art, To ease and cure the same.

His body being so slender small,
This cunning doctor tooke
A fine prospective glasse, with which He did in secret looke

Into his sickened body downe,
And therein saw that Death
Stood ready in his wasted guts
To sease his vitall breath.

His armes and leggs consum’d as small As was a spiders web,
Through which his dying houre grew on, For all his limbes grew dead.

His face no bigger than an ants,
Which hardly could be seene:
The losse of which renowned knight
Much griev’d the king and queene.

And so with peace and quietnesse
He left this earth below;
And up into the Fayry Land
His ghost did fading goe.

Whereas the Fayry Queene receiv’d
With heavy mourning cheere,
The body of this valiant knight
Whom she esteem’d so deere.

For with her dancing nymphes in greene, She fetcht him from his bed,
With musicke and sweet melody
So soone as life was fled:

For whom king Arthur and his knights
Full forty daies did mourne;
And, in remembrance of his name
That was so strangely borne,

He built a tomb of marble gray,
And yeare by yeare did come
To celebrate the mournefull day,
And buriall of Tom Thum.

Whose fame still lives in England here, Amongst the countrey sort;
Of whom our wives and children small Tell tales of pleasant sport.

* * * * *


Her mither died when she was young,
Which gave her cause to make great moan; Her father married the warse woman
That ever lived in Christendom.

She served her well wi’ foot and hand, In everything that, she could dee;
But her stepmither hated her warse and warse, And a powerful wicked witch was she.

“Come hither, come hither, ye cannot choose; And lay your head low on my knee;
The heaviest weird I will you read
That ever was read to gay ladye.

“Mickle dolour sail ye dree
When o’er the saut seas maun ye swim; And far mair dolour sail ye dree
When up to Estmere Crags ye climb.

“I weird ye be a fiery snake;
And borrowed sall ye never be,
Till Kempion, the kingis son,
Come to the crag and thrice kiss thee. Until the warld comes to an end,
Borrowed sall ye never be!”

O mickle dolour did she dree,
And aye the saut seas o’er she swam; And far mair dolour did she dree
On Estmere Crags, when up she clamb.

And aye she cried on Kempion,
Gin he would but come to her han’:– Now word has gane to Kempion,
That siccan a beast was in the lan’.

“Now by my sooth,” said Kempion,
“This fiery beast I’ll gang and see.” “An’ by my sooth,” said Segramour,
“My ae brither, I’ll gang wi’ thee.”

They twa hae biggit a bonny boat,
And they hae set her to the sea;
But a mile afore they reach’d the shore, Around them ‘gan the red fire flee.

The worm leapt out, the worm leapt down, She plaited nine times round stock and stane; And aye as the boat cam’ to the beach,
O she hae strickit it aff again.

“Min’ how you steer, my brither dear: Keep further aff!” said Segramour;
“She’ll drown us deep in the saut, saut sea, Or burn us sair, if we come on shore.”

Syne Kempion has bent an arblast bow, And aimed an arrow at her head;
And swore, if she didna quit the shore, Wi’ that same shaft to shoot her dead.

“Out o’ my stythe I winna rise,
Nor quit my den for the fear o’ thee, Till Kempion, the kingis son,
Come to the crag an’ thrice kiss me.”

He’s louted him o’er the Estmere Crag, And he has gi’en that beast a kiss:
In she swang, and again she cam’,
And aye her speech was a wicked hiss.

“Out o’ my stythe I winna rise,
An’ not for a’ thy bow nor thee,
Till Kempion, the kingis son,
Come to the crag an’ thrice kiss me.”

He’s louted him o’er the Estmere Crag, And he has gi’en her kisses twa;
In she swang, and again she cam’,
The fieriest beast that ever you saw.

“Out o’ my stythe I winna rise,
Nor quit my den for the fear o’ thee, Till Kempion, the kingis son,
Come to the crag an’ thrice kiss me.”

He’s louted him o’er the lofty crag,
And he has gi’en her kisses three; In she swang, a loathly worm;
An’ out she stepped, a fair ladye.

Nae cleeding had this lady fair,
To keep her body frae the cold;
But Kempion took his mantle aff,
And around his ain true love did fold.

“An’ by my sooth,” says Kempion,
“My ain true love!–for this is she,– They surely had a heart o’ stane,
Could put thee to this misery.

“O was it wer-wolf in the wood,
Or was it mermaid in the sea,
Or wicked man, or wile woman,
My ain true love, that mis-shaped thee?”

“It was na wer-wolf in the wood,
Nor was it mermaid in the sea;
But it was my wicked stepmither,
And wae and weary may she be!”

