The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott

Erlinton. Never Before Published.

This ballad is published from the collation of two copies, obtained from recitation. It seems to be the rude original, or perhaps a corrupted and imperfect copy, of The Child of Elle, a beautiful legendary tale, published in the Reliques of Ancient Poetry. It is singular, that this charming ballad should have been translated, or imitated, by the celebrated Bürger, without acknowledgment of the English original. As The Child of Elle avowedly received corrections, we may ascribe its greatest beauties to the poetical taste of the ingenious editor. They are in the truest stile of Gothic embellishment. We may compare, for example, the following beautiful verse, with the same idea in an old romance:

The baron stroked his dark-brown cheek,

And turned his face aside,

To wipe away the starting tear,

He proudly strove to hide!

Child of Elle.

The heathen Soldan, or Amiral, when about to slay two lovers, relents in a similar manner:

Weeping, he turned his heued awai,

And his swerde hit fel to grounde.

Florice and Blauncheflour.

Erlinton.

Erlinton had a fair daughter,

I wat he weird her in a great sin,269

For he has built a bigly bower,

An’ a’ to put that lady in.

An’ he has warn’d her sisters six,

An’ sae has he her brethren se’en,

Outher to watch her a’ the night,

Or else to seek her morn an’ e’en.

She hadna been i’ that bigly bower,

Na not a night, but barely ane,

Till there was Willie, her ain true love,

Chapp’d at the door, cryin’, “Peace within!”

“O whae is this at my bower door,

“That chaps sae late, nor kens the gin?”270

“O it is Willie, your ain true love,

“I pray you rise an’ let me in!”

“But in my bower there is a wake,

“An’ at the wake there is a wane;271

“But I’ll come to the green-wood the morn,

“Whar blooms the brier by mornin’ dawn.”

Then she’s gane to her bed again,

Where she has layen till the cock crew thrice,

Then she said to her sisters a’,

“Maidens, ’tis time for us to rise.”

She pat on her back a silken gown,

An’ on her breast a siller pin,

An’ she’s tane a sister in ilka hand,

An’ to the green-wood she is gane.

She hadna walk’d in the green-wood,

Na not a mile but barely ane,

Till there was Willie, her ain true love,

Whae frae her sisters has her ta’en.

He took her sisters by the hand,

He kiss’d them baith, an’ sent them hame,

An’ he’s ta’en his true love him behind,

And through the green-wood they are gane.

They hadna ridden in the bonnie green-wood,

Na not a mile but barely ane,

When there came fifteen o’ the boldest knights.

That ever bare flesh, blood, or bane.

The foremost was an aged knight,

He wore the grey hair on his chin,

Says, “Yield to me thy lady bright,

“An’ thou shalt walk the woods within.”

“For me to yield my lady bright

“To such an aged knight as thee,

“People wad think I war gane mad,

“Or a’ the courage flown frae me.”

But up then spake the second knight,

I wat he spake right boustouslie,

“Yield me thy life, or thy lady bright,

“Or here the tane of us shall die.”

“My lady is my warld’s meed;

“My life I winna yield to nane;

“But if ye be men of your manhead,

“Ye’ll only fight me ane by ane.”

He lighted aff his milk-white steed,

An’ gae his lady him by the head,

Say’n, “See ye dinna change your cheer;

“Until ye see my body bleed.”

He set his back unto an aik,

He set his feet against a stane,

An’ he has fought these fifteen men,

An’ kill’d them a’ but barely ane;

For he has left that aged knight,

An’ a’ to carry the tidings hame.

When he gaed to his lady fair,

I wat he kiss’d her tenderlie;

“Thou art mine ain love, I have thee bought;

“Now we shall walk the green-wood free.”

269 Weird her in a great sin— Placed her in danger of committing a great sin.]

270 Gin— The slight or trick necessary to open the door, from engine.]

271 Wane— A number of people.]

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/minstrelsy-of-the-scottish-border/chapter26.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29