Lyrical Ballads, with other poems, by William Wordsworth

Ellen Irwin, or the Braes of Kirtle

The Kirtle is a River in the Southern part of Scotland, on whose banks the events here related took place.

Fair Ellen Irwin, when she sate

Upon the Braes of Kirtle,

Was lovely as a Grecian Maid

Adorn’d with wreaths of myrtle.

Young Adam Bruce beside her lay,

And there did they beguile the day

With love and gentle speeches,

Beneath the budding beeches.

From many Knights and many Squires

The Brace had been selected,

And Gordon, fairest of them all,

By Ellen was rejected.

Sad tidings to that noble Youth!

For it may be proclaim’d with truth,

If Bruce hath lov’d sincerely,

The Gordon loves as dearly.

But what is Gordon’s beauteous face?

And what are Gordon’s crosses

To them who sit by Kirtle’s Braes

Upon the verdant mosses?

Alas that ever he was born!

The Gordon, couch’d behind a thorn,

Sees them and their caressing,

Beholds them bless’d and blessing.

Proud Gordon cannot bear the thoughts

That through his brain are travelling,

And, starting up, to Bruce’s heart

He launch’d a deadly jav’lin!

Fair Ellen saw it when it came,

And, stepping forth to meet the same,

Did with her body cover

The Youth her chosen lover.

And, falling into Bruce’s arms,

Thus died the beauteous Ellen,

Thus from the heart of her true-love

The mortal spear repelling.

And Bruce, as soon as he had slain

The Gordon, sail’d away to Spain,

And fought with rage incessant

Against the Moorish Crescent.

But many days and many months,

And many years ensuing,

This wretched Knight did vainly seek

The death that he was wooing:

So coming back across the wave,

Without a groan on Ellen’s grave

His body he extended,

And there his sorrow ended.

Now ye who willingly have heard

The tale I have been telling,

May in Kirkonnel church-yard view

The grave of lovely Ellen:

By Ellen’s side the Bruce is laid,

And, for the stone upon his head,

May no rude hand deface it,

And its forlorn ‘Hic jacet’.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02