By Arthur's dale as late I went, I heard a heavy moan; I heard a lady lamenting sair.
And ay she cried "ohon!"
"Ohon, alas! what shall I do, 5 Tormented night and day?
I never loved a love but ane, And now he's gone away.
"But I will do for my true love What ladies would think sair; 10 For seven years shall come and gae, Ere a kaime gae in my hair.
"There shall neither a shoe gae on my foot, Nor a kaime gae in my hair, Nor ever a coal or candle light 15 Shine in my bower nae mair."
She thought her love had been on sea, Fast sailing to Bee-Ho'm; But he was still in a quiet chamber, Hearing his lady's moan. 20
"Be hush'd, be hush'd, my lady dear, I pray thee moan not so; For I am deep sworn on a book To Bee-Ho'm for to go."
She's gien him a chain o' the beaten goud, 25 And a ring with a ruby stone: "As lang as this chain your body binds, Your blood can never be drawn.
"But gin this ring should fade or fail, Or the stone should change its hue, 30 Be sure your love is dead and gone, Or she has proved untrue."
He had not been at bonny Bee-Ho'm A twelvemonth and a day, Till looking on his gay gold ring, 35 The stone grew dark and gray.
"O ye tak my riches to Bee-Ho'm, And deal them presentlie, To the young that canna, the old that manna, The blind that downa see." 40
Now Death has come intill his bower, And split his heart in twain: Sae their twa sauls flew up to heaven, And there shall ever remain.
THE THREE RAVENS.
From Ritson's _Ancient English Songs_, ii. 53. It is there reprinted from Ravenscroft's _Melismata_, 1611. Another copy follows, taken from Scott's _Minstrelsy_. Motherwell has recast the ballad in modern style, p. 7 of his collection.
There were three ravens sat on a tree, _Downe, a downe, hay downe, hay downe_, There were three ravens sat on a tree, _With a downe_, There were three ravens sat on a tree, They were as blacke as they might be, _With a downe, derrie, derrie, derrie, downe, downe_.
The one of them said to his mate, "Where shall we our breakefast take?"--
"Downe in yonder greene field, 5 There lies a knight slain under his shield.
"His hounds they lie downe at his feete, So well they their master keepe.
"His haukes they flie so eagerly, There's no fowle dare him com nie." 10
Downe there comes a fallow doe, As great with yong as she might goe.
She lift up his bloudy hed, And kist his wounds that were so red.
She got him up upon her backe, 15 And carried him to earthen lake.
She buried him before the prime, She was dead herselfe ere even-song time.
God send every gentleman, Such haukes, such houndes, and such a leman. 20
THE TWA CORBIES.
From _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, ii. 359. It was communicated to Scott by Mr. Sharpe, as written down, from tradition, by a lady.
As I was walking all alane, I heard twa corbies making a mane; The tane unto the t'other say, "Where sall we gang and dine to-day?"--
"In behint yon auld fail dyke, 5 I wot there lies a new-slain knight; And naebody kens that he lies there, But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.
"His hound is to the hunting gane, His hawk, to fetch the wild-fowl hame, 10 His lady's ta'en another mate, So we may mak our dinner sweet.
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane, And I'll pick out his bonny blue een: Wi' ae lock o' his gowden hair 15 We'll theek our nest when it grows bare.
"Mony a one for him makes mane, But nane sall ken where he is gane: O'er his white banes, when they are bare, The wind sall blaw for evermair."-- 20
THE DOWIE DENS OF YARROW.
_Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, iii. 143.
"This ballad, which is a very great favourite among the inhabitants of Ettrick Forest, is universally believed to be founded in fact. I found it easy to collect a variety of copies; but very difficult indeed to select from them such a collated edition as might, in any degree, suit the taste of 'these more light and giddy-paced times.'
"Tradition places the event, recorded in the song, very early; and it is probable that the ballad was composed soon afterwards, although the language has been gradually modernized, in the course of its transmission to us, through the inaccurate channel of oral tradition.
The bard does not relate particulars, but barely the striking outlines of a fact, apparently so well known when he wrote, as to render minute detail as unnecessary as it is always tedious and unpoetical.
"The hero of the ballad was a knight of great bravery, called Scott, who is said to have resided at Kirkhope, or Oakwood Castle, and is, in tradition, termed the Baron of Oakwood. The estate of Kirkhope belonged anciently to the Scotts of Harden: Oakwood is still their property, and has been so from time immemorial. The Editor was, therefore, led to suppose that the hero of the ballad might have been identified with John Scott, sixth son of the Laird of Harden, murdered in Ettrick Forest by his kinsmen, the Scotts of Gilmanscleugh. (See notes to _Jamie Telfer_.) This appeared the more probable, as the common people always affirm that this young man was treacherously slain, and that, in evidence thereof, his body remained uncorrupted for many years; so that even the roses on his shoes seemed as fresh as when he was first laid in the family vault at Hassendean. But from a passage in Nisbet's Heraldry, he now believes the ballad refers to a duel fought at Deucharswyre, of which Annan's Treat is a part, betwixt John Scott of Tushielaw and his brother-in-law, Walter Scott, third son of Robert of Thirlestane, in which the latter was slain.
"In ploughing Annan's Treat, a huge monumental stone, with an inscription, was discovered; but being rather scratched than engraved, and the lines being run through each other, it is only possible to read one or two Latin words. It probably records the event of the combat. The person slain was the male ancestor of the present Lord Napier.
"Tradition affirms, that the hero of the song (be he who he may) was murdered by the brother, either of his wife or betrothed bride. The alleged cause of malice was the lady's father having proposed to endow her with half of his property, upon her marriage with a warrior of such renown. The name of the murderer is said to have been Annan, and the place of combat is still called Annan's Treat. It is a low muir, on the banks of the Yarrow, lying to the west of Yarrow Kirk. Two tall unhewn masses of stone are erected, about eighty yards distant from each other; and the least child, that can herd a cow, will tell the passenger, that there lie 'the two lords, who were slain in single combat.'
"It will be, with many readers, the greatest recommendation of these verses, that they are supposed to have suggested to Mr. Hamilton of Bangour, the modern ballad, beginning,
'Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny bonny bride.'
"A fragment, apparently regarding the story of the following ballad, but in a different measure, occurs in Mr. Herd's MS., and runs thus:--
'When I look east, my heart is sair, But when I look west, it's mair and mair; For then I see the braes o' Yarrow, And there, for aye, I lost my marrow.'"
We have added an uncollated copy from Buchan's _Ballads of the North of Scotland_. Another is furnished by Motherwell, _Minstrelsy_, p. 252.