Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
137. Kinmont Willie
 
 
I

O HAVE ye na heard o’ the fause Sakelde?
  O have ye na heard o’ the keen Lord Scroope?
How they hae ta’en bauld Kinmont Willie,
  On Haribee to hang him up?
 
II

Had Willie had but twenty men,
        5
  But twenty men as stout as he,
Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont ta’en,
  Wi’ eight score in his companie.
 
III

They band his legs beneath the steed,
  They tied his hands behind his back;        10
They guarded him, fivesome on each side,
  And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack.
 
IV

They led him thro’ the Liddel-rack,
  And also thro’ the Carlisle sands;
They brought him in to Carlisle castell,        15
  To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.
 
V

‘My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,
  And whae will dare this deed avow?
Or answer by the Border law?
  Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch?’—        20
 
VI

‘Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver!
  There ’s never a Scot shall set thee free:
Before ye cross my castle yate,
  I trow ye shall take farewell o’ me.’
 
VII

‘Fear na ye that, my lord,’ quo’ Willie:
        25
  ‘By the faith o’ my body, Lord Scroope,’ he said,
‘I never yet lodged in a hostelrie
  But I paid my lawing before I gaed.’
 
VIII

Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper,
  In Branksome Ha’, where that he lay,        30
That Lord Scroope has ta’en the Kinmont Willie
  Between the hours of night and day.
 
IX

He has ta’en the table wi’ his hand,
  He garr’d the red wine spring on hie—
‘Now Christ’s curse on my head,’ he said,        35
  ‘But avengèd Lord Scroope I’ll be!
 
X

‘O is my basnet a widow’s curch?
  Or my lance a wand of the willow-tree?
Or my arm a ladye’s lilye hand,
  That an English lord should lightly me!        40
 
XI

‘And have they ta’en him, Kinmont Willie,
  Against the truce of Border tide?
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
  Is Keeper here on the Scottish side?
 
XII

‘And have they e’en ta’en him, Kinmont Willie,
        45
  Withouten either dread or fear?
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
  Can back a steed, or shake a spear?
 
XIII

‘O were there war between the lands,
  As well I wot that there is nane,        50
I would slight Carlisle castell high,
  Though it were builded of marble stane.
 
XIV

‘I would set that castell in a low,
  And sloken it with English blood!
There ’s never a man in Cumberland        55
  Should ken where Carlisle castell stood.
 
XV

‘But since nae war ’s between the lands,
  And there is peace, and peace should be;
I’ll neither harm English lad or lass,
  And yet the Kinmont freed shall be!’        60
 
XVI

He has call’d him forty Marchmen bauld,
  I trow they were of his ain name,
Except Sir Gilbert Elliot, call’d
  The Laird of Stobs, I mean the same.
 
XVII

He has call’d him forty Marchmen bauld,
        65
  Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch;
With spur on heel, and splent on spauld,
  And gleuves of green, and feathers blue.
 
XVIII

There were five and five before them a’,
  Wi’ hunting-horns and bugles bright:        70
And five and five came wi’ Buccleuch,
  Like Warden’s men, array’d for fight.
 
XIX

And five and five, like a mason-gang,
  That carried the ladders lang and hie;
And five and five, like broken men;        75
  And so they reach’d the Woodhouselee.
 
XX

And as we cross’d the Bateable Land,
  When to the English side we held,
The first o’ men that we met wi’,
  Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde?        80
 
XXI

‘Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen?’
  Quo’ fause Sakelde; ‘come tell to me!’—
‘We go to hunt an English stag,
  Has trespass’d on the Scots countrie.’
 
XXII

‘Where be ye gaun, ye marshal men?’
        85
  Quo’ fause Sakelde; ‘come tell me true!’—
‘We go to catch a rank reiver,
  Has broken faith wi’ the bauld Buccleuch.’
 
XXIII

‘Where be ye gaun, ye mason lads,
  Wi’ a’ your ladders, lang and hie?’—        90
‘We gang to herry a corbie’s nest,
  That wons not far frae Woodhouselee.’—
 
XXIV

‘Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?’
  Quo’ fause Sakelde; ‘come tell to me!’—
Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band,        95
  And the never a word of lear had he.
 
XXV

‘Why trespass ye on the English side?
  Row-footed outlaws, stand!’ quo’ he;
The never a word had Dickie to say,
  Sae he thrust the lance through his fause bodie.        100
 
XXVI

Then on we held for Carlisle toun,
  And at Staneshaw-bank the Eden we cross’d;
The water was great and meikle of spate,
  But the never a horse nor man we lost.
 