“O a heavier weird light her upon
Than ever fell on wile woman!
Her hair sall grow rough, an’ her teeth grow lang, An’ aye upon four feet maun she gang.”

* * * * *


O Alison Gross, that lives in yon tower, The ugliest witch in the north countrie, Has trysted me ae day up till her bower, And mony fair speech she made to me.

She straiked my head, and she kaim’d my hair, And she set me down saftly on her knee; Says, “Gin ye will be my lemman sae true, Sae mony braw things as I wad you gie.”

She shaw’d me a mantle o’ red scarlet, Wi’ gowden flowers and fringes fine;
Says, “Gin ye will be my lemman sae true, This gudely gift it sall be thine.”

“Awa’, awa’, ye ugly witch!
Haud far awa’, and lat me be;
I never will be your lemman sae true, And I wish I were out o’ your companie.”

She neist brocht a sark o’ the saftest silk, Weel wrought wi’ pearls about the band; Says, “Gin ye will be my ain true-love,
This gudely gift ye sall command.”

She shaw’d me a cup o’ the gude red gowd, Weel set wi’ jewels sae fair to see;
Says, “Gin ye will be my lemman sae true, This gudely gift I will you gie.”

“Awa’, awa’, ye ugly witch!
Haud far awa’, and lat me be;
For I wadna ance kiss your ugly mouth For a’ the gifts that you could gie.”

She’s turn’d her richt and round about, And thrice she blew on a grass-green horn; And she sware by the moon, and the stars That she’d gar me rue the day I was born.

Then out she has ta’en a silver wand, And she’s turn’d her three times round and round; She’s muttered sic words, that my strength it fail’d, And I fell down senseless on the ground.

She’s turned me into an ugly worm,
And gar’d me toddle about the tree; And ay, on ilka Saturday’s night,
Auld Alison Gross, she cam’ to me,

Wi’ silver basin, and silver kaim,
To kaim my headie upon her knee;
But or I had kiss’d her ugly mouth, I’d rather hae toddled about the tree.

But as it fell out on last Hallowe’en, When the Seely Court was ridin’ by,
The Queen lighted down on a gowan bank, Nae far frae the tree where I wont to lye.

She took me up in her milk-white hand, And she straiked me three times o’er her knee; She changed me again to my ain proper shape, And I nae mair maun toddle about the tree.

* * * * *


There lived a wife at Usher’s Well,
And a wealthy wife was she;
She had three stout and stalwart sons, And sent them o’er the sea.

They hadna been a week from her,
A week but barely ane,
When word cam’ to the carline wife, That her three sons were gane.

They hadna been a week from her,
A week but barely three,
When word cam’ to the carline wife, That her sons she’d never see.

“I wish the wind may never cease,
Nor fashes in the flood,
Till my three sons come hame to me, In earthly flesh and blood!”

It fell about the Martinmas,
When nights are lang and mirk,
The carline wife’s three sons cam’ hame, And their hats were o’ the birk.

It neither grew in syke nor ditch,
Nor yet in ony sheugh;
But at the gates o’ Paradise,
That birk grew fair eneugh.

“Blow up the fire, now, maidens mine, Bring water from the well!
For a’ my house shall feast this night, Sin’ my three sons are well.”

And she has made to them a bed,
She’s made it large and wide;
And she’s happed her mantle them about, Sat down at the bed-side.

Up then crew the red red cock,
And up and crew the gray;
The eldest to the youngest said,
“‘Tis time we were away.”

“The cock doth, craw, the day doth daw, The channerin’ worm doth chide;
Gin we be miss’d out o’ our place,
A sair pain we maun bide.”

“Lie still, lie still a little wee while, Lie still but if we may;
Gin my mother should miss us when she wakes, She’ll go mad ere it be day.”

O it’s they’ve ta’en up their mother’s mantle, And they’ve hangd it on the pin:
“O lang may ye hing, my mother’s mantle, Ere ye hap us again!

‘Fare-ye-weel, my mother dear!
Fareweel to barn and byre!
And fare-ye-weel, the bonny lass,
That kindles my mother’s fire.”

* * * * *


This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Everie nighte and alle,
Fire, and sleete, and candle-lighte, And Christe receive thye saule.

When thou from hence away art paste,
Everie nighte and alle,
To Whinny-muir thou comest at laste, And Christe receive thye saule.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,
Everie nighte and alle,
Sit thee down and put them on,
And Christe receive thye saule.

