He's taken the lady on him behind, Spared neither the grass nor corn, Till they came to the wood of Amonshaw, 15 Where again their loves were sworn.
And they have lived in that wood Full many a year and day, And were supported from time to time, By what he made of prey. 20
And seven bairns, fair and fine, There she has born to him, And never was in good church door, Nor never gat good kirking.
Once she took harp into her hand, 25 And harped them asleep; Then she sat down at their couch side, And bitterly did weep.
Said, "Seven bairns have I born now To my lord in the ha'; 30 I wish they were seven greedy rats, To run upon the wa', And I mysel' a great grey cat, To eat them ane an' a'.
"For ten long years now I have lived 35 Within this cave of stane, And never was at good church door, Nor got no good churching."
O then outspak her eldest child, And a fine boy was he,-- 40 "O hold your tongue, my mother dear; I'll tell you what to dee.
"Take you the youngest in your lap, The next youngest by the hand; Put all the rest of us you before, 45 As you learnt us to gang.
"And go with us into some good kirk,-- You say they are built of stane,-- And let us all be christened, And you get good kirking." 50
She took the youngest in her lap, The next youngest by the hand; Set all the rest of them her before, As she learnt them to gang.
And she has left the wood with them, 55 And to a kirk has gane; Where the good priest them christened, And gave her good kirking.
CLERK COLVILL, OR THE MERMAID.
This ballad exemplifies a superstition deeply rooted in the belief of all the northern nations,--the desire of the Elves and Water-spirits for the love of Christians, and the danger of being exposed to their fascination. The object of their fatal passion is generally a bridegroom, or a bride, on the eve of marriage. See, in the Appendix, _Sir Oluf and the Elf-King's Daughter_, for further illustrations; also the two succeeding pieces.
_Clerk Colvill_ was first printed in Herd's _Scottish Songs_, (i. 217,) and was inserted, in an altered shape, in Lewis's _Tales of Wonder_, (No. 56.)
Clerk Colvill and his lusty dame Were walking in the garden green; The belt around her stately waist Cost Clerk Colvill of pounds fifteen.
"O promise me now, Clerk Colvill, 5 Or it will cost ye muckle strife, Ride never by the wells of Slane, If ye wad live and brook your life."
"Now speak nae mair, my lusty dame, Now speak nae mair of that to me: 10 Did I ne'er see a fair woman, But I wad sin with her fair body?"
He's ta'en leave o' his gay lady, Nought minding what his lady said, And he's rode by the wells of Slane, 15 Where washing was a bonny maid.
"Wash on, wash on, my bonny maid, That wash sae clean your sark of silk;"
"And weel fa' you, fair gentleman, Your body's whiter than the milk." 20
Then loud, loud cry'd the Clerk Colvill, "O my head it pains me sair;"
"Then take, then take," the maiden said, "And frae my sark you'll cut a gare." 25
Then she's gi'ed him a little bane-knife, And frae her sark[L27] he cut a share; She's ty'd it round his whey-white face, But ay his head it aked mair.
Then louder cry'd the Clerk Colvill, 30 "O sairer, sairer akes my head;"
"And sairer, sairer ever will,"
The maiden crys, "till you be dead."
Out then he drew his shining blade, Thinking to stick her where she stood; 35 But she was vanish'd to a fish, And swam far off, a fair mermaid.
"O mother, mother, braid my hair; My lusty lady, make my bed; O brother, take my sword and spear, 40 For I have seen the false mermaid."
27, his sark.
LADY ISABEL AND THE ELF-KNIGHT.
From Buchan's _Ballads of the North of Scotland_, i. 22, where it is entitled _The Gowans sae gay_, from the burden.
The hero of the first of the two following ballads would seem to be an Elf, that of the second a Nix, or Merman, though the punishment awarded to each of them in the catastrophe, as the ballads now exist, is not consistent with their supernatural character. It is possible that in both instances two independent stories have been blended: but it is curious that the same intermixture should occur in Norse and German also. See Grundtvig's preface to _Noekkens Svig_, ii. p. 57.
The conclusion in all these cases is derived from a ballad resembling _May Colvin_, vol. ii. p. 272.
We have had the Elf-Knight introduced under the same circumstances at page 128; indeed, the first three or four stanzas are common to both pieces.
Fair lady Isabel sits in her bower sewing, _Aye as the gowans grow gay_; There she heard an elf-knight blawing his horn, _The first morning in May_.
"If I had yon horn that I hear blawing," 5 _Aye as the gowans grow gay_; "And yon elf-knight to sleep in my bosom,"
_The first morning in May_.
This maiden had scarcely these words spoken, _Aye as the gowans grow gay_; 10 Till in at her window the elf-knight has luppen, _The first morning in May_.
"Its a very strange matter, fair maiden," said he, _Aye as the gowans grow gay_, "I canna' blaw my horn, but ye call on me," 15 _The first morning in May_.
"But will ye go to yon greenwood side,"
_Aye as the gowans grow gay_?
"If ye canna' gang, I will cause you to ride,"
_The first morning in May_. 20
He leapt on a horse, and she on another, _Aye as the gowans grow gay_; And they rode on to the greenwood together, _The first morning in May_.
"Light down, light down, lady Isabel," said he, 25 _Aye as the gowans grow gay_; "We are come to the place where ye are to die,"
_The first morning in May_.
"Ha'e mercy, ha'e mercy, kind sir, on me,"
_Aye as the gowans grow gay_; 30 "Till ance my dear father and mother I see,"
_The first morning in May_.
"Seven king's-daughters here hae I slain,"