XXVII

And when we reach’d the Staneshaw-bank,
        105
  The wind was rising loud and hie;
And there the Laird gar’d leave our steeds,
  For fear that they should stamp and neigh.
 
XXVIII

And when we left the Staneshaw-bank,
  The wind began fu’ loud to blaw;        110
But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,
  When we came beneath the castle wa’.
 
XXIX

We crept on knees, and held our breath,
  Till we placed the ladders against the wa’;
And sea ready was Buccleuch himsell        115
  To mount the first before us a’.
 
XXX

He has ta’en the watchman by the throat,
  He flung him down upon the lead—
‘Had there not been peace between our lands,
  Upon the other side thou hadst gaed!—        120
 
XXXI

‘Now sound out, trumpets!’ quo’ Buccleuch;
  ‘Let ’s waken Lord Scroope right merrilie!’
Then loud the Warden’s trumpet blew—
  O wha dare meddle wi’ me?
 
XXXII

Then speedilie to wark we gaed,
        125
  And raised the slogan ane and a’,
And cut a hole through a sheet of lead,
  And so we wan to the castle ha’.
 
XXXIII

They thought King James and a’ his men
  Had won the house wi’ bow and spear;        130
It was but twenty Scots and ten,
  That put a thousand in sic a stear!
 
XXXIV

Wi’ coulters, and wi’ forehammers,
  We gar’d the bars bang merrilie,
Until we came to the inner prison,        135
  Where Willie o’ Kinmont he did lie.
 
XXXV

And when we cam to the lower prison,
  Where Willie o’ Kinmont he did lie—
‘O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,
  Upon the morn that thou ’s to die?’—        140
 
XXXVI

‘O I sleep saft, and I wake aft;
  It ’s lang since sleeping was fley’d frae me!
Gie my service back to my wife and bairns,
  And a’ gude fellows that spier for me.’
 
XXXVII

The Red Rowan has hente him up,
        145
  The starkest man in Teviotdale—
‘Abide, abide now, Red Rowan,
  Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell.
 
XXXVIII

‘Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope!
  My gude Lord Scroope, farewell!’ he cried;        150
‘I’ll pay you for my lodging mail,
  When first we meet on the Border side.’—
 
XXXIX

Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
  We bore him down the ladder lang;
At every stride Red Rowan made,        155
  I wot the Kinmont’s airns play’d clang
 
XL

‘O mony a time,’ quo’ Kinmont Willie,
  ‘I have ridden horse baith wild and wood;
But a rougher beast than Red Rowan
  I ween my legs have ne’er bestrode.        160
 
XLI

‘And mony a time,’ quo’ Kinmont Willie,
  ‘I’ve prick’d a horse out oure the furs;
But since the day I back’d a steed,
  I never wore sic cumbrous spurs!’
 
XLII

We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank
        165
  When a’ the Carlisle bells were rung,
And a thousand men on horse and foot
  Cam wi’ the keen Lord Scroope along.
 
XLIII

Buccleuch has turn’d to Eden Water,
  Even where it flow’d frae bank to brim,        170
And he has plunged in wi’ a’ his band,
  And safely swam them through the stream.
 
XLIV

He turn’d him on the other side,
  And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he;
If ye like na my visit in merry England,        175
  In fair Scotland come visit me!’
 
XLV

All sore astonish’d stood Lord Scroope,
  He stood as still as rock of stane;
He scarcely dared to trew his eyes,
  When through the water they had gane.        180
 
XLVI

‘He is either himsell a devil frae hell,
  Or else his mother a witch maun be;
I wadna have ridden that wan water
  For a’ the gowd in Christentie.’
 
GLOSS:  Liddel-rack] a ford on the Liddel.  lawing] reckoning.  curch] kerchief, coif.  lightly] treat disrespectfully.  low] flame.  splent] split, or overlapping armour.  spauld] shoulder, èpaule.  Bate able Land] debateable land; a stretch of frontier between the Solway Frith and Scots Dyke, claimed by both nations.  lear] lore.  row-footed] rough-footed.  stear] stir, commotion.  forehammers] sledge-hammers.  fley’d] scared.  spier] inquire.  mail] rent.  wood] mad.  furs] furrows.  trew] trust.
 

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