The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott


Cospatrick has sent o'er the faem,

Cospatrick brought his ladye hame;

And fourscore ships have come her wi',

The ladye by the grenewood tree.

There were twal' and twal' wi' baken bread,

And twal' and twal' wi' gowd sae reid,

And twal' and twal' wi' bouted flour,

And twal' and twal' wi' the paramour.

Sweet Willy was a widow's son,

And at her stirrup he did run;

And she was clad in the finest pall,

But aye she let the tears down fall.

—“O is your saddle set awrye?

Or rides your steed for you owre high?

Or are ye mourning, in your tide,

That you suld be Cospatrick's bride?”—

—“I am not mourning, at this tide,

That I suld be Cospatrick's bride;

But I am sorrowing, in my mood,

That I suld leave my mother good.

“But, gentle boy, come tell to me,

What is the custom of thy countrye?”—

—“The custom thereof, my dame,” he says,

“Will ill a gentle ladye please.

“Seven king's daughters has our lord wedded,

And seven king's daughters has our lord bedded;

But he's cutted their breasts frae their breast bane,

And sent them mourning hame again.

“Yet, gin you're sure that you're a maid,

Ye may gae safely to his bed;

But gif o' that ye be na sure,

Then hire some damsell o' your bour.”—

The ladye's call'd her bour maiden,

That waiting was into her train;

—“Five thousand merks I will gie thee,

To sleep this night with my lord for me.”—

When bells were rung, and mass was sayne,

And a' men unto bed were gane,

Cospatrick and the bonny maid,

Into ae chamber they were laid.

—“Now, speak to me, blankets, and speak to me, bed;

And speak, thou sheet, inchanted web;

And speak up, my bonny brown sword, that winna lie,

Is this a true maiden that lies by me?”—

—“It is not a maid that you hae wedded,

But it is a maid that you hae bedded;

It is a liel maiden that lies by thee,

But not the maiden that it should be.”—

O wrathfully he left the bed,

And wrathfully his claiths on did:

And he has ta'en him thro' the ha',

And on his mother he did ca'.

—“I am the most unhappy man,

That ever was in christen land!

I courted a maiden meik and mild,

And I hae gotten naething but a woman wi' child.”—

—“O stay my son into this ha',

And sport ye wi' your merrymen a';

And I will to the secret bour,

To see how it fares wi' your paramour.

The carline she was stark and sture,

She aff the hinges dang the dure;

—“O is your bairn to laird or loun,

Or is it to your father's groom?”—

—“O! hear me, mother, on my knee,

Till my sad story I tell thee:

O we were sisters, sisters seven,

We were the fairest under heaven.

“It fell on a summer's afternoon,

When a' our toilsome task was done,

We cast the kavils us amang,

To see which suld to the grene wood gang.

“O hon! alas, for I was youngest,

And aye my wierd it was the hardest;

The kavil it on me did fa',

Whilk was the cause of a' my woe.

“For to the grene wood I maun gae,

To pu' the red rose and the slae;

To pu' the red rose and the thyme,

To deck my mother's bour and mine.

“I hadna pu'd a flower but ane,

When by there came a gallant hende,

Wi' high coll'd hose and laigh coll'd shoon,

And he seem'd to be sum king's son.

“And be I maid, or be I nae,

He kept me there till the close o' day;

And be I maid, or be I nane,

He kept me there till the day was done.

“He gae me a lock o' his yellow hair,

And bade me keep it ever mair;

He gae me a carknet o' bonny beads,

And bade me keep it against my needs.

“He gae to me a gay gold ring,

And bade me keep it abune a' thing.”—

—“What did ye wi' the tokens rare,

That ye gat frae that gallant there?”—

—“O bring that coffer unto me,

And a' the tokens ye sall see.”—

—“Now stay, daughter, your bour within,

While I gae parley wi' my son.”—

Oh she has ta'en her thro' the ha',

And on her son began to ca';

—“What did you wi' the bonny beads,

I bade ye keep against your needs?

“What did you wi' the gay gowd ring,

I bade ye keep abune a' thing?”—

—“I gae them a' to a ladye gay,

I met in grene wood on a day.

“But I wad gie a' my halls and tours,

I had that ladye within my bours;

But I wad gie my very life,

I had that ladye to my wife.”—

—“Now keep, my son, your ha's and tours;

Ye have that bright burd in your bours:

And keep, my son, your very life;

Ye have that ladye to your wife.”—

Now or a month was cum and gane,

The ladye bore a bonny son;

And 'twas weel written on his breast bane,

Cospatrick is my father's name:

—“O rowe my ladye in satin and silk,

And wash my son in the morning milk.”—

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00