The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott

The Gay Goss Hawk.

Never Before Published.

This Ballad is published, partly from one, under this title, in Mrs BROWN’S Collection, and partly from a MS. of some antiquity, penes Edit. —The stanzas appearing to possess mo st merit have been selected from each copy.

“O waly, waly, my gay goss hawk,

“Gin your feathering be sheen!”

“And waly, waly, my master dear,

“Gin ye look pale and lean!

“O have ye tint, at tournament,

“Your sword, or yet your spear?

“Or mourn ye for the southern lass,

“Whom you may not win near?”

“I have not tint, at tournament,

“My sword, nor yet my spear;

“But sair I mourn for my true love,

“Wi’ mony a bitter tear.

“But weel’s me on ye, my gay goss hawk,

“Ye can baith speak and flee;

“Ye sall carry a letter to my love,

“Bring an answer back to me.”

“But how sall I your true love find,

“Or how suld I her know?

“I bear a tongue ne’er wi’ her spake,

“An eye that ne’er her saw.”

“O weel sall ye my true love ken,

“Sae sune as ye her see;

“For, of a’ the flowers of fair England,

“The fairest flower is she.

“The red, that’s on my true love’s cheik,

“Is like blood drops on the snaw;

“The white, that is on her breast bare,

“Like the down o’ the white sea-maw.

“And even at my love’s bour door

“There grows a flowering birk;

“And ye maun sit and sing thereon

“As she gangs to the kirk.

“And four-and-twenty fair ladyes

“Will to the mass repair;

“But weel may ye my ladye ken,

“The fairest ladye there.”

Lord William has written a love letter,

Put it under his pinion gray;

And he is awa’ to Southern land

As fast as wings can gae.

And even at that ladye’s bour

There grew a flowering birk;

And he sat down and sang thereon

As she gaed to the kirk.

And weel he kent that ladye fair

Amang her maidens free;

For the flower, that springs in May morning,

Was not sae sweet as she.

He lighted at the ladye’s yate,

And sat him on a pin;

And sang fu’ sweet the notes o’ love,

Till a’ was cosh315 within.

And first he sang a low low note,

And syne he sang a clear;

And aye the o’erword o’ the sang

Was —“Your love can no win here.”

“Feast on, feast on, my maidens a’:

“The wine flows you amang:

“While I gang to my shot-window,

“And hear yon bonny bird’s sang.

“Sing on, sing on, my bonny bird,

“The sang ye sung yestreen;

“For weel I ken, by your sweet singing,

“Ye are frae my true love sen’.”

O first he sang a merry sang,

And syne he sang a grave;

And syne he peck’d his feathers gray,

To her the letter gave.

“Have there a letter from Lord William;

“He says he’s sent ye three:

“He canna wait your love langer,

“But for your sake he’ll die.”

“Gae bid him bake his bridal bread,

“And brew his bridal ale;

“And I sall meet him at Mary’s kirk

“Lang, lang ere it be stale.”

The ladye’s gane to her chamber,

And a moanfu’ woman was she;

As gin she had ta’en a sudden brash,316

And were about to die.

“A boon, a boon, my father deir,

“A boon I beg of thee!”

“Ask not that paughty Scottish lord,

“For him you ne’er shall see.

“But, for your honest asking else,

“Wee! granted it shall be.”

“Then, gin I die in Southern land,

“In Scotland gar bury me.

“And the first kirk that ye come to,

“Ye’s gar the mass be sung;

“And the next kirk that ye come to,

“Ye’s gar the bells be rung.

“And, when ye come to St Mary’s kirk,

“Ye’s tarry there till night.”

And so her father pledged his word,

And so his promise plight.

She has ta’en her to her bigly bour

As fast as she could fare;

And she has drank a sleepy draught,

That she had mixed wi’ care.

And pale, pale grew her rosy cheek,

That was sae bright of blee,

And she seemed to be as surely dead

As any one could be.

Then spak her cruel step-minnie,

“Take ye the burning lead,

“And drap a drap on her bosome,

“To try if she be dead.”

They took a drap o’ boiling lead,

They drap’d it on her breast;

“Alas! alas!” her father cried,

“She’s dead without the priest.”

She neither chatter’d with her teeth,

Nor shiver’d with her chin;

“Alas! alas!” her father cried,

“There is nae breath within.”

Then up arose her seven brethren,

And hew’d to her a bier;

They hew’d it frae the solid aik,

Laid it o’er wi’ silver clear.

Then up and gat her seven sisters,

And sewed to her a kell;

And every steek that they pat in

Sewed to a siller bell.

The first Scots kirk that they cam to,

They gar’d the bells be rung;

The next Scots kirk that they cam to,

They gar’d the mass be sung.

But when they cam to St Mary’s kirk,

There stude spearmen, all on a raw;

And up and started Lord William,

The chieftane amang them a’.

“Set down, set down the bier,” he said;

“Let me looke her upon:”

But as soon as Lord William touched her hand,

Her colour began to come.

She brightened like the lily flower,

Till her pale colour was gone;

With rosy cheik, and ruby lip,

She smiled her love upon.

“A morsel of your bread, my lord,

“And one glass of your wine:

“For I hae fasted these three lang days,

“All for your sake and mine.

“Gae hame, gae hame, my seven bauld brothers!

“Gae hame and blaw your horn!

“I trow you wad hae gien me the skaith,

“But I’ve gien you the scorn.

“Commend me to my grey father,

“That wish’d, my saul gude rest;

“But wae be to my cruel step-dame,

“Gar’d burn me on the breast.”

“Ah! woe to you, you light woman!

“An ill death may you die!

“For we left father and sisters at hame

“Breaking their hearts for thee.”

315 Cosh— Quiet.]

316 Brash— Sickness.]

Notes on the Gay Goss Hawk.

The red, that’s on my true love’s cheik,

Is like blood drops on the snaw.— P. 362. v, 5.

This simile resembles a passage in a MS. translation of an Irish Fairy tale, called The Adventures of Faravla, Princess of Scotland, and Carral O’Daly, Son of Donogho More O’Daly, Chief Bard of Ireland.

“Faravla, as she entered her bower, cast her looks upon the earth, which was tinged with the blood of a bird which a raven had newly killed; ‘Like that snow,’ said Faravla, ‘was the complexion of my beloved, his cheeks like the sanguine traces thereon; whilst the raven recals to my memory the colour of his beautiful locks.”

There is also some resemblance, in the conduct of the story, betwixt the ballad and the tale just quoted. The Princess Faravla, being desperately in love with Carral O’Daly, dispatches in search of him a faithful confidant, who, by her magical art, transforms herself into a hawk, and, perching upon the windows of the bard, conveys to him information of the distress of the princess of Scotland.

In the ancient romance of Sir Tristrem, the simile of the “blood drops upon snow” likewise occurs:

A bride bright thai ches

As blod open snoweing.

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