Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
24. The Broomfield Hill

THERE was a knight and a lady bright
  Set trysts amang the broom,
The ane to come at morning ear,
  The other at afternoon.

‘I’ll wager, I’ll wager, I’ll wager wi’ you
  Five hundred merks and ten
That a maid shanna gae to the bonny broom
  And a maiden return again.’—

‘I’ll wager, I’ll wager, I’ll wager wi’ you
  Five hundred merks and ten        10
That a maid shall gae to the bonny green broom
  And a maiden return again.’

The may she sat at her mother’s bower door
  And aye she made her mane:
‘O whether shou’d I gang to the Broomfield Hill,        15
  Or should I stay at hame?

‘For if I do gang to the Broomfield Hill,
  A maid I’ll not return;
But if I stay frae the Broomfield Hill,
  My love will ca’ me man-sworn.’        20

Up then spake an auld witch-wife,
  Sat in the bower abune:
‘O ye may gang to the Broomfield Hill,
  And yet come maiden hame,

‘For when ye gang to the Broomfield Hill,
  Ye’ll find your love asleep,
Wi’ a silver belt above his head,
  And a broom-cow at his feet.

‘Tak’ ye the bloom frae aff the broom,
  Strew’t at his head an’ feet,        30
And aye the thicker that ye do strew,
  The sounder he will sleep.

‘Tak’ ye the rings aff your fingers,
  Put them in his right hand,
To let him know when he does wake,        35
  His love was at his command.’

Lord John has ta’en his milk-white steed
  And his hawk wi’ his bells sae bright,
And he’s ridden swift to the Broomfield Hill,
  [Was never a baulder] knight.        40

‘Now rest, now rest, my milk-white steed,
  My lady will soon be here,
And I’ll lay my head by this rose sae red,
  And the bonny burn sae near.’

She’s pu’d the broom-flower on Hive Hill,
  And strew’d on’s white breast-bane,
And that was to be wittering true
  That maiden she had gane.

‘O where were ye, my milk-white steed,
  That I hae coft sae dear,        50
That wadna watch and waken me
  When there was maiden here?’—

‘I stampèd wi’ my foot, master,
  And gar’d my bridle ring,
But no kin’ thing wald waken ye        55
  Till she was past and gane.’—

‘And wae betide ye, my gay goss-hawk,
  That I hae coft sae dear,
That wadna watch an’ waken me
  When my true-love was here.’—        60

‘I clappèd wi’ my wings, master,
  And aye my bells I rang,
And aye cried, Waken, waken, master,
  Before the ladye gang!’—

‘But haste, but haste, my gude white steed,
  To come the maiden till,
Or a’ the birds of the gude greenwood
  O’ your flesh shall have their fill!’—

‘Ye needna burst your gude white steed
  Wi’ racing o’er the howm;        70
Nae bird flies faster thro’ the wood
  Than she fled thro’ the broom.’
GLOSS:  trysts] assignations.  ear] early.  broom-cow] branch of broom.  wittering] information, token.  coft] bought.  howm] holm, river-mead.


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