1. MS. silven. See vv. 25, 53, 70, 72.
11. out out.
25. Sic in MS.
CLERK SAUNDERS. See p. 45.
From Jamieson's _Popular Ballads and Songs_, i. 83.
"The following copy was transmitted by Mrs. Arrott of Aberbrothick.
The stanzas, where the seven brothers are introduced, have been enlarged from two fragments, which, although very defective in themselves, furnished lines which, when incorporated with the text, seemed to improve it. Stanzas 21 and 22, were written by the editor; the idea of the _rose_ being suggested by the gentleman who recited, but who could not recollect the language in which it was expressed."
This copy of _Clerk Saunders_ bears traces of having been made up from several sources. A portion of the concluding stanzas (v.
107-130) have a strong resemblance to the beginning and end of _Proud Lady Margaret_ (vol. viii. 83, 278), which ballad is itself in a corrupt condition. It may also be doubted whether the fragments Jamieson speaks of did not belong to a ballad resembling _Lady Maisry_, p. 78 of this volume.
Accepting the ballad as it stands here, there is certainly likeness enough in the first part to suggest a community of origin with the Swedish ballad _Den Grymma Brodern_, _Svenska Folk-Visor_, No. 86 (translated in _Lit. and Rom. of Northern Europe_, p. 261). W. Grimm mentions (_Altdan. Heldenl._, p. 519) a Spanish ballad, _De la Blanca Nina_, in the _Romancero de Amberes_, in which the similarity to _Den Grymma Brodern_ is very striking. The series of questions (v. 30-62) sometimes appears apart from the story, and with a comic turn, as in _Det Hurtige Svar_, _Danske V._, No. 204, or _Thore och hans Syster_, Arwidsson, i. 358. In this shape they closely resemble the familiar old song, _Our gudeman came hame at e'en_, Herd, _Scottish Songs_, ii. 74.
Clerk Saunders was an earl's son, He liv'd upon sea-sand; May Margaret was a king's daughter, She liv'd in upper land.
Clerk Saunders was an earl's son, 5 Weel learned at the scheel; May Margaret was a king's daughter; They baith lo'ed ither weel.
He's throw the dark, and throw the mark, And throw the leaves o' green; 10 Till he came to May Margaret's door, And tirled at the pin.
"O sleep ye, wake ye, May Margaret, Or are ye the bower within?"
"O wha is that at my bower door, 15 Sae weel my name does ken?"
"It's I, Clerk Saunders, your true love, You'll open and lat me in.
"O will ye to the cards, Margaret, Or to the table to dine? 20 Or to the bed, that's weel down spread, And sleep when we get time."
"I'll no go to the cards," she says, "Nor to the table to dine; But I'll go to a bed, that's weel down spread, 25 And sleep when we get time."
They were not weel lyen down, And no weel fa'en asleep, When up and stood May Margaret's brethren, Just up at their bed feet. 30
"O tell us, tell us, May Margaret, And dinna to us len, O wha is aught yon noble steed, That stands your stable in?
"The steed is mine, and it may be thine, 35 To ride whan ye ride in hie----
"But awa', awa', my bald brethren, Awa', and mak nae din; For I am as sick a lady the nicht As e'er lay a bower within." 40
"O tell us, tell us, May Margaret, And dinna to us len, O wha is aught yon noble hawk, That stands your kitchen in?"
"The hawk is mine, and it may be thine, 45 To hawk whan ye hawk in hie----
"But awa', awa', my bald brethren!
Awa', and mak nae din; For I'm ane o' the sickest ladies this nicht That e'er lay a bower within." 50
"O tell us, tell us, May Margaret, And dinna to us len, O wha is that, May Margaret, You and the wa' between?"
"O it is my bower-maiden," she says, 55 "As sick as sick can be; O it is my bower maiden," she says, And she's thrice as sick as me."
"We hae been east, and we've been west, And low beneath the moon; 60 But a' the bower-women e'er we saw Hadna goud buckles in their shoon."
Then up and spak her eldest brither, Ay in ill time spak he: "It is Clerk Saunders, your true love, 65 And never mat I the, But for this scorn that he has done, This moment he sall die."
But up and spak her youngest brother, Ay in good time spak he: 70 "O but they are a gudelie pair!-- True lovers an ye be, The sword that hangs at my sword belt Sall never sinder ye!"
Syne up and spak her nexten brother, 75 And the tear stood in his ee: "You've lo'ed her lang, and lo'ed her weel, And pity it wad be, The sword that hangs at my sword-belt Shoud ever sinder ye!" 80
But up and spak her fifthen brother, "Sleep on your sleep for me; But we baith sall never sleep again, For the tane o' us sall die!"
[But up and spak her midmaist brother; 85 And an angry laugh leugh he: "The thorn that dabs, I'll cut it down, Though fair the rose may be.
"The flower that smell'd sae sweet yestreen Has lost its bloom wi' thee; 90 And though I'm wae it should be sae, Clerk Saunders, ye maun die."]
And up and spak her thirden brother, Ay in ill time spak he: "Curse on his love and comeliness!-- 95 Dishonour'd as ye be, The sword that hangs at my sword-belt Sall quickly sinder ye!"
Her eldest brother has drawn his sword; Her second has drawn anither; 100 Between Clerk Saunders' hause and collar bane The cald iron met thegither.
"O wae be to you, my fause brethren, And an ill death mat ye die!
Ye mith slain Clerk Saunders in open field, 105 And no in the bed wi' me."
When seven years were come and gane, Lady Margaret she thought lang; And she is up to the hichest tower, By the lee licht o' the moon. 110
She was lookin o'er her castle high, To see what she might fa'; And there she saw a grieved ghost Comin waukin o'er the wa'.[L114]
"O are ye a man of mean," she says, 115 "Seekin ony o' my meat?
Or are you a rank robber, Come in my bower to break?"
"O I'm Clerk Saunders, your true love; Behold, Margaret, and see, 120 And mind, for a' your meikle pride, Sae will become of thee."
"Gin ye be Clerk Saunders, my true love, This meikle marvels me: O wherein is your bonny arms 125 That wont to embrace me?"
"By worms they're eaten, in mools they're rotten, Behold, Margaret, and see; And mind, for a' your mickle pride, Sae will become o' thee!" 130
O, bonny, bonny sang the bird, Sat on the coil o' hay; But dowie, dowie was the maid, That follow'd the corpse o' clay.
"Is there ony room at your head, Saunders, 135 Is there ony room at your feet?
Is there ony room at your twa sides, For a lady to lie and sleep?"