Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
12. Alison Gross

O ALISON GROSS, that lives in yon tow’r,
  The ugliest witch i’ the north countrie,
Has trysted me ae day up till her bow’r
  And mony fair speeches she made to me.

She straik’d my head an’ she kaim’d my hair,
  An’ she set me down saftly on her knee;
Says, ‘Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
  Sae mony braw things as I would you gie!’

She show’d me a mantle o’ red scarlét,
  Wi’ gouden flowers an’ fringes fine;        10
Says, ‘Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
  This gudely gift it sall be thine.’—

‘Awa’, awa’, ye ugly witch,
  Haud far awa’, an’ lat me be!
I never will be your lemman sae true,        15
  An’ I wish I were out o’ your company.’

She neist brought a sark o’ the saftest silk,
  Well wrought wi’ pearls about the band;
Says, ‘Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
  This gudely gift ye sall command.’        20

She show’d me a cup o’ the good red gowd,
  Well set wi’ jewels sae fair to see;
Says, ‘Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
  This gudely gift I will you gie.’—

‘Awa’, awa’, ye ugly witch,
  Haud far awa’, an’ lat me be!
For I wouldna once kiss your ugly mouth
  For a’ the gifts that ye could gie.’

She’s turn’d her right an’ roun’ about,
  An’ thrice she blaw on a grass-green horn;        30
An’ she sware by the moon an’ the stars abune
  That she’d gar me rue the day I was born.

Then out has she ta’en a silver wand,
  An’ she’s turn’d her three times roun’ and roun’;
She mutter’d sic words till my strength it fail’d,        35
  An’ I fell down senseless upon the groun’.

She’s turn’d me into an ugly worm,
  And gar’d me toddle about the tree;
An’ ay, on ilka Saturday’s night,
  My sister Maisry came to me,        40

Wi’ silver bason an’ silver kaim
  To kaim my headie upon her knee;
But or I had kiss’d [wi’ Alison Gross]
  I’d sooner ha’ toddled about the tree.

But as it fell out, on last Hallowe’en,
  When the Seely Court was ridin’ by,
The Queen lighted down on a gowany bank
  Nae far frae the tree where I wont to lye.

She took me up in her milk-white han’,
  An’ she’s straik’d me three times o’er her knee;        50
She changed me again to my ain proper shape,
  An’ nae mair I toddle about the tree.
GLOSS:  jimp] slim, slender.  trysted] invited.  lemman] sweetheart.  haud] hold, keep.  Seely Court] the Happy Court (of the Fairies).  gowany] daisied.


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