This ballad is published from tradition, with some conjectural emendations. It is corrected by a copy in Mrs Brown’s MS., from which it differs in the concluding stanzas. Some verses are apparently modernized.
Jellon seems to be the same name with Jyllian or Julian. “Jyl of Brentford’s Testament” is mentioned in Warton’s History of Poetry, Vol. II. p. 40. The name repeatedly occurs in old ballads, sometimes as that of a man, at other times as that of a woman. Of the former is an instance in the ballad of “Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter,”— Reliques of Ancient Poetry, Vol. III. p. 72.
Some do call me Jack, sweetheart.
And some do call me Jille.
Witton Gilbert, a village four miles west of Durham, is, throughout the bishopric, pronounced Witton Jilbert. We have also the common name of Giles, always in Scotland pronounced Jill. For Gille, or Julianna, as a female name, we have Fair Gillian of Croyden, and a thousand authorities. Such being the case, the editor must enter his protest against the conversion of Gil Morrice, into child Maurice, an epithet of chivalry. All the circumstances in that ballad argue, that the unfortunate hero was an obscure and very young man, who had never received the honour of knighthood. At any rate, there can be no reason, even were internal evidence totally wanting, for altering a well known proper name, which, till of late years, has been the uniform title of the ballad.
O JELLON GRAME sat in Silverwood,317
He sharped his broad sword lang;
And he has call’d his little foot page
An errand for to gang.
“Win up, my bonny boy,” he says,
“As quickly as ye may;
“For ye maun gang for Lillie Flower
“Before the break of day.”
The boy has buckled his belt about,
And thro’ the green-wood ran;
And he cam to the ladye’s bower
Before the day did dawn.
“O sleep ye, wake ye, Lillie Flower?
“The red sun’s on the rain:
“Ye’re bidden come to Silverwood,
“But I doubt ye’ll never win hame.”
She hadna ridden a mile, a mile,
A mile but barely three,
Ere she cam to a new made grave,
Beneath a green aik tree.
O then up started Jellon Grame,
Out of a bush thereby;
“Light down, light down, now, Lillie Flower,
“For its here that ye maun lye.”
She lighted aff her milk-white steed,
And kneel’d upon her knee;
“O mercy, mercy, Jellon Grame,
“For I’m no prepared to die!
“Your bairn, that stirs between my sides,
“Maun shortly see the light;
“But to see it weltering in my blood,
“Would be a piteous sight.”
“O should I spare your life,” he says,
“Until that bairn were born,
“Full weel I ken your auld father
“Would hang me on the morn.”
“O spare my life, now, Jellon Grame!
“My father ye need na dread:
“I’ll keep my babe in gude green-wood,
“Or wi’ it I’ll beg my bread.”
He took no pity on Lillie Flower,
Tho’ she for life did pray;
But pierced her thro’ the fair body
As at his feet she lay.
He felt nae pity for Lillie Flower,
Where she was lying dead;
But he felt some for the bonny bairn,
That lay weltering in her bluid.
Up has he ta’en that bonny boy,
Given him to nurses nine;
Three to sleep, and three to wake,
And three to go between.
And he bred up that bonny boy,
Called him his sister’s son;
And he thought no eye could ever see
The deed that he had done.
O so it fell, upon a day,
When hunting they might be,
They rested them in Silverwood,
Beneath that green aik tree.
And mony were the green-wood flowers
Upon the grave that grew,
And marvell’d much that bonny boy
To see their lovely hue.
“What’s paler than the prymrose wan?
“What’s redder than the rose?
“What’s fairer than the lilye flower
“On this wee know318 that grows?”
O out and answered Jellon Grame,
And he spak hastelie —
“Your mother was a fairer flower,
“And lies beneath this tree.
“More pale she was, when she sought my grace,
“Than prymrose pale and wan;
“And redder than rose her ruddy heart’s blood,
“That down my broad sword ran.”
Wi’ that the boy has bent his bow,
It was baith stout and lang;
And thro’ and thro’ him, Jellon Grame,
He gar’d an arrow gang.
Says —“Lie ye there, now, Jellon Grame!
“My malisoun gang you wi’!
“The place my mother lies buried in
“Is far too good for thee.”
317 Silverwood, mentioned in this ballad, occurs in a medley MS song, which seems to have been copied from the first edition of the Aberdeen caurus, penes John G. Dalyell, esq. advocate. One line only is cited, apparently the beginning of some song:
Silverwood, gin ye were mine.]
318 Wee know— Little hillock.]
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00