If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane, Everie nighte and alle,
The whinnes shall pricke thee to the bare bane, And Christe receive thye saule.

From Whinny-muir when thou mayst passe, Everie nighte and alle,
To Brigg o’ Dread thou comest at last, And Christe receive thye saule.

From Brigg o’ Dread when thou mayst passe, Everie nighte and alle,
To Purgatory Fire thou comest at last, And Christe receive thye saule.

If ever thou gavest meate or drinke,
Everie nighte and alle,
The fire shall never make thee shrinke, And Christe receive thye saule.

If meate or drinke thou ne’er gav’st nane, Everie nighte and alle,
The fire will burne thee to the bare bane, And Christe receive thye saule.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Everie nighte and alle,
Fire, and sleete, and candle-lighte, And Christe receive thye saule.

* * * * *


‘Twas on a night, an evening bright,
When the dew began to fa’,
Lady Margaret was walkin’ up and doun, Looking ower the castle wa’.

She lookit east, she lookit west,
To see what she could spy,
When a gallant knight cam’ in her sight, And to the gate drew nigh.

“God mak’ you safe and free, fair maid, God mak’ you safe and free!”
“O sae fa’ you, ye stranger knight, What is your will wi’ me?”

“It’s I am come to this castle,
To seek the love o’ thee;
And if ye grant me not your love
All for your sake I’ll die.”

“If ye should die for me, young man,
There’s few for ye will maen;
For mony a better has died for me,
Whose graves are growing green.”

“O winna ye pity me, fair maid,
O winna ye pity me?
Hae pity for a courteous knight,
Whose love is laid on thee.”

“Ye say ye are a courteous knight,
But I misdoubt ye sair;
I think ye’re but a miller lad,
By the white clothes ye wear.

“But ye maun read my riddle,” she said, “And answer me questions three;
And but ye read them richt,” she said, “Gae stretch ye out and die.

“What is the fairest flower, tell me, That grows on muir or dale?
And what is the bird, the bonnie bird, Sings next the nightingale?
And what is the finest thing,” she says, “That king or queen can wale?”

“The primrose is the fairest flower,
That springs on muir or dale;

The mavis is the sweetest bird
Next to the nightingale;
And yellow gowd’s the finest thing, That king or queen can wale.”

“But what is the little coin,” she said, “Wad buy my castle boun’?
And what’s the little boat,” she said, “Can sail the warld all roun’?”

“O hey, how mony small pennies
Mak’ thrice three thousand poun’?
O hey, how mony small fishes
Swim a’ the saut sea roun’?”

“I think ye are my match,” she said,
“My match, an’ something mair;
Ye are the first ere got the grant
Of love frae my father’s heir.

“My father was lord o’ nine castles,
My mither lady o’ three;
My father was lord o’ nine castles, And there’s nane to heir but me,
Unless it be Willie, my ae brither, But he’s far ayont the sea.”

“If your father’s lord o’ nine castles, Your mither lady o’ three;
It’s I am Willie, your ae brither,
Was far ayont the sea.”

“If ye be my brither Willie,” she said, “As I doubt sair ye be,
This nicht I’ll neither eat nor drink, But gae alang wi’ thee.”

“Ye’ve owre ill-washen feet, Margaret, And owre ill-washen hands,
And owre coarse robes on your body, Alang wi’ me to gang.

“The worms they are my bedfellows,
And the cauld clay my sheet,
And the higher that the wind does blaw, The sounder do I sleep.

“My body’s buried in Dunfermline,
Sae far ayont the sea:
But day nor night nae rest can I get, A’ for the pride of thee.

“Leave aff your pride, Margaret,” he says; “Use it not ony mair,
Or, when ye come where I hae been,
Ye will repent it sair.

“Cast aff, cast aff, sister,” he says, “The gowd band frae your croun;
For if ye gang where I hae been,
Ye’ll wear it laigher doun.

“When ye are in the gude kirk set,
The gowd pins in your hair,
Ye tak’ mair delight in your feckless dress, Than in your mornin’ prayer.

“And when ye walk in the kirkyard,
And in your dress are seen,
There is nae lady that spies your face, But wishes your grave were green.

“Ye’re straight and tall, handsome withal, But your pride owergangs your wit;
If ye do not your ways refrain,
In Pirie’s chair ye’ll sit.

“In Pirie’s chair ye’ll sit, I say,
The lowest seat in hell;
If ye do not amend your ways,
It’s there that ye maun dwell!”

Wi’ that he vanished frae her sight,
In the twinking of an eye;
And naething mair the lady saw
But the gloomy clouds and sky.

* * * * *