Prev Next

Some of Scott's verses are also found in Herd's fragment, (_Scottish Songs_, i. 202,) and Buchan's _Haughs o' Yarrow_, ii. 211. _The Dowy Den_, in Evans's collection, iii. 342, is the _caput mortuum_ of this spirited ballad.

Late at e'en, drinking the wine, And ere they paid the lawing, They set a combat them between, To fight it in the dawing.

"O stay at hame, my noble lord, 5 O stay at hame, my marrow!

My cruel brother will you betray On the dowie houms of Yarrow."--

"O fare ye weel, my ladye gaye!

O fare ye weel, my Sarah! 10 For I maun gae, though I ne'er return Frae the dowie banks o' Yarrow."

She kiss'd his cheek, she kaim'd his hair, As oft she had done before, O; She belted him with his noble brand, 15 And he's away to Yarrow.

As he gaed up the Tennies bank,[L17]

I wot he gaed wi' sorrow, Till, down in a den, he spied nine arm'd men, On the dowie houms of Yarrow. 20

"O come ye here to part your land, The bonnie Forest thorough?

Or come ye here to wield your brand, On the dowie houms of Yarrow?"--

"I come not here to part my land, 25 And neither to beg nor borrow; I come to wield my noble brand, On the bonnie banks of Yarrow.

"If I see all, ye're nine to ane; And that's an unequal marrow; 30 Yet will I fight, while lasts my brand, On the bonnie banks of Yarrow."

Four has he hurt, and five has slain, On the bloody braes of Yarrow, Till that stubborn knight came him behind, 35 And ran his body thorough.

"Gae hame, gae hame, good-brother John, And tell your sister Sarah, To come and lift her leafu' lord; He's sleepin sound on Yarrow."-- 40

"Yestreen I dream'd a dolefu' dream; I fear there will be sorrow!

I dream'd I pu'd the heather green, Wi' my true love, on Yarrow.

"O gentle wind, that bloweth south, 45 From where my love repaireth, Convey a kiss from his dear mouth, And tell me how he fareth!

"But in the glen strive armed men; They've wrought me dole and sorrow; 50 They've slain--the comeliest knight they've slain-- He bleeding lies on Yarrow."

As she sped down yon high high hill, She gaed wi' dole and sorrow, And in the den spied ten slain men, 55 On the dowie banks of Yarrow.

She kissed his cheek, she kaim'd his hair, She searched his wounds all thorough, She kiss'd them, till her lips grew red, On the dowie houms of Yarrow. 60

"Now haud your tongue, my daughter dear!

For a' this breeds but sorrow; I'll wed ye to a better lord, Than him ye lost on Yarrow."--

"O haud your tongue, my father dear! 65 Ye mind me but of sorrow; A fairer rose did never bloom Than now lies cropp'd on Yarrow."

17. _The Tennies_ is the name of a farm of the Duke of Buccleuch's, a little below Yarrow Kirk.


From Buchan's _Ballads of the North of Scotland_, ii. 203. Repeated in the xviith volume of the Percy Society Publications.

Ten lords sat drinking at the wine, Intill a morning early; There fell a combat them among, It must be fought,--nae parly.

"O stay at hame, my ain gude lord, 5 O stay, my ain dear marrow."

"Sweetest min', I will be thine, And dine wi' you to-morrow."

She's kiss'd his lips, and comb'd his hair, As she had done before, O; 10 Gied him a brand down by his side, And he is on to Yarrow.

As he gaed ower yon dowie knowe, As aft he'd dune before, O; Nine armed men lay in a den, 15 Upo' the braes o' Yarrow.

"O came ye here to hunt or hawk, As ye hae dune before, O?

Or came ye here to wiel' your brand, Upo' the braes o' Yarrow?" 20

"I came na here to hunt nor hawk, As I hae dune before, O; But I came here to wiel' my brand, Upon the braes o' Yarrow."

Four he hurt, and five he slew, 25 Till down it fell himsell, O; There stood a fause lord him behin', Who thrust him thro' body and mell, O.

"Gae hame, gae hame, my brother John, And tell your sister sorrow; 30 Your mother to come take up her son, Aff o' the braes o' Yarrow."

As he gaed ower yon high, high hill, As he had dune before, O; There he met his sister dear, 35 Came rinnin fast to Yarrow.

"I dreamt a dream last night," she says, "I wish it binna sorrow; I dreamt I was pu'ing the heather green,[L39]

Upo' the braes o' Yarrow." 40

"I'll read your dream, sister," he says, "I'll read it into sorrow; Ye're bidden gae take up your love, He's sleeping sound on Yarrow."

She's torn the ribbons frae her head, 45 They were baith thick and narrow; She's kilted up her green claithing, And she's awa' to Yarrow.

She's taen him in her arms twa, And gien him kisses thorough, 50 And wi' her tears she bath'd his wounds, Upo' the braes o' Yarrow.

Her father looking ower his castle wa', Beheld his daughter's sorrow; "O had your tongue, daughter," he says, 55 "And let be a' your sorrow, I'll wed you wi' a better lord, Than he that died on Yarrow."

"O had your tongue, father," she says, "And let be till to-morrow; 60 A better lord there cou'dna be Than he that died on Yarrow."

She kiss'd his lips, and comb'd his hair, As she had dune before, O; Then wi' a crack her heart did brack, 65 Upon the braes o' Yarrow.

39. To dream of any thing green is regarded in Scotland as unlucky.


Pinkerton first published this piece in his _Scottish Tragic Ballads_, p. 61. In a note, it is said to have been taken "from a modern edition in one sheet, 12mo. after the old copy." Motherwell gives another version "as it occurs in early stall prints," (_Minstrelsy_, p. 321,) and suspects a few conjectural emendations in Pinkerton's text. The passage from v. 51 to v. 59 is apparently defective, and has, probably, been tampered with; but Pinkerton's copy is on the whole much better than Motherwell's, or than Whitelaw's, (_Scottish Ballads_, 39,) which professes to be given chiefly from oral recitations.

Michael Bruce's _Sir James the Rose_ will be found in another part of this collection. In Caw's _Museum_ (p. 290) is a ballad in the worst possible taste, styled _Elfrida and Sir James of Perth_, which seems to be a mere disfiguration of Bruce's.

O heard ye o' Sir James the Rose, The young heir o' Buleighan?

Report error

If you found broken links, wrong episode or any other problems in a anime/cartoon, please tell us. We will try to solve them the first time.